The "typical" history teacher response usually goes like this. "Because in order to not repeat the bad things in history we need to learn from them."
Yeah, yeah, that may be true. But that's a boring answer.
Today, my students got another answer out of me.
I prepped this activity with my previous blog about the first day of school activity "History in a Bag." If you missed it, click here, and read about it. I'll wait...
....All caught up? Good.
***This post is long. Read it anyway. You will be glad you did.***
Today my 7th graders came in seeing a big box which had a grocery bag taped to it with the words "REAL History in a Bag." (The items were too big to put in the actual bag.)
- Was the person who owned all of these items male or female?
- What was his or her name?
- Where did he or she live?
- What did he or she do for a living?
- What were some of his or her hobbies.
I love it! They learned and didn't even realize! Score one for the teacher!
Next I told them today we would be taking the process we learned last time and applying it to a "real" history in a bag, with primary sources. (See what I did there...taking something we previously learned and APPLYING it the next day. The education gurus would be so proud of me!)
***There were literally hundreds of ways that I could have organized this lesson, the way I finally decided to do it was based on purely time. How to squeeze in 5 cool primary sources, discussion, and learning in one 75 minute class period.***
- I started off by handing each student a worksheet and a playing card. The worksheet was divided in to 5 sections, one for each station, which would each have an item from the bag. Each station had 3-5 questions that the students were to answer by studying the items. Each object started off with the question: Is this a primary or secondary source? And What type of source is it; Artifact, Letter, Newspaper Article, or Photo. After that the questions were specific to the item that was there.
- The students looked at their playing cards and went to the station that matched. All they needed was a pencil and their worksheet. I then passed out the items that belonged at each station.
- Box #1: A Tackle Box (the kids did not know this...they had to use the clues)
- Box #2: Sewing Box...again, students had to use the clues.
- Newspaper Article
- Students now got to spend 5 minutes at each station studying the items and answering the questions which included "What is this?" "Who made it?" "What was the purpose of this?" The newspaper article and letter asked questions over what they read.
- When time was up and all stations had been visited, the students went back to their seats and discussed with their groups the answers they inferred from studying the items. After about 5 minutes of team discussion we then discussed as a class. I wanted to hear what they inferred. Some of them were correct, some of them were wrong. But to hear the students talk with such enthusiasm (and in some cases, argue) about what they thought about each object was exactly what I was going for. They cared. They wanted to be right. And they WANTED to learn the truth.
- The next task involved team discussion again. I instructed the group to write down answers to the five questions on the board, based only on what they discovered from the objects. This was again, everything I wanted from them. All groups all day long answered every question right.
- Was the owner of these items male or female? Male
- What was his name? Paul A. Lohmeyer
- Where was he from? Kansas City
- What did he do for a living? He was the president of a jewelry company called, The Green Company Inc.
- What were some of his hobbies? Fishing and sewing (sewing wasn't really a hobby, the story is much cooler about the sewing box...I'm getting there.)
- I passed around a photo of Paul Lohmeyer so they could put a face to all of this information that they discovered today.
Probably one of the easiest. Mr. Lohmeyer enjoyed fishing.
The Sewing Box: (Are you ready for this...)
The Newspaper Article:
|I do not have the actual newspaper article for the kids. I had to copy the words myself.|
The conclusion: Mr. Lohmeyer bought that lamb in October of 1967, little over a year later on December 3, 1968 he was killed in a car accident on his way home. He was 55 years old. This picture is a school photo of his youngest daughter in 7th grade, less than a year after he died. Her name is Julie.
This is her today on the far right. I am pictured on the far left with my sister in the middle. My daughter is the cute little baby.
Gasps. Oooo's. Ah Ha!
The kids figure out the connection. Paul Lohmeyer was my grandfather.
Why do we study history???
Because HISTORY. IS. AWESOME. Because history is more than just dates of events that took place in the past. History is full of stories, awesome stories about ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives. History doesn't just tell us how our country was founded and who fought who in which war. History tells us who WE are and how WE got here. It is a part of all of us. And it is AWESOME!