Welcome to Best Practices

An Introduction to Historical Thinking and Reading
In Examples of Historical Thinking
Close Reading for Vocabulary, Context, and Tone
In Examples of Historical Thinking
The Grammar of History Textbooks Part II: Questioning the Text
In Teaching with Textbooks

Spotlight on Elementary Education

Oral histories and interviews are a unique form of historical documentation. This guide by Linda Shopes offers an overview of the various ways oral history can be integrated into classroom discussions. Though some of the techniques will have to be adapted for elementary students, the ideas Shopes presents are extremely useful. FIND OUT MORE »

Example of Historical Thinking

Scholars, students, and teachers model historical thinking
Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener"

Is reading a piece of historic literature once enough? Not if you want to [...] »

Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty

Educators tour the NMAAHC exhibit "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: [...] »

Visiting the George Mason Memorial

How can you get teachers thinking about monuments and memorials as secondary [...] »

Ford's Theatre: Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

Ford's Theatre Society's Sarah Jencks leads teachers through Abraham Lincoln [...] »

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Teaching with 19th-Century Art

Watch Suzannah Niepold of the Smithsonian American Art Museum guide teachers [...] »

Teaching in Action

Teachers demonstrate promising teaching practices
Third Graders Analyzing Historical Sources

A 3rd-grade teacher leads her students through analysis of child labor [...] »

Exploring Historical Texts in a Discussion-Based Class

Trying to promote more productive and engaging discussions?

[...] »

Using Primary Sources

Strategies for analyzing primary sources
Document Analysis Worksheets
Screenshot, "Written Document," National Archives

Find the National Archive's worksheets for analyzing a variety of primary [...] »

Primary Sources: What Are They?

The National History Day’s guidelines for defining and locating [...] »

Teaching with Textbooks

Techniques for promoting historical inquiry
The Grammar of History Textbooks, Part I: Language Analysis
Marginalia, CHNM

The language of history textbooks challenges English language learners and [...] »

Using Historiography to Analyze the Mexican-American War
Print, "Bombardment of Vera Cruz," 1893-1896, J. Andre Castaigne, NYPL

Allow students to see that history as we know it is interpretation, [...] »

The Grammar of History Textbooks Part II: Questioning the Text
Marginalia, CHNM

Turn your textbook into a conversation by scanning its language for biases [...] »

Learning Menus: Textbooks a la Carte

Turn your students into 'master chefs' by using learning menus that allow [...] »

Opening Up the Textbook
Negative, "Schoolroom. Concho, Arizona," Russell Lee, Oct. 1940, LoC

Make the most of your textbook—engage students in close reading and analysis [...] »