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How To Use a TwHP Lesson Plan

Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plans provide a rich opportunity to enhance learning by bringing historic places across the country directly into your classroom. Students experience the excitement of these special places and the stories they have to tell through carefully selected written and visual materials.

Each TwHP lesson plan contains teacher material and teaching activities. Teacher material includes the following sections: Introduction, Where it fits into the curriculum, Objectives for students, Materials for students, and Visiting the Park. Teaching activities consist of the following sections: Setting the Stage (historical background), Locating the Site (maps), Determining the Facts (readings, documents, charts), Visual Evidence (photographs and other graphic documents) and Putting It All Together (activities). The lesson plan format was designed to allow flexibility, but works best if the material in each lesson plan is presented to students as described below:

1) Setting the Stage
Begin each lesson by presenting the information in Setting the Stage. This material may be read aloud to students, summarized, or photocopied for students to read individually or in small groups. Setting the Stage material provides background information necessary to acquaint students with the topic of the lesson they will be studying.

2) Locating the Site
Next provide students with copies of the maps and questions included in Locating the Site. Have students work individually or in small groups to complete the questions. At least one map familiarizes students with the historic siteís location within the country, state, and/or region. Additional maps provide more specific information about the place.

3) Determining the Facts
Then provide students with copies of the readings, documents, and/or charts included in Determining the Facts. Again, allow students to work individually or in small groups. The series of questions that accompany each of these sections is designed to ensure that students have gathered the appropriate facts from the material. Note that in some of the lessons it is necessary for students to refer back to one or more of the maps while completing a reading.

4) Visual Evidence
Next distribute the lessonís photos among students. You can print these images straight from the web or display them on a computer screen. Have the students examine the photographs and answer the related questions. Note that in some of the lessons two photos must be studied together in order to complete the questions. In these cases, the images are identified as "a" and "b."

Questions are designed to enhance studentís ability to "read" visual material as documents rather than illustrations.

5) Putting It All Together
After students have completed the questions that accompany the maps, readings, and photos, they should be directed to complete one or more of the activities presented in Putting It All Together. These activities engage students in a variety of creative exercises that help them synthesize the information they have learned and formulate conclusions. At least one activity in each lesson plan leads students to look for places in their community that relate to the topic of the lesson. In this way, students learn to make connections between their community and the broader themes of American history they encounter in their studies.

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