National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

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Teaching with Historic Places

Heritage Education Services Program

Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) uses properties listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places to enliven history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects. TwHP has created a variety of products and activities that help teachers bring historic places into the classroom.


Introduction

Select a Place:
The first step in writing a Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan is to select a historic place. America's history is embodied in the places we see all around us, whether they are the sites of regionally-important events with national repercussions or the places that help show us how national issues played out locally. We hope that you will look at your community for inspiration for your lesson plan.


The National Register of Historic Places can help identify nearby historic places and find information about them. We recommend that you use the National Register Collection, email the National Register, or write to your state historic preservation office (addresses available on-line). Once you've chosen a site, you can request copies of the National Register documentation from the Register or from your state office. You may, of course, choose any historic place for your lesson, but to be considered for addition to the TwHP series, lesson plans must feature places listed in the National Register.

Choose a Topic and a Focus:
Next, you will need to decide what story you want your lesson plan to tell. Most places could be used to teach more than one topic, but each Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan focuses on one story, which students examine in depth. This focus determines the selection of information, documents, and activities to be included.

Follow the TwHP Format:
In writing your lesson plan, follow "A Guide for Developing Lesson Plans." As you work on your lesson plan, keep in mind its overall potential to engage the interest of teachers and students; relevance to standard curricula; technical and stylistic quality of the writing; imaginative and effective use of visual materials; and appropriateness, creativity, and effectiveness of activities. Should you wish to submit a proposal to TwHP to have your lesson plan considered for addition to the series, create a lesson plan proposal outline.

Keep This Checklist Handy:

    Remember that Teaching with Historic Places lesson plans:
  • are based on one or more properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places
  • follow the established Teaching with Historic Places format
  • focus on topics that correlate strongly with major themes commonly taught in U.S. history, geography, social studies, or related subjects
  • use the historic place, and documents about the place, as the principal source for teaching and learning (and not merely as illustration or on the basis of minor associations with the lesson's topic)
  • make a strong connection linking the lesson's topic and teaching exercises with the historic place(s) selected
  • clearly and evocatively convey the sense of time, place, and people represented by the historic resource
  • incorporate, but need not be restricted to, information and documentation from National Park Service records: National Register and National Historic Landmarks documentation files, National Park unit records and archives, etc.
  • include primary documents
  • effectively engage students in active learning from and about the place
  • add depth or breadth to, but do not duplicate, information presented in standard classroom textbooks
  • adhere consistently to the lesson's main focus in the text, documentary evidence, questions, exercises, and activities
  • include at least one "Putting it All Together" activity that guides teachers and students in studying the history of their own community/area and the places that represent that history as they relate to the focus of the lesson