Sunday, December 6, 2009

Interacting with Artifacts

Being an historian is more than researching other people’s ideas and regurgitating them in a paper. Students of history and everyone in general can be inspired and excited by history when they handle artifacts of the past. Getting access for our students to artifacts can be challenging. Here are a few ideas to consider while you plan for spring assignments.

1. Students can donate volunteer hours at a museum or archeology site to participate in the preservation of history and how to effectively convey our past to the public. An instructor might pre-arrange this for students with a local museum or historical site.

2. Turn your class into a Landmark Society and have each student research viable historic sites and compose a Landmark sign for that site. The project would include understanding what to include on signs and is a great practice on how to be concise. Content on signs are often limited by cost and space. Additionally, Landmark societies often review and edit each others’ work in groups and as an organization approve the content of signs. This process would not only make students “experts” on a particular topic, but also would inspire collaboration and teamwork among class members. Instructors might even assign committee roles to students or allow the class to vote for a Chairman, Co-Chairman, Secretary, ect. Here is one helpful resource to help students get started One technical expansion of this class project would be to make a geo-mashup of these locations and their signs.

3. Finally, send students looking for antiques, or provide pictures or objects for a class to research. Students can go to an antique store or locate an object that has been passed down in their family. They should look for an object they don’t recognize and take a picture or pictures of it. Research the origin and use of the object, maybe they start with the owner of the object to find out what they know about it and it’s significance. Present to the class information about this object in a presentation or report . The first challenge for the class would be to define the term antique…here is a place to start

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