Historical Scene Investigation

The Historical Scene Investigation Project was designed for social studies teachers in grades 5-12 as a means of encouraging the use of primary sources in the classroom. HSI lessons follow the inquiry model of instruction and encourage both critical thinking skills and the use of technology as a means for research. Each lesson follows a particular format: the presentation of a question or problem, electronic sources to help students investigate the answers to the problem, a list of questions to guide their investigation, and a time for students to offer their reasoning and crack the case. HSI uses the metaphor of detective work to turn students into historical investigators. The whole idea is to help students realize that history is not always straightforward and to guide them in an investigation about how historical inquiry works.

Teachers can use the HSI models both on and off-line, however it is designed as an interactive Web activity to increase students' engagement with the material. Each lesson can be done in a regular class block, or extended to cover two 50 minute class periods. They can be done in groups or as individual work, and there is generally an assessment activity included with the investigation. The idea is to get students thinking about and engaging with history critically, and to help them understand the value of primary sources.

Since this site was developed by Prof. Hofer and his colleague Dr. Kathy Swan at the Univ. of Kentucky, the only examples are on the Web site . They are presented as a file cabinet drawer -- each file folder links to a different case from the tab. There is also additional information on the rationale for the site as well as teacher information for each case.