Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Preserving Our Memories

Preserving Our Memories

God Made a Farmer

Over the weekend I was looking through my Zite Feed and ran across a link to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History who is collecting stories as part of their Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive. The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress always does such an excellent job of collecting American Stories as a part of their digital archive. As I read through some of the examples, I thought about how important our memories are to us.  I definitely related to the Walking Beans Story by Sharon Covert. I thought this was a really neat example of "Thinking Like a Historian."

During the Super Bowl Dodge Ram ran their Super Bowl Ad "God Made a Farmer." That ad struck a chord with family and friends from rural America.  (I've embedded the video below). Quickly after the ad aired, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were full of people commenting how it brought back memories of growing up on the farm. It definitely reminded people of their memories of their childhood growing up in Rural America.

Memories are a powerful thing and an important aspect of Historical Thinking. Preserving those memories are an important skill of a Historian. This is a skill I need to do a better job of using with my students. For those teachers who teach in more rural areas, the Smithsonian's Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive might be a great place for our students to start preserving those memories of our parents and grandparents as rural America continues to shrink. These are stories that need to be recorded and retold as part of our American Experience.

Remembering the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement

Since I am currently teaching in a more urban area where student's don't know the difference between a combine or a tractor, I don't know if farming stories will connect with my students. However, in May we will be studying the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement and I think there might be some stories in there my students can find among their family or neighbors. I am constantly reminded during this unit from my students how old I am.

I think it would be interesting to break my student's up into teams, and have them collect as many memories from as many people of a Global, National, or Local event that happened during the Cold War or Civil Rights Movement. We could set up Google Forms for each event as a location for individuals to record their memories. Similar to how the Smithsonian National Museum of American History: Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive has set up for individuals to type their stories.

The lyrics to the song "We Didn't Start the Fire" might also serve as a topic list for students to  pull from.

Students could take these stories and create some type of virtual museum using a Wiki, Blog, or Google Doc where we could share these stories to the community.

Some Possible Resources:

  1. Veterans, Oral History, and the Library of Congress from teachinghistory.org:  Resources for teachers to use with students for interviewing veterans. (I've used this in the past with students who interviewed family members who served in World War II.)
  2. Making Sense of Oral History by Linda Shopes: Good suggestions for students and teachers in conducting interviews.  
  3. Nebraska Studies: Website  full of photos, documents, letters, and other resources that can be broken down by time periods and how it impacted Nebraskans. 
  4. Mary Fran's Google Doc's Tutorial: Tutorial and how to use Google Docs

If you have done any similar activities with your students I would love to hear about your successes and suggestions in the comments section below.

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