It is a lesson applicable for history teachers too. There is no better place to teach history than in our own backyards. All history is local, and how much more local can we get than by studying our families?
History begins in the home. Family history offers us a unique, personalized view of the past, a view that places us in the center of an ever widening circle of history that eventually links us to the community, the state, and the nation.
Connection with the Curriculum
Materials for Each Student
• A copy of the narrative portion of this article
Objectives for Each Student
• Value an individual's interests, unique character traits, and personality.
Opening the Lesson
Developing the Lesson
• Distribute each handout, making modifications as needed.
Concluding the Lesson
• Students can evaluate each family crest on a rating scale based on creativity, insight, knowledge, effective design, etc.
Extending the Lesson
• Have students select the best five to ten minutes of each oral history interview with a family member. Play that portion of the tape before the class and have the student explain why the student believes this was the best part of the interview.
• Invite a representative of a local history museum to your classes to serve as a speaker who can help students understand the job of museum curator. Topics could include the collection and storage of materials, how to construct exhibits, and how students can serve as volunteers to assist museum staffs.
Assessing the Lesson
• Oral history interviews could be evaluated as a class project assessing the depth and breath of each interview.
Link to Article:
Background and Introduction to Activity:
Families who can trace their heritage back to Europe can often locate the family coat of arms. Assume that you can trace your family's roots back to the Old World; it may be Europe, Africa, or Asia. However, you are unable to locate your crest.
Directions to Follow:
Figures courtesy of Halbert's, Bath, Ohio 44210.
Use symbolism in your crest. The colors you select could be symbolic of qualities that reflect your character such as courage, bravery, loyalty, devotion, honesty, integrity, patriotism, etc.
Use designs, abstract or concrete, to further illustrate your beliefs, ideals, or convictions. Take a flight of the imagination. Put yourself into the family crest.
After you complete the crest, carefully re-create it on a large poster board. On the back of it, briefly explain why you designed, illustrated, and colored the crest the way you did. You will have told your family story and touched on some of your own history.
Link to Article
Background and Introduction to Activity
In ancient African society, oral traditions took the place of the written record. The first oral historians may have been the African griots, individuals in villages responsible for remembering and orally transmitting the people's history to a future generation.
With the aid of modern technology—in the form of the cassette tape recorder and video camcorder—each of us can become a contemporary griot. But there are some important lessons to learn first.
Directions to Follow
The closed-ended question variety seeks specific or precise information, while the open-ended type offers the narrator (the person you are interviewing) an opportunity to respond with more than bits of information (like dates, names, etc.) but to share his/her feelings, emotions, opinions, ideas, etc.
From the following list of questions, decide which are closed- or open-ended. Place a check mark in the appropriate column.
Question Closed Open
The more open-ended questions you can think of, the better results you will get from an interview. Those questions encourage the narrator to "open-up" and go in a number of directions. Remember, sometimes the road less traveled, according to Robert Frost, makes all the difference.
Pair students to create partnerships enabling each student to critique the other students' questions. They can rate questions as to how open or closed they are and the likely result.
Students can interview each other over what they remember in their own lives. Most students 13 to 18 years old will recall major events in their lives. A timeline could be drawn illustrating that most of us share in the "major events" like graduations, confirmations, birthday celebrations, or vacations. Events can be indicated along the timeline, marked on poster board, and displayed in the classroom.
Once the questions have been developed in the classroom, students are ready to interview a family member. I suggest keeping a log similar to the following for each person interviewed.
Oral History: Interview Information Form
Date of Interview:
Description of Interview Setting:
Link to Article
"How do you use family history in the classroom? ... I recommend that you first choose your topic. Then, investigate the story of a local 'first' or well-known family perhaps represented by a local historic house museum."
Background and Introduction to Activity
History is all around us. You do not have to travel halfway across the United States or to a foreign land to encounter history. Start by looking in your own backyard. Local history museums offer an exceptional place to begin.
Directions to follow
Provide each student with a "pastport" to a history adventure. Every community or region across Illinois has a historic house museum of some type. There are numerous possibilities in central Illinois. Some of them are the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, the Funk Prairie Home near Shirley, the Laura Eyestone School on the campus of Illinois State University, and the Matthew T. Scott House in Chenoa.
What is a "pastport?" It is a one-page Independent Study Guide that provides students with a map of the area, the museum's address and phone numbers, visiting times, an illustration, a brief paragraph about the museum, and a list of stimulating questions that the student will find answers to at the museum. The student takes the "pastport" to a museum and asks a museum employee to validate it by signing the form showing that the visit has been completed. The following is a "pastport" example.
General Map of Area
Judge David Davis had been a member of the U.S. Supreme Court for eight years when he commissioned French-born architect Alfred H. Piquenard to design a comfortable home at "Clover Lawn," a 190-acre tract on Bloomington's east side. The elegant nineteenth-century late Victorian Mansion contains the most up-to-date conveniences of the 1870s.
Independent Study "Pastport" Adventure Questions:
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