About the Author

Daisy Martin, Director of History Education at Teachinghistory.org, recently co-authored Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School History Classrooms, published by Teachers College Press.

At a Glance


Organize Your Thinking to Critically Analyze Text

This 15-minute video features 5th-grade teacher Jennifer Brouhard using several strategies for prompting deep understanding of historical texts. Brouhard explains how she noticed that her students were reading quickly and considered themselves finished with a text before going deeply into it or “doing anything” with it. Here, she explains several strategies that prompted her students to delve deeper into text and draw more meaning from it than a quick read allows.

This video provides examples of three promising practices:

  1. Creating opportunities to hear students making sense of the content and text and using what she learns about student understanding to design instruction tailored to that particular class’s needs;
  2. Using a historical question to frame instruction and student reading; and
  3. Using a variety of teaching strategies in response to student needs and abilities.

In “Keep it or Junk it?” students nominate, vote, and discuss which words are needed to address the following focus question: What happened as a result of English settlement of Jamestown Virginia? Handouts for this strategy can be downloaded from the site.

“Jump in and read” lets Brouhard listen to her students read the text which helps her understand areas they need more help with. For example, if students stumble on the phrase “indentured servant,” it indicates that they need more review of this term and its meaning.

Writing subtitles for paragraphs is a third strategy Brouhard selectively employs.

Included with this video are handouts and samples of student work that make it easy to give one of these strategies a try in your own classroom.