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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.


Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) Lesson Plan Proposals: Submitting an Outline

Preparing a preliminary outline should help you organize your lesson plan even before you begin using the online Authors Packet at http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/authors.htm to begin writing the lesson. It also will help the TwHP staff get a sense of the lesson early on and provide feedback. In addition to referring to the Authors Packet, remember that the existing TwHP lessons make good models as you decide what to include in each lesson plan section.

TwHP asks authors to give careful thought to their focus: on what specific aspect of a particular topic in history will their lesson concentrate? Historic places generally can be used to help tell a number of different stories relating to one or more themes and time periods in American history. A single lesson plan cannot "do it all." TwHP finds it to be very helpful for an author to start by crafting a focus statement for his or her lesson plan. This will help with the formation of learning objectives, which together with the focus then form the basis for determining the content of the readings, selection of documents, and creation of activities. Here are some sample focus statements for actual TwHP lesson plans:

For the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado: "In this lesson, students will examine how the United States Air Force became an independent military service equal to the Army and Navy. Students also will determine how the establishment of the Air Force Academy reflected the importance of air power during the early Cold War era."

For the site of the Wright Brother's first flight in North Carolina: "In this lesson, students will examine how the Wright Brothers achieved powered flight in December 1903 and how the geography of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, impacted their experiments."

For two underwater Spanish shipwrecks off the coast of Florida: "In this lesson, students will examine what two shipwrecks can tell us about the convoy system established in the 16th century as a means of collecting precious metals and other products from the New World. They will discover how fierce storms that caused the treasure fleets of 1715 and 1733 to wreck off the coast of Florida affected Spain's influence in the New World."

Once you have a focus statement, your next step should be to create an outline of the planned lesson's content, essentially following the components of the TwHP lesson plan format. Submit the complete outline to TwHP. Please include:

  • Name of the subject place, as it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places
  • Proposed Title of the lesson plan
  • Focus Statement
  • National History Standards (U.S. Grades 5-12) the lesson will help meet (find these online at <http://nchs.ucla.edu/standards/us-standards5-12.html>)
  • Student Learning Objectives (4-5 actual learning objectives)
  • Setting the Stage (description of the contextual information that will be included in this section of the lesson plan)
  • Locating the Site (identification of the map(s) you plan to use and their purpose)**
  • Readings (description of each 2-4 readings, including any primary textual documents)**
  • Visual Evidence (identification of the photographs, drawings, cartoons, charts, etc.)**
  • Putting it All Together (description of 2-4 student activities to expand the lesson - at least one activity must direct students to their own local history and historic places)

**Make sure that you determine whether any maps, photographs, artwork, other types of images, and other documents are in the public domain and, if not, that you obtain written permission from the copyright holder. That is the responsibility of the authors and TwHP requires submission of the permissions along with the manuscript. TwHP also cannot pay any costs to secure the use of images or documents for TwHP lesson plans.