Project Description and Unit Plan

Building History
Developed by

For this project, you may work alone or with a partner from your zip code or neighborhood. In the end you will create a hypertextual narrative telling the story of a building within your zip code/neighborhood named after a historical figure.

In this unit we will be looking into these essential questions -
    • How are our local communities shaped by history?
    • What societal factors determine the establishment of legacy (place names)?
    • How is historical narrative effectively communicated to a diverse audience?
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood and collect the names and locations for three possible structures you can investigate for this project.
  • Complete the Feasibility Assessment worksheet to determine which location to choose for your investigation.

Alignment with SLA's Core Values:
  • Physically and virtually visit the various historical archives at your disopsal (,, (Philadelphia City Archives), (Architectural Archives of UPenn),,
  • Interview those inhabitants of the community/neighborhood who may have access to the oral history of the place.
  • Locate and understand the best tools for the telling of your story.


Should you choose to work with a partner, this project will include a considerable amount of collaboration. Make sure to utilize the variety of digital tools that assist in effective collaboration (delicious, docs, calendar).  For those individuals completing the project on their own, the community is one your collaborative partners.  Locate the people in your neighborhood that are versed in the local stories and the archivists that can assist with your research.

  • Create a narrative using text and images to communicate the history of the person and place you are studying.  This must be digitally consumable.
  • Communicate with the management of your historical location to garner permission to place a QR Tag at the location linking to your narrative.
  • Draft a MLA-formatted annotated bibliography listing all relevant sources separated by primary and secondary sources.
  • Link your presentation materials to an 11th grade map of “Building History” projects.
  • Complete an initial reflection anticipating your strengths and weaknesses as you begin this project. Also, include the questions you may have regarding areas when you need clarification.
  • Complete a peer review of a project that is also from your neighborhood or one close by
  • Complete a peer review of a project that is demographically or geographically different than your neighborhood
  • Reflect individually as to your process and creation.  Challenges.  Successes. Changes.

Possible Speakers: Ask librarian for assistance lining up.

Stage 1 – Desired Results
Established Goals


Grade-Level Essential Questions

(What content standards and/or mission related goal(s) will this unit address?)
  • Learners will write for a varied public audience.
  • Learners will investigate hyper-local history.
  • Learners will analyze the historical record to determine causal relationships.

Students will be able to independently use their learning to… (What kinds of long-term accomplishments are desired?)
  • Draw connections between primary source texts and their own writing.
  • Compose informational texts accessible through multiple physical and virtual mediums.
  • Understand how architectural and biographical histories intermingle.
  • What causes systemic and individual change?
  • What is the role of the individual in creating and sustaining change?
  • What the relationship between the self and a changing world?


UNDERSTANDINGS: Students will understand that… (What specifically do you want students to understand? What inferences should they make or grasp?)
  • Connections exist between the architecture within their neighborhoods and the historical figures of their communities.
  • Multiple tactics must be employed to build artifacts relaying the history of people and places.
  • The various approaches necessary in translating primary sources to more universally relevant texts.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: Students will keep considering… (What thought-provoking questions will foster inquiry, meaning making, and transfer?)
  • How are our local communities shaped by history?
  • What societal factors determine the establishment of legacy (place names)?
  • How is historical narrative effectively communicated to a diverse audience?

Acquisition of Knowledge and Skill

Students will know… (What facts and basic concepts should students know and be able to recall?)
  • community resources for researching local history
  • basic historical trends in the architectural history of Philadelphia
  • the factors influencing the ‘built environment’ on a community.
Students will be skilled at… (What discrete skills and processes should students be able to draw upon and use?)
  • Determining the validity and relevance of uncovered primary source documents.
  • Crafting a engaging non-fiction narrative relating a given history.
  • Blending virtual and physical mediums to craft a message.
  • Creating a MLA formatted annotated bibliography - denoting primary and secondary sources.

Stage 2 – Evidence

Evaluative Criteria: Performance is judged in terms of -Assessment Evidence: Students will need to show their learning by –

(What criteria will be used in each assessment to evaluate attainment of the desired results?)
  • Effective crafting of hypertextual narrative.
  • Inclusion of primary sources.
  • Blending of narrative and sources in telling a historical story.
Transfer Tasks: (What assessments will provide valid evidence of transfer and understanding (and other Stage 1 goals)?)

Other Evidence: (What other evidence will you collect to determine whether Stage 1 goals were achieved?)
  • Record of the environment
  • Practice annotations
  • Pictures of 3 possible buildings

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

(Summary of Key Learning Events and Instruction)

  • Annotated Bibliography Formatting (ZC)
  • Database Research (ZC)
  • Review of primary and secondary sources (DL)
  • Review of Philadelphia Architectural history (DL)
  • Define ‘built environment’ and its impact on the development of urban spaces. (DL)
  • Creating QR Tags (ZC)
  • Selecting tools for narrative creation (ZC)
  • Building selection (ZC)
  • Conducting a research interview (DL)