Friday, September 9, 2016

History in a Bag - Teacher Edition

This activity is part of my "Training Future Historians" Boot-Camp to prepare incoming 7th graders of the changes they need to make in order to analyze history instead of just read about it.  History in a Bag is something I have done before, but this year I changed it up some.

Change is good.  I truly believe that allowing for the possiblity of change to even some of my best activities have opened up the possiblity for those to become even better.  Sharing and collaborating with my PLN on Twitter has provided major ideas that require minor adjustments and create awesome learning opportunities for kids.

This minor adjustment came from @Iola_L4Ri and his take on the lesson idea called History in a Bag.  (Click here for the version from @Iola_L4Ri and click here for the original idea from Glenn Wiebe's History Tech blog)  The idea was just too good to pass up!

About a week ago I sent out an email to the teachers in the middle school asking for their help.  I was hoping to get 5-6 people to agree.  I had TEN!  Just goes to show how AWESOME the staff here is at supporting each other and the things we do in the classroom!

The purpose of this activity is to have my students put into practice those historical thinking skills they've been learning about.  This allows for students to identify, analyze, corroborate and contextualize artifacts, make a conclusion and support it with evidence.  It is an awesome thinking activity that engaged every single one of the students today.

I paired up my students, gave them a record-keeping chart and sent them off to their first station.

The conversation throughout the day was fantastic!

"Mrs. Weber, this is hard, but I like the challenge."

"I think I know this one, but I'm not sure the other artifacts support my idea."

"Ohhh...this bag has to belong to a female.  Look at the name on the dog-tag, we don't have any teachers here by that name, so that means she must be married and have a different last name." - - WOW!

"This one is belongs to a girl, I know it because the t-shirt size is medium and that's too small for any of our guy-teachers."

"This one could be the band teacher, but the pretty cross is from the Methodist church which is my church, the band teacher doesn't go to my church, so it must be someone else who plays the drums."

This was such a great day in class and I'm so proud of the way my 7th graders worked!  They were all mad when I told them they had to wait until next week to find out the answers!  I gotta have them wanting to come back!

Plus...this is just the "warm-up."  The REAL History in a Bag is next Tuesday, and THAT is something to see!


  1. Jill, once again you have inspired me to try harder for meaningful learning experiences with my students. I have already implemented your ideas from previous posts and have seen some great results. I wish I had enough time to spend a whole unit on this thinking like a historian process. My school has 64 min classes on a block schedule and after 3 weeks of school we are just starting the Lunchroom fight on Monday. Thank you so much for sharing your hard work and I look forward to the rest of the year of seeing what you have in store for your students. Selfishly I hope I will be able to use some of these in my room. Thank you for helping me be a better teacher here in Central Missouri.

    1. Thank you for the comment! Time is definitely something that I struggle with a block schedule. It can seem so late in the year before I'm actually getting into any historic content. BUT these skills are just too important to pass up. Plus the way I did this one with the teachers' items was awesome. It literally brought the whole school into the lesson. Kids were talking about it in other teacher's room and teachers were stopping by to see how it was going all day. It is amazing how simple changes can make such a big difference on a lesson. Have a great school year! As always if you have questions or need anything, don't hesitate to ask!

  2. Hi Jill,
    We did this activity this week as we came back from Christmas break. Three different teachers used the bags in our social studies classes. It worked out great and students enjoyed the lesson. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Glad to see it went well. Have a great semester!!

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  5. What was the REAL history in the bag lesson??

    1. Hi Heidi! Here is the lesson blog for my REAL History in a Bag.

  6. Could you send me the basic email you sent to your teachers please? I think this would be a good thing to do in August.

    Also, could I have the record keeping chart?

    Any other ideas are always welcomed!

    Thank you!

    Kim Andreas

    1. Hi Kim, I don't have access to the record keeping chart at this moment... I changed jobs and all my stuff Google stuff has been transferred, but I don't have it all organized yet. Feel free to copy the one I made on this post. As for the email, I think it was just something simple like...
      "Hello, I'm doing an activity in the first couple weeks of school with the 7th graders and I would love your help! I need volunteers to fill a paper bag, that I bring you, with 5 items that describe you, but DO NOT SAY YOUR NAME. If you are interested I'll put your name down and bring you a bag. Thanks!"

      Hope that helps!

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