Sunday, November 8, 2009

Get Engaged

How do we engage students and provide opportunities to actively experience history?

The University of California One outlines a cohesive plan at The History Project Website . Instructors “apprentice students in age-appropriate ways” to “learn to work with sources, consider different perspectives, analyze and interpret information, and marshal evidence in support of their conclusions.” This project includes a lesson plan template, a linear research method, and a sample lesson. Additionally, you’ll find here numerous image and primary source document resources including Our Documents website that houses 100 key US primary sources with images of the originals, transcripts and lessons plans. has primary source documents included in its lessons in appropriate places such as the Virginia Charter in the Jamestown Lesson.

But we’ve talked about utilizing primary sources before. I really want students to engage history. Mission Inn Museum in California is getting closer to what I am thinking of with their Hands-On History Lesson Plans and their Family Voices Project. In the Family Voices Project students are “given the task of choosing a family-related object or tradition and conducting research on their chosen subject with their families. Project artists- including a writer, a storyteller/singer, and a photographer- work with the students through numerous workshops to teach the students how to preserve their family heritages through written, oral, and visual techniques.” What a way to make history relevant to the student and a life-long mission!

The Family Voices project could be adapted to any classroom or online learning environment, but the students would become their own artists. As a group project each student could be responsible for creating a piece of the project to illustrate a tradition or historical significance of an object. A history must be able to research a topic but also be able to tell the story in a creative and interesting way so others will listen. This project certainly gets the students involved in research but also how to share their knowledge with others in dynamic ways.

Next time get ready to engage your sense of smell!

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