Last week in this series, we considered the importance of a first impression when introducing our students to an academic subject, or, in this case, a historical era. We looked at how to make this initial introduction through an auditory, visual, and kinesthetic experience, and how this brings a sense of eye-opening FUN to the students.

Today, let’s delve further into this idea of an introduction, and talk about what happens when students begin making connections. . .

Connection. Relationship. Remember!

So, imagine yourself in a room full of new people.  Your host briefly introduces you to an elegant, yet mysterious, elderly woman—and you’d love to get better acquainted.  All you know so far is her name, Eleanor, and your first intriguing impression. What’s the next step in getting to know her?

Normally, you would begin asking surface-level questions, like:

Where are you from?

In these first few questions, you may learn something that helps you relate.  If she answers, “I am from Vermont,” and you lived as a child in Vermont, you have an instant connection with her. There is a place of familiarity, things you have in common.  And, from there, it’s much easier to remember her AND to begin building a relationship.

It’s the same thing in learning.

Our Brain looks for associations

Brain researchers tell us that when we are presented with new information, our brains look for associations to connect the new concept with what we already know.  If we are going to hold on to the new information—and deepen our understanding of it—this connection is vital.

Just like discovering what you and Eleanor have in common helps imprint her on your memory AND deepens friendship, so considering what you already know about something you are about to study opens the door to deeper comprehension and greater retention.

This is the second level of introduction, the place where student make connections between what they know and what they are about to learn.

History Revealed curriculum—how we make the connection for your student

And that’s what we’ve done with the Key Concepts in each Teacher’s Guide in the History Revealed curriculum.  After the introduction discussed in Teaching Tip #2, you will find an open-ended question to ask students for each of the Key Concepts, along with a quick summary.

Keeping in mind that the point of this exercise is to let students discover any connection they already have with what they are about to study, let’s look at one of the Key Concepts in Unit 8 of Ancient Civilizations & the Bible. The following Key Concept, with its Question and Explanation, is found on page T254 of the Teacher’s Guide:

Key Concept:  The Engineering Feats of Rome

Question: “Has anyone seen photos of Roman arched bridges in Europe or of the aqueducts they built to bring water down from the hills to the cities?  Can you describe what they look like?”

Explanation (summary): “Though previous empires had constructed highways, such as the Royal Road of Persia, Rome’s accomplishments in this regard were far greater than all who had come before.  In fact, beyond the quality and durability of Roman roads was the immense quantity of them: by AD 300, they had over 53,000 miles of major paved highways. When you add to that the smaller roads branching out from the main roads, the mileage total was in the hundreds of thousands!

“Along with roads, the Romans built aqueducts to bring clean water from the high hills down to the cities. With the ease of access to clean water for thousands of people, coupled with the ease of transporting trade goods (especially food) on the Roman roads, cities supplied by these aqueducts and roads began to grow extensively in many places of the Empire.

“It is astonishing to consider that the Roman roads and bridges were so carefully constructed that many are still in use today—2,000 years later! Truly, the artistry of Rome was evidenced in the practical, durable, efficient construction of roads, aqueducts and bridges.”

Remember, discussing the Key Concepts is NOT the same as exhaustive learning.  It is merely an introduction—a chance for students to share what they know and to have their interest piqued concerning the information they will encounter through the rest of the Unit.

Feel free to choose a few of the concepts to discuss, or even if the discussion is interesting, focus on only one. The students will be introduced to all of the concepts as the Unit progresses.

Next, we will talk about how Learning Styles can make all the difference!