Grade Cluster: 3-5
NETS-S: Creativity and Innovation
What was life like "back then" compared to now? Students discovered answers to this question during a unit on VT history. Using books, maps, and web resources, students began to create questions and find answers. Students learned about primary sources and interviewed local residents. They created their own questions, videotaped the conversation, and then used the resulting media to create their interpretation of Vermont Village Life: Then and Now.
What was village life like when your parents, your grandparents, or your great grandparents were young? This question and many others were explored when students worked on a Vermont history unit. Students began this unit in the typical fashion. What do you know about Vermont? They read books like Over the River and Through the Ages For Children, Book One and Book Two (Blaisdell), Green Mountain Hero (Jackson), and Vermont: The State with the Storybook Past (Cheney). Students also completed many of the lessons from two history kits borrowed from the Vermont Historical Society. In the kit Schooling in Early VT students were able to handle elements from a nineteenth century schoolhouse. Primary documents were read and discussed and students were able to draw some conclusions about the size of classes back then as well as the length of the school year and how students learned their lessons. In the Village Life in VT kit students were exposed to artifacts that helped them understand life as a farmer and as a storekeeper in the early 1800's. Several field trips complimented this unit. Students visited The Kipling house (Naulahka) in Brattleboro, the Round School House in Brookline, and the Calvin Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth, VT. All during these experiences, students kept a journal of their thoughts and feelings.
As a culminating activity, students interviewed several groups of local residents. At the Round School House in Brookline, students met with Lester Allbee, a gentleman who had attended the school when he was young. Students eagerly asked him questions, and he happily answered them as he showed them around Brookline’s Round School House. In several other sessions, students interviewed Townshend and Bellows Falls residents about village life. They also interviewed local farmers about farming and farm life. Student’s videotaped and audiotaped these sessions. In their classroom, they viewed sections of video and reviewed their questions with the corresponding visitor answers. They brainstormed aspects of Village life in the 20's, 30's and 40's that intrigued them. They then took this list and divided it up so that each student could illustrate something from "back then" and could create a drawing that illustrated the "but now..." Next students scanned their pictures and recorded their voices explaining their illustrations. For example, one student recorded, "Back then most people walked to work, but now most of us drive a car." Finally each student’s clip with illustrations and voices was spliced in between sections of video from the interviews. The THEN and NOW project was shared on line and posted on the classroom website. It is our hope to show it at an historical society meeting as well as at a local chamber of commerce meeting. As a community connection, we hope to have a blog or comment section so others could share their then and now stories.
Student Standards: NETS-S
1. Creativity and Innovation--A, B, C
2. Communication and Collaboration--A, B, D
Teacher Standards: NETS-T
1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity--A, C, D
2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments--A, B
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning--B, D
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility--B, C, D5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership--A, B, C
Content Grade Expectations:
H&SS3-4:8 Students connect the past with the present by explaining differences between historic and present day objects in Vermont and identifying how the use of the object and the object itself changed over time (e.g., evaluating how the change from taps and buckets to pipelines has changed the maple sugaring industry), and describing ways that life in the community and Vermont has both changed and stayed the same over time (e.g., general stores and shopping centers).
H&SS3-4:9 Students show understanding of how humans interpret history by identifying and using various sources for reconstructing the past: documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.