National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

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Teaching with Historic Places

Heritage Education Services

Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) uses properties listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places to enliven history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects. TwHP has created a variety of products and activities that help teachers bring historic places into the classroom.


Using Teaching with Historic Places to meet Common Core State Standards and the College, Career & Civic Life Framework for Social Studies

In 2010, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers published the Common Core State Standards. Three years later, the National Council for the Social Studies published the College, Career & Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards (C3). Teaching with Historic Places, with over 20 years of success, is more than relevant under the new standards. It anticipated them. The lesson plan format was designed by education specialists and historians to support the inquiry method of learning, making Teaching with Historic Places a perfect fit for teachers looking for ways to meet the Common Core state standards and social studies standards informed by the C3 Framework.

Teaching with Historic Places lessons are free-to-use by teachers and students online, printed-out, or projected. They are easily accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection, no registration necessary. Find out more about the power of place in education on this page.

How does TwHP fit with the Common Core?

Teaching with Historic Places offers challenging and engaging lesson plan materials for teachers to help their students meet the Common Core State Standards. TwHP lessons serve the Common Core strands both with their primary content and with their recommended activities. The Common Core standards require students to use close readings, logical inferences, and critical analysis to understand written materials as well as visual. Teaching with Historic Places lessons require students to take on the role of investigator and engage them in critiquing primary and secondary source materials.

Teaching with Historic Places can help teachers see their students achieve in Reading and Writing, and they are especially well-suited for achievement of Speaking and Listening goals for the integration of knowledge and ideas. For over two decades, students working on Teaching with Historic Places lessons have been expected to read complex and descriptive non-fiction texts, analyze them, and then prove their mastery through an activity. Students using a lesson plan compare visual information in maps, technical sketches and photographs, charts, and government documents with both primary and secondary source readings. Lesson plan activities often ask students to use their new knowledge for persuasive writing/speaking, service learning projects, and expository writing.

Educators can find hundreds of complex, informational texts, including primary sources, in the TwHP lesson plan series. They can find visual materials, including photographs, maps and digitized primary sources, in every lesson plan. All materials are paired with carefully-crafted question sets that challenge students to think analytically about what they read and see. These question sets ask students to take what they have read to make connections between ideas in different materials, formulate theories based on the evidence, and support arguments with that evidence. The informational texts offered by Teaching with Historic Places include technical descriptions of contemporary and historical topics, effortlessly supporting the literacy goals of the Common Core.

Many Teaching with Historic Places lessons include at least one activity that recommends students collaborate to conduct research, plan projects, and solve problems. Teachers can increase student collaboration throughout the lesson plan by having students work together to answer content questions.

How does TwHP fit with the College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework?

Teaching with Historic Places is also ideal for educators planning curricula to meet standards based on the College, Career & Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

The goals of the C3 Framework and the Common Core Standards are complementary. Both documents put forward a vision of classrooms throughout the United States where students read, analyze, and cite evidence from informational texts and other sources to answer complex questions. Both documents support the Inquiry method of learning, upon which Teaching with Historic Places bases its lessons. While the Common Core, like the Framework, supports "college and career readiness," the C3 Framework puts an equal emphasis on preparing students to be engaged citizens.

The goal of the C3 Framework is to inspire students' future success in college, their careers, and lives as citizens. State standards writers and educators, using the framework as their reference, can pick and choose the content and curricula that fit their needs and their students' needs to meet the same goals.

The C3 Framework explicitly supports a spectrum of rich, meaningful social studies disciplines: history, literature, geography, and the social sciences. Teaching with Historic Places lessons are also multidisciplinary, often covering two or more social studies and humanities topics within a single lesson. The C3 engages students as active and informed citizens in their society. This shared value is found throughout Teaching with Historic Places, especially through service learning study and lesson plan projects.