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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

High School Students' Authentic Research Contributions

For the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I, we created a website, "Montana and the Great War," with lesson plans, Story Maps, bibliographies, oral history excerpts and more. 

We also worked with several teachers, who led their students in documenting the war's effect on their home communities using the Local Experiences of World War I Lesson Plan. After the students completed their research, they (or their teacher) built a website (most used the free Weebly platform, and we linked to their project on the County Projects page of our WWW website.

I was extremely impressed with what the students created--and their teachers were thrilled with the level of student engagement in the project: "they were truly acting like researchers and they loved it!" wrote Bigfork teacher Cynthia Wilondek.

Most teachers chose to do this with a high school class--but teachers in Savage, Montana, worked with their middle school students!

The centennial continues through November 2018, and I'm happy to add new student projects even after that if you'd like to try this lesson. But making the decision to have students conduct new research and share their findings can be done on any topic with a local component, and building a website is a great way to share student work. 

If you teach high school (or even middle school), I hope you'll check out the amazing work of students did last year on WWI, and then think about how to incorporate public history research into your history classes.

P.S. For more recent history, consider an oral history project--we've got tools to help!

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