History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum

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Steven Zemelman
Stenhouse Publishers, 2000 - Education - 164 pages
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Teachers recognize that to succeed in school, children need to make connections between their own lives and the subjects they study. By creating a supportive classroom community and employing in-depth inquiry on a topic of real significance to students, you can help them see how school subjects provide essential tools and knowledge for their lives. The explorations of family histories developed in History Comes Home provides a powerful vehicle for achieving these goals in classrooms of all kinds.

In this lively, step-by-step text you will find everything you need to carry out family history projects that will engage even your most reluctant students. Strategies for organizing in-depth exploration of their own heritage and activities for articulating and sharing their new knowledge are clearly explained in units that include:

  • student-on-student pair interviews;
  • interviewing family members;
  • profiling and graphing classroom data;
  • researching and assembling kinship charts;
  • creating family and formal history time lines;
  • making family history videos.

You will learn how to promote strong writing about family history, use other expressive forms such as "sketch-to-stretch," to link family history with literature and math, find Internet resources and government archives for tracing family origins, and meaningfully assess student work. Wide choices and options are described, so that all students—whatever their family make-up—can feel included. Strategies for relating family history projects to district standards and requirements allow teachers to ensure that necessary curriculum is covered even as the strategies support students' own lines of inquiry.

History Comes Home will help you expand the widely-used "family tree" assignment into a rich and powerful part of your teaching that will strengthen your students' skills in writing, research, and thinking, and help your classroom come alive with learning across the curriculum.

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Getting to Know You Culturally
The Kinship Chart

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About the author (2000)

Steven Zemelman has worked in many capacities to promote the sustainability of innovative schools in Chicago. For eight years he directed the Center for City Schools at National-Louis University, and he is a founding director of the Illinois Writing Project. He has spearheaded the start of a number of innovative small high schools in the city. His experiences and research in these areas led to his Heinemann book 13 Steps to Teacher Empowerment, coauthored with Harry Ross. Steve has been a frequent collaborator with Harvey "Smokey" Daniels. They have coauthored seven books and videos with Heinemann, including Subjects Matter, Second Edition; Best Practice, Fourth Edition, and The Best Practice Video Companion; Content-Area Writing; Rethinking High School and its companion video; and A Community of Writers. These books are filled with practical strategies for making writing, reading, the content areas, and indeed the life of a school itself into a deeper and richer learning experience for kids. Zemelmen and Daniels are known for immediately useful teaching strategies that range from brief, easy-to-use reflections that help students learn right in class to bigger public-writing projects that can make school truly memorable for kids and teachers alike. Steve consults with schools and districts around the country and may be contacted directly at mailto: stv.zemelman@comcast.net

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