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TeachNet Grant: A Digital Family Tree Trip Through Time
Renny Fong

Public School 130 Manhattan - The Hernando DeSoto School
143 Baxter Street
New York, NY 10013

Grades 3-5 - Social Studies with Technology
About the Grant:

In this unit, students will learn more about their own histories by creating family trees, using on-line tools such as bubbl.us, an on-line timeline maker, and Google Earth along with other applications like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. 

Students will first create a "web" using bubbl.us, where they will provide their time and location of birth, where they currently attend school, as well as finding out where and when their parents were born and where they went to school at their age.  Students will then create an initial timeline making tool on-line and then refine their timelines using Microsoft Word, adding pictures and details.  Next, students will use Google Earth to flag the areas where they and  their parents were born and attended schools. Students will make sure to save this information. They can even add scanned photographs.  Then, they will use their Microsoft Word timelines to hyperlink these locations.  Finally students will create a PowerPoint presentation to show their classmates and families what they found out and learned through their investigations.  Students will develop a rubric together so that they can agree upon expected outcomes.

How This Grant was Adapted:

It is important for students to see that they are a part of history.  By literally putting themselves "on the map," students will gain a better perspective about how events are tied together to tell a story.  After all, that is what history is all about.  It is also important for students to find out about their own histories and backgrounds.  Once they start asking their parents some questions, they will probably want to know more about the history of their families.  This project takes advantage of some of the many free on-line tools that are available for students to use in planning and developing their project.  This project can be adapted for 3rd to 5th grade classes. 


Students will be able to sequence a series of events on a time-line.

Students will be able to use Google Earth to find and flag different locations and calculate distances from one point to another.

Students will practice organizing their data using on-line mapping tools.

Students will practice sharing their histories with others orally aided by a PowerPoint presentation.

Websites Used

http://bubbl.us - An on-line mind mapping brainstorming tool, where students can create webs and export them as jpeg files.

http://earth.google.com - Link to downloadable application, Google Earth.  Students can flag/mark locations, add pictures, and save them as .tmz files.  Students can also measure distances from one point to another.

earth.google.com/intl/en//userguide/v4/ - Link to Google Earth User Guide.

http://teach-nology.com/web_tools/materials/timelines/ - A basic on-line timeline generator.

http://microsoft.com/education/timelinesword.mspx - An on-line tutorial of how to create a timeline using Microsoft Word

http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php - An on-line tool to help create rubrics.

Standards Addressed:

New York State Social Studies Standards.

Standard 1:  History of the United States and New York - Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United Staes and New York.

Standard 3:  Geography - Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live - local, national, and global - including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth's surface.

Lesson 1:

Lesson 1: Webbing out our Biographical Information

Prior to this lesson, students should have acquired information from their parents about the times and places of birth and where parents attended school when they were their child's age.  Students should also collect photographs of these events, if available. 

For all of these lessons, students will need to have access to a computer lab or laptops with internet.  Students will go to the website, bubbl.us, where they will map out when and where they were born, where they now attend school, when and where their parents were born, and where they attended school.  Students will export these files as .jpeg images, print them out, and then bring them home to fact check with their parents.

Lesson 2:

Lesson 2: Creating Timelines of our Biographical Information

Using the information from the previous lesson, students will go to the website, http://teach-nology.com/web_tools/materials/timelines/, where they can plug in their information and create basic timelines that include all of the information they have gathered.  Once they have finished, students should buddy up and fact-check with a partner, making sure the events are sequenced correctly and accurately.  

Afterwards, the teacher will model for the students how to transfer the information they have on their basic timelines to a more detailed timeline using Microsoft Word.  A template can be used to facilate the process for the students.  (See Attached Document)  Students should make sure they have created a timeline that is clear and accurate.

Students can also add photos tp their timeline, if available.  Students should save all of their work in a My Family Tree Folder.  The teacher can have some students use a scanner to scan these photos onto the server or flash drives, so that they can be added onto the timelines.

Students can also add other significant events to their timelines,

Lesson 3:

Lesson 3: Using Google Earth

Using the information from the previous assignment, students will use Google Earth to add placemarks of their biographical information.  Students will learn how to search for locations by entering the city and state or city and country of each location. 

Students will save these places in their My Family Tree Folder.  Students will draw lines and measure the distances from one point to another, using the Ruler feature in Google Earth.  Students will use the grid feature to find the latitude and longitude of these placemarks.  If photos are available, students can add an image to their placemarks.  They will use their Microsoft Word timelines and hyperlink these files to them.

Lesson 4

Lesson 4: PowerPoint Presentations

Students will share the information they have gathered with their peers and parents.  They will document the process and then write about what they have learned through this experience.  Students will develop a rubric together so that they will know what the expected outcomes are for the presentation.  Students will go to http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php to look for examples of rubrics and then create one as a class.

Renny Fong is currently the Computer/Technology Teacher at Public School 130 Manhattan, where he has taught for the past ten years. He has taught kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grades. Renny received his B.A. from Columbia College in 1993 and his master's degree in Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1994. His wife and his two-year-old son are his joy and inspiration.

Renny's Joy and Inspiration!



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