Historical Scene Investigations

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How has the town of West Hartford changed and developed since the 1700s?

The Case

Student books:
House, House By: Jane Yolen
A River Ran Wild By: Lynne Cherry (Teacher read aloud)

Background Information:

  • Please note that students will need a basic understanding of map skills and cardinal directions prior to beginning this lesson.

Images of America: West Hartford By: Wilson H. Faude
Celebrate! West Hartford: An Illustrated History By: Miriam Butterworth, Ellsworth Grant and Richard Woodworth

Sources/Materials:

  • 3 copies of floor map showing outline of west Hartford, including basic streets and physical features
  • A copy of the teacher reference Timeline
  • A copy each of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century student image/description cards (cut and laminate back to back as cards if you do not have original kit)
  • 18th, 19th, and 20th century map artifact kits (for marking important events on the floor maps)
  • Additional local maps and aerial views of West Hartford from the 1700s-present

Becoming a Detective:

**This lesson will probably take 3-5 days to complete, depending on the length of the blocks of time you have to work with students. The read aloud and initial discussion could be done on day one, the map activity on day two, and the assessment piece (the creation of a book) may take a few additional days.

  • Read aloud the book A River Ran Wild to the class. Pause as you read to discuss how the geographical location of the Nashua River has changed over a period of time. If you wish, draw a timeline to help students visualize and conceptualize the change of time and land.
  • After reading A River Ran Wild, ask students what they think was in this very spot of town 50 years ago…100 years….200 years…300 years…?
  • Ask students, What types of changes do you think our town has undergone over the last 300 years? What made you think that? What was happening in our country, state, town during that time? What might have looked differently? What might have looked the same?

Investigating the Evidence:  

 

  • Split the class into 3 heterogeneous groups (see differentiation section below to see more about this).
  • Assign each group a time period of West Hartford history to focus on. (18th century, 19th century, and 20th century-present).
  • Roll out the 3 floor maps in different open areas of the classroom.
  • Students in each group gather around the edges of the maps.
  • Students in each group receive a copy of the map, a kit of 3-D items representing various events/people/industries/places for the map, and a set of student laminated image cards.
  • Students first sort through the student image cards. On one side, there is an image or photograph. On the reverse side, there is the date and a brief description of the event.
  • Ask students to place the student image cards in sequential order from the earliest to latest events.
  • Next, students read the first image card and find a corresponding object from the artifact kit.
  • Students then follow the directions on the back of the image cards to locate the precise spot of their events on the map. They should place their 3-D objects or symbols on the map where the object belongs.
  • Students continue in this fashion until all objects have been located on the map and all objects have been correctly placed.
  • Students in each group should review their events and locations and be prepared to share their new learning with the rest of the class.
  • When all students are finished, the teacher should gather students together in one large group.
  • Walk students to the 18th century map.
  • Ask the students who worked on this map to briefly present their time period and objects to the class. Allow students the opportunity to ask questions and make inferences about settlement patterns.
  • Repeat the sharing process for the 19th and 20th century maps.
  • After all 3 maps have been viewed, ask students to reflect upon the changes that they have seen over time in West Hartford. If there’s time, organize student ideas into a chart that shows changes in different aspects of West Hartford over time (i.e.: settlement patterns, roads, residencies, public buildings, industries, parks, etc).

Cracking the Case:  

As a group the students will create a book similar to A River Ran Wild to display their understanding of change over time in the town of West Hartford.

  • Assign each student to a specific event, historical figure, or place on the map from the timeline of events the class has studied and located on the West Hartford floor maps.
  • Each student will illustrate their event by creating a detailed picture of the specific location in West Hartford. They should keep in mind the time period.
  • Each student will then write and type (if time) a brief explanation in their own words of their assigned event. They should explain what the event/person/place is, where it’s located in West Hartford, how it changed West Hartford, and why it’s important to West Hartford history.
  • The teacher can physically bind the book together and create an electronic slideshow in PowerPoint or PhotoStory3 if they choose by scanning student work into the computer.
  • Use the Rubric to evaluate student performance.

Differentiation:
Heterogeneous grouping- students will be split into 3 groups to complete the floor map activity. The teacher should try to mix the students based on literacy, map skills, and leadership abilities. Before beginning map activity, remind students to share the work fairly, and give some ideas for how this can be done effectively. Students who need some enrichment or extension activities can use the additional maps and town aerial views to do some additional research on the schools in town, streets, local places and homes that they know, and other activities.

To Learn More: 

Use Jane Yolen’s book House, House to guide students to reflect upon historic buildings that are still standing in West Hartford. Have students walk around town (either as a class field trip or as an assignment) and use a camera to take pictures of current buildings/lots to place of a map of West Hartford. Compare these images to older images or descriptions of the same location. Note the differences and physical change to the town.

The Case File:

18th century image cards
19th century image cards
20th century to Present image cards
Artifacts
Rubric for Change Over Time Assessment
Lesson Plan

Maps of West Haven:

1855
1868
West Hartford Map 1896
West Hartford Center Map 1896
WH Map 1896 Elmwood and Charter Oak Park
West Hartford Center 1909
West Hartford Map 1909
WH 1909 Map Elizabeth Park and North End
WH Map 1909 Luna Park and Elmwood
Street Name Index WH 1909
1934 Aerial View
1940
Current Outline
2008 Aerial View
2010

 

 

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