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5 Ways To Bring Historical Comprehension Into The Classroom

Wait? Why do we have to learn about that?! Historical comprehension in the classroom is key/vital to students understanding history and acting like historians, yet the way the material is presented can help students become more familiar with the past!

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1. Allow Students to BECOME HISTORIANS

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Allowing students to become historians furthers their development in both analytical and critical thinking. It creates a web network in how dates, time periods, the people, backgrounds, etc., all work and integrate with one another. When you instill and help students hone in on these skills and allow them to independently develop them, they will become much more familiar with the how's and why's of history, rather than the "what's." It also allow students to experience different perspectives, or establish a new outlook they may not have seen before. This helps make it relevant and personal, and that can be difficult, especially when ancient history is...well...ancient.

It also allows students to become familiar and understanding of maps and those geographical concepts. Interpretation, analyzation, and conceptualization help the student become a historian and understand how everything connects between points A and Z! It will even help build upon their literacy and help with that cross-content development in english class! ;)

2. Make it RELEVANT

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It can be difficult finding ways to get students interested and familiar with history and understanding it. One of the best ways to do this is to tie in outside sources that students are already familiar with! A great and recent example would be incorporating Star Wars into the unit on Imperialism. If students don't understand or know anything about Star Wars, then another way to make it relevant is to bring it into the CLASSROOM. Understanding the types of imperialism is like comparing the teacher to Britain and then a Student Teacher or an Aid to India. If you're able to make ties into students know and are comfortable with, they will be able to connect and reflect much easier.

3. Create CHALLENGES

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History can be pretty easy, but it can also be pretty difficult to understand and comprehend. But sometimes, the best way to understanding history is to be challenged by it. Today, many students already have preconceived notions of history or things that have happened - so why not show different sides to the narrative? Once students understand that history is full of bias and has been cherry picked since Herodotus, and once they realize that there are numerous sides to every story (just like 'what happened with that school fight?') then they can become challenged to understand multiple sides. It is crucial for students to be familiar with all sides to history, rather than just shown what the textbook says (c'mon - we all know we have found misconceptions in those textbooks!).

4. Establish NETWORKS

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What do networks do? Think of social media - heck, think of buzzfeed! It allows for people to connect from all parts of the world and from all different backgrounds. History does the same. exact. thing. History draws upon networks and how events were established. What led to this? What led to that? How did this affect civilization? Why did this occur? It all leads from one thing to the next. It also allows for repetition of material to be repeated to students in the classroom. Why was trade important? What did it allow for? How was trade important to Rome, and what similarities to we see with Byzantium? When students understand how networks work and how they are established, they can use it to help comprehend the vast network of history that has been created for them and is continually to evolve around them.

5. Last but not least: Make History FUN Again

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Okay, okay, I know, that's really broad but hear me out. When you incorporate the above in historical comprehension, it can help students become independent in their studies and their research skills. It you can instill a thirst for students wanting to know more or research more by valuing their input, opinions, beliefs, ideas, imaginations, understandings, reasonings, etc., then they can come back and be the ones to say, "Hey, Mrs/Ms/Mr. Teacher, remember how we talked about such and such last class? Well, I did some more research and I learned this!"

When teachers box their students in with any type of education, it hinders their creative energies and their individual educational development. Allowing them to question, and even the teacher saying, "I don't know, let's look it up together!" or "I don't know, how about you research it and let us know tomorrow!" can help students become invested in something they didn't know about. Allowing them to play games or do fun projects (meme projects, imperialism game, urban game, etc.) all allow students to collaborate, research, write, and become scholars. This helps build them into young professionals as they exit high school and enter college or the real world! Make it fun. Make it relevant.

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