You know, in this web 2.0 world it's fun to sometimes go back to old technology. Kids today are unfamiliar with 8-tracks, albums, dial telephones, and in the case of my wife's third grade class...floppy disks! They had no idea where to even begin to put one into a computer. So I go waaayyyy back sometimes and do lessons using what I can my "long ago and far away" machine. It's a circa 1957 Predicta black and white television. Using this, I can teleconference with characters from the past and interact with "history." The kids really love it. One of the lessons I used last year was based on the book Abraham Lincoln Crosses a Creek. In this book we have an account of Abraham Lincoln nearly dying at age 10 when he tried to cross a creek with his best boyhood friend. It's an interesting book to study historical fiction vs. fact and makes the kids think about what history really is. A little research shows that the character of his boyhood friend did exist and that the book is based, at least partially, on a true event. Anyway, I start out my lesson by showing this video on the Predicta:
Yeah just an old black and white video. Big deal. Where is the color Mr. Valentine? But now imagine seeing it on this:
It makes all the difference. The kids get a general background of what was going on at that time and the television (my system of delivery) really gets their attention before I read the book. Of course there are details in the news that I pulled from the book to make it tie in nicely. At the end we have a discussion on whether the book was a true account or not. Just as they reach some conclusions I pull out research and photos about the boyhood friend in the book and watch their faces change. They are interested, they are wanting to know more. And that is where I give them material to do their own research. It's fun and the 50+ year old technology was what got them hooked.
LESSON: You never know when that overhead projector might be useful in a new way :)