HISTORICAL THINKING REQUIRES understanding and evaluating change and continuity over time, and making appropriate use of historical evidence in answering questions and developing arguments about the past. It involves going beyond simply asking, “What happened when?” to evaluating why and how events occurred and developments unfolded. It involves locating and assessing historical sources of many different types to understand the contexts of given historical eras and the perspectives of different individuals and groups within geographic units that range from the local to the global. Historical thinking is a process of chronological reasoning, which means wrestling with issues of causality, connections, significance, and context with the goal of developing credible explanations of historical events and developments based on reasoned interpretation of evidence.
Historical inquiry involves acquiring knowledge about significant events, developments, individuals, groups, documents, places, and ideas to support investigations about the past. Acquiring relevant knowledge requires assembling information from a wide variety of sources in an integrative process. Students might begin with key events or individuals introduced by the teacher or identified by educational leaders at the state level, and then investigate them further. Or they might take a source from a seemingly insignificant individual and make connections between that person and larger events, or trace the person’s contributions to a major development. Scholars, teachers, and students form an understanding of what is and what is not significant from the emergence of new sources, from current events, from their locale, and from asking questions about changes that affected large numbers of people in the past or had enduring consequences. Developing historical knowledge in connection with historical investigations not only helps students remember the content better because it has meaning, but also allows students to become better thinkers. --C3 TEACHERS