Wow. I cannot believe that a quarter has gone by and that I have silently
been reading your messages and working on my own projects without sharing
my progress. I have been involved with a few key American Memory related
projects that I want to share with you.
Firstly, I started off the year piloting the unit developed by Brett and
Peter from Chico. (The unit that Doug and I are working on is a spring
semester unit, so I thought I would dig in earlier with a unit on Native
Americans.) Their unit, if you have not read it yet, deals with the
Comanche Indians and the Texans around 1850. The lesson they developed
uses the Life Histories as a tool to prepare students for a mock
interview. As I used this lesson and the Life Histories with my students,
I discovered several exciting things. To start, the Life Histories are
very user friendly to 11th grade students. Students may have been
overwhelmed with searching the entire collection, but Brett and Peter did
a great job selecting histories for them to read. The students' ability
to productively use the Internet when guided to certain places was very
encouraging to me. Secondly, my students very much enjoyed the Problem
Based Learning model employed in this lesson. Finally, the assessment of
the project that I used, participation in a group interview and individual
letters, proved quite effective. It was a nice way to see whether or not
students understood what they read on-line. If you haven't looked at this
lesson yet, I encourage you to; my students gained much from participating
in it. Brett and Peter were also very helpful throughout the project as I
ran across questions.
Now, to shift gears....I was asked to be part of a presentation in our
district that was aimed at convincing community members of the need for a
technology levy. The presenters were asked to share how using technology
in their classrooms has enhanced student learning. I chose to focus on
American Memory, sharing the quick assess students have to primary source
documents and in particular, visual images. The folks at the presentation
were blown away by the Matthew Brady photograph collection. Another
presenter, at my prodding, included some photographs from the Detroit
Publishing Collection in his presentation.
On the subject of visual literacy (I was somehow on that subject) I have
committed to four American History units focused primary visual documents.
The first unit was on the American Revolution. Students looked at a
variety of images from this time period, interpreted and studied them and
then, told the story of the revolution using them. The next installment
will use the Matthew Brady photographs in the AM collection. Students are
going to choose photographs from the collection to create a scrapbook
documenting a fictional character's experience with the Civil War. I
would also like them to incorporate some Walt Whitman writing in this.
The third part of the "mega-unit" will be related to immigration at the
turn of the century. Detroit Publishing and Panoramic Photograph
collections will be used by the students here. The final installment will
involve students photographing their world today, using digital cameras.
Ideally, I would like them to tell the story of Mercer Island (the city
where they live) using photographs and visual literacy skills. Yes,
pretty ambitious...I will keep you posted on my progress.
Doug and I are working on our unit on the Depression. Perhaps that fact
that it will not be implemented until after January has kept us from
devoting lots of time to it right now. We will post a revised lesson as
soon as a postable one exists.
Now, for those of you that have made it this far in my message, first, I
thank you for your diligence. I have found myself truly inspired by the
conversations we had this summer and a lot of my work thus far in the
school year is a reflection of those conversations.
I apologize for the verbosity here. I guess that is the drawback of not