Book Review – Reading, Thinking, and Writing about History

As I’ve delved more into inquiry based learning in my classroom, I’ve been collecting any and all resources that can provide specific lessons for me to implement.  Recently, I purchased a copy of Reading, Thinking, and Writing About History: Teaching Argument Writing to Diverse Learners in the Common Core Classroom, Grades 6-12 (Common Core State Standards for Literacy).  The book has several authors, including Chauncey Monte-Sano, Susan De La Paz, and Mark Felton.

This book appears to be geared towards teachers who are just entering the world of inquiry based learning.  There is considerable space devoted to a discussion of why inquiry based learning is a best practice for Social Studies education.  There are six specific three day lesson examples, and each has its own chapter.  Some of them remind me of the lessons from the Stanford History Education Group, and some even use the same documents.  For New York history teachers, each lesson isfocused on seventh grade curriculum, including – Lexington and Concord, Shay’s Rebellion, The Alien and Sedition Acts, the Trail of Tears, abolitionists and the Mexican War.

I like the structure of the individual lessons, and the documents are reasonably modified for seventh grade readers.  The lessons each contain some background history to help teachers with historical context, and each also mention videos that the students may watch to gain some context.  I do wish that they provided historical context readings for the students in a handout form.  The lessons do include student worksheets (although I most often retype everything myself anyways).   They also provide an “IREAD” approach for students to access the documents.  My students come up from sixth grade with considerable practice in annotation, so they don’t really need another acronym in their brains.

The lessons are just individual lessons, and not centered within a unit.  Therefore, the questions that guide each inquiry are very rather specific.  I do think that they could be broadened to include more activities, but teachers would need to create those activities on their own.  Each lesson is linked to the C3 framework and common core.

All and all, I think this book is useful for teachers are new to inquiry based teaching and learning, and who need some lessons to try this approach.

Have you used any of these lessons in your classroom?  What have you found to be useful? 

This review was my own, and was not sponsored, however, please be aware that I use affiliate links in this post.  If you have a book you’d like me to review, please contact me at



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