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WCYDWT: The History Edition

I’ve been reading Dan Meyer’s blog for as long as I can remember. Any time my feed reader gets overloaded and I have to hit ‘mark all as read’ his is one of the few I make sure I actually read first. In particular I love both his willingness to share his resources, ideas, frustrations and development with the world, and as part of that, the development of ‘What can you do with this’?

If you’ve never come across Dan, or ‘What can you do with this’?, it might be worth either having a look at his recent TED talk, or reading through some of the examples he’s posted on his blog (alongside the excellent discussions that have followed many of them)

Dan’s big idea is that we need to be less helpful to students. Rather than structuring every bit of their thinking for them, we need to hook their curiosity and provide a framework whereby they are able to solve more visibly viable problems themselves.

For a long time now I’ve been looking at these and thinking ‘wow, I wish I could come up with this kind of stuff for history’. And then yesterday the other day I had a bit of an epiphany. While I may not be taking digital snaps and cutting up video, I’m starting to see that the WCYDWT approach is close to the heart of how many of us (in the UK at least) teach history. To put this idea to the test, over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting some examples of resources and materials I’ve been using (or plan to us) as ISMs*. I’ll stick to Dan’s practice of posting the resource first, and following it with my idea a little while after. I’d be interested to hear both from history teachers about how they would (or do) use this resource, and from teachers in other subjects on their views of the approach, how it might work for them, or how much I’ve misunderstood what Dan meant!

First one to follow shortly here

*ISM stands for Initial Stimulus Material, an idea developed by Rob Phillips and briefly explained here.

Dave Stacey