The Story Behind History – EdTech 541

The Story Behind History
Student Handout A

Goal: For our livability unit we’ve been learning about how geographic features affect peoples’ feelings and decisions about where to live.  In this assignment, we’re going to try to find stories that are connected to those feelings.  For example, one of our questions asks about whether or not people would want to know about an areas history of natural disasters before choosing to live there.  We’re going to read first hand accounts of what happened in various situations like floods, droughts, earthquakes, fires, etc., to find out the stories behind the history of an area.  Hopefully this assignment will help you appreciate the story behind why a region or place is or isn’t a desirable place in which to live.

Procedures:
Step 1:
You will choose from the following sites/stories:

You get to choose one site that interests you from the blue section, then you must go to the Google News Archive search and find one additional first-person account to read and summarize.
For the blue section simply choose one of the sites to go to, read the article, and summarize it using the 6W format we’ve used before.  For the news archive search, you might type into the search engine something like ‘Idaho flood,’ and find an article like this.  Again, summarize the article with the 6W format.

Step 2:
Schedule a time while in class to get on our classroom computer and open up Google Earth.  Once you’re there, you’ll need to placemark the item you researched from the You Decide Google News Archive search.  In the label for the placemark include a very brief description of what even happened there.  Give a more detailed (but still brief) overview of what your research uncovered.  You placemark label should have your last name and first name initial, then the title (i.e. hogans–Spokane Firestorm).

Extra Credit Opportunities:
1) Many of you probably live in a family that has a ‘first person’ account of how geography or nature has affected you.  We’d love to hear it.  A fun way to report the story would be to post it on VoiceThread.  You can tell the story, and it would be great if you included an interview with a family member.  For the image you link the thread to, it would be great to use a news article written about the event in a local paper, or a link to an online article.
2) Using your knowledge of geography, try to predict where a natural disaster may occur, and placemark that location on our classes Google Earth map.  Again, the placemark title should have you name as shown earlier, and a brief description (with more detail attached to the placemark) for what you feel may happen at that place in the future.

Something that seems to be permanently attached to the idea of a historian is the smell of newspapers or the hum of a microfiche machine as one does research.  The current generation of students may never experience either one of those.  The EdTech 541 Story Behind the History project was meant to address that in some small fashion.  I found primary source documents (in the form of newspaper clippings that had been digitized) that gave historical events from local papers a more personal connection to students.  It was done in the context of a larger project where students were asked to consider if knowing the history of natural disasters in a place might change whether or not someone might choose to live there.  I tried to expose the kids to newspaper accounts of floods, earthquakes, fires, etc., to show them how history was recorded before blogging and Facebook.  My students used these primary source documents in conjunction with Google Earth to complete the assignment; creating a connection between old and new world technologies.

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