This is a comprehensive free website that provides resources, ideas, and perspectives for US history teachers working with students in grades K–12. Created by the Center for History and New Media and funded by the US Department of Education, the site is structured into three sections: Teaching Materials, History Content, and Best Practices, allowing users to quickly and easily navigate according to need upon arrival.
Teaching Materials includes a wealth of resources, from lesson plans on specific topics to teaching guides on, for example, how to use a blog in a history classroom or how to integrate primary resources. Lesson Plans includes comprehensive reviews using the site's rubric for historical content, analytical thinking, scaffolding, and lesson structure, with included highlights on what specifically works well in addition to ideas for improvement. Users can also submit their own reviews of the lesson plans, encouraging critical reflection on one's own teaching practices. Teaching guides are developed by experienced teachers and give helpful suggestions for integrating technology and professional development for history educators. Special strategies are included to support English language learners, including assessment alternatives, options for obtaining resources in Spanish, and other pedagogical ideas for helping this group of students. History Content contains a variety of useful historical resources for teachers which include connections to useful websites, an emphasis on primary sources, and an interesting feature called "Beyond the Textbook" where users are invited to question how textbooks present a specific topic in relation to what is presented by historians as well as the facts themselves. Best Practices has a strong focus on using more critical, higher-level thinking and learning skills in history lessons such as analyzing primary sources, considering various perspectives, and promoting historical inquiry.
One of the greatest strengths of this site is its concentration on high quality instruction, combining content coverage with this mastery of important 21st-century skills and dispositions while emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Users have a unique option to "Ask a…" historian, master teacher, or digital historian for pedagogical, technological, or historical advice on teaching specific topics, learners, and sources, as well as the option of reading the answers to questions posed by other users.
Despite these positives, there are a few drawbacks to using this site. There is a lot of information covered, and while clearly organized into topics and areas of interest that are readily searchable, the sheer volume could be overwhelming to some users. Also, it is not clear if the site is still active as the most recent questions in the "Ask a…" feature and posts from newsletters and press releases are dated from 2012. This is of particular concern with regards to lessons incorporating technology, since this is a field that is constantly changing.
Nonetheless, many of the links still seem to work, and since historical content is not changing much, educators at all levels will likely find this free resource useful in helping them to develop high quality US history lessons.