Welcome to Best Practices

Spotlight on Elementary Education

Oral histories and interviews are a unique form of historical documentation. This guide by Linda Shopes offers an overview of the various ways oral history can be integrated into classroom discussions. Though some of the techniques will have to be adapted for elementary students, the ideas Shopes presents are extremely useful. FIND OUT MORE »

Example of Historical Thinking

Scholars, students, and teachers model historical thinking
Frederick Douglass's Autobiographies

Use autobiographies to deconstruct views of slavery and historical heroes. [...] »

John Smith Map

Watch Smithsonian curator Barbara Clark Smith discuss John Smith’s Map of [...] »

Two Blues Songs

Written primary sources only tell you so much. To learn about history that [...] »

Declaration of Independence

Historian Rosemarie Zagarri reads the Declaration of Independence closely, [...] »

Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty

Educators tour the NMAAHC exhibit "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: [...] »

Teaching in Action

Teachers demonstrate promising teaching practices
Of the Student, For the Student, By the Student

Sixth graders in Prince William County film their interpretations of the [...] »

Students in the Community

Is a school an island? James Liou talks about working to integrate schools [...] »

Using Primary Sources

Strategies for analyzing primary sources
Making Sense of Maps
"Rambles. . . ," American Publishing Company, 1886, David Rumsey Map Coll.

What questions should you ask when viewing maps as historical evidence?

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Primary Sources: What Are They?

The National History Day’s guidelines for defining and locating [...] »

Teaching with Textbooks

Techniques for promoting historical inquiry
The Grammar of History Textbooks Part II: Questioning the Text
Marginalia, CHNM

Turn your textbook into a conversation by scanning its language for biases [...] »

Learning Menus: Textbooks a la Carte

Turn your students into 'master chefs' by using learning menus that allow [...] »

Using Historiography to Analyze the Mexican-American War
Print, "Bombardment of Vera Cruz," 1893-1896, J. Andre Castaigne, NYPL

Allow students to see that history as we know it is interpretation, [...] »

Questioning Textbook Authority
Marginalia, CHNM

Show your students how to challenge the authority gap between the textbook [...] »

Opening Up the Textbook
Negative, "Schoolroom. Concho, Arizona," Russell Lee, Oct. 1940, LoC

Make the most of your textbook—engage students in close reading and analysis [...] »