Want your students to think like historians? Try Zoom In

Submitted 7 years ago
James Denby
James Denby
Educator/Curriculum Developer
My Rating

My Take

Once you have set up your class on Zoom In, you are ready to go. The lessons and units are complete, each one containing whole lessons (materials, standards, objectives, hook, context, etc.). The most important thing Zoom In contains, however, is excellent primary source documents. In fact, the units are based on the primary sources and push students to 'think like a historian' (to borrow a phrase from the recent Graphite campaign). This is not simple question and answer stuff, but instead it promotes reflection and discussion.

If I were an administrator, I would love Zoom In and be nudging my teachers towards using it. Some teachers are already constructing learning experiences in this way, but others struggle to do it. Zoom In has created an inquiry-based learning experience that requires students to engage with and analyse historical issues and they have made it available to all teachers for free. I tend to want to design my own 'stuff', but if we were studying westward expansion, I wouldn't dream of passing up their lesson on the Indian Removal Act.

The only drawback? At this point, Zoom In only has lessons in US History. That said, those US History lessons range from civil rights and First Nations people to the Constitution and foreign policy.

How I Use It

Each and every Zoom In lesson/unit is essentially ready for you to teach. From hook to materials and standards to assessment, you can follow all the steps created by the Zoom In team. I left out the assessment piece because I have (and my school has) my own protocols for a writing process and feedback. Otherwise, in my initial use of Zoom In, I have made use of what they have put together.

Though I chose to forego the writing submission and assessment on the site, it is quite amazing that it's there and ready to go.