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History, What is it?

"History is concerned with understanding the temporal dimension of human experience (time and chronology).
Geography is concerned with understanding the spatial dimension of human experience (space and place)."

National Geography Standards

History is the Greek word for inquiry. Herodotus (484–425 B.C.E.) is considered the father of written history because he wrote the first prose history (earlier histories were in dialogue or verse) and he was relatively successful in recording factual accounts of events.

History is the story of the human experience. It is the search for truth about historical events and is based on facts. Evidence about the past can include artifacts such as those found at architectural ruins or written accounts including government records, diaries, and histories, Artifacts require human interpretation. Written accounts reflect the perspective and potential biases of the author.

Historians, are people who compile information, systematize their finding, and report their observations. Historians tries to determine if the evidence is real, accurate or biased. Conscientious historians are aware of the pitfalls in their search for historical "truth," and they try to avoid them using "historical method." The history that the historian creates is the history of that historian and reflects the judgments, point-of-view, biases, omissions, and errors of the historian him or herself. Renowned historians make sure to distinguish for the readers his or her conclusions from his or her findings of fact.

The Historical Method includes:

  1. Identifying relevant information
  2. Critically examine sources as to their bias and validity and,
  3. As objectively as possible, select and organize the information into narrative that sheds light on the topic.

Types of Sources:

Primary Sources:

  • Person
  • Interview
  • E-Mail contact
  • Event
  • Discussion
  • Debate
  • Community Meeting
  • Survey
  • Artifact
  • Observation of object (animate and inanimate)



Secondary Sources:

  • Reference Material
  • Book
  • CD Rom
  • Encyclopedia
  • Magazine
  • Newspaper
  • Video Tape
  • Audio Tape
  • TV

Primary or Secondary

  • Internet Web Site
  • Graph, chart, diagram, table

Students Understanding of History

"The student who reads history will unconsciously develop what is the highest value of history: judgment in worldly affairs. This is a permanent good, not because "history repeats" - we can never exactly match past and present situations - but because the "tendency of things" shows an amazing uniformity within any given civilization. As the great historian Burckhardt said of historical knowledge, it is not 'to make us more clever the next time, but wiser for all time.'"
Jacques Barzun, Begin Here

Students often fail to realize that history is created by historians, often based on inconsistent evidence and secondhand accounts. Because children trust in the perfection of books and the truthfulness of adults, elementary students will absorb history without understanding that they need to interpret authors’ conclusions and draw their own conclusions from the evidence. A degree of trust in what we read and hear on the news, as an example, is necessary in a complex society. Reading and listening with healthy skepticism is an Academic Disposition that is necessary for a personal interpretation of history. The ability to distinguish between the author’s opinions and the evidence is a form of Procedural Knowledge.

Children’s study of history rests on knowledge of facts, names, dates, and places. In addition, real historical understanding requires students to engage in historical thinking: to raise questions and to marshal evidence in support of their answers; to read historical narratives and fiction; to consult historical documents, journals, diaries, artifacts, historic sites, and other records from the past; and to do so imaginatively—taking into account the time and places in which these records were created and comparing the multiple points of view of those on the scene at the time.

Folklore has a similar aspiration as history, but it is not history. Folklore (also referred to as historical fiction), such as epics like the Iliad from world history or historical tales like those of Paul Bunyan (go to for an animated version that you could used online in your classroom) and Davy Crockett (go to Edsitement at for a lesson plan on Davy Crockett), are fiction or fictionalized versions of the lives of historical people and events. Because they are typically presented in the same kind of prose as “history,” which should not fictionalize, children can misunderstand the difference if teachers are not careful to clarify the distinctions when using the two different forms of historical-based narratives. Both folklore prose and poems like ”The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” (go to’sRide.html for a copy) are very effective in engaging young students interest in history and are a great way to support development of reading skills through social studies. Folklore also, but more directly, uses historical tales to create a more virtuous and democratic view of the world because the stories resonate with us by reflecting the best and common elements of our humanity across time and cultures

The National History Standards

"To develop judgment and perspective, historical study must often focus upon broad, significant themes and questions, rather than short-lived memorization of facts without context"
The Bradley Commission on History

While never adopted by the U.S. Government, the National Standards for History Basic Edition, 1996 at provide both a guide to Information Knowledge and Procedural Knowledge.

Overview of the American History Content Standards

The Standards for Historical Thinking

List of Assignments

The following assignments may be found on the History Assignments Page and on the page related to the assignment

  • Assignment HI.1 A Standards Overview
  • Assignment HI.2 History Standard 2: Historical Comprehension
  • Assignment HI.3 History Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation
  • Assignment HI.4 History Standard 4: Historical Research
  • Assignment HI.5 History Standard 5: Historical issues-analysis and decision-making
  • Assignment HI.6 Developing History Content

Assignment HI.1 A Standards Overview

After watching the video, submit a two-page, single spaced typed paper, with the following information:

  1. Write a brief paragraph description of all history lesson example (s), list the NCSS themes/strand (s) and explain how it was achieved,.
  2. Write a brief paragraph description of all geography lesson example (s), list the NCSS themes/strand (s) and explain how it was achieved.
  3. Learner.Org 15. A Standards Overview, 6-8 camera
    • 56 minutes
    • Lessons from grade 6–8 classrooms illustrate how the NCSS standards and themes can be integrated into the middle school curriculum. Middle school teachers explore a number of expectations and outcomes in their lessons and build on the fundamentals established in the elementary grades. Themes of civics, political science, and history begin to take on more meaning as the content in these lessons connects to students’ lives.

Assignment HI.6 Developing History Content

  1. Download and print out the Sample History Textbook Content "Shaping a New Nation."
  2. Review Digital History's Learn About the Constitution and the Guided Reading
  3. Complete Assignment HI.1.
  4. Review History's Frameworks
  5. Review the Sunshine State Standards- History
  6. Using the following headings, prepare a typed single-spaced paper in which you identify the following:
    • Sunshine State Standards. The Sunshine State Standards and Benchmarks that can be achieved with this content.
    • History Frameworks
      • Big Ideas
        What big ideas can you develop with this content?
      • Vital Themes and Narratives
        What theme would you use, why and cite examples from the content?
      • The Broad Forces of History
        What broad forces are at work and cite examples form the content?
      • Organizing Themes
        Which of the organizing themes are used, explain?
      • Modes of Interpretation
        What interpretations would you use to organize the content?





History Home Page

Geography Home Page

Sunshine State Standards- History

History Web Resources

History Assignments

Sample History Textbook Content

History Perspectives

History's Frameworks

Hazards of History


Era 1
Era 2
Era 3
Era 4
Era 5
Era 6
Era 7

Era 8
Era 9

Era 10


Standard 1: Chronological Thinking

Standard 2: Historical Comprehension

Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Standard 4: Historical Research Capabilities

Standard 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making



NCSS Recourse

The NCSS Themes of Social Studies

The NCSS Democratic Beliefs and Values

The NCSS Essentials of Social Studies Education