Creating Inclusive Dialogues with the Past in the Middle School Classroom


Created by Paul Ergen and Patricia Turner

Middle School curricula across the United States vary in their content and coverage of U.S. and World History (or Global Studies). Nearly all curricula, however, contain exclusive dialogues; that is, standard narratives about the past that privilege particular groups over others. Most often, they disproportionately focus on a western or Eurocentric point of view. In so doing, they distort the histories of western and non-western peoples alike.


These programs -- all designed using Articulate Storyline software -- utilize the most recent historical research to create diverse, culturally responsive, and more historically accurate dialogues on the origin of civilizations, the “Age of Discovery” and the “Columbian Exchange.” Designed for the middle school classroom, they can be used for individualized or group discussion and assessment.

Searching for Civilization: A Dialogue with Native American Societies


Are civilizations endpoints or processes?  Students challenge assumptions about the characteristics of civilizations by exploring three indigenous American societies.



The Columbian Exchange: Dialogues with People and Commodities


Explores the commodities exchanged and their consequences for Europeans, colonists, Native Americans, and African Slaves. Students compare who benefited from commodities such as rice, sugar, and horses and who did not.



Europeans go Exploring: Causes and Consequences



Complicates the “Age of Exploration” beyond the standard narrative of “God, Glory, and Gold” by decentering Western Europe in the Afro-Eurasian world system.  Students explore the consequences of European exploration across diverse groups of people.

About the Author


Paul Ergen is a graduate student at UW-Eau Claire. The next digital history project he would like to pursue is digitizing and mapping the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee reports on bus-station integration located at UWEC’s Special Collections. Paul is currently writing his thesis on the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council titled “’We’re Black, We’re Proud. We’re Commandos’: Respectability Politics, Armed Self-Defense, and Gender in the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council, 1966-1968.”