NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1134663
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 26
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2159-1474
The Road to Ambitious Teaching: Creating Big Idea Units in History Classes
Grant, S. G.; Gradwell, Jill M.
Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education, v2 n1 p1-26 2009
Although the literature base is replete with ideas about how to develop and support rich social studies teaching, advocates have been unable to show a consistently positive effect. Good history teachers take no single shape. Grant (2003, 2005) suggests that it is the interplay of teachers' deep subject matter knowledge, knowledge of their students, and the challenging contexts they teach in which makes them ambitious teachers. In this article, based on Grant's framework, we describe four cases of ambitious history teaching using big ideas. The principal question driving the project was: How are ambitious teachers making use of big ideas to teach history? Initial findings suggest that ambitious teaching is no panacea; it is challenging, nuanced, and highly-contextualized work. Using big ideas to frame one's practice allows for richer and more complex subject matter, more varied teaching and assessment approaches, and more consideration of the interests and abilities that all students bring to class. At the same time, ambitious teachers must navigate a rocky road, one that includes the need to seize control of the curriculum, come to terms with the evolutionary nature of one's teaching practice, and respond to administrative realities. The ambitious teaching examples in this article add to the history education literature that demonstrates the kind of teaching that is possible in schools under real and perceived constraints.
Buffalo State College School of Education. 1300 Elmwood Avenue Bacon Hall 306, Buffalo, NY 14214. Tel: 716-878-4214; Fax: 716-878-5301; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A