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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

History, civics and reading comprehension go together


Abraham Lincoln reading to his son.

The more students know about the world, the better they can understand what they read, writes Susan Pimentel in Education Week. The better they read, the more they can build additional knowledge.


To raise "shockingly low" history and civics scores, she writes, "we need to include more civics and history in literacy lessons and add more deliberate literacy instruction in civics and history."


When she trains teachers, they tell her students can't read their social studies (and other) textbooks. They're too complex. So teachers lecture and show slides. It's boring.


It's likely that one reason National Assessment for Education Progress scores are falling in history and civics is that students can't read well enough to understand the questions.

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Guest
May 06, 2023

Some of this doesn't have to be hard. Kids are capable of dividing paper into thirds and putting the title of each branch of government at the top and filling in the responsibilities of each, and how many people there are. Divide the kids up to represent branches or houses of congress. Give them an issue and talk them through a simulated bill - maybe proposing that they do a particular activity. The teacher, as president, can veto so they have to propose something reasonable, checks and balances and all that.


Talk about how a different classroom might make different choices for some things while other situations have a school-wide policy...kind of like state vs federal government. Other decisions ar…


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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
May 05, 2023

AN ASIDE: In Cuba, the government has always claimed that the public has a high literacy rate (and the UN bureaucrats believe them w/o verification). But when all you can read is state-approved propaganda, arguably literacy can be WORSE than illiteracy. Moreover, each government gets to define "literacy." According to Cuba communists, Cuba has a 99.9% literacy rate. Problem solved! BTW, Cuba also provides free GREAT medical care for everyone -- if you believe the Cuban government. Just remember to bring your own clean linens to the hospital when you go in. And food, if you like to eat.

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Guest
May 05, 2023

Lecturing and showing slides is not boring. It all depends on the lecturer. My students enjoy my history class because I know my stuff and lecture in an exciting way. They also see how passionate I am about the topic. Unfortunately too many history teachers are not passionate or don’t know the topic.

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