This week, Dr. Kelly shared interviews created by students who took this course at an earlier time. We had a chance to learn about both the content and the creative process of their projects. After having watched them, he gave us this assignment:
In this activity, write a blog post and reflect on the previous interviews you watched in this module. Discuss how what you learned from the examples of work completed by other students changed your thinking about your final project. What will you do differently based on what you learned, and why?
I will focus on three of these interviews.
Erin Bush spoke about her project, WOMEN ON TRIAL Exploring the history of American women through criminal trials. She used Wineburg and Calder’s ideas and built on a topic that she was interested in, as she advises others to do. Erin spent a lot of time designing this semester-long course, thinking about how to teach historical thinking to her audience, which included people without a lot of background on the topic. I was impressed by how well she planned the final project and how willing she was to revise it as she needed to. Looking at her site, I can see how this hard work paid off. Her syllabus is very clear about the overarching questions for the semester (Calder style) and she explained what she wanted students to learn. I learned a lot from the way that she set up the course and addressed her audience. I need to work on my first page, and I will find a way to address my students and contributors about what they will be learning in my project.
Nate Sleeter’s goal in his Looking Beyond Ghost Stories project was to “model the process of how a historian might begin a research project.” He found references to institutions in literature and other resources and then dug back to find out more about it. I liked his model of finding a place, a primary source, and then investigating that source. I wish that I had seen this sooner so that I could have incorporated more of it, but I did work hard in my project to try to show how to create an item record. I started from the end result, then showed the back end of the item, and finally explained how to get to a blank item record and what it would look like. To help students along, I gave examples of item records with descriptions. As I rework the item description section of my project, I may give an example of how the process worked with an item that is in the project.
Devon Hardy’s project, Teacher’s Guide: Female Lighthouse Keepers in the United States was created to accompany a hypothetical Female Lighthouse Keepers Exhibit which could be part of the Smithsonian’s “On the Water” Exhibit. She had pre-visit questions and later post-visit questions. I liked how she thought about what would help teachers and students, and I was inspired by her questions. Devon’s interview also included her views on examining the projects by classmates and her thoughts on the challenges of her project. These challenges were keeping focus on the projects’s goal,objectives, and audience. I have striven to create questions which will promote historical and critical thinking, and seeing what she has done has challenged me to revisit my questions to make sure that they do focus on my goals, objectives, and audience as much as they should.
It is evident that these three projects, and those by Jeri Weiringa and Celeste Sharpe, Maura Seale, and Jennifer Coggins, were carefully conceived, created, and revised to be effective tools for historical thinking and content knowledge. These projects, the projects of my cohort peers, and Dr. Kelly’s example and encouragement, have inspired me to continue to strive to make my project the most effective one that it can be.