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The Brady Chronicles: A Digital Story

This lesson is a collaborative project between the fifth grade social studies teacher, the school library media specialist, and the computer lab teaching assistant. It is designed in conjunction with the fifth grade social studies curriculum and the study of the Civil War. It provides students with a personal experience of important events as they create their own Civil War movie clip. They are assigned to a team that explores one important event of the war. Each student researches the circumstances surrounding that event and explores primary sources related to it.

Subject Area
Social Studies, Library Media

Grade Levels
5

Objectives

The curriculum objective is for students to view the Civil War through the eyes of those who were there, as shown in their photographs, art, writings, music, and artifacts.

Internet Used
Internet resources such as the Library of Congress American Memory Brady Collection and Selected Civil War Photographs provide students with a rich selection of historical photographs of soldiers, battle camps, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cwphtml/cwphome.html

Students view the Civil War through the eyes of photographers such as Matthew Brady. They incorporate these resources into their own digital story, providing their own insights and interpretations of the material. The webquest format can be used on the classroom webpage, allowing the students to proceed with the project as an independent learning experience.

Materials Used
Students can produce their digital story using a variety of available multimedia software. By fifth grade, students are usually familiar (and bored) with PowerPoint presentations, and should be challenged by digital editing programs such as Movie Maker, iMovie, and Photo Story. Digital stories can also be created using web page editors such as Front Page and Dreamweaver. It is possible to create a digital story without the use of peripherals such as scanners, digital video recorders, and digital cameras. Students can simply download images (subject to acceptable use and copyright restrictions). Digital video recorders and digital cameras, however, allow students to incorporate more of their own creative interpretations into their project.

Standards Addressed
NYS Standards for Social Studies on the Elementary level require that students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the U.S. The skills of historical analysis include the ability to explain the significance of historical evidence. In this lesson, students view historic events through the eyes of those who were there, as shown in their art, writings, music, and artifacts. NYS Standards for Mathematics,Science, and Technology require that students access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies. In this lesson, students access information using Internet sources and use a variety of new multimedia technologies to present their information.

Assessment
This project offers an excellent opportunity to assess students’ critical thinking skills based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. A successful work product (12 points) includes the following.

  1. The student team demonstrates knowledge and comprehension level understanding of their topic by stating the basic facts of who, what, when, and where, as well as the conflicts and issues involved (4 points).
  2. The student team demonstrates the creative ability to apply, analyze, and synthesize the research information by using it in the digital story (4 points).
  3. The student team demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate the research information through conclusions regarding the significance of their topic to the overall events of the Civil War (4 points).
  4. Extra credit will be offered if the student team demonstrates improved proficiency with software and technologies that are new to them (2 points).

Students Involved
This unit is designed for fifth grade students who are already have a year or two of experience in Internet research and in the use of a basic multimedia technology such as PowerPoint. Students should be divided into teams that allow students with greater needs to collaborate with teammates with more experience and ability.

Teacher Tips
Teachers interested finding out more information about digital storytelling can refer to "Kathy Schrock's Tips: Great Resources for Digital Storytelling". Discovery Education. November 2005. p. 9 (www.unitedstreaming.com)

Overall Value
The greatest overall value of this lesson is its ability to quickly engage students in the creative process of historical interpretation of primary sources. Students enjoy the empowerment of independent learning as they use new technologies to present their research. Teachers enjoy the challenge of teaming with students to learn these new presentation methods. At the same time, the creation of a digital story forces students into a critical analysis of their topic.

Evaluation

Students will be graded according to the following rubric:

A grade of A (12 points) will include the following:

  1. Your student team demonstrates knowledge and comprehension level understanding of their topic by stating the basic facts of who, what, when, and where, as well as the conflicts and issues involved. (4 points)
  2. Your student team demonstrates the creative ability to apply, analyze, and synthesize the research information by using it in the digital story. (4 points)
  3. Your student team demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate the research information through conclusions regarding the significance of their topic to the overall events of the Civil War. (4 points)
  4. Extra credit will be offered if your student team demonstrates improved proficiency with software and technologies that are new to them. (2 points)


Michael Pisano
Mike Frerichs

Michael Pisano has been teaching in the Clarkstown Central School District for the past 17 years at Bardonia Elementary School. During that time, he has taught fifth grade social studies, math and language arts. Mike incorporates technology throughout his teaching and was a big part of Clarkstown’s first computer laptop initiative.

Mike has been happily married to his wife Angela for the past seventeen years. They have a nine-year old daughter named Anna. He enjoys the quiet of his suburban neighborhood, especially during his long walks with his best buddy, Ranger, Mike’s golden retriever.

Mike is a dedicated teacher and coach in the Clarkstown school district. He is an assistant coach of varsity baseball at Clarkstown North High School and was a huge part of their 2002 State Championship season. Coach Pisano visits many little league events. He runs winter baseball clinics and summer baseball camps to players of all ages. On his spare time, Mike loves playing golf, visiting the beautiful beaches of the east coast and helping at with his daughter’s softball team.

mpisano@ccsd.edu
Mike Frerichs has been the library media specialist for Bardonia
Elementary School for 8 years. He received his MLS from SUNY Albany. He also has a B.A. in mathematics and philosophy from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, and a juris doctorate degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He practiced law for 19 years prior to teaching.

He is a Vietnam era veteran of the Marine Corps and is active in local veterans’ groups. An active marathon runner, outdoorsman and cross country skier, he and his wife Catherine divide their time between homes in New York and Alaska.

Much of Bardonia’s fifth grade social studies curriculum incorporates technology. With the collaborative efforts of the fifth grade team and the library-media specialist, Bardonia students have expanded their technology research and presentation skills to the professional level.

mfrerich@ccsd.edu

 

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