Educator Resource:Challenge Students To Rewrite History

Khan Lab School
March 25, 2021 / 5 mins read

Try This:Challenge Students To Rewrite a Text!

Try This is a series of blog posts geared towards educators that features smart but simple tips from KLS teachers. Our hope is that these bite-size ideas are something you can implement in your own classroom right away. We'd love to hear how it goes. Leave a comment or tag us on social media @khanlabschool if you try any of these strategies!

Over the course of this school year, Humanities 5 students have been exploring the essential question:How can words change the way we perceive reality?

Humanities 5 Specialists Arden Simone and Mikki McMillion used this question to shape their approach to covering the traditional fifth grade Social Studies standards this year. The class began the year by learning about historiography. They discussed the implications of who writes and records history, what makes it into historical text, and whose stories and perspectives are highlighted.

Students kept this in mind as they readabout Native American history and culture, European explorers, and early European settlements in the United States. Students noticed that European individuals were highlighted in their Social Studies text, while Native American culture was often discussed more generally.

Students Rewriting History

After class discussionsabout the danger of a single story,Humanities 5 students decided it was important for them to learn about individual Native Americansthe way they had with European explorers and settlers.They worked with Arden and Mikki to research and write the content they wish had been included intheir Social Studies texts.

Educator Resource - Rewriting History - Ecample 1

Educator Resource - Rewriting History - Example 2 - PDF screenshot of student work with images of art.

As you can see above, students selected photos to go with their articles and formatted their work to look like the articles on their social studies platform. They also wrote "Check For Understanding" questions to follow each article. The class ended the project by writing letters sharing their projects and explainingwhy they felt it was important that thestories of specific Native American individuals behighlighted in future editions.

Tips & Reflection Points

We wanted to highlight this project as an Educator Resource because the idea of challenging students to write the texts they want to read can be applied to many content areas.

Do students wish their Social Studies text had more stories from different perspectives? Do they wish their Science text was funnier or had simpler diagrams? Do they have an idea of how to explain a mathematicalconcept to a younger student?

Encouragestudents to create the materialthey want to see, and you'll have the starting point for a fun and challenging project.

Learn more about how theessential question "How can words change the way we perceive reality?" has shaped theHumanities 5 course this year by reading about their virtual museum exhibitions! Explore Exhibitionshere and here.