This lesson asks students to define change over time within their own communities by recognizing landmarks, or prominent objects in a landscape, whose histories traverse across the twentieth century. In so doing, students define the original context for each landmark and how it may hold historical significance for the community. Throughout history, different civilizations have erected memorials to show respect and to remember the dead. Indeed, most of the world’s existing antiquities represent memorials, from the Egyptian and Mexican Pyramids, to Greek temples and tombs, to India’s Taj Mahal. In the recent past, scholars have explored the role of memorials and the importance of sharing memories as a group in order to collectively grieve and remember. Students will determine ten landmarks that no longer exist and ten that do or are recent additions to their community’s landscape. Each entry will be defined and placed within a timeline of the community’s history to relay its original context and change over time.
You will need:
Lesson plan length: 2 - 8 weeks.
Information on local history to supplement textbooks.
Local guidebooks to your community.
Presentation tools depending upon class capabilities.
Low tech: poster board for each group to write out timeline for display in classroom.
High tech: computer assisted PowerPoint presentations to post on the class website.
Initially, instructors play a directive role in going over the reading, glossary terms, and discussing examples. As the lesson proceeds, instructors should ensure that students are including well-founded justifications for each entry and the role of evidence in making a claim. Instructors should evaluate the enclosed resources and determine the relevancy of the samples to their students. These include guides, tour books, history books, and even guest speakers who may come in to discuss the importance of a place in the community.
Lesson Hypothesis: This assignment allows students to place themselves within a broader continuum of human experience and teaches the importance of acknowledging loss and of remembering by recognizing public markers that hold significance due to experience in the place. For example, while the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland in Anaheim may serve as a navigational pointer to local residents, the Matterhorn ride is also a place many residents have visited and therefore holds meaning for its experiential history.
In completing this lesson, successful students will:
• Read all enclosed documents and understand the glossary terms included here.
• Observe the increased interconnectedness between the United States and other nations as a result of the globalization fostered by technology, using the built environment as a text.
• Map the United States’ demographic shift through time and through a local examination of space and place.
• Chart the contemporary rise of “big government” in the lives of Americans by recounting episodes of civic action in public areas.
• Apply the lessons and tenets of the American experience to their own lives as students near legal adulthood and begin to acquire the legal rights afforded United States’ citizens in their own communities, cities/counties, the state of California, and the nation.
• Compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past events and decisions and determining the lessons that were learned.
• Analyze how change happens at different rates at different times; understand that some aspects can change while others remain the same; and understand that change is complicated and affects not only technology and politics but also values and beliefs.
• Use a variety of maps and documents to interpret human movement, including major patterns of domestic and international migration, changing environmental preferences and settlement patterns, the frictions that develop between population groups, and the diffusion of ideas, technological innovations, and goods.
• Relate current events to the physical and human characteristics of places and regions.
• Identify bias and prejudice in historical interpretations.
• Evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors’ use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications.
• Construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations.
• Show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.
• Recognize the complexity of historical causes and effects, including the limitations on determining cause and effect.
• Interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded rather than solely in terms of present-day norms and values.
• Understand the meaning, implication, and impact of historical events and recognize that events could have taken other directions.
• Analyze human modifications of landscapes and examine the resulting environmental policy issues.
• Conduct cost-benefit analyses and apply basic economic indicators to analyze the aggregate economic behavior of the U.S. economy.
• Explore the landmarks from the natural and built environments.
• Work collaboratively to determine twenty landmarks.
• Research twenty landmarks to determine history and importance to the community or neighborhood.
• Map the twenty landmarks both spatially on a map and chronologically on a timeline.
• Include landmarks that exist and no longer exist to demonstrate change over time and broader changes in the built environment.
• Present the final project to the class.
Instructors should go over the glossary terms and the provided questions with the class. The instructor should not exhaust these questions in presenting them. Rather, instructors should introduce the questions and determine 2-3 examples for each question, as they will be the basis for small group work and then homework.
1. What landmarks can you identify in our community?
2. What places are important to you personally? Why?
3. Do you know of any important landmarks in our community that no longer exist? What happened to them? When? Why?
Instructors should have the class determine ten existing landmarks and ten landmarks that are no longer in the community that hold special importance. To determine each group of ten, have students break into groups of 3 - 4 to more fully answer the questions.
For homework students should ask at least one adult relative or friend to answer the three central questions.
Student groups spend the next week researching twenty landmarks in their community. When was the landmark created? Where? Why is it significant? Why, if applicable, is the landmark no longer in existence? Using one of the local maps provided by the instructor, students show where the twenty landmarks are located. Students then place the landmarks on a timeline.
Students should present the landmarks of their community on a poster, or if digital technologies are present, on a website to the class. The poster or website should include a map of the landmarks, a brief description of each landmark, and a timeline showing the landmark on a broader continuum. Descriptions should include a justification of why the landmark was chosen for the project.
Wrap-Up: Ask the class what they have learned about process. Did they enjoy it? How does this activity make students better critical readers? What other information or activities might be helpful in assisting students in becoming better critical readers? Suggestions for the future?