3 creative ways students can engage with history

From local history to “un-essays,” educators can use a variety of approaches to help students examine the past from unique perspectives.

Published June 5, 2024

Education Dive

By Lauren Barack Contributor

In her June 5, 2024, article for K-12 Dive, Lauren Barack explores innovative methods for engaging students with history, emphasizing creative and interactive approaches. As America approaches its 250th anniversary in 2026, the National Archives’ “America 250” project invites diverse contributions, highlighting the multifaceted nature of historical documentation. This initiative underscores the idea that history extends beyond traditional texts, incorporating a wide array of mediums such as songs, poetry, and visual arts.

Nate Sleeter, the director of educational projects at George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, advocates for recognizing any human creation as a potential historical source. He emphasizes examining these artifacts in their original contexts and understanding their intended audiences. This perspective encourages educators to broaden the scope of historical inquiry and allows students to explore history through various creative expressions.

One of the innovative approaches discussed is the “un-essay,” a concept promoted by Brendan Gillis, the director of teaching and learning for the American Historical Association. The un-essay encourages students to apply analytical skills in non-traditional formats, such as designing board games or writing short stories. This method fosters creativity and personal expression while maintaining rigorous academic standards. Gillis argues that this approach not only enhances engagement but also allows students to showcase their understanding in diverse ways.

Sleeter supports project and inquiry-based learning, advocating for the use of historical mapping, digital storytelling, and other multimedia presentations. He believes that allowing students to create public exhibitions of their work can enhance their sense of participation in a broader historical conversation. This method, according to Sleeter, deepens students’ engagement and provides a platform for dialogue and wider community involvement.

Lawrence Paska, executive director of the National Council for the Social Studies, highlights the importance of storytelling in history education. He stresses the need to include multiple narratives and voices, particularly those that have historically been marginalized. Paska encourages educators to help students critically examine how historical narratives are framed and to consider their roles in preserving stories for future generations. This reflective approach aims to cultivate a deeper understanding of history and a sense of civic responsibility among students.

Barack’s article presents a compelling case for reimagining history education. By integrating creative projects, fostering analytical skills through un-essays, and emphasizing the importance of storytelling, educators can make history more accessible and engaging for students. These methods not only enrich students’ understanding of the past but also prepare them to contribute thoughtfully to the ongoing dialogue about history and its significance.

Read the full article [here](https://www.k12dive.com/news/3-creative-ways-students-can-engage-wi...).

Original Article

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Prepared with the assistance of AI software

OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (4) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com

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