Search form



Book Review: Eyewitness to the Past

Title:  Eyewitness to the Past: Strategies for Teaching American History in Grades 5-12, by Joan Brodsky Schur. Stenhouse Publishers, 2007.

Description:  More a teacher resource than a straightforward narrative, Eyewitness to the Past offers educators in-class lesson ideas using materials that were created during the historical period being studied.

The book uses documents, letters, journal entries, news articles and other period-specific resources to frame a lesson on a specific topic. This provides context for the lesson and gives students a window into what life was really like at that time. They can see, from the first-hand accounts, the debates on various issues and how people dealt with the changing times.

The materials from the book will give students’ analytic and presentation skills a workout. Engaging activities include mock Congressional hearings, protests or speeches. Rubrics and a list of resources are offered for each eyewitness strategy, and the strategies can be related to similar issues going on in our world today.

Bottom Line:  An excellent resource for history, civics or social studies classes, Eyewitness to the Past puts a unique spin on traditional academic history lessons. The book takes a History Channel approach to framing a topic around a real person, even though that person may not have been a major player in the event.

Students should find that the first-hand accounts bring the lesson home and make history more relatable and enjoyable.

About the Author:  Joan Brodsky Schur is an education consultant, author and teacher whose fields of interest include American History, Comparative Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, Islam in World History and Modern European History. As a curriculum developer and workshop presenter, she draws on her classroom experience as well as her cross-cultural insights from extensive world travel.

How to Purchase:  Eyewitness to the Past is available through Stenhouse Publishers.


Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
Education World®    
Copyright © 2011 Education World