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Historical Truth Chapter 6. How Can I Encourage Students to Use Historical Fiction to Build Their Understanding of History?. Historical Thinking . The Framework of Mara Zarnowski’s “Making Sense of History” Big Idea:

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historical truth chapter 6
Historical Truth Chapter 6

How Can I Encourage

Students to Use Historical

Fiction to Build Their

Understanding of History?

historical thinking
Historical Thinking

The Framework of Mara Zarnowski’s “Making Sense of History”

  • Big Idea:

“How can I encourage students to use historical fiction to build their understanding of history?”

Teaching history should be beyond teaching just simple facts about human history. There are two purposes of teaching history to students. One is savoring history to make it more interesting and approachable for students so that they can associate themselves with fictional historical figures. The other purpose is teaching historical knowledge to help students understand the past, present and future. The benefit of introducing historical fiction is students can hear the voices that were “silenced and missing from historical accounts” in the social studies curriculum.

  • Zarnowski states:

“Historical truth is a broader concept than our everyday, common-sense notion of what is true or false”

Verifiable truth = Literal truth

Unverifiable truth = Artistic truth or Historical trueness

“Historical fiction written for children and young adults reflects only a narrow range of historical interpretations and perspectives”

Think about the accuracy of historical facts.

e.g., Saddako

“Teachers report that historical fiction is appealing to students and sparks interest in learning.”

-Can learn about the difficult parts of history in approachable ways.

e.g., Days of Tears

“Historical fiction that contains previously unheard voices”

-See and feel history from different perspectives and points of views.

e.g., The Game of Silence and Worth

“Historical fiction and nonfiction on the same topic”

-Providing examples of different kinds of historical truth.

e.g., Fever and An American Plague

See “Suggested Historical Fiction and Nonfiction on the Same Topic”

Zarnowski’s 6 week Lesson plan outline

Week 1 and 2: Reading historical fiction: Savoring the story and sorting out fact and fiction

Week 3 and 4: Reading nonfiction: Clarifying “Not Sure” items

Week 5 and 6: Writing a class question-and–answer book: Documenting the facts

historical literature
Historical Literature
  • Suggested Historical Fiction and Nonfiction on the Same Topic in Chapter 6

Big Idea:

“This list of historical fiction /nonfiction pairs will provide students opportunities to inquire historical truth and gain historical know ledges”

Suggested Historical Literature in Chapter 6

Big Idea:

“How does Historical Fiction Contribute to an understanding of historical truth?”

hands on experiences
Hands On Experiences
  • Teaching Idea 1: Help students see that historical fiction reflects the times in which it was written.

- Have students read Johnny Tremain which was written in 1943 during World War II and compare it with My Brother Sam is Dead by Collier & Collier which was written in 1974 during the Vietnam War era.

- Then have students discuss the attitude of each author towards war and why the authors wrote the books

  • Teaching Idea 2: Compare The Birchbark House with Little House in the Big Woods”

- Introduce two books to students and explain that both books deal with westward expansion by different group of people- the Ojibiwa community in The Birchbark House and a pioneer family in Little House in the Big House

- Invite students compare work, play, family life, hardship and pleasures in daily life between the books

  • Teaching Idea 3: Compare historical novels about the Orphan Trains

- Introduce Worth and Rodzina to students and tell them the main characters in the books are different.

- Have them read and discuss how the two characters’ experiences with Orphan train differ from each other.

- What are the main characters’ conflicts?

- How are these conflicts resolved?

- How do these books help you understand how children were affected by the orphan train program?

Teaching Idea 4: Use Days of Tears for Readers Theater for 6th grade and up.

The book contains a series of powerful monologue and dialogue that can lead to good discussions.

- “The Kitchen” (pp.3-14).

Characters: 2 slaves, Mattie, Will (Mattie’s husband), Emma (the daughter of Mattie and Will)

Dialogue: Having a serious discussion about upcoming sale of slaves

- “Interlude 1”: “Emma as am Old Woman” (pp.15-17)

Character: Old Emma

Monologue: Emma recalls the horror of that day and claims that no picture can capture what it felt like.

- “The Dining Room” (pp.18-29)

Characters: Master, Slave-Seller

Dialogue: conversation between the master and slave-seller

Teaching Idea 5: What to ask?

Zarnowski claimed that students need to be able to ask deeper and critical thinking questions beyond knowing what happened in the story. Here are questions Zarnowski suggested.

How does the book help me understand daily life in the past?

Could the events really happen? What evidence do I have?

Which events really happened? How do I know?

Which characters really existed? How do I know?

historical accounts chapter 7
Historical Accounts Chapter 7

How Can I Show Students

That Accounts Are

Incomplete and Require

Additional Facts to Tell the

Whole Story?

zarnowski says on p 163
Zarnowski says on p. 163:

“Many students are convinced that there is only one true version of history. They think that most authors of history books dealing with the same topic provide exactly the same information, but use different words. And if they do spot differences in information between books, one book must be wrong and the other right”

research suggests
Research suggests:
  • Over time, students develop sophisticated ideas about how historical accounts are written
research suggests1
Research suggests:
  • Students need to understand that history is based on evidence left behind, not on direct observation.
  • “Students need to know that historians rigorously question the available evidence; they do not accept it unconditionally.”
historical literature1
Historical Literature
  • Who Were the Founding Fathers?: Two Hundred Years of Reinventing American History by Steven H. Jaffe
  • Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family by Shannon Lanier and Jane Feldman
  • The Power of One: Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
hands on experiences1
Hands on Experiences
  • My class played a math game against me. I won. We then wrote accounts of the event taking place. Which is the “right” account?
  • From p. 178, Inserting Information. During our content reading time, students were asked to add information to math books add more details than were included.
make history happen in your classroom
Make History Happen in Your Classroom

Using this organization will help you think about goals, materials, and activities, resulting in a coherent teaching plan based on theory and research but works in your real world classroom.