Dec 10 2009

Digitizing History: Bring the Past to the Present with This Tech Lesson

Students explore great moments in the past and build web skills along the way.

Students explore great moments in the past and build web skills along the way.

The World Wide Web was created in the 1980s at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. It was originally created to facilitate efficient, user-friendly publishing and to search and retrieve CERN files. The roots of the project can be found in a 1989 paper written by Tim Berners-Lee while he was at CERN. The growth of the Internet has made today's websites much more vibrant and user-friendly, and its use is now pervasive in nearly every area of professional and personal daily life.

Lesson Description: For this project, older elementary-age students will work in teams to create a home page or small website, each based on a different theme related to a recent history or social studies lesson. With the entire class, visit one to three websites of your own choosing. Using a data projector or interactive whiteboard, if possible, ask students to take a good look at the site. Ask them the following questions: Who is the intended audience for the site? What is thepurpose or function of the site? Is the site clean and organized or messy and cluttered? How easy is it to find and read the website's content? Navigate around the site and look at how the pages are linked together. Ask students what features they like or don't like.

Divide the class into five or six teams and explain that they will create a website to document a period of history that they have recently studied, such as the American Revolution. Topics in other subject areas could include a favorite author, poet or artist, or an aspect of government, science or geography that has been covered in class. Alternatively, the entire class could work together to create a single, complete website.

Subject area: This lesson applies specifically to history and social studies, but it could be modified and applied to other subject areas or age groups that might benefit from discussing and graphically presenting what they have learned.

At the end of this project, students should be able to:
• Understand what makes an effective website
• Organize, refine and present information about a historical time period in different forms, including images, sounds and text
• Work collaboratively as a web design team, whether in small groups or as a class

Curriculum standards: This lesson addresses the following National Educational Technology Standards for Students, which require students to:
• Use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity and promote creativity
• Demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations
• Apply digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information

• Federal Resources for Educational Excellence: U.S. Time Periods, 1763–1815, Revolution:
• K–12 Web Archiving Project, a collaboration between Internet Archive, the Library of Congress and California Digital Library:

Grading Rubric: Students' grades should be based on their ability to:
• Present accurate information and understand the subject matter
• Find, select and organize relevant information
• Understand the underlying hierarchical structure of a simple website
• Match content, language and illustrations to their intended audience
• Work together productively in small groups to design the site

Teaching Tips

Create an animated feature for the website, such as a marquee.
• Record a short video or audio clip for the site.
• Add interactive features such as a hit counter, blog, poll or “shout-out” box.
• Build a site from scratch without using a software wizard.
• Compile a list of top 10 tips for creating future websites.