Last Friday, Darrell and I took our American Studies class to the computer lab and asked them to browse a couple of online newspapers for stories that might show how their community is changing or ones that demonstrate efforts to preserve a lifestyle that is disappearing. You can read the assignment here. This was done in an effort to introduce them to what will be a new option for their long term research project. We also asked them to think about what community means and how the one story they chose to blog about was affecting it.
This assignment was asking a lot, and overall I have found that our tenth graders find it difficult to focus in that kids of setting for long periods of time (we have 82 minute classes). We ended up cutting the assignment short and required those that didn’t finish, to complete it for homework. Still, they found some interesting stories and actually began the process of focusing on their community and all that is changing about it. Samples of this community blogging are available here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.
The following week, we presented them with the revised research project. The major change here was that every student is required to establish a personal connection to their project either through the community or their own background. They will also be required to find a material artifact to analyze, and a source for oral history. Next week, I plan on bringing in my grandmother’s diary from her days in vaudeville as an example of a material artifact and describe how I incorporated this in a research paper I did for a graduate class. I hope this will help some of them grasp the idea of this research project more fully and develop more viable topics. I also hope to involve the local Historical Society for help in finding and developing material artifacts.