If You Teach History, You Teach Writing

Quotes from “If You Teach History, You TeachWriting” by Anita K. Ravi, Big History Project Expert (May 5, 2016)

“When did I become the writing teacher? When can I go back to just teaching history?” The longer we teach history, the more we realize that we are indeed teachers of reading and writing as much as we are teachers of history.

The acts of reading, writing, and reasoning are central to the discipline of history. They are the three main vehicles used by historians to make sense of the past and to construct viable, believable narratives about the past.

Writing in history is a constructivist act, involving making a claim or argument, and then effectively supporting that claim with evidence while relating the evidence to the overall claim.

Moving from reading and discussion to writing can be challenging in high school history classes.

We know from research on learning that discussion is a critical step toward writing because it allows students to try out ideas out loud before committing them to the page.

Students need practice with writing every day.

At the beginning, during, or at the end of class, students need opportunities to try out historical reasoning in writing.

When writing becomes a daily routine, rather than a rare event, students are more likely to be engaged, not intimidated, when asked to write essays in history class.