No Place Like Home:
Interpreting Photos in a Tech-Rich History Lesson
Students analyze photographs of high plains sod homes and read accompanying narratives. They then choose one photograph and, using the copy and paste features and simple drawing tools available in Microsoft Word, students identify characteristics, points, differences, and questions they find in that photograph.
photographs, American history, high plains, West, prairies, sod houses
Many students understand how to read, take notes, and identify the main points of written text, but in a world where digital content -- photos, movies, music -- is increasingly prevalent, they also need to know how to "read" media as well. Help them learn with this technology-infused lesson for middle school American History classes. Because this lesson focuses on observations and questioning, it serves nicely as an introduction to life on the prairie in the late 1800s.
Prior to this lesson, students should have a basic understanding of Microsoft Word as well as the ability to juggle two open windows at the same time.
Begin the lesson by displaying on the projector or TV monitor the Thomas Jefferson biography from the White House.
Note: Most Internet browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, Foxfire) allow users to increase font size, which might help those in the back see better. Click View in the menu bar to find and change Text Size.
Ask students to read silently the first two paragraphs and then write the three or four most important facts from the text. Then invite a few students to share what they wrote. Display the responses on the projector/TV monitor or write them on the chalkboard.
Point out to students that not all information is in text form. Sometimes, facts appear in other formats, such as photographs.
Show students a sample photograph, such as the meeting of American and Mexican forces on International Bridge in 1915. Ask them to look at the photograph and write three facts they learned from the photo. If students appear to be struggling, ask them to look at the clothing, the ratio of men to women, facial expressions, where people are standing in relation to one another, and so on.
After a few minutes, invite students to share their responses, and record the results on a computer or chalkboard.
Explain to students that the day's assignment is to "read" a photograph from the Library of Congress's The Northern Great Plains: 1880-1920 project. Walk students through the following steps:
Assessment Students will be assessed on their
Lesson Plan Source
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES 5 - 12
a href="/standards/national/soc_sci/us_history/5_12.shtml">NSS-USH.5-12.6 Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)