For the past few weeks, I have been reflecting upon my past lessons and adapting them to the Common Core Standards for History/Social Studies. It has been a great exercise and has allowed me to reexamine the purpose of my activities (and made enhancements for next year). It has also led me to to find some amazing Common Core resources – like this Scoop.it! page curated by Darren Burris and Engaging Educators “Engage the Common Core” blog.
This was one of my favorite activities to design – to demonstrate their understanding of nationalism, my students created a tri-fold travel brochure for Italy, Germany, Haiti, or Mexico (we had just discussed how these nations became free/unified). For the assignment, students were working for a Department of Tourism in one of the above nations and needed to ramp up tourism for the nation. To accomplish this, they had to create a travel brochure that highlighted the nations origins as well as provide information about the country today.
WHST.11-12.2.Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.
WHST.11-12.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Students had to create a travel brochure that included pictures, a slogan, a map of the country, an explanation of the country’s coat of arms, and a 4-paragraph essay explaining the need for unification/independence as well as how it actually happened. I presented the assignment as tri-fold (above) partially for my own amusement, but also to provide guidance to my students.
Overall, I was happy with this activity. Students could not simply write a cookie-cutter 5-paragraph essay*, they had to figure out how to make the unification/independence of their country an exciting read in order to lure tourists (which was their purpose). To do this, students had to be very familiar with the country’s origin in order to tell an effective story. I also felt that the product (a travel brochure) was an effective way to demonstrate understanding of nationalism. I would like to revisit how I presented the essay part of the assignment as I feel it could be revised to allow for more creativity.
For next year, I am debating revamping the process of this project. I think it would be interesting to have, let’s say, all of the students who created a tri-fold of Mexico get together to discuss the aspects of their individual projects, reflect on which ones worked the best (and why), and then taking the best parts of each, create one collaborative tri-fold with the “best of” that we could share to the larger public. This would give students a chance to reflect on their individual work, analyze of each others work, choose aspects of which are the best and most importantly justify their decision. It would be the Captain Planet** approach (taking the best of each other to create something amazing).
Would love some feedback on this project – particularly with the essay portion but really anyway to make this project more cohesive. Again, my goal with this blog is to develop as an educator, so any feedback is always appreciated!
Thank you for reading!
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As an English teacher, I say “Thank you” to your comment: “Students could not simply write a cookie-cutter 5-paragraph essay”; I appreciate you trying to break out of that pattern!
I use a travel brochure project in my World History class and am always looking for different spins on old ideas. Thanks for sharing!
How about integrating the Visual and Performing Arts (It falls under techical subjects in common core) and the role played by one or more of those disciplines in the culture of the country?
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