Teaching with Historic Places in Real Classrooms

Three veteran, award-winning educators shared their wisdom and experience using Teaching with Historic Places lessons in the following articles. These resources lay out the challenges teachers face and explain the solutions and benefits Teaching with Historic Places lessons offer in (and out of) the classroom. They also provide detailed guidance for using the lesson plans and ideas for how to make the most of these lessons to support educators' curriculum needs.

Leska Foster
5th Grade Teacher at Holz Elementary School, Charleston, West Virginia

Why Use TwHP? When Opportunity Knocks ... (with the 'Trail of Tears' lesson)
Foster uses The Trail of Tears and the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation lesson plan to demonstrate how she breaks down the lessons to use in her own classroom.

For elementary teachers, time is one of our most precious resources –we just don't have enough of it during the school day to cover effectively all requirements the state and federal governments mandate.

Case Study #1: TwHP Lessons, State Standards, and Teaching Techniques
This case study will present some ideas for classroom teachers to incorporate TwHP lessons into their curriculum to meet state standards. In Skagway: Gateway to the Klondike, students learn how the Klondike Gold Rush fits into the broader context of gold rushes in American History, and also investigate how buildings help tell the stories of a community's past.

Case Study #2: Using the 'Chattanooga' lesson for Reading / Language Arts Integration Activities
The lesson Chattanooga, Tennessee: Train Town, helps students better understand the many ways in which railroads have shaped cities throughout the U.S. and influenced American culture. Teachers can use this lesson to further several Reading / Language Arts (RLA) skills and activities, either by integrating them into the TwHP lesson or by pulling parts of the TwHP lesson into your existing Reading / Language Arts lessons.

James Percoco
History Teacher at West Springfield High School, Springfield, Virginia

Jumping Into the Fray with Teaching with Historic Places
Jim Percoco offers guidance and wisdom for teachers interested in using the National Park Service and TwHP for distance learning to dive into American history.

If you will permit me to wear my want-to-be ranger hat for a moment, I'd like to share with you how I have discovered that teachers of American history can cross over into the world of the cultural and historic resources of the National Park Service while still remaining enclosed by the cinderblock walls of their school.

Reeling Students into History: Using Films Creatively
The following case study explains how film can be used to teach visual literacy and source analysis. Comparing different interpretations about historic events also can challenge misconceptions about the past. James Percoco describes how he uses TwHP lesson plans to help students analyze three films about the Civil War (First Manassas: An End to Innocence, Choices and Commitments: The Soldiers at Gettysburg, and Andersonville: Prisoner of War Camp).

Percoco explains how his students explored history and its uses through field studies and internships. He writes to encourage teachers to explore the history in their own backyard and to incorporate their local tales within the bigger picture of American history.

For many years I have been employing a technique I call the IFT –Individualized Field Trips. Here I make my students go out into the world and explore. These teenage historians are doing what I call Applied History...This type of direct involvement in both investigating history and exploring students’ own communities and interests is the best of all kinds of education. Students give back to the community while at the same time learning valuable history.

Paul LaRue
History Teacher at Washington High School, Washington Court House, Ohio

In three parts, Larue uses the TwHP Lesson, "The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry, to illustrate how he implements Teaching with Historic Places in his classroom. He goes over ways these lessons can help teachers meet curriculum challenges and limited classroom time.

Part I: Less is More: Teaching Strategies Using TwHP Lesson Plans
The TwHP lesson plans are a fantastic resource, but let me tell you a secret: I have never used an entire lesson in my own classroom. Coming from an author of two TwHP lesson plans, this might sound strange, but the issue is time management.

Part II: Use of Primary Documents and Critical Thinking Skills
Content standards for high school teachers in the state of Ohio begin with 1877. You might think that this would make the "The Rockets' Red Glare": Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenrylesson unusable for me. But I would utilize this lesson to help me teach the use of primary documents and critical thinking skills, which do fall under my twelfth grade U.S. History Standards.

Part III: Outside the Traditional History Lesson
If the class you are instructing is not a generic history class, you can still use the Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson for other subjects, such as citizenship, that are also used to prepare students for state proficiency tests.

Last updated: April 29, 2016