Teaching history in the intermediate grades can be an enormous challenge. For most students, history concepts seem to have little relevance because historical concepts can be abstract and contextually complex. In the intermediate grades few students can learn concepts abstractly given their intellectual development. Moreover, history content does not always allow teachers the ability to approach the subject matter concretely.
In addition, due to the changes in the education system, teachers of history in Ontario in the Intermediate grades are usually from a non-historical background. Therefore, many teachers lack the confidence and background to teach students. This lack of expertise makes developing effective lessons difficult. This is coupled with the enormous work load teachers face on a daily basis. In some instances, classroom teachers are developing 4 to 6 lessons a day.
Another challenge faced by teachers is the availability of resources. For students, Canadian textbooks used in the Intermediate classrooms are content heavy and require greater than average reading skills. Instead of being able to focus on the content, students can become overwhelmed by the reading. As a result, key concepts are lost. In addition to this, the learning materials and teaching activities that support textbooks have little relevance in today’s classrooms.
This resource attempts to focus on the key elements of content that are linked to the curriculum in Ontario. The unit and lessons attempt to be structured, integrated, and content specific. This resource also utilizes a cross-curricular approach to learn history. It focuses on current learning strategies utilized by teachers in today’s classrooms. This includes using shared reading strategies and specific reading skills as a vehicle to teach history content. It also uses aspects of differentiated instruction and co-operative learning strategies to facilitate learning.
In the end, this resource offers teachers an alternative resource to history textbooks and their subsequent teaching guides and lessons. This resource can act as a main resource in a straight grade, can be used in split grades because much of it can be self directed, and can even be used for students with learning disabilities. Keep in mind that this, like any resource, is not the be all to end all and can be used to support or used in conjunction with any other lessons, strategies, and resources you might deem appropriate.