"Teaching for Historical Literacy" touched me on so many levels. First, I believe that in a democracy, history and social studies shouldn't be optional. Social studies thinking strategies can be taught to children in elementary school and in the past, social studies was integrated into the rest of the curriculum, particularly the reading curriculum. The strategies discussed in this article are a great way to get started. In addition, the NCSS web site offers a comprehensive list of trade books for elementary and middle school students that can serve as sources of information and help students develop background.
"Adolescent Literacy: More Than Remediation"
I am a history teacher but I am also a teacher of reading. I am finding that many of my students grapple with vocabulary but also the syntactically more complex sentences that are found in high school textbooks. Part of what we have to do as history teachers is to teach our students how to read in the discipline. Most of the reading in ninth grade history is digital--textbook, primary documents, websites and on-line articles. Teaching search strategies, vocabulary and targeted reading skills are strategies that I have intentionally taught this year but I can't say that I have seen great change. Some of my students don't monitor their reading and adjust their reading as needed. It's time on task but not mind on task. I'd like feedback on strategies that others have used to help their students increase their reading comprehension.
Molly Wagner

"Teaching for Historical Literacy" should be the model for how we approach History and Social Studies instruction at St. Paul's. The national history standards for World and US history developed in the 1990s set new and higher standards and benchmarks for historical thinking as well as historical content. The work of Sam Wineburg and his associates also promotes the type of historical instruction mentioned here. Both the British and Canadian national history standards are based on this model, which also fits with McTighe/Wiggins' Understanding By Design where the instructional ideal is thoughtful uncoverage of big ideas, not superficial coverage of disconnected topics. Historical literacy grounded in solid instructional practices such as those mentioned in this article is a foundation for responsible democratic citizenship, for gaining perspective on current issues and problems, and for developing the habits of mind useful for further learning, for productive work, and for living a good, fully human life. But this kind of thinking doesn't just "happen," and there's evidence to suggest that critical thinking, or what we are calling historical thinking, runs counter to our natural instincts for simplicity and emotional thinking. To think this way requires thinkers (i.e. teachers and students) who know their purpose, who are attentive to their tasks, and who know how to use the thinking strategies in the chart on p. 54. Developing these thinking strategies should be the main project of our Grade 5-12 vertical team.

"Adolescent Literacy" was a stinging indictment of some current, and I believe alarming, trends touted by some educators on blogs and so forth that the era of the book is over. Written texts develop the linear thinking that stems from the best of our Western intellectual tradition: the use of reason and rationality to understand the world. Our modern institutions - governments, banks, schools and universities, corporations and businesses, civic groups - are all based on linear thinking. Students must learn to think in a disciplined way so that they can navigate successfully these institutions that shape their life. As we enter the world of the Internet, social media, and 24/7 cable news, we enter the non-linear world of "digital reading," as the article discusses. The best way to help our students navigate the non-linear world is to teach them how to use reason and rationality, empiricism and logic to evaluate ideas presented in all texts, including digital texts. A recent example of this is the Kony 2012 video that went viral on YouTube and generated over 70 million hits within the first few days. On the one hand, this kind of consciousness-raising and youth-focused activism is refreshing and energizing. On the other hand, there are many scholars of central and east African history and politics, including many with deep, first-hand experience in Uganda, the DRC, and the Central African Republic, who say that the kind of intervention promoted by Kony 2012 could actually destabilize the region and make things worse. So without skills in "digital reading," kids now and when they become adults can be susceptible to the kind of groupthink that often leads to poor decision-making with disastrous consequences. All teachers are teachers of reading, so we should be incorporating deliberate reading strategies in our history instruction, and we should also provide opportunities in our curriculum, even during class, for collateral reading. We've got to allow kids to choose their books, but we've got to make sure they choose above their reading level so they aren't picking fluff just to complete a task.
Pete Wilson
“Teaching for Historical Literacy” was a great article that helped reinforce the idea that there is a difference between information and knowledge. Teaching in the lower middle school, I see firsthand that students have very limited prior knowledge about the time period that I teach. Sometimes as a teacher, I get caught up on trying to provide the students with so much information about a subject that I do not offer enough time and/or activities to allow them to stop and think about the information being presented. None of this information in this article was new to me. However, it helps me to stop and reevaluate myself in this area and come up with ways to do a better job in teaching history.
“Adolescent Literacy: More Than Remediation” was a very timely and informative article for me as a teacher. Reading is an issue that we have discussed this year in many of our grade level meetings. I have noticed over the years that most of my students who struggle in my class, the root of the problem is reading comprehension. I have spent the last seven years teaching 6th and 7th grade. This is when the students have just made the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. This is difficult for some of our students in both history and science because of the greater use of a textbook. The article pointed out many interesting facts regarding reading comprehension especially the differences after the 3rd grade. I know Molly asked in her earlier post for strategies that are used in our classrooms dealing with reading comprehension. I have found that reading out loud and then explaining what was just read seems to really help my students comprehend the material oppose to having them read on their own. I select in each chapter what we will read together (material that maybe more difficult for the students to comprehend) to what they will read on their own. After we read a portion of the text, I go back and explain the text again focusing on their comprehension of what we just read. Periodically, I assign a portion of a text to read for homework and will give them a quiz on that portion the next day in class. In my opinion, this is basically a reading comprehension quiz. The students that struggle with reading comprehension are usually identified at the beginning of the year through these quizzes. I have seen some improvement during the year through the quizzes. However, I am sure there are more effective strategies out there to teach reading comprehension. I hope that professional development opportunities are offered in the future to allow me to learn new strategies and become a better teacher in this area. April Messer