Drawing on Blooms Taxonomy of skills, a number of guided
discovery activities will be presented in the form of questions
for exploration. Although several are suggested, it is entirely
acceptable to use student or teacher-generated questions as well.
Each activity will follow this design format:
RESEARCH using both primary and secondary sources
ORGANIZATION of findings into a presentation format and drawing
GROUP ACTIVITY that organizes individual findings into a group
project with consensus and conclusions
A note about assessment: Assessment in this unit should be designed
to measure the student facility with skills (primarily). Specific
examples are included, but you might incorporate things like differentiating
between primary and secondary sources of information, identifying
an authors bias, locating a variety of research sources in
the library or on the internet, and synthesizing information to
Students need first to be introduced to the idea of primary sources
and the notion that the study of history is a construction of views,
opinions, published accounts and inferences, all demonstrating personal
bias. The first step in this process is to explore what the class
already knows about the period between 1900 and 1940.
Collect observations on chart paper or record them from the board
for later use. Have students brainstorm whatever that period brings
to their minds.
Prompts you might use include:
You are attempting to isolate the commonly held notions and stereotypes
of this period. If you have been using a textbook, it would be helpful
to have certain passages available relating to this period in the
United States, or passages from popular textbooks in use. If conflicting
accounts can be found, they would be especially useful for the exercise
(look to older textbooks). Most teachers will find that many stereotypes
exist, even after a prolonged study of this period (and sometimes
because of it).
The next guided question centers on how we know this stuff.
Again, start a new series of chart paper with prompts like:
Where do textbook writers get their information from?
How is history written?
Where do our impressions of this period come from?
This would be a great opportunity to invite a researcher or
author (non-fiction) in to speak to the class about how they do
their research! How about inviting a museum curator in?
You could also probe some of the identified stereotypes. For example,
women did not participate in the workforce during the period (a
commonly held notion). Ask your students if they know anyone, perhaps
a grandmother or elderly female relative, who worked as a young
woman before World War II.
Draw out a variety of responses, including written records, newspapers,
letters, movies and personal account.
The teacher needs to establish a healthy skepticism among the students,
and help them realize that texts tell only part of the story, and
sometimes draw conclusions on only part of the evidence. At best,
they present an average view of the past. This is also
a wonderful time introduce the notion of personal bias in written
and oral accounts of history.
This is the time to introduce students to the Tirocchi
website. A short introduction to where Providence is located
might be helpful in some parts of the country, but delving into
the history of Providence will become part of the activity and does
not need to be explored here.
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