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Stanford Researchers bring life to high school history classes with a curriculum built around historical documents

Brooke Donald, Stanford Report

March 5, 2012

"I always tell my students they're historians-in-training, so the work we do in here is that of a historian," Ziegler said. The nontraditional curriculum Ziegler uses, called Reading Like a Historian, was designed at Stanford and is among the projects of the Stanford History Education Group.

Abstract

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There are no orderly rows of desks in Valerie Ziegler's high school history class – students sit in groups of three or four at small tables around the room. There also is no lectern because there are no lectures. And perhaps most striking, there are no textbooks.

The 11th-grade class at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco learns about the Vietnam War, women's suffrage, civil rights, the Great Depression and other major events in U.S. history by analyzing journal writings, memoirs, speeches, songs, photographs, illustrations and other documents of the era.

"I always tell my students they're historians-in-training, so the work we do in here is that of a historian," Ziegler said.

The nontraditional curriculum Ziegler uses, called Reading Like a Historian, was designed at Stanford and is among the projects of the Stanford History Education Group.