Researching Tacoma’s History

For more information on how I will use digital archives in this unit, please click the link below:

Unit Outline

This 7th grade social studies unit has students exploring the history of their own town. Students will be researching the history of a Tacoma landmark of their choosing, so that they may better understand the value landmarks and statues have in the Tacoma community. This unit will give students the opportunity to examine the impact of Tacoma landmarks and statues and how they reflect the values of the community. Students will also explore how these landmarks were supported in the past are how they are being supported and maintained today. I would like the unit to end with a fair, so students can share their work with their classmates and the community.

Essential Questions for this unit:

  • What is the history behind Tacoma’s landmarks and statues?
  • How are these landmarks supported/maintained today?
  • What value do these landmarks have on the Tacoma community today?
  • How do these landmarks represent Tacoma and Tacoma’s history?
  • How does public art serve communities?

Some standards that fit this unit are:

  • History 4.2.2 Understands and analyzes how cultures and cultural groups contributed to Washington State
  • History 4.2.1 Understands and analyzes how individuals and movements have shaped Washington State
  • History 4.3.1 Analyzes and interprets historical materials from a variety of perspectives in Washington State
  • CCSS Reading: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Technology Assignment

The students will be using digital archives to research their project.  I would like students to find at least four primary sources on their Tacoma landmark for this project, in addition to any secondary sources they may find. This will require usage of laptops, or a computer room. I will first instruct students on how to use the digital archives using a landmark no students have chosen for their project. Then students will be left to research their topics, as I assist them individually.

The activity types (Harris & Hofer, 2009) that digital archives can be used for include:

  • Research
  • Artifact-Based Inquiry

Final Project

For this unit, I envision a fair where students can share the information they learned about their Tacoma landmark. This fair would be open to families as well as communities members. Students could set up stations with information pertaining to the history of their landmark and why they chose it. This would include photographs, facts, documents, etc. Students would have the opportunity to walk around and see their peers’ work as well. During the fair we would create a map of all the landmarks, so students and community members could see where these landmarks are.

Links -The Tacoma Historical Society is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation, promotion and presentation of the history of the City of Tacoma and its people -website with information about Tacoma landmarks -website for the Pierce County Historic Preservation, which includes the Pierce County Register of Historic Places -Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation

Technology Considerations

Using digital archives will help students to find sources on the origins of their Tacoma landmark. It will also give them a better sense of the history of the landmark, and why it is still preserved today. While students can gain a lot of this knowledge through examining secondary sources, researching and finding primary sources helps students to be engaged with the content.

To help students be successful with this project I would need to structure mini lessons around using the different databases. I would need to teach students how to do keyword and subject searches, so they will better find what they are looking for. I would also need to teach students about primary and secondary sources, and the value of each in historical research.

For more information on digital archives, please click the link below:

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