Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction

By Nikki Mandell and Bobbie Malone

Paperback: $29.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-438-8

136 pages, 25 b/w photos, charts and worksheets, 8.5 x 11"


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"This is an excellent work! It is very thought-provoking and unique." -Michael Yell, President, National Council for the Social Studies

"I've found TLH Instruction and Assessment Planning Rubric an amazing tool for teachers using the inquiry method that crosses all content areas." -Susan Hamblin, Madison Metropolitan School District Social Studies Instructional Resource Teacher

"The authors of this curriculum guide were not afraid to offer evidence of not only good history teaching, but also examples illustrating ineffective history instruction based on distortion, presentism, and the myth that the hard work of historical inquiry must be fun." -Greg Wegner, Educational Studies, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

"Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction" by Nikki Mandell and Bobbie Malone is a teaching and learning framework that explains the essential elements of history and provides "how to" examples for building historical literacy in classrooms at all grade levels. With practical examples, engaging and effective lessons, and classroom activities that tie to essential questions, "Thinking Like a Historian" provides a framework to enhance and improve teaching and learning history. We invite you to use "Thinking Like a Historian" to bring history into your classroom or to re-energize your teaching of this crucial discipline in new ways.

The contributors to "Thinking Like a Historian" are experienced historians and educators from elementary through university levels. This philosophical and pedagogical guide to history as a discipline uses published standards of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the National Council for History Education, the National History Standards and state standards for Wisconsin and California.

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Bobbie Malone, Ph.D., is the co-author of the Student Textbook, Teacher's Edition and Student Activity Guide for "Wisconsin: Our State, Our Story." She worked as the Director of the Office of School Services at the Wisconsin Historical Society until 2011. With a master's degree in elementary education, she taught school for 10 years before taking a doctorate in American History. Bobbie has authored and edited many student books and teachers guides on Wisconsin history for the state's classrooms.

Nikki Mandell, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in history at the University of California-Davis.  She is a member of the history department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she teaches American and global women's history, U.S. business history, U.S. social history and courses in historical methods and research. She is the author of The Corporation as Family: The Gendering of Corporate Welfare, 1890-1030. Dr. Mandell is co-chair of her university's Social Studies Council. She served as project director and participating historian in the Teaching American History program that developed and field-tested the Thinking Like a Historian framework.


Angela Bazan earned her Bachelor's degree in Education form the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1998. Since then, she has been teaching social studies at Deerfield High School in Deerfield, Wisconsin. Ms. Bazan teaches a wide variety of subjects including US History, Sociology, Diversity, American Government and Advanced Placement American Government. She grew up with a love of history and enjoys fueling that passion by igniting the same interest in her students. Ms. Bazan was a Teaching Fellow with the Teaching American History Teaching program from 2003-2004.

Janet Regina Elzy migrated with her family from Shannon, Mississippi to South Beloit, Illinois, when she was a child. She earned a B.S. in History Education from Northern Illinois University in 1976.  Ms. Elzy holds two Masters degrees (in reading and in learning disabilities) and special education certificates for the states of Illinois and Wisconsin. She has instructed special needs students in language arts and social studies for twenty-five years at South Beloit High School in Illinois,and Aldrich Middle School in Beloit, Wisconsin. Ms. Elzy began teaching American history at the middle school level in 2003, the year she became a Teaching American History Teaching Fellow. This TAH experience had a profound effect.  Her history classes engage students in critical thinking as "investigators of the past and present." She received a statewide Herb Kohl Teacher fo the Year Award in 1994 and a School District of Beloit All Star Teaching Award in 1995.

John Hallagan earned his Bachelors Degree from Marquette University in 1975 and his Masters degree in Education from National Louis University in 1993. He has been teaching in Wisconsin public schools for 28 years, the past 12 at Magee Elementary School in the School District of Kettle Moraine in Waukesha. Mr. Hallagan wrote curriculum on immigraion history for the American Immigration Law Foundation, runs an annual writers workshop for children and has worked as a teacher advisor with the Teaching American History program for four years. He received the Wisconsin History Teacher of the Year Award from the Gilder Lehrman Foundation in 2005.

Tom Howe earned a Bachelors degree from the Uiversity of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a Masters degree in History from Virginia Tech. He taught middle school and high school history and social studies for 25 years, most recently at Monona Grove High School in Monona, Wisconsin.  Mr. Howe teaches an annual Advanced Placement History summer institute for fellow educators and is the author of "The Petersburg Campaign: Wasted Valor, June 15-18, 1864." He is currently working with the New Teacher Center at the University of California-Santa Cruz, which works to build strong mentor programs. He has received a number of awards, including the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year (1995) and the United States-Russia-Ukraine Award for Excellence in Teaching (1997). He is most delighted that in 1994 the senior class of Monona Grove High School selected him to receive the first Teacher Appreciation Award.

Tim Keal has taught high school social studies for eight years at Sun Prairie High School, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. His classes include world history, U.S. history, economics, international relations and legal studies. Mr. Keal was an active Teaching American History Teaching Fellow for three years and, for the past two years has worked full time as a new teacher mentor with the Sun Prairie Area School District.

Mike McKinnon is Curriculum Coordinator for the Janesville School District, Wisconsin. He earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been an educator for 40 years, including 18 years teaching high school history and, more recently, as an instructor at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. McKinnon is former President of the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies and former Chair, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Sub-Committee on the Teaching of History. He served as a project partner in the Teaching American History program that developed and field-tested the Thinking Like a Historian framework.

Watch an instructional video about "Thinking Like a Historian," featuring Nikki Mandell and Bobbie Malone. To access the 30-minute instructional video, scroll to the bottom of the UW Whitewater "Thinking Like a Historian" page. Video requires Adobe Flash Player.