During this unit of study, students will demonstrate that they "know key facts and issues" about a given time period, that they can "think like a historian," and that they can become a "producer of useful knowledge." Students will use the skills they have learned for conducting professional historical inquiry. They will analyze primary documents, search for related secondary texts, and correlate individual documents with the key facts and issues of a particular time period. Students will use their online search skills to survey and critique Web sites on American, state, and local history.
Introduction to Assignment (1 class period)
- Explain or review the concept of a primary source.
- Discuss the different types of primary source materials that may be collected in an archive.
- Discuss the concept of field work in collecting primary source materials, referring to Explore Your Community: A Community Heritage Poster for the Classroom as needed.
Introduction to Digital Collections (1 class period)
- Introduce students to American Memory, showing examples of the different types of materials collected and digitized (see More browse options).
- Introduce students to concepts of online searching. Use different approaches to searching the collections, such as keyword and title browsing, and searching by region, time period, or materials format (see Search Help for more information on effective ways to search the collections).
- Provide ample classroom time and guidance so that students may explore American Memory collections as a model for their own archival projects.
- Show the students ideas for project topics on Explore Your Community.
Formulating Individual Student Projects (2-3 class periods)
- Students propose possible topics for collections and relate these topics to themes in state or U.S. History.
- Provide students with information about where and how to search for primary source materials in their own localities.
- Provide students with information about where and how to search for secondary source materials in support of their projects.
- Students determine criteria for assessment checklists based on the assignment.
- Students choose their topics. Students produce written statements describing their topics and outlining their plans for collecting materials (by end of ninth week of class).
Collecting the Archive (approximately 16-18 weeks, time outside of class, and 6 class periods for peer review)
- Students collect primary source materials, research related materials, and analyze their findings, using the Teacher's Guides and Analysis Tool.
- Referring to the criteria for assessment checklists that they have created, students monitor each others' progress through monthly roundtable discussions during the period of researching, collecting, and analyzing materials.
Written Analysis of Archival Collection
- Teachers may choose to culminate this unit with a written analysis of the archival collection and/or other demonstrations of mastery of the concepts of archival collection and analysis (1-2 class periods and/or time outside of class).
- Teachers may also choose to extend the unit by having students scan original items and produce Web pages for their collections.
Oral Presentations of Memory Projects (2 class periods)
Students present their final Memory Projects in class. Their formal oral presentations are illustrated by the artifacts themselves.