Someone emailed me that they liked the idea of having students do local history but they were not sure where to start.
Some ideas for Buildings:
Have each student pick an “old” building in town and take many pictures of it – its position among other buildings, the cornerstone , old signs on it, what it looks like from front, both sides, back, and any interesting features. Then they post the pictures to a class wiki under the name and location of the building.
The class invites many senior citizens who have lived in the community into the class. Or the class goes to a local senior citizen center. Each student, in turn, shows his/her pictures. The senior talk about the the building and its meaning to the community. The seniors are either emovied or podcast to record their memories. Someone will have to keep the conversation focused on the building since memories can extend out to many other things. A student will word process any other topics that come up as the senior talk. Another student serves as the recorder for each building; the recorder word processes the critical comments on the building such as its previous names, what other types of stores were in that building, what people owned it, what local events were associated with it.
Later on the class consolidates its information about each building with the student who selected the building as the “chair” for that building. The students read any local community histories or “old” newspaper clippings that pertain to the building. They integrate that information.
Next, the class reinvites the seniors in to hear what they have collected. After each building, they wait for the seniors to react. Again, their reactions are emovied or digitally recorded. Again, a student recorder makes notes of any new information. Later on, the chair person revises the history and reposts it to the class wiki.
Then the class works with the local newspaper to write a local history column about the community. After giving the history of a building and its role in local history, they invite the readers to add additional information, photographs, etc.
When the students finish this local history of the buildings, they give copies of this local history to the local library, the local historical society, and the town government. They have learned much about their community through real life skills of interacting with people, writing for an audience, writing and revising, incorporating various sources of information, etc.