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Habits of Mind




1. Significance of the Past

…understand the significance of their past to their lives, both private and public and to their society.

  • Multiple groups given a task to accomplish w/in a time limit-Was it difficult?

  • Small groups merge to form a larger group to solve same problem-Was this easier?

  • Connection to manifest destiny

2. What’s Important and What’s Not

…distinguish between the important and the inconsequential, to develop the “discriminating memory” needed for discerning judgment in public and personal life.

  • Students examine O’Sullivan’s Manifest Destiny for symbols, actions to infer message and perspective of manifest destiny.

  • Students read primary sources form other perspectives

  • Students create their own original work of manifest destiny.

3. Historical Empathy

…perceive past events and issues as they were experienced by people at the time, to develop historical empathy as opposed to present-mindedness.

“WBFLO” morning talk show with traffic reporter

  • Students select a role and write a piece from the “eyes” of that person about manifest destiny. Videotape discussions.

  • Roles-railroad worker, railroad boss, women/children, pony express rider, telegraph operator, bison, American eagle, American Indian

4. Shared Humanity

…acquire at one and the same time a comprehension of diverse cultures and of share humanity.

  • Examine picture in small groups

  • Discuss & categorize in small groups. ie. Transportation, communication, etc.

  • Make connections to own life-challenges, hopes, etc.

5. Change and Consequences

…understand how things happen and how things change, how human interactions matter, but also how their consequences are shaped by the means of carrying them out, in a tangle between purpose and process.

  • Examine O’Sullivan’s picture in small groups to identify events portrayed.

  • Discuss possible consequences of those events.

  • Complete a cause and effect chart.

6. Change and Continuity

…comprehend the interplay of change and continuity, and avoid assuming that either is somehow more natural, or more to be expected, than the other.

  • Lead a discussion about moving

  • Students fill a shoebox with items they want to take with them if they were to move.

  • Teacher fills box with items pioneers might take west.

  • Share and compare boxes for similarities/differences (Venn diagram)

7. History is Unfinished Business

…prepare to live with uncertainties and exasperating-even perilous-unfinished business, realizing that not all ‘problems’ have solutions.

  • Problem: American Indians living on land US wants

  • Interview with American Indian and government official to try to come up with a solution to the problem.

8. Campaign Against Monocausality

…grasp the complexity of historical causation, respect particularity, and avoid excessively abstract generalizations.

  • Students to complete a web graphing the cultural, economic, social, and political reasons for manifest destiny.

  • Compare to why people move today.

9. History’s Tentative Nature

…appreciate the often tentative nature of judgments about the past, and thereby avoid the temptation to seize upon particular “lessons” of history as cures for present ills.

  • Teachers in grade level teams portray a character from westward expansion.

  • Teachers hold a press conference in their room while students move from room to room asking questions as reporters to gain historical knowledge. Can use the Socratic method.

  • Students then write an article for their newspaper about the events.

10. People Who Made a Difference

…recognize the importance of individuals who have made a difference in history, and the significance of personal character for both good and ill.

  • Students create a wax museum of individuals important to manifest destiny-may be cutouts or actual portrayal.

  • Include strengths, weaknesses, milestones, vision, artifact, quote, journal entry and costume of individual.

11. The Unintended and Unexpected

…appreciate the force of the non-rational, the irrational, and the accidental in history and human affairs.

What if gold was never discovered?

Web, discussion, personal connection

12. Time and Place are Inseparable

…understand the relationship between geography and history as a matrix of time and place, and as a context for events.

  • Show O’Sullivan’s picture of Manifest Destiny

  • Ask students what images they see, what symbols are used

  • Students draw own rendition of painting showing 3 themes of history-can divide the picture into thirds

  • Students write an explanation or narrative of whole picture.

13. Evaluating Evidence

…read widely and critically in order to recognize the difference between fact and conjecture, between evidence and assertion, and thereby frame useful questions.

  • Lead a discussion of information discussed during unit.

  • Students to complete a T-chart answering the question, “Was manifest destiny a myth or fact?”

FCPS Teaching American History Grant

NCHE Colloquium-March 2004

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