I taught for 13 years at the middle school level. One of the best things I ended up adding to the start of my year was a "Historical Thinking Boot Camp" which spent some dedicated time with my 7th graders going through all the skills needed to think historically. I wrote a blog post that can be see HERE detailing it. And to this day it is one of my most popular blogs.
But like all good things...it needs an update. This update really was for me. 3 years ago I made the jump to high school. It only took 4 semesters and teaching in a pandemic for me to finally work out a version of the boot camp for my US History classes to try out.
I am dividing this into 4 different blog posts in order to be able to go into details for each day and then provide a reflection and any modifications I may do the next time in the final post.
- Day 1: Discussion Expectations - Employability Skills - Historical Thinking
- Day 2: Skills for Thinking Historically
- Day 3: Stations - Sourcing Strengths and Limitations
- Day 4: Follow-up, Reflection and Modifications
***I provide resources to my lessons and activities for free at the conclusion of this post, all I ask is that if you use it you don't claim it as your own and it doesn't end up on TPT***
For reference we run a 4x4 block schedule (85ish minute class periods). I see my classes each day for a semester and then start over with a new group of kids in January. While my middle school version of the boot camp took 5-7 days, I don't have the luxury of that much time at the HS level with our schedule. So this is designed to be completed in 3ish days, which includes the first day of school "stuff".
Day 1: (First day of the semester)
I try to come out like a freight train full of energy and do my best to get kids engaged at the "get-go". One of my favorite phrases I say to my classes is...
And I mean it. Almost as soon as I say that we talk about what good discussions look like. I explain (and model) my expectations for good quality discussions. What I, as the teacher walking around the room, expect to SEE and HEAR. We talk about body language and how that can convey a persons attitude and level of participation. My basic expectations for discussions in class...
And then I tell the story of the "Orphans of the Abyss" (Click here for the amazing story)