Materials List: chart paper
Have students use brainstorming (view literacy strategy descriptions) to activate prior knowledge of what they already know about the topic. Write the word history on the board. Have students make a list of words they think of that deal with history. Provide students with time to discuss and share all words they listed.
Put students in small groups and have them brainstorm where information can be found about history. Have students make a list of their ideas. The teacher should compile the list as students share them. The compiled list should include things like personal interviews, library, magazines, Internet resources, historians, parents, grandparents, or other older citizens in the community. Discuss with students how reliable these sources are. Discuss which ones would be the most reliable when looking for information about a famous person like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, and which ones would be most reliable when looking for information about their local community.
Next, talk with students about the relationship between history and personal experience. Ask, for example, how many students could tell the history of what happened in class two weeks ago. How many could tell what happened in the classroom ten years ago? Help students recognize that knowledge of the past is limited by personal experiences, but that knowledge can be expanded by drawing on the personal experience of others. Explain that this is how historians work, by gathering evidence that can help them find out what happened in the past and what people who lived back then thought about it.
- Have students brainstorm ways a historian could find out what happened in the classroom ten years ago. For example: Interview former students and their parents; gather papers, notebooks, and pictures they have saved; look up school records from that era. Use this exercise to help students understand the kinds of evidence historians collect to reconstruct the past.
Invite a local historian or archivist into the classroom to discuss local history.
Plan field trips to visit local museums to learn about local history. A visit to Louisiana history museums and historic sites will provide information on how early Louisianians lived.