Teacher's Guide for COBBLESTONE ® The White House: An American Symbol
Teacher Guide prepared by: Mary Shea, Ph.D. Dr. Shea teaches undergraduate and graduate reading courses at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.
The following project would be done as an extension activity after reading and discussing the articles in this issue. Interesting and important events that occurred at the White House are described across several articles. An integrated display of these will make them more memorable and help students place them in a historical sequence. The project will take several days to complete and require rereading of the articles and, possibly, the use of additional resources. An art teacher, librarian, and / or computer teacher in the school (or parents, older students, classroom helpers) could assist with the project.
Objective: Students will use the facts and details they've gathered in reading and discussing the articles in this issue on the White House to create a large timeline of major events that occurred at this site over the past 200 years of its history. Each President who lived there will be included. The timeline will have illustrations and word processed descriptions (or hand written) of the significant event that occurred on each date. The timeline will be displayed in a hallway or entrance to the school.
Higher Level Thinking Skills: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, and Synthesis.
Materials: September 2000 issue of COBBLESTONE®, art materials, and computers (or writing paper).
- Ask students to tell a partner three interesting things they learned from the articles in this issue of COBBLESTONE® about the White House and its history.
- Have partners present what they've discussed to the class as historical periods are identified. For example, partners will share events that occurred during John Adams' presidency through John Tyler's years as President (1800-1845). Create distinct time periods for this sharing. These will be used to form working groups for the assignment.
- Review the process for rereading and skimming for information. Model the process with the article "History Happens" making notes on an overhead transparency of significant dates and events that could be used on the timeline. For example, 1948 - President Harry S. Truman signed the executive order that integrated the armed forces.
- Discuss how this would be illustrated and given a caption. A brief description of the event and its implications for the American people would be prepared and posted with the illustration. Extra research might be needed for some of the events.
- Introduce the additional resources (books, videos, websites, pamphlets, etc) that students could use.
- Students will be assigned to a group. Groups will be assigned a time period. Together, group members will reread and skim articles to find facts and interesting details that should be included in their section of the timeline. A group scribe will make note of these with page numbers for referencing later.
- Group members will decide who will be responsible for each contribution to their section of the timeline. These contributions will include:
- A map of the White House with a "you are here" designation for the event they're describing.
- An illustration of the event with a brief caption.
- A description of the event and an explanation of its significance to the American people.
- The teacher will circulate to assist groups as they reread and plan their work.
Closure (for each class): Have groups report on their accomplishments for the day, any additional materials or resources they think they'll need, and their plans for the next work period.
- Groups will work on their section of the timeline.
- The teacher will conference with writers who are preparing descriptions and explanations for designated points on the timeline, helping them with revisions and editing. The teacher will guide students to additional resources, as needed.
- Work may be continued during an art, library, or computer class, if such integration has been planned.
The teacher will assess students' ability to:
- Work harmoniously and productively with peers in a group.
- Contribute to class and group planning for the project.
- Reread articles and effectively select salient information for the timeline.
- Fulfill their responsibilities to the group and produce a high quality section for the timeline that has all the required components.