I wanted to update you all on the work that Doug and I have been doing on
our Great Depression unit. To start, the unit is on-line at
www.misd.wednet.edu/~Wendy_Sauer/AmMem.html. It is a pretty basic set up
right now (not a lot of glitz) but its there. Let us know what you think.
Doug and I have each taught the unit with our students. We found that
the Life Histories collection was useful for students to use in research
but also time-consuming to search through. I encouraged my students to
weed through the database of documents at home when they had 1-to-1
computer access. Even in my class, where the computer-to-student ratio is
1-to-3, searching through the Life Histories was a hard group assignment.
Students lost interest when they couldnít quickly find what they were
searching for. I would eventually like to educate a cadre of student
computer assistants who might be able and willing to do some background
work for their peers.
Last weekend, Doug and I did a presentation on American Memory and our
unit at the Washington State Social Studies Conference. We had three
hours to talk about the various collections and our project and had no
problem filling the time. The people at our workshop were impressed with
the depth of the collection; they seemed eager to spend time looking
through the various sources. We showed them the learning page, lessons on
Oral History and several of the collections. We then concentrated on our
Depression lesson and how it employed the Life Histories. The teachers
biggest concern was student access to computers -- not a novel issue.
After making the presentation, we realized that we have not formally
shared the American Memory materials with our own social studies
colleagues at our schools. This is going to be our next step; the
trickiest piece here is finding a way that Doug and I can be at one
anotherís schools to present. (This said, it has been neat to pilot our
project at two different schools.)
I have enjoyed reading all of your notes. We, as a group of fellows,
have certainly taken our commission seriously.