Glossary of Commonly Used Terms

Here are definitions to some of the most commonly used terms on

Digital History: the study of history that uses technology tools to analyze, interpret, and present the past.

ELL: acronym for English Language Learners, which refers to students in the process of acquiring English whose first language is other than English. offers ELL resources in Teaching Materials.

Historical Context: the political, social, cultural, and economic environment related to historical moments, events, and trends . Historical artifacts and sources were created within particular worlds and are tied to the political, social, and economic conditions of those worlds.

Historical Thinking: the reading, analysis and writing necessary to understand the past. It is not only what we know about the past—it is how we know it. Thinking historically helps us get closer to that past—to retrieve and construct a more accurate and complete picture of what happened and what it meant.

Material Culture: objects or items created by a society.

New Media: digital communication technology such as the Internet.

Primary Sources: materials directly related to the past by time or participation—things created in the past by people living at the time. Primary sources include photographs, prints, paintings, documents, advertisements, music and film, letters, newspaper articles, and objects.

Rubric: a set of criteria for evaluating a work or performance. offers a lesson plan rubric to assess the effectiveness of lesson plans.

Secondary Sources: writings by historians and others who use available sources to interpret the past. They provide analysis and summary, placing events, people, and evidence in historical context and asking questions about their meaning and significance.

Sourcing: a technique that invites students to question the validity of their sources: Who created it? For whom? Why? When and where did the source appear? Where was it discovered?

TAH: acronym for Teaching American History, a grant program of the U.S. Department of Education.