History teacher Daniel Buccieri has adopted the online Stanford University history curriculum called “Reading Like a Historian” in his US, World, and AP world history classes.
A report on last year’s state standardized US and World History exams showed that only about one-third of students were found to be proficient, according to the Los Angeles Times. LAUSD has signed an 18-month, $140,000 contract with the Stanford History Education Group in May 2014 for training social studies and history teachers and for collaborating lesson plan.
So far, 385 teachers and administrators have been attending the workshops and educators have downloaded the curriculum 1.7 million times in all 50 states, according to a Nov. 26, 2014 article in Los Angeles Times. The teachers are paid for attending the training and can go online and download the materials for free.
The program includes 100 ready-made lesson plans and over 65 assessments, which help teachers understand students’ mastery of skills through essay questions rather than multiple-choice exams. The curriculum fits perfectly with Common Core, which focuses on skills such as reading complex texts and evaluating information taken from multiple resources. The program also allows the students to develop their own point of view.
Mr. Buccieri has integrated this new curriculum in his World History and US classes. He said he assigns students a question and provides them with supporting documents to help them develop their answers. He said that this way of teaching challenges students’ abilities and understanding to approach history in an exciting manner.
“History isn’t a set of answers I’m passing down to kids,” said Mr. Buccieri in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “It’s more a set of questions and problems. To me, that’s more exciting.”
Students from his class say that history is exciting and it’s easy to remember and understand, as they have to figure out things on their own. They seem to be more engaged by this new program than reading out of the textbook and memorizing.
“It’s organized, easy to follow, and very fun and appealing as he (Mr. Buccieri) incorporates games and competitions,” said sophomore Windy Yoon.
“I like it because it’s different from the regular teaching perspective,” sophomore Faiz Shamji. “It’s more than looking in the book and memorizing; this is a much more fun and interesting way of learning and comprehending history.”
Mr. Soni Lloyd, another history teacher, has also been attending the training and workshops. He said that this new way of teaching history helps to engage students. He plans to take parts of it and incorporate it in his lessons. He also mentioned that it’s not the greatest or only way of teaching history and that there are some problems with this program as well.
“It takes a long time; one lesson will be a full packet and will take about three to four days, and that’s not realistic for a teacher,” said Mr. Llyod. “They omit a lot of important materials out of history and don’t include enough information.”
Teachers from all over the district have tried to modify this program by incorporating bingo games, film clips, poetry, poster sets, and competitions in the lesson.