Conferences & Workshops

 FAQ about Registration

Historical Thinking and the Independent School Classroom in Today's Political Climate

Date: Friday - January 12, 2018
Time: 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Location: Emma Willard School

285 Pawling Avenue, Troy NY 12180    Map
for grades 9-12
Speakers: Magdalena Gross and John Fea

Register Here

For questions about the program, contact

Robert Naeher, PhD
History and Social Sciences Chair

This event is for history, social studies, and humanities teachers who want to help student be more discerning readers of textbooks, other secondary sources, and primary sources.  One focus of the day will be the struggle to balance coverage and process.  Teachers will leave with specific strategies on helping students complete close reading and analysis of both secondary and primary sources, and for helping build into lessons enough historical context to make close reading most meaningful.  Additionally, we will explore such readings concerning particularly difficult or controversial topics, including the Holocaust and Complicity, and the debate of Confederate monuments.  Together, Magdalena H. Gross and John Fea have extensive experience in helping undergraduates, high school teachers, and students preparing to be high school teachers wrestle with these issues.  

This workshop will include three sessions, led by historians Magdalene H. Gross (University of Maryland) and John Fea (Messiah College), to explore how we can best engage secondary school students in rigorous "historical thinking.”  

While the ideas of Sam Wineburg and others, regarding “historical thinking skills,” have permeated discussions of best practices in the history classroom for almost two decades, there is still considerable debate regarding how to balance “coverage” and “process,” and how to meet content requirements for state standards or national exams such as those for AP history classes. Even without external exams, teachers often struggle with giving up content that they believe to be of tremendous intrinsic value. 

In our current political climate, the need to help students think rigorously and make appropriate use of historical context and precedent is ever-more evident.   Our historian-facilitators each have extensive experience with these issues, both in teaching history and in working with teachers.

The workshop is best suited to history and social studies teachers in grades 7-12.  Religion, philosophy, and humanities teachers are also welcome and could benefit as well.



8:30-9:00                  Registration, donuts and coffee

9:00-9:10                  Opening Remarks

9:15-10:30                Magdalena- Part I (OUT)

How can history teachers balance pressures for coverage with the desire to help students experience the rich, but time-consuming process of historical inquiry and discovery?  How can we help our students see how history informs the present, and help us think more insightfully about even the most sensitive of current issues?  Professor Gross will introduce and demonstrate a case study of one technique, OUT (Opening up the Textbook), that allows teachers to help students combine close reading of a textbook and an accompanying primary source that supports, challenges, or adds to the depiction of an event or development in the textbook.  She will also lead us through a SAC activity (Structured Academic Controversy), looking at specific documents and lesson ideas for helping students confront difficult questions regarding the Holocaust and historical memory in Eastern Europe.   Attendees will leave with a greater understanding of these techniques and also specific lesson ideas. 

10:30-10:45             Coffee and pastries

10:45-12:00             Magdalena- Part II (SAC)

12-1:00                     Lunch

1:15-3:00                  John Fea

How can we help students use historical thinking skills to contextualize and better understand the difficult and controversial issues of our current political moment?  How can practice in historical thinking cultivate the kind of virtues necessary for effective participation in a democratic society?  History teachers play a crucial role in preparing students to be critical thinkers and contributors to the democratic process, and Professor Fea will set the theoretical stage for our consideration of these questions.  He will also offer practical suggestions for the teaching and cultivation of these skills at the secondary school level. 

3:00-3:10                  Concluding remarks


John Fea is Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah. He is the author or editor of four books and his essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of scholarly and popular venues. He blogs daily at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. He has taught courses on Colonial America, Revolutionary America, Civil War America, Teaching History and Social Studies, the History of American Evangelicalism, and Pennsylvania History. John began his career as a secondary school history teacher, and also served for many years as a Reader (grader) of AP US History exams.

Magdalena H. Gross is Assistant Professor in the Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL) program at the University of Maryland College of Education, with research interests in Reading Like a Historian, Social Studies and History Education, Student Historical Understandings, Conflict and Education, International Comparative Education, Textbooks, Qualitative Research, Holocaust Education, Teacher Preparation, Peace and Reconciliation Education, Difficult History. A special focus in her publications has been that of helping Polish students confront the “terrible past” of WWII and the Holocaust.

Registration and Credit Card Payment
Register Here

Fee includes Continental breakfast, lunch and all materials

Regular Registration Fees apply within 2 weeks of the event

  • NYSAIS members - $210.00
  • Non-members - $245.00

Early Discount of $20.00 will apply until 2 weeks before the event

Late Fee of $10.00 will appily within 2 days of the event.

* Note: Payment is by credit card only.

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