Reviews

How to Read a History Assignment

Reading, and Not Just History
Gail McAbee
Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg, SC

"Reading involves engagement. Reading is not passive." Excellent advice that every student, every teacher, every person should take to heart. Reading, whether it be history assignments, fiction or, well, road signs, should be more than simply mechanically running one's eyes over a string of words while thinking about something else.

This article displays several good ways of approaching a reference or textbook, discusses how to organize the information gained, and admits that author bias can be expected, detected and discounted.

Engagment is Essential
College Junior
Sierra College, Rocklin

I liked that this article encourages analysis. This is the surest way of staying engaged while reading.If you're thinking about why you are reading it, as in, what is the author's purpose, what is the teacher's intent? etc. Otherwise textbooks are just an organized group of facts, which might not engage even if you like the subject!

And to glance through the reading before actually reading it could be especially helpful for some learners who are more visual and remember information better by visualizing, such as a map with battle locations and dates rather than just reading it in the text.

I thought that the most helpful suggestion in this article was to reflect on what you think the Teacher's focus is. Sometimes a few profesors in the same discipline use the same textbook, but their approaches to teaching their classes and what aspect of their subject they want to stick with their students are probably somewhat different, if not significantly different! So trying to make connections between the lecture and the text is a good way to begin reading because then you have something to focus on if you know where your teacher is coming from. For instance, last semester I had a Profesor who selected texts and gave significance to smaller picture aspects of history like the life of a specific soldier in the revolutionary war, a shoemaker,rather than just the broader focus of the whole war and its various battles. So when reading the main text I knew to notice small details of the various cultures in discussion, not just the major events of that era. Another idea to stay focused might be to put yourself in the teacher's shoes and think of what aspects you would find important as a teacher.

history 4
College Freshman
Austin Community College, Austin,Tx.

This is a good site. It has a lot of tips on how to get through a class, even if you don't like the subject as much.

History
Kyla Jeschke, College Freshman
Austin Community College, Cypress Creek, Texas

I am horrible at history, so this article helped me out quite a bit. When you pick up a book it tells you all the key things to look for in order to understand the book and its history. I would use these tips in the future.

Reading in History
Monique, College Junior
Canada College, Redwood City, CA

I read the handout "How to Read a History Assignment" My major is history so I figured it would not hurt to explore alternative styles of reading and note taking in history since I'll be spending a majority of my time doing just that.

Within the article there was new information and ideas I had not considered before, that I may start doing. For example, the author asked if I skipped over images, maps and graphs as I read, considering them unimportant, and I found myself answering yes. The next time I read I will take a moment to look at those images and evaluate their significance to the text.

The author also had a process for exploring a book before reading it, he suggested flipping through the book to understand the organization of it and to look for anything that catches your interest. I do a bit of reviewing a book before I read it, but he provided a list of questions that went along with exploring the book, which I will use next time I begin a course.

What upset me about this handout was the fact the author stated that taking notes alongside the reading can be time exhausting and suggested that it was a waste of time. I'll agree that it does take more time to read and take notes, but I disagree that it is not worthwhile. This is my approach to reading history and I've done it in every class so far and it has made me successful. Doing it this way, I understand the subject better and in depth and find myself able to follow a lecture easily and able to participate in class.

Besides the criticism of my reading and note taking approach to reading in history I found this article to be helpful. For a student just beginning to take history classes it's perfect. It discussed ways in which to become engaged in the text and what your professor expects of you as far as the reading and what your learning goes.

While even for me, a student that is a history major, I found new techniques and ideas of how to approach reading and studying.

A Look Into an Instructor's Mind
Cambridge-South Dorchester High, Cambridge, MD

This was an interesting way to look at why instructors want their students to read assigned books or textbook pages. Many times throughout the year, I found the assignments our teacher gave us largely menial. However, I never really bothered to understand why he assigned us to do something like this. It really kinda forced me to look critically at why i'm reading this, something I only do when actually reading the assignment.

However, I don't think I'd actually do it. I'd much rather just dive straight in to the assignment than contemplate why I'm doing it. It makes it easier on my mind, and it lets me focus on the task at hand. And besides, if I go the philosophical route, my work will never get done.


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