Just discovered a wonderful site that ALL K-12 teachers who teach history need to know about. The National History Education Clearinghouse is a comprehensive site that focuses on helping history teachers do their jobs better.

The clearinghouse title is very appropriate because the site provides a wide range of professional growth resources. This is the biggest difference that I see between the NHEC and other useful sites. The NHEC seems more concerned about providing richer and “deeper” resources than I have seen in a while.

I had the chance to work with Allison Zmuda of ASCD fame earlier this week (a post is in the works!) and something she touched on seems to be at work here. Allison described that one of the myths students believe about learning is that easy=smart and hard=dumb. So if the student has to work hard to make sense of content, then they must be stupid.

Okay . . . how does this apply to the NHEC? Many history resource sites seem to focus on the superficial and easy. “Look! Here’s a great lesson plan! Anybody can use it without really understanding why it works!” kind of thinking. (And I admit, I get sucked into this once in a while)

But I think we do the discipline a disservice when we don’t ask/require history teachers to really dig into the process, art and science of quality teaching. And I think the NHEC tries to do that.

The executive producer of the site is Sam Wineburg, author of Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts. Wineburg, the Center for History and New Media and Stanford University History Education Group are working together on the project and the result, of course, is brilliant.

The site breaks down into several sections:

  • History Content
  • Best Practices
  • Teaching Materials
  • Issues & Research
  • Professional Development

Users can create site accounts allowing for commenting and interactive participation. RSS feeds are enabled providing another way to track updated content and teachers also have access to hundreds of lessons created by Teaching American History grant participants from around the country.

I think I may have found a new favorite site!