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HistoryMaker Ideas for English / Language Arts

 Регион: United States

Автор: Natalie Jacobs


HistoryMaker Ideas for English / Language Arts

Creating a Timeline

Choose a decade from the 20th Century and have students create a timeline of important events using the Digital Archives.  In addition to figuring out chronology, they will have to determine what is significant enough to include in the timeline.  To make it more challenging, give them a set number of events.  You may also limit this geographically.


Opposing Viewpoints

Choose a topic - one that relates thematically to what you are teaching in class or one that will
engage the students - and have the students find opposing viewpoints about that topic.  For
example, if you are teaching A Raisin in the Sun, you might choose assimilationism.  Students
will find divergent views they can explore in a variety of ways: webs, T-charts, essays, skits, etc.


Historical Fiction

Allow students to choose a topic to research in the Digital Archives: protesting, integration, war, education, family, etc.  The students will then choose a story (or several) from one of the
HistoryMakers to turn into a piece of historical fiction.  The students must include essential
details from the HistoryMaker’s narrative but may embellish the story in certain areas for
narrative consistency and appeal.

“Archaeological” Dig

How is culture created through the words we choose?  Give students a focus (a topic or a decade) and ask them to explore the Digital Archives in search of cultural evidence.  They should draw a conclusion from the descriptions the HistoryMakers use, the specific words they choose to create their narrative. How does the language used indicate the culture of the time?  Final product could be a poster with cultural images discerned during the “dig.”


Dear HistoryMaker

Ask the students to choose a topic that touches them in a personal way.  They should then

explore the Digital Archives until they find a HistoryMaker whose story concerning that topic evokes an emotional response.  Remind students that they are not limited to anger or sadness. After listening to the narrative and taking notes, the students will then write a formal letter to the HistoryMaker that describes their reaction.  If the HistoryMaker is still alive, research the
address and ask the students to send their letters.

Become a HistoryMaker

In pairs, students will script an oral history interview between an interviewer and a fictional character (from a short story, novel, or play).  Alternately, students could actually conduct the interviews aloud. The interviews should be based on the oral histories students have studied in the Digital Archives.  The student taking on the role of the fictional character should respond to questions according to specific characterization from the text.


Authenticating Motifs

Use the search tags to find motifs that are similar to those common to the literature you are
studying in class.  Some motifs you might find using the search tags include death / loss,


sacrifice, identity conflicts, abuse, and courage, though there are many others.  Students will explore the Digital Archives and listen to authentic narratives concerning the particular motif they are researching.  Assignments related to this activity might include an essay analyzing the real-life story compared to the fictional account, a mind map, or a seminar.


Rhetorical Analysis

Use the search tags to narrow the exploration by narration type.  Choose the type(s) of narratives
you would like your students to analyze rhetorically.  For example, what differentiates “Making
a Value Judgment” from “Arguing a Position” or “Illustrating a Point”? Students should discern
rhetorical subtleties that differentiate each type.  A final product may include a pastiche: a speech
modeled after one of the types they have analyzed in which the students have used the same
rhetorical devices.

Analyzing Subtext

Choose a controversial topic and explore some of the interviews related to that topic.  Ask

students to pay attention to what is 1) being said literally; 2) being said subtextually; and 3) not being said.  A good example of this would be Willy Ribbs’ interview describing Bill Cosby’s influence at the Indy 500.  After modeling one interview with the students, they should then find some of their own.  Students should draw a conclusion about the effect of the HistoryMaker’s subtext on the narrative (tone, attitude, outcome, etc.).

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