Stanford History Education Group was founded in 2002 when Sam Wineburg moved from the University of Washington to Stanford. Working with Chauncey Monte-Sano and Daisy Martin, Wineburg redesigned how Stanford prepared teachers to face the challenges of urban schooling. Stanford’s Teacher Education Program (STEP) became the incubator for new ideas about teaching students how to read historical texts and think about them in creative ways.
Wineburg’s association with the late Roy Rosenzweig, founder of George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, led to SHEG’s foray into digital curriculum with historicalthinkingmatters.org, a site that modeled for students how historians think. In 2008, Historical Thinking Matters was honored by the American Historical Association for the “most outstanding contribution to the teaching of history in any field.”
SHEG’s partnership with George Mason led to the National History Education Clearinghouse, a 7.1 million dollar initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The Clearinghouse brought together in a single portal up-to-date resources, best practices, and summaries of research on history learning for America’s teachers.
SHEG’s current directions also have roots in teacher preparation. In 2006, Avishag Reisman and Brad Fogo developed a document-based curriculum on the Civil War for middle school teachers. Reisman expanded the approach in a large-scale intervention in five San Francisco high schools, an effort that resulted in significant gains in student knowledge, historical thinking and reading comprehension. Together, Reisman and Fogo took the seventy-five document-based lessons they developed and posted them on the web. Within the first six months the digital curriculum had over 50,000 downloads.
In 2009, SHEG joined the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources Educational Consortium. As part of this new partnership, Joel Breakstone, Mark Smith, and Sam Wineburg led an effort to create document-based formative assessments for teachers. In the fall of 2012, SHEG launched beyondthebubble.stanford.edu, which provides teachers with a new generation of history assessments that incorporate documents from the vast digital archive of the Library of Congress.
Today, the Reading Like a Historian curriculum has passed 9 million downloads. It is used in all 50 states and in 127 countries. SHEG has expanded beyond U.S. to World history, ventured into the area of formative assessment, and begun to explore how a document-based curriculum can be taught to middle school students. Working with districts from coast to coast, and as far away as Sweden, Singapore, and Chile, our eyes remain fixed on our original goal: providing teachers with high-quality resources to enrich students’ intellectual experience in the history classroom.