Sunday, March 8, 2009

Timeline Assignment

Historians use timelines to create a graphical, sequential picture of history. Timelines are linear or comparative. The information in a timeline gives us perspective about the relationships between events and people. Textbooks and do this for students regularly to present information in a different and concise format. Below are a couple of timelines on the web you might use in your courses as resources for students. (This site includes 5 timelines that traces world history, leaders, religion, war, and inventions) (This site has a long list of timelines for various topics) (American History Timeline by the Smithsonian Institute) (This is the Smithsonian timeline for African history) (This is a student guide to creating timelines and it also provides links to many useful timelines)

Organizing content and creating a timeline requires students to break information into parts, understand the impact of time and space on perspective, and identify trends. First, create a list of topics related to the unit or course. I provide several topics that have evolved over time and have many key events. For example, students might trace medical advancements in the United States from the Civil War through WWII. Students pick a topic that most interests them, but I am careful to give students specific start and end parameters for the timeline. Students create a time line of at least 15 events using either a word processing program or this really nice web 2.0 tool at (you’ll also find some timelines here that you might find useful in your courses.). Each item on the timeline should include a brief description that explains the significance of that date. Students summarize the topic the outline is about in one concise paragraph. Students are encouraged to post their work to an optional Timeline discussion for classmates to use. This student generated bank of timelines can be a useful resource for them as the course progresses.

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