In this book, extended case studies of two veteran teachers and their students are combined with the extant research literature to explore current issues of teaching, learning, and testing U.S. history. It is among the first to examine these issues together and in interaction. While the two teachers share several similarities, the teaching practices they construct could not be more different. To explore these differences, the author asks what their teaching practices look like, how their instruction influences their students' understandings of history, and what role statewide exams play in their classroom decisions. History Lessons: Teaching, Learning, and Testing in U.S. High School Classrooms is a major contribution to the emerging body of empirical research in the field of social studies education, chiefly in the subject area of history, which asks how U.S. students make sense of history and how teachers construct their classroom practices.
Three case study chapters are paired with three essay review chapters intended to help readers analyze the cases by looking at them in the context of the current research literature. Two concluding chapters extend the cases and analyses: the first looks at how and why the teachers profiled in this book construct their individual teaching practices, in terms of three distinct but interacting sets of influences--personal, organizational, and policy factors; the second explores the prospects for promoting what the author defines as ambitious teaching and learning. Many policymakers assume that standards-based reforms support the efforts of ambitious teachers, but until we better understand how they and the students in their classes think and act, that assumption is hollow at best.
This book is a must have for faculty and students in the field of social studies education, and broadly relevant across the fields of curriculum studies and educational policy.
"History Lessons is a powerful piece of work….It is a major contribution to the field because it helps explain why theory, research, and practice so rarely meet in the classroom. What Grant adds is careful, nuanced attention to the connections between teacher thinking, enacted curriculum, student response and construction of historical understanding. He also provides thoughtful analysis of the impact of assessment of teachers' performance and students' learning….Overall, a bravura performance."
—Linda S. Levstik
University of Kentucky
"I believe that this book will quite literally become indispensable for history educators. The most comprehensive and readable synthesis of scholarship on U.S. history education yet, it is certainly the only book that examines secondary history teaching, learning, and policy, and grounds its analysis in empirical case studies to demonstrate how these issues play out in practice….The author has covered all the major issues in the field. The content is sophisticated and significant….I am impressed by the clarity and persuasiveness of the writing."
—Keith C. Barton
University of Cincinnati
Contents: Preface. Part I: Teaching History. Teaching History: Linda Strait and George Blair Teach About the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Teaching History: The Nature of Pedagogy in History Classrooms. Part II: Learning History. Learning History: What Blair's and Strait's Students Understand About History. Learning History: The Nature of Student Understanding in History Classrooms. Part III: Testing History. Testing History: The Influence of State-Level Testing on Blair's and Strait's Practices. Testing History: The Nature of State-Level Testing in History Classrooms. Part IV: Influences on and Prospects for Ambitious Teaching. The Influences on Teachers' Classroom Decisions. Promoting Ambitious Teaching and Learning.