This project is a collaboration between a high school English
teacher and a Media Specialist. Because there is uncertainty
about the history teacher for next year, we have not included
a history teacher in the planning phase. The lower-level Junior
English students have written research papers about special times
in history by researching the era and creating fictionalized
first-hand accounts of the event. In the past, all work has been
done by individuals as they research using books, encyclopedias,
magazines, and Internet resources. Their final product has been
a written research paper.
For this project, High School students are challenged
to explore and researchRevolutionary War soldiers buried
within our county. During the project, student groups ask questions,
research and write fact-based reports and create multimedia presentations
about the soldiers, the era in which they lived and the effects
of war in general. Based on collaboration with experts, interviews
with local historians, research through on-line museums and schools,
and interviews with local veterans, these students create web
sites with images and fictionalized stories, letters, journals
and accounts of these soldiers . These stories of war and its
effects will be posted on the Internet along with photographs
and art relating to their report.
The ultimate goal of this project is to not only write well
and convey historical events, but to help students draw
meaning by asking questions, finding answers, and relating the
effects of war in general (especially as it relates to
current world events.) Prior knowledge and skills will be addressed
through a writing assessment and through early discussions of
the Revolutionary War.
As an introductory activity to the concept of Engaged Learning,
the instructor involves the students in a discussion beginning
with the question, "Would you rather . . . listen or do;
watch or play?" The Engaged Learning concept is presented
using this sports analogy:
Most people would rather play in a game than watch it
- and players only really learn when actively involved in
The instructor then explains that students are about to begin
a semester activity on the Revolutionary War and the effects
of war. Following an excerpt from Ken Burns Civil War film, the
teacher engages students in asking questions about war. All questions
during this brainstorming session will be posted on the Internet.
Students may possibly ask questions such as:
How did war effect these revolutionary war veterans?
Do the gravestones tell us anything?
What was our world like when these people lived?
What effect does war have on communities, young people, families,
At the end of this brainstorming session, the teacher
explains the need to help the local Historical society with information
on local Revolutionary War veterans buried within our county
as well as the effects of war. Their first assignment is to list
3 to 5 questions that they are interested in, either from their
brainstorming session or questions of their own. The following
day, students travel to visit area graves of Revolutionary War
veterans and make rubbings of tombstones.
On the third day, the class groups the brainstorming questions
by topics they choose and add any additional questions they may
have. The students must discuss and reach a consensuson how to group the questions. Once the questions are categorized,
students are grouped based on their interests. The first half
of the project involve a variety of experiences, research, and
collaboration by students individually and within their groups.
Individuals and student groups are required to complete assignments
in 4 week Assignment Blocks. They
can choose what they do and when they do it within that time
frame. Students are responsible for choosing the direction
of their project and the pace of the project.
Assignment Block 1 and Assignment
Block 2 focus on background work, utilizing the technology
for exploration, and locating resources. They are required to
read one book that relates in some way to the topic of war and
its effects. They submit three typed papers and must regularly
post their individual and group findings to the COW.
During the Assignment Block 3,
students form their own groups based on their interests from
their past research blocks. Students work within their group
to develop a contract listing their responsibilities to
the group. At this point, the project is turned over to students
and student groups as they begin to relate issues from
modern wars to similar aspects of the Revolutionary War.
At this point students begin to investigate the Revolutionary
War based on their interest in and analysis of modern war.
Students work in the media center, researching via the Internet,
listservs, and E-mail, as well as with traditional library resources.
They have the option of reading short stories or novels dealing
with various wars, viewing war films, or interviewing experts
locally or via the Internet to provide a twist or new challenge
as the project develops. The students inquire, observe, analyze,
and synthesize information from a variety of sources. The instructor
is available as a resource to help with the overall direction
of the project, help students find resources, and help locate
individuals or groups with whom to collaborate. The instructor
serves as a guide along the technological path of the project.
Although students work in groups, they meet frequently as
a class for a general discussion of the project as well as for
troubleshooting common problems.
During the Assignment Block 4,
Student groups complete web pages with appropriate graphics that
summarize their inquiry into the Revolutionary War. Individual
students compose fictionalized written research reports based
on their group and individual work. Individual reports may or
may not be included on the web site.
Students are assessed with a rubric that reflects the development
of their work. They also complete an essay exam and participate
in graded discussion. Students have the option of visiting the
grade school and junior high to discuss their project. Students
are be assessed by their group members based on their contract.
Their teacher assesses the work handed in and the information
posted electronically (e-mail, COW, listserv, etc.).