Vanessia Wilkins


Return to ETAP 623 Fall 2016 Reading Like A Historian


Welcome to my profile!

Click here for my mini-course: Reading Like A Historian

About Me

My name is Vanessia Wilkins and I recently moved to New York from Connecticut by way of Florida. I am married to a wonderful husband and we have 4 beautiful children, 2 boys and 2 girls. Victor is the oldest at age 7, followed by Jonathan age 5, Cailyn age 4, and my 2 years old baby girl Peyton. Before I moved to New York, I taught 6th Grade History at Achievement First Summit Middle School. Now, I am a full-time mom, wife, and student!!! My hobbies are concurrent with my children which includes soccer, baseball, ballet and gymnastics. I also love to shop, read, and spend time with my family.

This is my first semester in the CDIT Program and I am very excited to learn as much as possible about the proper implementation of technology in the classroom. As a teacher and a mom, I understand the importance and effectiveness of technology and I want to be fully equipped to teach not only my students, but my children as well.

My Topic/Purpose

Reading Like a Historian curriculum turns students into historical investigators. The purpose of the lessons are to help students recognize skills of historical inquiry they already practice everyday, such as reconciling conflicting claims and evaluating the reliability of narrative accounts. By using real-life situations, students are challenged to apply these skills while reading which will prepare them to do inquiry using primary and secondary sources.

Needs Assessment

Instructional Problem

History teachers have the daunting task of changing students’ perception of learning history from memorizing dates and facts to understanding the importance of the interconnectedness of history and present day. In order to accomplish this goal, educators have to teach students historical thinking skills through activities such as ‘Reading Like a Historian’ to better equip them to think critically. Puteh (2010) argues that “History provides opportunities to teach process skills, such as critical thinking, data analysis, making or identifying generalization, discovering biases, and recognizing perspectives” (p. 89). Although some people can answer questions about historical dates and facts, they are unable to understand the complexities of the past and its correlation to the present. Levesque affirms that “Historical thinking is our mental toolkit for engaging critically with the multiple stories of the past we encounter in our daily life” (p.6).

Cabiness et al., (2013) asserts that the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) advocates that an effective social studies curriculum will provide students with the skills to be competent and productive members of this society and that historical thinking skills are vital to the sustainability of the democratic society. By teaching these skills, teachers are not only becoming experts in their field, they are also preparing students to think holistically about human culture. Levesque (2016) argues that “Students who develop historical thinking skills are better able to question the value of historical narratives, examine their own preconceived historical ideas and sense of belonging, and ultimately generate their own stories of the past based on scholarly rules of argument” (p.89). Therefore, it is the responsibility of the teacher to use the appropriate resources, approaches, activities, and to think like historians in order to guide students to success.

What is to be Learned

Educators will learn the value of historical thinking skills and effectively teach their students how to analyze and think critically in everyday situations which will lead to a greater understanding of history and the use of high order thinking skills.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

The Learners Participants will be secondary history and social studies teachers from a variety of experience levels. This course is especially designed for teachers who are willing to act as a facilitator in the classroom.

Context for Instruction Participants will learn the provided content online through this min-course. An Internet connection and Internet friendly device is required to participate with the content. Participants can also print a copy of worksheets for students for those who would prefer a hard copy.

Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution Each unit will contain a real life scenario with a lesson plan for instruction. The unit will begin with an introduction and an assignment for students to work collaboratively. They will work in pairs to answer questions and debrief the activity with a whole group discussion. The second unit will include a journal writing activity with discussion questions. The third unit will consist of an activity with a discussion. These units will allow students to recognize skills of historical inquiry they already practice on a daily basis, such as reconciling conflicting claims and evaluating the reliability of narrative accounts. By using real-life situations, students are challenged to apply these skills while reading which will prepare them to do inquiry using primary and secondary sources and transfer these skills to other disciplines.

Goals of this Mini-Course The goals of this mini-course is to equip teachers to help students develop process skills that enable them to engage in higher order thinking skills. These skills include:

1) Think critically and creatively

2) Understand the features of history

3) Develop empathy for historical events

4) Explore complex and abstract ideas with the teacher's guidance

5) Understand how historians re-construct past events using evidence to determine the significance of certain events

Performance Objectives

Given background information and materials, learners will evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain by completing accompanying worksheet.

Given primary and secondary sources, learners will identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose by evaluating an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.

Given primary and secondary sources, learners will compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

Given background information and materials, learners will evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.

Given background information and materials, learners will distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text by assessing the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.

Course-Level Objectives

Learners who complete this course will be able to:

1. Explain the importance of historical thinking skills and how they can be used in the classroom.

2. Correctly evaluate the reliability of narrative accounts and assess students on their understanding of the concept.

3. Recognize skills of historical inquiry and produce a user-friendly tool for students to access.

Task Analysis

Unit 1: What is History?

· Accounts/narratives differ depending on one’s perspective.

· We rely on evidence to construct our accounts of the past.

· We must question the reliability of each piece of evidence.

· Any single piece of evidence is insufficient.

· We must consult multiple pieces of evidence in order to build a plausible account.

Unit 2: Corroboration

· What do other pieces of evidence say?

· Am I finding the same information everywhere?

· Am I finding different versions of the story?

· Where else could I look to find out about this?

· What pieces of evidence ae most believable?

Unit 3: Sourcing

· Who wrote this?

· What is the author’s perspective?

· Why was it written?

· When was it written?

· Where was it written?

· Is this source reliable? Why? Why not?

Curriculum Map

Curriculum Map.png

References and Resources

Digital Library Project. (2009). Retrieved from

Cabiness, C., Donovan, L., & Green, T. (2013). Integrating Wikis in the Support and Practice of Historical Analysis Skills. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 57(6), 38-48.

Lévesque, S. (2016). Why Should Historical Thinking Matter to Students?. Agora, 51(2), 4-8.

Puteh, S. N., Maarof, N., & Tak, E. (2010). Students' perception of the teaching of historical thinking skills. Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, 18(SPEC. ISSUE), 87-95.

Stanford History Education Group. 2016. Evaluating Sources. Retrieved from

Stanford History Education Group. 2016. Lunchroom Fight. Retrieved from

Stanford History Education Group. 2016. Snapshot Autobiography. Retrieved from