Published Date

January 1, 2003

Resource Type

AHA Resource

AHA Topics

K–12 Education, Teaching & Learning

This is part of the Training Teachers to Teach History in K-12 Schools project.

Building upon four other education courses that constitute the “secondary education” minor program, the methods course serves as the capstone of this minor track for University of Northern Colorado history majors. This combination of a disciplinary major and a pedagogical minor prepares students for the intellectual and practical challenges that await them as high school history teachers. As the methods syllabus demonstrates, the course challenges students to think of themselves primarily as historians who teach. It also encourages them to translate their own methods of learning history (reading scholarly works, analyzing all kinds of primary sources, discussing their conclusions) into their teaching methods. The students draw upon their experiences, their pedagogical and multimedia training, the course readings, and their outside research to create innovative unit plans and other classroom materials that utilize primary sources, local history, and the latest in scholarly thinking, and that correspond to the relevant state frameworks.

Although the methods course is officially an education course (EDU 341), it is taught exclusively by members of the history department. More specifically, the history department’s Secondary Education Coordinator teaches the course. A tenure-track member of the history department, this coordinator works closely with colleagues holding similar positions in other arts and sciences departments and with colleagues in the education department to be able to advise students about the requirements for licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A real strength of the Salem State College program is that the conversation about how to teach effectively is not confined to the education department and does not end with the conclusion of the methods course. Instead, the history department’s secondary education coordinator also supervises the methods students when they do their student teaching, so that the discussion continues, as the history students become history teachers.


History 400-011: Teaching History in the Secondary Curriculum

Instructor: Fritz Fischer


(Available at “The Book Stop”)

Percoco, James, A Passion for the Past: Creative Teaching of U.S. History

Virden, William L. and Mary G. Borg, Go To the Source: Discovering 20th-Century U.S. History Through Colorado

Ideas about the Course

This course is designed to help prepare you to teach in the history classroom in the secondary school setting. Each presentation and each assignment is designed to give you concrete experience in successful teaching methodology. Most of the course will be taught by successful secondary-school teachers from throughout the state of Colorado. Each week, one of these teachers (or one of the Professors from here at UNC) will present to you a lesson that has worked (or should work!) in a secondary-school classroom. You will have an opportunity to critique and discuss the lesson. In the end, you will leave this class with a collection of top-notch lessons that you will be able to revise and use in your own history classrooms in the future. Along the way, you will be exposed to a wide variety of successful professional educators and will learn more about what makes them effective.


Attendance: The heart of this course is the weekly presentation. To that end, it is imperative that you attend every class session. Our guest teachers are volunteering time out of their busy schedules to make presentations, and we must not insult them through a lack of attendance. Don’t treat this as a course—treat this as a job. As a teacher, a pattern of absences will lead to being fired—in this course, it will lead to a failing grade. If for any reason you cannot attend a class session, you must contact Professor Fischer well ahead of time.

Participation: The act of teaching requires effective oral communication skills. You will be expected to actively participate in the discussions of the weekly presentations.

A passing grade in the class requires that you complete each of the following:

Journal Writing:
The major written requirement for this class is the compilation of a journal. The journal should be a binder into which you will place copies of all the lesson plans presented to you along with a review of that lesson. You must review each lesson presented. The review must be at least one page long, written on a computer word processor and double-spaced with 10 or 12 point font. The review should provide a description of the lesson as well as your analysis of that lesson. In your analysis, be sure to connect the discussion of the presentation with your own personal growth as a teacher. You will periodically hand in the journal to Professor Fischer for assessment. Hopefully, some of these lessons and reviews will also end up in your portfolios in the years to come.

Review Projects:
You will also be required to complete two review projects. These projects will be short reviews (3–4 pages; written on a computer word processor; 10–12 point font) of history teaching materials. These papers will require proper source documentation.

Review #1 (due October 10): Review of A Passion for the Past. Write a review of this book from the perspective of a history teacher. How useful is the book? What concrete suggestions does it contain? How does it promote your professional growth as a history teacher?

Review #2 (due November 14): Review of lessons from the World Wide Web and history teaching periodicals. Review at least two lesson plans found in web sites on the World Wide Web and two lessons and/or articles from one of the following periodicals: Magazine of History; History TeacherTeaching History. Be sure these lessons are history lessons, as opposed to generic social studies lessons. Write reviews of each within a single three- to four-page paper. Be sure to provide appropriate documentation of the web sites that serve as the basis for the review. Consult The History Highway for sites to examine.

Lesson Presentations:
You will also be required to present one lesson to the class. This lesson must be a lesson for a history class. The lesson may be a lesson you have tried previously in a STEP 262 or STEP 363 class, or it could be a brand new lesson. You will be required to write and turn in a lesson plan as part of this assignment. If you are not currently enrolled in SOSC 341, please see Professor Fischer during office hours to discuss the proper format for the lesson plan. I have reserved the last two days of class (November 21 and December 5) for presentation of these lessons.

Assignment Due Dates:
October 3 Finish Percoco, A Passion for the Past
October 10 Review #1 Due
November 7 Finish Go to the Source
November 14 Review #2 Due
November 21 Lesson plan and presentation due
December 5 Final Journal Due

Schedule of Coming Attractions

August 29Introduction: “The First Day of Class”
September 5Professor Fischer: “Role Playing”?
September 12Mr. Mel Bacon, Brighton High School “Music, Visuals and the 1960s”
September 19Mr. Don Love, Windsor Middle School “Teaching History in Middle School”
September 26Ms. Edie Reynolds, Greeley West High School
October 3Professor Fischer: Discussion of A Passion for the Past— Book must be read by this date
October 10Professor Jennifer Frost, UNC “Teaching Women’s History”
October 17Professor Chris Doyle, UNC “Assessment in Teaching History”
October 24Ms. Marla Anderson, Greeley West High School.
October 31Mr. James Walsh, UC-Denver, CU, UNC “Drama in the Teaching of History”
November 7Ms. Mary Borg, UNC: “Using Primary Documents”; Discuss Go to the Source—Book must be completed by this date
November 21Lesson Presentations
November 28Thanksgiving
December 5Lesson Presentations