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Accelerating Student Learning and Motivation in Your U.S. History Classroom

Long Term Projects

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Why Study U.S. History?
Using the Standards
Standardized Exams
Developing Themes in U.S. History
Historical Stories and Unit Hooks
Using Primary Sources in the Classroom
General Strategies
Alternative Assessments
Rubrics and Scaffolds
Long Term Projects
Additional Resources
Kevin Williams: Contact and Information

1.  Civil War Internet Research Project

 

Rationale

There are many positives associated with completing this assignment:

 

a.       Students are exposed to a shorter research project that can serve as a scaffold to later research projects.  Rather than simply asking students to research on a large scale, they might be better served if we start small and gradually work our way up to the large-scale research project.

b.      This research project on the Civil War highlights lesser-known aspects of the Civil War – the role of minorities, and the human toll of the Civil War.

 

This research project requires the student to use technology.  They must look online for their research, but when discussing their research they must post their information on the class bulletin board.  In addition, they need to respond to TWO classmates and their research in a positive manner.

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Sample of student trading cards from 1996

2.  Trading Card Assignments

 

Rationale

Some topics in U.S. History encompass such a wealth of information that we, as teachers, must provide our students with a strategy that allows them to explore the full breadth. 

 

The 1920s are such a period.  They were often called the “Roaring 20’s” period because of political, economic and social events.  To focus on only one aspect of the 1920’s would exclude the other significant topics.  In addition, we shouldn’t only focus on the “roaring” aspects of the 1920s – this approach would ignore the less positive aspects of the 1920s  (after all, KKK membership hit its all-time high during this era).

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Sample of 1960s Time Capsule - 2004

3.  Time Capsule Assignment

 

Rationale

This assignment uses almost all the strategies discussed in this seminar:

 

  1.     Use of a variety of primary source documents (students must do research – many will choose primary source documents to help create artifact)
  2. Use of a variety of primary images
  3. Students use skills to select the images themselves (students must create artifacts which means they must sift through many different sources to find the most appropriate)
  4. High level student interest through creating a museum-like project (students get to choose topics of their own interest)
  5. Tying history to the present (artifact from the present that relates to a past historical event)
  6. Writing process using scaffolding (using rough drafts to increase student achievement while not increasing the teacher’s workload)
This project can be seen as a kind of  “Grand Finale”: since it uses so many of the strategies discussed, it is best used near the end of the school year.

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4.  Diversity in America - A "long term" assignment of a different sort can be assigned at the beginning of the year.  It is long term because it will literally take nearly the entire school year to complete.  However, the amount of research is not severe.  Why?  This lesson relies on "pre-packaged" assignments and information.  Students will still need to engage in research, but much of the initial research has been done for them.  Students will present the information when their topic is chronologically aligned with the curriculum.