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Lesson 9 Discussion

Please tell us about ONE lesson plan or activity you discovered in the materials for this lesson and why you chose it.   I can see some that I THINK you will be excited about. 

Remember, with the National Archives facility materials ONLY, to copy the ones you like to your own computer.  They are going to be moved within the next couple of months. 

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  • I chose to review the an activity at the DocsTeach site. The activity is titled "We Shall Overcome," asks students to apply the critical thinking skills by analyzing an image of a young woman at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., 08/28/1963.


    Photograph of a Young Woman at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. with a Banner, Miscellaneous Subjects, Staff and Stringer Photographs, compiled 1961-1974, , 08/28/1963, Record Group 306: Records of the U.S. Information Agency, 1900 - 2003, National Archives at College Park.

    About the Activity:

    The activity, as set up by DocsTeach, would be a good anticipatory set to begin studying civil rights. The activity asks students to view an image and respond to analytical prompts. The first prompt asks students to write words and phrases about the photo. The second prompt asks students to imagine that they are the young woman in the photo and answer the questions: "Where are you? Why are you there?"

    This activity also provides tech-friendly features. There is a student email response form that would allow students to email their response to the teacher directly, without having to use their own email. This activity also supplies links for NARA YouTube videos. For instance, students may choose to watch an interview with the young woman from the photograph, Edith Lee-Payne, The March on Washington in Photographs

    While participating in the activity as a student, I noticed that the navigation after completing the activity was confusing. The activity is a pop-up window, and it might be important to tell student to open the photo viewing activity in a new tab, so they can return to the main activity more easily. 

  • I examined the NARA lesson plan Photographs of Lewis Hine: Documentation of Child Labor for two reasons.  One, the gilded age and progressive era are my favorite time period to teach in US History, and two, I can use an adapted version of this lesson this week!

    The lesson gives a fabulous overview of child labor and reform efforts to address this problem. I also appreciated that several Hines photos were pulled out for use with the lesson and I didn't have to go wade through his photos myself, which due to the quantity, is overwhelming!  On the teaching activities page I found several worthwhile activities. I thought the classroom discussion questions could lead to a spirited debate about the duty of government regulation regarding business practices, especially for older students and those who tend to have the knee-jerk reaction that the government always tends to overreach.  A little harder to defend this point of view when faced with historical abuses.  The page also suggested that the students form groups in a competition to find the 10 best Hines photos that they felt told the story of child labor in the early 1900s.  Double bonus - not only do they get to use their analysis and synthesis skills to identify which photos (and the imagined stories behind the photos) are "best" for reasons x, y, and z, they also get experience using the ARC database!

    Carol, do you know the reason behind pulling off these lesson plans and reposting at a later date?  And perhaps how long they will be unavailable for?

  • I spent some time working through the materials in Teaching with Documents: Tally of the 1824 Electoral College Vote. This lesson deals with the 4-way electoral race in which John Quincy Adams prevailed over Andrew Jackson, partially due to the "corrupt bargain." The background article is very thorough (I teach about this election when I teach the Electoral College process in government), although it is a bit outdated as it does not mention the election of 2000 in its list of elections where the popular vote winner did not become president. The archival document provided with the lesson, a digital version of the electoral vote tally sheet from 1824, could be used to illustrate several concepts about the electorial college process. It shows the potential for multiple candidates receiving votes (even though more than two candidates receiving votes is rare these days). It shows that the votes from a state can be split across candidates (even though again, this is rare today). Finally, it sets up a discussion of letting the House of Representatives decide the outcome. I would use the activity that asks students to write persuasively about the future of the electoral college system, as this is a question that is raised throughout our schools and our nation (and my house!) every 4 years.

  • I was very impressed while delving more into DocsTeach and mixing and matching a bit with other sources of primary documents. I've become more interested in the social dynamics around and during the Civil War as we've been exloring the NARA.

    In DocsTeach, from Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877, the activity "Comparing Civil War Recruitment Posters" invites learners to study the form, syntax, context, and working of two posters recruiting "Colored Men" and "Negroes."

    Among the discussion questions:

    Who do you think created each of these posters. For what purpose?

    Who do you think is the intended audience?

    What does the creator of each poster hope the audience will do?

    Are the posters effective? Why or why not?

    Ask students, after closely reading and analyzing the language in each poster, how does the language used reflect the differences in attitude and perspective regarding African Americans?

    This rich document analysis exercise is supported by a background essay in Teaching with Documents: "The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War." This activity is a powerful look at human nature and economics of war--black soldiers at first were recruited to back-fill the dwindling supply of white soldiers, and certainly experienced racism in the line of duty as well as the risk of enslavement if captured; but this also brought to light these soldiers' valor.

    Epigraph of the Background article:

    "Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship."

    Frederick Douglass

  • I went through the lessons of the period of the American Revolution.  I focused on the documents concerning the Indian Nations vs Settlers on the American Frontier, 1786-88.  I think the best part of this is the focus of the two perspectives.  Textbooks try to stoke discussion or debate, but it is very sterile.  Having the docs right there to zoom into and scroll through is a real plus.

    The use of bloom's taxonomy in the questions in all the activities gets both teachers and students "on task" quickly.  Although it is fun to analyze handwriting and spelling; I teach AP US History, so I want them trying to really feel what conflicts reside within these reports.   I think the other thing I liked about this was the quicklinks to other documents that might reinforce what we want students to analyze.

    Of course, many of these are great for survey classes.  But I can see a teacher relying too much on Docsteach.  At a certain point, these documents represent a bias themselves; that is, what the designers want student to know.  The difficulty and time consuming part comes when you want the students to look at something or some docs that are not ready made to deliver.  Making your own activity sounds fun; but for many teachers, it is a time drain beyond what they can do in class.  Would be a fun summertime project though to make a few docsteach lessons.   Might have to give some practice this summer break!

  • I chose the lesson plan "Spy Dilemma" from the Harry S. Truman presidential library to share.  It quickly captured your interest and I found myself racing against the clock to read, analyze and choose documents.  The mission was to pretend you were a spy for Stalin who had broken into the White House and had 45 minutes to pick five documents to photograph for Stalin to aide Stalin in gaining information America's spy network.  The site had documents for you to read.  Some were hand written notes, a sketch, one in Russian, and several top secret memorandums to Truman.  The clock kept ticking while you read.  You submitted the five documents to Stalin via the teachers email and then a certificate popped up.  It rated you on your spying ability with humor thrown in.  It was so much fun, I registered as a teacher for more spy dilemmas.  This kept you focused on the documents, had you analyzing with a specific purpose in mind and the opportunity to see primary resources that have shaped the decisions leaders made about our world positions.  I could use this with my students.  I believe they would enjoy going through these organized documents and use the tools of analysis. 

    I liked the tools section in Docs Teach as well.  It organized activities by the type of tool being used such as compare contrast, sequencing and weighing evidence.  Having interactive tools online is helpful and more fully keeps the students engaged.  I like that the results are emailed to teachers. 

    I enjoyed exploring these sites.  Truman's library had many ways to interact with the material and glad we had the opportunity to peruse.

  • I was looking through the section on the Emergence of Modern America and came across a comparison between the belongings lost by two Titanic survivors, one from steerage and one first class. The lists were made when each was suing the White Star Line for compensation for loss of personal affects. The lesson asks students to discuss the differences between the belongings each lost and the differences and similarities that may have existed between the two survivors. I also looked at some other claims that had been filed and at some testimony about the disaster.

    I think this lesson is a good place to look at class and cultural differences in the early 20th century. It's also a way to discuss these differences today. Certainly it would be unimaginable today to tell cruise passengers they had no right to be on the deck in the fresh air, but what are some more subtle differences today in how the lives of the very wealthy are different from poorer, recent immigrants? How does our society address this disparity?

    Here's why I chose this topic: 101 years after the disaster, you'd think all has been said, but it's an interesting topic to me when I delve in on a personal level. I was in Halifax, NS, last fall and met an elderly man whose grandfather, who worked in the engine room, had died in the disaster. I listened to his story and researched his grandfather. I found out the grandfather was last seen paddling away on a piece of wreckage with a makeshift paddle. What happened to him? Could he have made landfall & survived? This is where fiction begins.

    Before I met that man, I had only a passing interest in the topic. Since then, I've spent hours tracking down information on his grandfather. For those who don't know: while survivors were taken to New York, Halifax is where the recovered bodies were taken and many are buried there. I've been on the Nova Scotia archives site a number of times; it's filled with fascinating information.

  • Mostly because I knew nothing about it, I chose "Teaching With Documents:  The Don Henry Story"  It's basically a story of a student at the University of Kansas who changes his political views, then decides to join the fight against fascism in Spain.  He ends up dying on the battlefield at Aragon.  I do wonder if the stuff found off of the national archives site (like the article upon which the lesson is based) is fair game for fair use.  It is easily findable by searching the citation given on the nara website, but it seems like, if it's available to be used readily in the classroom, a better link would be included.  Nevertheless, Don Henry's story is compelling and I think it would hook kids, especially ones nearing "University Age".

  •            My love of the “Little House on the Prairie” television series and of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books drew me to the lesson plan on the archive.gov website entitled “Little House in the Census: Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder.” The plans are found under the heading “The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900.)” My experience with censuses was also a determining factor.

                From my point of view and interests, this is foremost a lesson in reading and understanding a U.S. Federal census, as well as to make the story of Laura Ingalls and her family more “real” rather than just mere “fictitious” characters in a book.

                The website lesson plan addresses 1) census vocabulary 2)document analysis 3)map skills 4)research and synthesis. The correlations of this lesson to the National History Standards are listed on this site.

                Another Laura Ingalls Wilder teaching unit can be found on the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum website.




  • Because today in class I was talking about the draft and the Vietnam War we went over briefly about the 26th amendment and the change of the voting age from 21 to 18.  How 18 years could be drafted but couldn't vote so I picked the  Docsteach lesson of 


    which seemed really appropriate.  I do like have it has the print option on the side as that makes it really to download and adapt if needed.  I would like to be able to find President Nixon's actual notes so I could make it bigger or even better to find a translation of it as it is hard to read. (Good point on telling students the value of writing so others can read their work). 

    There are several interesting link off to where you can find more information.  Off to explore some more.

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