Teachinghistory.org

Website review by
Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Media
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Teacher-designed history site may help parents educate kids.

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The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

The resources on Teachinghistory.org cover significant topics in U.S. History. Many of the lessons incorporate technology and interactive features that kids may find helps them get a greater understanding of historical events. The amount of resources available may be overwhelming and will appear to be only directed at teachers, but it can be a valuable tool to help kids learn about history. Kids can take quizzes on topics they're covering in class, find online games and activities related to specific historical events, and use the sources provided on the site to do research. Teachinghistory.org may not be solely focused on a kid audience, but kids and parents alike will find lots here to raise their interest in American History.

Positive Messages

Encourages academic skill development, greater understanding of U.S. history. Students need to be educated to become informed, active citizens.

Consumerism

This is a free site with no advertising. Funded by the Department of Education to increase access to educational resources.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Teachinghistory.org was designed for teachers, but it can be useful to parents to support their children as they learn about the history of the United States. The site has an extensive collection of lessons as well as information on instructional strategies, good technology tools, and key educational issues. The resources will help keep parents informed about how history is being taught and may also provide them with ideas for how to supplement what their children are learning in school.

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What's it about?

TEACHINGHISTORY.ORG is a clearinghouse of resources to teach kids about U.S. history. The goal of the site is to improve access to educational materials. There are numerous ways to search the site to find useful materials. Search by Best Practices and find examples of historical thinking, using primary sources, teaching with textbooks, and teaching in action. Search by Digital Classroom and find examples of technology tools to enhance classroom learning. Search by Teaching Materials and find lesson-plan reviews and teaching guides. In addition, there are blog articles, information on issues and research, and quick links to grade-level materials and spotlight topics. There is also an option to "Ask a ... " historian, digital historian, or master teacher a question.

Is it any good?

With all the educational resources available on the Web, this history-based site is a valuable tool for parents to easily access high-quality materials. Teachinghistory.org is really geared toward teachers, but parents can find ways to use it to help support their kids as they learn about U.S. history. There are numerous ideas for how to encourage critical thinking and help kids gain a deeper understanding of history. The bulk of the resources are reviewed lessons, which are primarily for teachers, but beyond the lessons, the resources provided in Best Practices cover skill development such as how to analyze primary documents, how to read like a historian, and how to make sense of maps. Parents could use some of the suggestions to assist with homework or supplement what is being taught in school. The site is a bit dry, and parents or kids who aren't necessarily interested in history might not find themselves instantly drawn to the content here. But for the history buff, Teachinghistory.org is a great way to learn more about the history of the United States.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about educational games that support learning about U.S. history. Do these games improve on the methods used to teach you history in school?

  • Talk about history topics being taught in school. Why do you think they're taught that way? Is there something you think should be taught instead?

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