The new Ontario curriculum calls for the integration of historical thinking concepts into our practice; it also calls for the integration of the inquiry model. While this is all fine and good, teachers are rarely given strategies of how to do this in our day to day lessons. The integration of the inquiry model produces some interesting challenges. Challenge one is making the move from teachers being deliverers of knowledge to facilitators of learning. Challenge two is dealing with an extensive amount of content with limited time and resources. The move to a student based inquire model that examines history through the lens of historical thinking concepts may require us to focus less on content and more on process. In light of this, here’s a model that I am attempting to use in my teaching and by extension, I am asking my department to try the same model.
INTEGRATING HISTORICAL THINKING INTO THE INQUIRY METHOD – A MODEL FOR TEACHING
To help with the process, I examined the four historical thinking concepts that are directly addressed in the Ontario curriculum and designed a set of generic questions that could form the basis of the inquiry question for the day
HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPTS AND QUESTIONS FOR INQUIRY:
CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE
CONTINUITY AND CHANGE
Based on this model, here is an example of a lesson I conducted with my grade 10 history class.
HISTORICAL THINKING CONCEPT:
CAUSE AND CONSEQUENCE
WHY DID IT HAPPEN?
BACKGROUND INFORMATION GIVEN ON DETAILS OF THE MONT BLANC AND IMO EXPLOSION. THIS INCLUDED TIME, LOCATION, RESULTS.
STUDENTS ARE ARRANGED INTO GROUPS TO ACT AS A BOARD OF INQUIRY TO EXAMINE THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: WHAT HAPPENED? WHY DID IT HAPPEN? WHO WAS TO BLAME (CAPTAIN OF MONT BLANC OR CAPTAIN OF IMO)? THE RESULTS OF THE BOARD OF INQUIRY ARE THEN POSTED.
THE CBC WEBSITE HAS A NICE SITE THAT EXAMINES THE HALIFAX EXPLOSION. (http://www.cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion/) ONE OF THE DOCUMENTS I FOUND USEFUL FOR THIS ACTIVITY IS “WHO IS TO BLAME: THE HALIFAX EXPLOSION INQUIRY”. IT’S A GRAPHIC COMIC EXAMINATION OF THE EXPLOSION.
I have used this model for other lessons. It provides a good framework, I believe, for integrating inquiry and historical thinking. The list of questions I generated using the historical thinking concepts as a basis is by no means full or extensive but it is a starting point.