Today’s lesson is a unique investigation into the practice of history – how do we know what happened in the past? Whose accounts do we believe/privilege? What is the relationship between history and memory? Students will complete an activity that directly compares different textbooks, examining them as primary sources that point to different historical narratives. This will also set up tomorrow’s class on controversy in history.
Goal: for everyone to gain an understanding of how history is written.
- Following the textbook activity, the class discussion remains really free-form. You may want to have a socratic-style seminar where students lead the discussion and talk about their critical examinations of historical narratives. You may choose to lead a more structured discussion about the role of power in controlling popular/public knowledge. It may also be really amazing to talk about the current climate of local activists and researchers identifying and sharing long-repressed historical narratives.
This lesson was originally designed around students being able to explore the 1619 Project website on their own before a class-wide discussion. But since NYT is the worst, I had to troubleshoot on the spot. As you look over this lesson plan, you may choose to scrap the lesson entirely since it covers controversial topics. If you do choose to do the lesson, you should think about how you want to redesign the first half of the lesson. Do you want to do stations where students read either excerpts from the 1619 Project or the 1776 Commission? Do you want them to read an article about CRT arguments in a local school district? Alternatively, perhaps it would be best to spend the first half of class having students learn about something they have never been taught before, something erased from the historical narrative (ex. the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies). Whatever you decide, please don’t put your job/livelihood at risk, especially if you are working in an educational space.
Goal: to gain a vocabulary to describe current historical controversies.
Another work day! Depending on your class’s pacing and structure, your students may develop their memorial designs today, which is really exciting progress.
Goal: create a design for your memorial that meaningfully captures the message you want to convey.
Particularly in regard to the final project, be sure to comment your advice for organizing and structuring the assignment below:
Today’s class is another extended work day where all students should begin creating their memorials, whether that means drawing, building, or CAD-ing them. Your goal is to help students who are behind to catch up to that point.
Goal: start creating your memorials!
- I would strongly encourage you to add an additional class between this class (Lesson 17) and the following one (Lesson 18) so that students have an extra work day to create their memorials, especially for younger students who may be working on their projects entirely during class time and not at home.
I still remember this being a really emotional last class. Even though everything was over Zoom, I felt so connected with my students. I also felt like I poured my soul into this course. Memory really touches every facet of our lives and it’s difficult to try to wrap everything that this course is and means into a 5-minute conclusion. In my mind, the best way to spend this last class together is to share our projects and to reflect on what we’ve learned.
Goal: to share final projects and conclude our class together.
- Think about the format through which you want students to share their projects – in front of small groups or the whole class, how will classmates engage with presentations?
- Consider writing students individual notes thanking them for their contributions to the class community and praising their achievement + growth over the course.
- Think about how you want to conclude the course? What do you want students to remember from this experience?
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome, as are your experiences – what did teaching this course mean to you? What did your last day feel like?
You’ve made it to the end. Please email me if you taught through this class, I want to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For this course’s final project, each student designs an original memorial to commemorate an event or movement from history that they believe is important. Through the process of creating their own. memorial, students will develop research and communication skills, a broader understanding of memory landscapes, and a thoughtful awareness of design aesthetics.
Here is more on the details of the project:
Note: I purposefully limited students to choosing either a historical event or movement for commemoration because I didn’t want students to design monuments to individual people.
Here is a guide that students can use to help them organize their thoughts as they design their memorial:
- Introduce the project earlier during Week 4, perhaps during either Lesson 12 (7/26 on the calendar above) or Lesson 13 (7/27), so that students have more time to think about possible topics.
- If at all possible add an extra work period between Lesson 17 (Tuesday, 8/3) and Lesson 18 (Wednesday, 8/4) so students can have more time to complete their projects.
- Project Requirements:
- How structured do you want this project to be in terms of milestone deadlines and exit tickets? How much guidance do your students need?
- Think about modifying the research requirements to the abilities of your students. If they are very familiar with research, include a more rigorous research component (perhaps a written report). If they are less familiar, provide ample resources (like databases, search engines, archives, and free newspaper links), clear expectations, and continuous support to your students.
- Consider whether students might be allowed to create their projects into another medium, such as CAD.
- For students completing drawings of their memorials, consider requiring students to submit another drawing of the memorial from a different angle so that drawing projects are equally rigorous as construction/CAD projects.
- For students who are building physical models, you may want to indicate a minimum size requirement; alternatively, you may just want to speak with each of those students individually to see what they are thinking.
- How will students present their projects? To small groups? To the whole class?
- How do you want members of the audience to engage with each presentation (compliments, questions, etc.)?
This is a really incredible project. I found the one-on-one meetings with students the most fulfilling in terms of pushing their thinking to go deeper and seeing what they come up with. I also had the incredible opportunity to host a virtual family/community showcase where students could share their projects in front of a large group of people including their families. You may also consider doing something like that so students can show off what they made and what they’ve learned!