The Neshaminy School District adopted a history program (History Alive!) that consists of a series of instructional practices that will allow students of all abilities to experience key social studies concepts.
    Lessons and activities are based on three well-established theories:

    Understanding by Design      

    Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe believe that teaching for deep understanding must begin with planning the big ideas students should learn. That's why you'll see an Essential Question at the start of every chapter.

    Nonlinguistic Representation      

    Research by Robert Marzano and colleagues demonstrates that teaching with nonlinguistic activities helps improve comprehension. Graphic organizers and movement activities are key to many of our lessons.

    Multiple Intelligences      

    According to Howard Gardner’s revolutionary theory, every student is intelligent—just not in the same way. Because everyone learns in a different way, the best activities tap more than one kind of intelligence. Gardner has described these seven intelli­gences: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, body-kinesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.

    Cooperative Interaction      

    Elizabeth Cohen’s research has led her to conclude that cooperative teamwork leads to learning gains and to higher student achievement. Cohen has found that if students are trained in cooperative behaviors, placed in mixed-ability groups, and assigned roles to complete during a multiple-ability task, they tend to interact more equally. This increased student interaction leads to more learning and greater content retention.

    Spiral Curriculum      

    Educational theorist Jerome Bruner championed the idea of the spiral curriculum, in which students learn progressively more difficult concepts through a process of step-by-step discovery. With this approach, all students can learn once a teacher has shown them how to think and discover knowledge for themselves.


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    Multiple Intelligence Teaching Strategies incorporate six types of activities:
    Visual Discovery
    In Visual Discovery activities, students view, touch, interpret, and bring to life compelling images as they discover key social studies concepts. Seeing and interacting with an image in combination with reading and recording notes on the content helps students remember salient ideas.

    Social Studies Skill Builder

    This strategy turns the traditional, rote tasks usually associated with skill-based worksheets into more dynamic, interactive activities. In Social Studies Skill Builders, students work in pairs or small groups on fast-paced, skill-oriented tasks such as mapping, graphing, identifying perspective, and interpreting primary sources to enhance their understanding of chapter content.

    Experiential Exercise

    In Experiential Exercises, participating in short, memorable, experiences helps students grasp social studies concepts. Through the use of movement and introspection, students capture a moment or feeling that is central to understanding a particular concept or historical event. Abstract ideas or remote events become accessible and meaningful by tapping into intrapersonal and body-kinesthetic intelligences.

    Writing for Understanding

    Writing for Understanding activities give students rich experiences, such as role-playing, discussing complex issues, or acting out key events to write about. Students develop ideas and form opinions during the experience, before beginning to write. The experience becomes a springboard for writing, challenging students to clarify ideas, organize information, and express what they have learned. These activities give all learners, even  those with lesser linguistic skills, something memorable to write about.

    Response Groups

    In Response Group activities, students work in small groups with thought-provoking resources to discuss critical thinking questions among themselves. A presenter then shares each group's findings with the class. This strategy helps students grapple with the ambiguities of issues in social studies, recognize the complexity of historical events, and discuss the consequences of public policies.

    Problem Solving Teamwork

    This strategy teaches students the skills necessary to work together successfully in small teams, both in the classroom and later in life. In Problem Solving teamwork activities, students work in heterogeneous teams to create projects that require multiple abilities so that every student can contribute. Within a team, each student performs a defined role. Teams present their completed projects to the class.


    Instructional practices that will allow students of all abilities to experience key social studies concepts.




    Dynamic lessons build mastery of state and national social studies standards. Integrates hands-on active learning, achieving a consistent pattern of high-quality social studies instruction while being mindful of standards.


    Faces 3 PREVIEW ASSIGNMENT (PP: Preview Practice / PP: Process Practice)

    A short, engaging assignment at the start of each lesson helps you preview key concepts and tap students’ prior knowledge and personal experience.





    Carefully structured reading materials enable students at all levels to understand what they read.  Recognizes that a successful reading of expository text involves four stages: previewing the content, reading, taking notes, and processing the content, or reviewing and applying what has been learned.



    Comprehensive graphic organizers, used to record key ideas, further help students obtain meaning from what they read. Graphic organizers help students see the underlying logic and interconnections among concepts by improving their comprehension and retention in the subject area.


    Faces 7 PROCESSING ASSIGNMENT (Product - Evidence of Learning)

    An end-of-lesson Processing assignment involving multiple intelligences and higher-order thinking skills, challenges students to apply what they learned. It helps students to synthesize and apply the information they have learned in a variety of creative ways.


    Faces 8 MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS (Evidence of Learning)

    Carefully designed tests encourage students to use their various intelligences to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts while preparing them for standardized tests.

    The Secret to SUCCESS - by Mary Garner Ganske.  An interesting article from Family Circle