How to Design a History Curriculum

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

Teaching history is extremely important. All students should leave any class with an understanding of the history being taught in great detail. 

Here’s how teachers can come up with an effective, thoughtful history curriculum.

A Narrative

One of the first things you’ll want to do is come up with an overarching narrative. A narrative enables students to connect facts to a common theme that furthers their understanding. Students can build on their understanding then examine where it leads them. 

A good curriculum will bring in many themes and many narratives over the course of time. That allows students to get a feel for the complexity of the world and the worlds they are studying.

Big Ideas

Once you’ve created a narrative, it’s time to think about the kinds of big questions you kids to answer. These should be specific questions that allow students to connect with the material. For example, an 8th grade history curriculum should help students get a feel for questions such as what life was like for people in Colonial America. 

Other questions that may be on the table include how the Native American tribes differed, what motivated the colonists to leave their own lands, and the kind of weather and other conditions awaiting them when they got off the boat.

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Narrowing Focus

While big ideas have a place, it is also important to give students a feel for the smaller details that make history come alive. Using materials with Adobe Education Exchange knowledge can allow students to get in the kind of access to details they need to make sense of a given period of time. 

World War II is an example of the kind of large event that benefits from a closer examination. Students can study D-Day to get into the details that will make them understand what the war was about and why people were so happy when it ended.

Essential Concepts

Every period of time has essential concepts. Students should be able to examine these concepts over time and get how they have influenced historical development. An idea such as trading can tie together varied events over time. 

Students can study trade as it happened in Ancient Egypt and revisit the subject the next year when studying British mercantilism.

Content Mastery

Once all of these are in place, then it’s time to focus on content. Students should be given a series of lessons that take place over time. They should also be measured on their grasp of these subjects. Quizzes once a week can help students learn. Homework should reinforce the lesson plans. 

Students should also be given midterms and final exams. That will allow them to demonstrate they have mastered the required material. Any tests should include simple multiple-choice items as well as a chance for students to write essays on broader themes.

Designing a history curriculum that engages the attention of students is easier than ever when following these easy instructions.

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