Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cities topics presentations - The early 1900s

Our theme for January and February is Cities, and one of the ways that we've been exploring the topic is by learning about the growth of Midwestern American cities over the course of the twentieth century. 

Last week, students paired up to research and prepare short presentations on a variety of topics relevant to cities at the turn of the century (that's 1900, not 2000). Topics included Henry Ford and the $5 Day, Women's Suffrage, The Great Migration, The Toledo War, and Life on a Farm in 1900. They spent the week working with their partners, then gave their presentations on Friday.  

Luke and Karenna talk about the history of the importance of the railroad in Michigan. 

Margaret and Sydney teach about Native American cultures of Southern Michigan. 

This week, students will go further with their projects. First, they'll be receiving feedback about their presentations, both in terms of content, and their public speaking. They'll incorporate that feedback into a "second draft" of their presentation, which will be delivered again on Friday, this time to the third and fourth graders of Chris and Joanna's classes. 

In addition to making improvements to their overall presentations, students will be given an additional component to incorporate: 

We've been using a small model city during our class discussions to help illustrate various points and concepts. Though not based on a specific location, it has been designed to be a reasonable facsimile of a typical small city, somewhere in Southeast Michigan. It's currently meant to represent circa 1910 or so, and the plan is for it to evolve and grow as we move through history. 

For their presentations, students will be tasked with explaining how their topic might play out or affect our fictional town. For example, Matthew and David might talk about how Henry Ford's Five Dollar Day played out in the factories in our city. Did other industrialists follow his lead? What were the ramifications? 

Next week, we'll repeat the process, with new partners and new topics, this time investigating events from the 1920s and 1930s. Eventually, students will have a much deeper understanding of how and why American cities have developed in different ways over the years; How has Chicago thrived? Why is Detroit in its current state? How is Cleveland different from Buffalo? Why have Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor had such different trajectories? It's a fascinating topic that we're excited to be studying! Along the way, we'll be developing and strengthening our research, collaboration, and presentation skills.  

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