Our Approach to Learning
Cutting-edge Educational Theory
The TCI approach consists of a series of instructional practices that allows students with
multiple intelligences to “experience” history. These teaching methods were developed by
teachers who carefully and thoughtfully combined the following three educational
1) Students have multiple intelligences. Howard Gardner’s findings that human
cognition includes a far wider and more universal set of competencies than had
previously been recognized offer the possibility of revolutionizing the instruction of
history in our schools. Gardner has found that every student excels in two or three of the
multiple intelligences. According to the theory of multiple intelligences, every student
is intelligent—just not in the same way. Here are seven intelligences that Gardner’s research
2) Cooperative interaction increases learning and improves social skills. The second theoretical premise behind our approach is based on Elizabeth
Cohen’s findings that cooperative group work leads to increased student interaction and, ultimately,
to increased learning gains. Teaching history in an interactive and engaging way necessitates creating
a cooperative, tolerant classroom. In this environment, students will learn to share ideas, to work
together cooperatively, to tolerate differences, to disagree honestly, and to take risks—and all students
will feel valued and respected. TCI offers a careful, step-by-step program of cooperative skill building.
3) All students can learn. The third theoretical premise behind our approach is the idea of the spiral
curriculum. Championed by educational theorist Jerome Bruner, the spiral curriculum is the belief
that all students can learn if a teacher shows them how to think and discover knowledge for themselves.
Students learn progressively more difficult concepts through a process of step-by-step discovery.
Eight Powerful Teaching Strategies
We have developed eight powerful teaching strategies that allow students with diverse learning styles
to “experience” history.
This strategy turns what is usually a passive, teacher-centered
activity—lecturing—into a dynamic, participative experience for students.
Students view, touch, interpret, and act out historic images projected as slides. As
the teacher asks a series of inquiry questions, students record the information in a
unique note taking style.
Social Studies Skill Builders
Students sit in pairs to complete fast-paced, skill-oriented tasks, such as mapping
geographic features, analyzing political cartoons, and graphing economic trends,
worksheets, fuel this approach.
This strategy brings to life key historical concepts so that students physically and
emotionally experience them. Teachers re-create moments in history, such as the
horrors of fighting trench warfare and the monotony of life on the assembly line,
so that students can more meaningfully understand the drama of the past.
Writing for Understanding
This strategy enables all students to write forcefully about experiences they have
had in class by challenging them to write for a purpose, such as writing poetry
about the experiences of Chinese immigrants on Angel Island and editorializing
on the Crusades. The result is richer writing.
Reading for Understanding
This strategy captivates student interest in social studies while teaching a host of
expository reading skills that students can use for the rest of their lives. Students
learn how to connect what they read to “real-life experiences” they have in class
so that deeper understanding follows. Emerging readers receive carefully
structured support at each of the four stages of the expository reading process: preview, read, take notes,
This approach creates rich class discussions involving all students on such
controversial topics as the Boston Massacre and Japanese-American internment.
Students sit in small groups to view slides depicting historical events and to
discuss critical-thinking questions related to each slide. They report their findings
to the entire class.
Problem Solving Group work
Students with a wide variety of learning styles sit in small groups to work on
high-level, problem solving group work projects such as creating a
about life in the Great Depression and preparing a panel discussion on the
democratic ideal. This method of cooperative learning effectively involves all
Interactive Student Notebook
This strategy challenges students to record information about history in engaging
ways. As students learn new ideas, they use several types of writing and
innovative graphic techniques to record them. This processing encourages
students to use their critical-thinking skills to organize information. As a result,
they become more creative and independent thinkers.
All of our programs offer a variety of assessments—including traditional tests,
multiple intelligence tests, Internet Tutorials, Internet Projects, and Culminating
Projects—that will both prepare your students for standardized tests and help
them meaningfully apply what they have learned.
For more information call 1 (800) 497.6138 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2000-2003
Teachers' Curriculum Institute. All rights reserved. History Alive! is a registered trademark of Teachers' Curriculum Institute.
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