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Before We Travel, We Research
One of the most important rules historians doing field research can remember is to do as much research as possible before going out into the field. Without this diligent research, the historian may miss vital clues, may overlook telling facts, and may not even have a solid idea of what to be looking for.
Tools and Materials
Explain to students that they will soon be visiting a historical site. In order to learn the most about this site, it is important for them to do research about the site and its history ahead of time.
Divide the class into four groups. Each group will be responsible for a different aspect of the historical research and will deliver a presentation. (All groups will need to place their information in a broad historical context in order for their presentation to be effective.)
- History of the site
- History of people associated with the site
- History of the time period
- How this was made into a historical site
Each group will use library resources, Internet sites, and prior knowledge to create a five-minute presentation for the class concerning their given topic. You may wish to require students to provide a PowerPoint slide show or poster to help support their presentation.
As each group presents, have other students take notes. Tell them that they will use these notes to come up with a possible list for a "scavenger hunt" that they will be looking for when they visit the historical site.
Gather students' lists and create a list of facts that students should find and items that the students should look for while visiting the site. Use student lists, your own research, and your own prior knowledge to compile the list. If necessary, contact the historical site's office for additional assistance and ideas.
Standards From MCREL Standards
Standard 2.11: Understands the basis of scientific knowledge
- Knows that scientific explanations must meet certain criteria to be considered valid (e.g., they must be consistent with experimental and observational evidence about nature, make accurate predictions about systems being studied, be logical, respect the rules of evidence, be open to criticism, report methods and procedures, make a commitment to making knowledge public).
Standard 3.1: Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns
- Knows how to develop picture time lines of their own lives or their family's history.
- Understands patterns of change and continuity in the historical succession of related events.
Standard 3.2: Understands the historical perspective
- Knows how to evaluate the credibility and authenticity of historical sources.
Standard 21.1: Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument.
- Understands that when people try to prove a point, they may at times select only the information that supports it, and ignore the information that contradicts it.
- Understands that to be convincing, an argument must have both true statements and valid connections among them.
- Evaluates the overall effectiveness of complex arguments.
Standard 21.6: Applies decision-making techniques
- Secures factual information needed to evaluate alternatives.
- Predicts the consequences of selecting each alternative.
- Makes decisions based on the data obtained and the criteria identified.
Standard 22: Working With Others
- Contributes to the overall effort of a group.
- Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.