Happy Autumn to everyone. Kudos to those who've been posting revised versions
of your teaching units. They are all terribly exciting, and it'll be fascinating
to learn what happens in the classroom and library with them.
And many thanks to Bill and Harlene for their update. They paint a perfect
picture of what these first-time projects must be -- works in progress,
constantly evolving even as they're being implemented. The number of 'tools'
Bill and Harlene have devised, and are still devising, to support their students
in different phases of the inquiry process, is truly remarkable. We'll all be
eager to get our hands on them to be sure! I can't wait to see and hear about
what their students accomplish. With this in mind, Bill and Harlene, one thing I
would have liked to see briefly summarized are your personal hopes for this
first implementation of the lesson. What for you will count as success?
By the end of next week (with luck!) we'll be mounting a new version of the
Project website. On it each team will have a Portfolio page where you'll be able
to post your own intentions at the outset, and your progress (including student
work) as you go along. So if you're already starting to implement your unit,
take a moment to jot down your own intentions, what you most hope will happen,
and what will count as success. Your intentions may change, but that will be an
interesting part of the story you'll have to tell.
Best, Bill Tally
Subject: Current progress on our project
From: American Memory Fellows <[log in to unmask]> at Internet
Date: 9/23/97 7:38 AM
Hello there, friends. Harlene and I have been implementing our
project since the first week of September, and it's been interesting.
Let me share some "works in progress" and we look forward to
1. After we returned from DC, we worked on refining the ideas from
the Institute into workable materials for classroom instruction. For
example, working from our unit draft developed at the Institute, we
created these items, and are gradually working them into
classroom instruction to facilitate the unit.
A. Packet of sample sources of all types on the AMMEM site.
B. Guided tour for students of the AMMEM site, where they
encounter all types of sources, plus learn how to do searches
using the Learning Page, in specific collections, and in the entire
collection. Students bookmarked various pages so they could
easily return to them later on.
C. A project overview for the students, which laid out the goals,
the process for student work, the types of final products, and a
"get started" process to facilitate group organization, with an initial
timeline. Because the project is "evolving" this quarter, more
handouts from Harlene and I are forthcoming.
D. Research Investigation Structure Form: This form places the
student in the position of developing 3 investigative questions
about their particular theme. I then reviewed the questions to help
students refine them for clarity and relevancy, and they then
identified relevant topics for researching information about their
questions, as a starting point to answer them. Some students
faced a bit of difficulty with this task, but they are improving as we
give assistance. One student said to me " I usually get a topic
assigned to me, this is hard." I said, if you develop your own
questions, you'll own the process and topic more. We'll see.
E. Preliminary bibliography form: We're requiring a minimum of 10
secondary sources and 15 primary sources (at least 5 from the
AMMEM site) in the final projects. This form requires the student
to identify 5 secondary sources about their topic and turn in the
references in proper bibliographic form, with a description of how
the source contributes to their topic.
F. Library research: In addition to classroom-based activities (we
have some computers in each room, so Internet access is possible
for small groups any day) we've worked with students in the library
to find materials, primarily their secondary sources. This worked
well and was concluded last week.
G. Using Primary Sources: What Can They Reveal to Us about
the Past: This form was created as a generic analysis form to help
students learn the utility of primary sources in understanding larger
historical trends. It builds upon the activities we participated in this
past summer, and we've used it in two ways: first, with selected
eyewitness accounts of late 19th century historical issues in the
book Ordinary Americans, which we assign to each student in our
US I and US II program; and second, as an analysis form for one
document from the AMMEM collection that each student selected
and analyzed related to their topic. We're grading them now, and
we'll see about the results.
H. Citing Electronic Sources: Harlene developed an excellent,
concise summary of how to cite the different types of electronic
sources on the AMMEM site. This type of documentation will be
required of all students as they build their presentations.
I. List of Core Historical Topics: I elaborated how to develop a set
of investigative questions about their themes for the students as a
model, and linked specific topics to it. This served as a starting
point for student development of their questions and related topics.
J. Historical Resume: Since each student will assume an
accurate historical role for their time period as they make their
presentation, they will complete an "historical resume" that helps
them structure their persona.
K. Here are the forms we've worked on, but haven't finished yet.
They will be forthcoming as the project emerges.
1. Project specifications for each type of project: to be completed
this week so students can prioritize their project focus and begin
creation of their final product.
2. Strategy for sharing: Each group will develop a strategy to
have others in the class understand the "essential findings" of
their group, either through an in-class evaluation, a review, or
some other mechanism.
3. Peer review form for projects
4. Annotated bibliography form
5. Rubric for project evaluation (ideas are particularly welcome
here--our project options are on our draft plan on the site)
So, we've been busy. I also have a student teacher from Rutgers
this quarter who I'm sharing with another social studies teacher,
and I've retained primary responsibility for this project, although he
assists very capably. We're thinking of videotaping selected
projects, and we'll definitely be collecting student work products
along the way from 6 students, 2 high, 2 low and 2 middle level
achievers in the class, balanced by gender. Harlene and I will be
reflecting on what we gather as we go along. If possible, I will be
giving a survey to the students this week and at the end of the
project about primary source use, group processing, and related
instructional issues which we've used in other action research
projects. This survey needs to be modified for the AMMEM
project, but I've been sick for the past 5 days and you know what
So, this rather endless stream of consciousness has now
concluded. We look forward to your feedback and hope that this
has been as helpful as the many fine contributions to this list have
been to us.
Oh yes--Harlene and I are intending to put in a proposal for the
Northeast Regional Conference on the Social Studies in Boston
MA for March 1998. Would any other AMMEM fellows like to
particpate too? We want a 2 hour clinic timeslot. Please reply by
9-26 to me via this listserv, or directly to me at my new email:
[log in to unmask]
Thanks gang, and t--shirts are also moving forward! More info on
that next week.
Hunterdon Central Regional HS