This interactive site uses the sensational 19th century ax murderer Lizzie Borden as a focus to teach students how to search primary materials for clues about what happened in the past and how these need to be given a coherent framework in some sort of story that not only explains the local meaning of events but reflects some broader social or historical significance.
Type of Material:
To supplement a United States History class.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To teach students how to examine historical surces in the same way historians do.
Target Student Population:
College, upper level. The module is felxible and can be used for grades K-12.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students need to be able to read and critically analyze both primary and secondary sources. Students need to be introduced to basic methodologies for practicing history.
This site contains both primary and secondary sources from a variety of persepctives, i.e. maps, census records, trial transcripts. This site is part of a much larger module for two courses taught at the University of Massachusetts. Instructions needed for this iste are included in other course sections. The census data was well integrated but assumed that students would know how to use and interpret the census data.
The site does not provide guides to explain how to use the materials and assumes that students will know what to do with the information.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This site has a great deal of potential as a teaching and learning tool.
The site needs a better explanation on the homepage about how to use the site. There is so much material that students and teachers might get bogged down trying to use it effectively and efficiently. The authors should suggest some of the individul exercises they created for use with the site to assist other students and teachers to get the most use from the site. Some of the primary sources are very long and tedious to read.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is nicely designed. Zoom features of the map are excellent.
Some of the navigational prompts need to be more clearly labeled. The site does not explain what a digital archive is. There is not always a clear path for exploring the site. A better explanation is needed on the home page to explain how to use the site. Download times were long. Site lacked instructions on how to assist students in using primary source elements.
Other Issues and Comments:
Clearer pedagogical objectives are needed.
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