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History Through a Child’s Eyes. David Van Twistern University of Phoenix MAT531 – Constructs and Assessment: History and Social Sciences Ronita Scott April 20, 2007. Assessment Background.

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history through a child s eyes

History Through a Child’s Eyes

David Van Twistern

University of Phoenix

MAT531 – Constructs and Assessment: History and Social Sciences

Ronita Scott

April 20, 2007

assessment background
Assessment Background
  • History Through a Child’s Eyes is an assessment with the primary purpose of determining what students know of social sciences; civics, economics, geography, history, and general social studies skills. The ultimate result of this assessment is the design of relevant lessons and assessments that help to round out the students’ understanding. Based on the work of Keith Barton, Ph.D. and Michael Berson, Ph.D. (University of Southern Florida), this assessment is structured as an interview that uses five assessor selected pictures and predetermined interview questions relating to elementary school level social science knowledge (USF, n.d.).

Note: Ensure your speakers are turned on to hear the excepts from the student interviews associated with each of the five pictures.

assessment subjects
Assessment Subjects
  • Two subjects were chosen for this assessment. Both boys are currently third grade classmates in public elementary school, ages 9 (Antonio) and 8 (Ian). Both have been attending the same elementary school since Kindergarten, but have not been in the same classroom prior to third grade.
historical pictures separation
Historical Pictures, Separation
  • For the first part of the assessment, this assessor chose five pictures from US history.
  • The events depicted in the first two pictures are widely separated (250 years), and for pictures three through six, there is an average of 32 years between events depicted.
  • Between the first and sixth pictures, there is a 380-year gap between events and/or technology depicted.
  • All pictures were resized so the largest size in one direction is seven inches, and de-saturated so that all are black, white and shades of grey only. In doing this, the assessor eliminated clues as to the placement in time of the pictures based on photographic technique and film type (black & white v. color film).
arranging pictures
Arranging Pictures
  • Subjects were shown the first and last pictures in the series of five and asked to place the one that depicted the earliest event on the far left on the table, and the one that depicted the most recent event on the far right.
  • Both Antonio and Ian chose correctly and placed the picture depicting the Pilgrim landing first and the picture of the wind turbines last. Both boys described the early picture as some type of landing, properly identified the vessel in the background as a sailing ship, and noted an American Indian in the picture.
arranging pictures contd
Arranging Pictures Contd.
  • Ian said he thought the picture was of Christopher Columbus, while Antonio properly identified it as the Pilgrim landing.
  • Neither knew the date or the landing location for either Christopher Columbus or the Pilgrims.
  • Both boys recognized the wind turbines as newer technology, but didn’t know what they were called.
  • When questioned further about how they identified the wind turbine picture as being more recent, both boys said that they “looked newer” or “not very old.”
1620 – Representation of the first landing of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, MA. published in New York by Johnson in 1859

Question: Now that you have ordered all of the pictures from oldest event to newest event, can you tell me what things, in each picture helped you determine the correct order?

  • Ian: They look newer; this one is older (pointing to all of the pictures then to the Pilgrim landing picture).
  • Antonio: This one is the oldest because it is not a picture [photograph] and I can see the others are newer.

Rephrased Question

Question: What I mean is what specific things helped you. What about the people in the picture, things in the background, the setting, where this picture was taken, anything that you see that gave you the idea that this picture of this event happened more recently than this one (the assessor points to the Pilgrim landing picture and then the laying of the last rail photograph).

answers to rephrased question
Answers to Rephrased Question
  • Ian: “That looks like a picture [photography] and the other one doesn’t, it looks older… and there is a train in this one... and people in this [Pilgrim landing] have older [style] cloths than in the other pictures.” Ian also identified the soldiers leaving the landing craft on D-Day as sailors first, then Marines and that the Pilgrim landing picture has a sailing ship and an Indian in it, as opposed to a ship with motor.
  • Antonio: “This picture is of the Pilgrims, and the others are of newer things, I don’t know what though.” The Wind turbines were not recognizable to Antonio. “The Pilgrims came first to the land and the next pictures have trains that are newer. The next picture is the Wright Brothers plane, and after that is WWI [WWII]. That picture is Apollo [Mercury Capsule], and the last one is newest.”
  • In general, it was the technology in the pictures that allowed both Ian and Antonio to identify which was of an older event.

1869 – Promontory Point, Utah – Laying the last rail of the transcontinental railway. Photo by Andrew J. Russell - Utah State Historical Society (US National Archives, n.d.)

1908 - Wright Aero plane, Ft. Myer, VA. Orville Wright in plane. Unknown photographer (US National Archives, n.d.)
1962 – John F. Kennedy viewing astronaut John Glenn’s Mercury space capsule, Friendship 7 (US National Archives, n.d.)
initial assessment
Initial Assessment
  • Ian and Antonio required prompting or rephrasing of questions in order to get complete responses. Generally, each of them seemed to be meeting requirements for social science knowledge as specified by the school district however, there are a number of weaknesses as indicated by the interviews.
  • Both boys did well in ordering the pictures of historical events and technology. Both seemed to focus on the technology in these pictures in order to determine the correct sequence. It was only after being questioned further that they recounted other clues that may have helped them in determining the correct order such as clothing, people in the picture or photograph, location, etc.
  • Neither student had much of an idea of how their life would have been had they been alive at the time of one of the earlier events.
questions relating to strands
Questions Relating to Strands
  • Following the ordering of pictures depicting various events throughout history, Ian and Antonio were asked a series of questions that are intended to gage the extent of knowledge in four different strands or themes. These are the Civics, History, Economics, and Geography Strands (NCSS, 2000).

1906 -Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir (US National Archives, n.d.)

civics history strand questions
Civics & History Strand Questions
  • Do we have a king in our country? (If students say "yes," ask who it is.)
    • Who is the president?
    • What do you think the president does when he goes to work?
    • How does someone get to be president? (If students say the president is elected, ask if they know of any other people who get elected.)
    • What do judges do
  • Who do you think are the most famous people in history? What can you tell me about him/her?
    • Tell me something about George Washington.
    • Tell me something about Martin Luther King.
    • Who do you think is the most important woman you’ve ever heard of?
economics strand questions
Economics Strand Questions
  • When you buy something in a store, who decides how much the price is?
    • How do they decide how much to charge for it?
    • Where does the store get the things it sells? (If students say they buy them from somewhere else, ask , if you paid five dollars for something at the store, how much would the store have paid for it when they got it—five dollars, more than five dollars, or less than five dollars?)
    • What are taxes? What are they used for? Who decides how much taxes will be?
  • Have you ever been to a building called a bank? What is it for?
    • What happens when you put your money in a bank?
    • If you put your money in the bank and then take it back out later, do you get the same amount you put in, less than you put in, or more than you put in? Why?
    • Can you borrow money from a bank? If you borrow money, when you pay it back, do you pay back the same amount you borrowed, more than you borrowed, or less than you borrowed? Why?
economics strand questions19
Economics Strand Questions
  • What city do you live in? What are the names of some other cities?
    • What state do you live in?
    • What are the names of some other states?
    • What country do you live in?
    • Tell me the name of some other countries.
    • What things are different in other parts of the world?
    • How are they different?
    • Where have you learned about other parts of the world?

Rumtek Monastery Youth, Tibet

what the answers indicate
What The Answers Indicate
  • The first group of questions beginning with do we have a king in our country, relates to Civics Strand (NCSS Standards, 2007). While both boys were able to answer all correctly, answers to follow-up questions indicated that they had the most rudimentary understanding of government, civics, democracy and citizenship.
  • The next group of questions, beginning with who do you think are the most famous people in history,relates to the US History Strand (NCSS Standards, 2007). Again, both students were able to list a number of historical figures, tell something about George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., but only one was able to name a famous female historical figure, Rosa Parks, and that was after some prodding and discussing another picture of Martin Luther King during a rally in front of the Alabama State House.
what the answers indicate contd
What The Answers Indicate Contd.
  • The third group of questions, beginning with when you buy something at a store,who decides how much the price is, relates to the Economics Strand. Both boys were weakest in this strand and while recognizing that a bank is for saving your money, had little understanding as indicated by National Standards as appropriate by the end of fourth grade (NCSS Standards, 2007).
  • The final group of questions beginning with, what city do you live in, dealt with the Geography Strand (NCSS Standards, 2007). Both students were strong in this area as the third grade class uses a social studies textbook titled Communities Around Us. The textbook, published by Silver Burdett Ginn, Parsippany, NJ, is separated into themes that focus on the Geography, History, and Civics. After reviewing this text, 50% seems to focus on the Geography Strand while History and Civics strands each represent 25% of the text. These 3rd and 4th (History and Civics) themed units do not seem to represent fully the NJ Social Science Curriculum Standards for 3rd grade, nor the NCSS Standards for K - 4.
strands not covered recommendation
Strands Not Covered & Recommendation

Those specific strand not sufficiently covered are:

  • 6.2 Civics
  • United States and New Jersey History
  • Economics
    • Teachers typically do not have sufficient time to meet core curricular instruction requirements due to the demands of preparing students for the rigors of standardized testing and constraints imposed in the form of curriculum pacing.
    • Recommend curriculum mapping be completed. The primary goal of the curriculum mapping is to identify and define opportunities for integrated cross-curricular lessons that maximize the volume of skills and knowledge being taught while ensuring the needs of both the student and state are being met. More precisely, student needs are met when meaningful, real learning takes place that prepares students for being productive, fulfilled members of society. State needs are met when students are prepared in accordance with state standards and are able to prove proficiency based on frequent, regular assessment.
best practices
Best Practices
  • Employ a unit approach to instruction.
  • Use technology resources to expand students’ vistas of the world and support their quest for knowledge.
  • Use multiple assessments linked to instruction; including students themselves.
  • Use art, music, literature, and theater as tools to enrich and evidence students’ learning.
  • Engage students in spontaneous learning events.
  • Involve parents and communities.
  • Honor the wishes of students.
  • Define and negotiate a defensible scope and sequence for the curriculum.
  • Ensure each year contains at least on highly memorable experience.
  • Consciously direct attention to the natural, hidden and formal curriculum.
  • (Hoge, J.D., 2000)
best practices contd
Best Practices Contd.
  • Pay attention to both process and content learning.
  • Use a variety of instructional resources and strategies.
  • Blend direct instruction with inquiry experiences.
  • Use coherent, developmentally appropriate themes to integrate content from social sciences and the humanities.
  • Make frequent use of maps, globes and other visual aids as a means of developing children’s understanding of the world.
  • Include current events as a regular part of the social studies curriculum.
  • Honor the perspectives of different socio-economic, ethnic, and religious groups as important dimensions to authentic learning.
  • (Hoge, J.D., 2000)

Surprisingly, an elementary school that had been thought of as having a broad based social science curriculum appears to be, based the two students interviewed, following the lead of other public schools by reducing the emphasis placed on the importance of a well-rounded education. It seems this is not intentional, only practical in light of the current demands made of teaches and school districts by NCLB and the drive to improve education for all children and performance in language arts, math and science.

What must therefore be done is to redesign or restructure the teaching model making the various disciplines’ boundaries less distinct and maximizing cross-curricular integration.


Hoge, J.D., (2000). Best Practices in Elementary School Social Studies. Retrieved April 17, 2007 from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2/content_storage_01/0000000b/80/24/13/4b.pdf

National Renewable Energy Laboratories: Photographic Information Exchange. Retrieved April 11, 2007 from http://www.nrel.gov/data/pix/searchpix.cgi

Naval Historical Center. (2004). Normandy Invasion, June 1944, "D-Day" Landings on "Omaha" Beach. Retrieved April 12, 2007 from http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-eur/normandy/nor4o.htm

NCSS Standards. (2007). NCSS Standards, Social Science. Retrieved April 17, 2006 from http://www.education-world.com/standards/national/soc_sci/index.shtml

references contd
References Contd.

NJ Dept. of Ed. (2004). Academic and Professional Standards: 6. Social Studies. Retrieved April 17, 2007 from http://education.state.nj.us/cccs/?_standard_matrix;c=6

USF (n.d.). History Through a Child’s Eyes. Retrieved April 10, 2007 from http://www.coedu.usf.edu/sse4313/

US National Archives. (n.d.). Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years of Photography from the National Archives. Retrieved April 11, 2007 from http://www.archives.gov/press/press-kits/picturing-the-century-photos/gallery2.html?template=print