A Walk Through History

Activity Overview: 

This project, a video timeline, is an excellent end-of-year culminating presentation. It not only acts as a review for the historical, literacy, and scientific information the students have learned thus far, but it also stimulates students to reserach and expand their knowledge in other areas as well. Students are challenged to present the cumulative information in an interesting and meaningful way.

Students Goals – Students will do the following: 

Review historical, literary, and scientific
            knowledge learned previously during the year.
            Gather evaluate, and select materials from a variety of
            Arrange materials in a logical and effective manner.
            Keep track of sources using a Works Cited page.
            Use available technology effectively.
            Use a multimedia computer program.
            Make, read, and coordinate storyboards for three-part
            media presentation.
            Develop and present an American history media          
            production capable of reaching a diverse audience.
            See the multidisciplinary connections between language
            arts, social studies, and science.

Teacher Goals –
            Provide various situations for the students to use and
            develop their different intelligences. 
            Help students learn individual and group responsibility.
            Build friendships between middle school and high
            school students using small, informal group settings.

This project, a video time line, makes an excellent end of year culminating presentation.  It not only acts as a review for the historical, literary, and scientific information the students have learned thus far, but it also stimulates them to research and expand their knowledge in other areas as well, and challenges them to present the cumulative information in an interesting and meaningful way.  By categorizing their presentation into three sections:  national, local, and school, they make history come alive as they show how these “pieces” fit together to make a complete picture of American history. 

Besides being an excellent tool for student learning, it also serves as a great public relations move for the school.  The public sees the students (K-8) in action.  They see them playing background music for the video, shooting off rockets in science class, sewing pillows in technology class, carding wool with college students in language arts, reading Harriet Tubman in 5th grade reading class, and kindergarten students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to name a just a few of the selections. 

In order to make an effective presentation, the three screens, running simultaneously, show the audience the full picture.  For example, the center screen, the national focus, shows a video clip from Private Ryanwhile the local screen features pictures of hometown WWII veterans, and the school screen shows students, dressed in WW II uniforms, explaining their WW II projects.  During the fifties section old yearbook photos from the 1950’s blend in to the current students - the girls dressed in full skirts and white blouses and boys in blue jeans and white shirts, doing the bunny hop to Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock”.  Local pictures feature the town barber styling the boys’ hair in 50’s fashion at the local barbershop.

(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)

1. Meet with middle school teachers to determine plan for Time Capsule Multi-media project. 
2. Develop Era Information Checklist to assist students in making sure each time period and topic is covered. 
3. Develop Resource Checklist to assist students in using a variety of resources such as still photos, video clips, cassettes, records, CD’s, etc. 
4. Develop Works Cited guideline and requirements. 
5. Develop Criteria Guide for Selection of Pictures. 
6. Develop Group and Individual Responsibility list. 
7. Determine student groups. 
8. Contact high school technology teacher to arrange peer teaching between high school and middle school students. 
9. Meet with high school class to explain media project and examine multimedia possibilities. 
10. Set up stations for peer teaching of the following:  scanning, digital camera, Avid Cinema I, and Avid Cinema II. 
11. Plan mini lesson to give students practice using Avid Cinema. 
12. Contact photographer to speak to class. 
13. Gather some resources for students to begin research. 
14. Develop evaluation sheet for “A Walk Through History” presentation.


Curriculum Standards from http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/content/cont.html


National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators from http://cnets.iste.org/profiles.htm

Procedures – Language Arts

Discuss audience for media presentation (preschool through grandparents). Brainstorm some potential areas to include as well as total length of presentation.

English Language Arts: 4





Grades 6-8: 7


Professional photographer speaks to class concerning taking, and evaluating pictures.  Discuss the “voice” of a picture.  Practice selecting photos.

English Language Arts: 1

Grades 6-8: 2


Assign or allow students to choose a group.  In groups, students research events, people, movements, daily life, famous sayings, trivia, entertainers, etc. for each time period while making sure to use a variety of resources such as the following: encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, videos, almanacs, informational texts, and class notes.

 English Language Arts: 3, 7, 8, 12

Grades 6-8: 2, 4, 6, 8

Students record sources used on Works Cited page.

English Language Arts: 6


Grades 6-8: 3

Students interview community members from different time periods to gain information.

English Language Arts: 7, 9

Grades 6-8: 6

Students visit with and take pictures of kindergarten through seventh grade students and their projects.

English Language Arts: 4, 9


Grades 6-8: 6

Through peer tutoring, students learn how to use the digital camera, the scanner, import pictures from the server, and use Avid Cinema. 

English Language Arts: 12

Grades 6-8: 1, 6, 9

Using Avid Cinema media computer program, students arrange and coordinate still photos, video and audio clips, and title frames.

English Language Arts: 6


Grades 6-8:  1, 6, 8

Using the national storyboard, the other two groups coordinate their picture frames in time length and general topic or time period topic. Programs need to be coordinated after each section is finished to assure that all programs are in synchronization.

English Language Arts: 8, 11, 12

Grades 6-8: 7

Show final presentation to audience of preschool to grandparents and later to college teacher education class.

English Language Arts: 12

Grades 6-8: 6

 Procedures - Science

Students examine Internet scientific invention/inventor timeline sites for ideas of material to include in media presentation.

Science: G1, G3



Grades 6-8: 1,  2, 4, 5




Students select some items to include based on developed criteria.

Science: E2, F5



Students choose two inventors/inventions to research further and report to class.

English Language Arts: 3

Grades 6-8: 5, 6

Students write, type, and present reports to the class.

English Language Arts: 4, 5, 6

Grades 6-8: 5

Students import pictures from Internet for use in report.


Grades 6-8:  6

Procedures – Social Studies

Students research national events, people, and movements primarily focusing on vertical file materials, class notes, videos and CD ROMS.

Social Studies: Ic, Middle grades

Social Studies: IIa, b, c, middle grades

Social Studies: IIIg, i, middle grades


Grades 6-8: 6, 8

Students research changes of the community through time.

Social Studies: IIIg, middle grades

Social Studies: IVb, h, middle grades

Grades 6-8:  6


Avid Cinema. Available: http://www.avidcinema.com
Compatible scanner program

Large enough computer to run program effectively
Computer with video out port
Digital camera (optional)

Web sites:
A History of American Agriculture 1776-1990. Available: http://www.usda.gov/history2/text4.htm

Important Historical Inventions and Inventors. Available: http://www.lib.lsu.edu/sci/chem/patent/srs136.html

Alexander Graham Bell Institute. Available: http://bell.uccb.ns.ca/

American Inventors and Inventions. Available: http://www.150.si.edu/150trav/remember/amerinv.htm

Historical Inventors - More Sites - Microsoft Internet Explorer. Available: http://inventors.miningco.com/msub5.htm

Originally the room was equipped with two computers.  However, for a project this large, I borrowed four other computers, two scanners, and a digital camera.


Scan Total - (20)

Import Still Photos Total – (20)

Scan photo (5)

Import still pictures from server (5)

Resize photo (5)

Name picture (5)

Crop photo (5)

 Title (5)

Label photo & save (5)

Transitions (5)



Digital Camera Total - (20)

Daily/Weekly Work Total – (75)

Capture picture (5)

Works on/completes daily assigned task (10)

Transfer to computer (5)

Stays in work station area (5/day)

Name picture (5)

M            T            W            TH           F

Transfer to server/file sharing (5)




Import Video Total - (30)

Group Evaluation Total - (250)

Import video clip (5)

Appropriate for audience (20)

Use clip in Avid Cinema (5)

Effective pictures (50)

Adjust clip to correct length (5)

Effective transitions (20)

Add sound – internal (5)

Organization of pictures (20)

Add sound – external (5)

Content of presentation (100)

Eliminate sound (5)

Music/pictures coordinate (40)



Resource Records Total – (20)

Individual Skill Assessment Total – (110)

Student resource sheet – five completed entries (10)

Individual Weekly Work Total –

(It varies depending upon amount of time spent.)

Works Cited page (10)


The social studies teacher graded the students on historical accuracy, knowledge of time periods, and content of the selections, while the science teacher based his evaluation on science reports, student presentations, and selection of inventors/inventions and their scientific impact.       

Cynthia Hulse –Marquette Middle School,  
Marquette, Kansas (mandchulse@mfsb.com)

Mike Hulse - Marquette Middle School, 
Marquette, Kansas (mandchulse@mfsb.com)

Tom Holmquist – Marquette Middle School,
Marquette, Kansas

Sharon Texley – Smoky Valley High School,
Marquette, Kansas

This project emphasizes the building goals of curriculum integration and increased use of technology.  In addition, it addresses several language arts standards such as developing an effective presentation for a variety of audiences as well as a variety of purposes, using effective word choice, applying appropriate English conventions, and demonstrating knowledge of literature from a variety of time periods.

I haven’t taught this specific activity before. 

A few of the great moments would be seeing the students’ faces when they realize that a carefully selected four second video clip can be much more effective than two minutes.  Knowing that the students now understand the amount of time and effort it takes to make a presentation of this quality, and then to see their faces glow when the audience responds to their efforts. 

This project could also be used in the future to introduce a particular era, or as a review of a certain time period, or as a brainteaser to see if students recognize certain leaders or movie clips from a specific decade. The school section could also be used to show projects and activities throughout the past.

Technology Resources:  
This particular program was recommend by the high school technology instructor.  I choose Avid Cinema because it seemed easy to learn for both students and teachers.  It offered flexibility to import sound, still photos, and video clips.  The program also featured a variety of transitions between slides and the ability to include title slides.  Besides its other elements, Avid Cinema provided a Storyboard option which numbers each photo, names each picture, and shows the length of the clip.  This feature proved immensely helpful when trying to coordinate pictures from three screens simultaneously.  Furthermore, this Storyboard may be printed and used as a working copy for the other groups.  Finally, Avid Cinema is not only easy to use, but offers the capability to produces a top-notch finished presentation.   

School Background Information:
Marquette, Kansas, is a small rural town in the middle of Kansas.  It has a population of a little less than 600 people. The majority of the parents areeither farmers or are employed by manufacturing companies.  Marquette'senrollment for the year 2001-2002 is 124 students in a K-8 building. After 8th grade they go to Smoky Valley High School (SVHS) in Lindsborg, Kansas.  SVHS has an enrollment of about 300 students.  Lindsborg also has a grade school and middle school.  That brings the districts enrollment up to just a little over 1,000 students.  Living in this part of Kansas all the students are Caucasian and English is the native language.  I have often joked that the two ethnic groups are Swedish and non-Swedish.

Teaching Strategy:
I choose to put students in small groups to accomplish a great deal in a realistic amount of time.  I then rotated the students within their group so each student had a chance to research, scan, photograph, and create part of the media presentation.

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/modelimage.html
(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Two components stand out from this video.  First, Principles of Learningstates that there should be Frequent Feedback, which there was with the high school peer tutoring as well as in the small group activities.  Next, anEnjoyable Setting was shown by the relationships developed within the small groups.  The students working to complete a challenging, threefold multi-media presentation exemplified Active Involvement.  Information Processing also played a large role in the video.  Students were shown in all the different stages except the Evaluation stage, because at that point, the video presentation was not completed.

Student Characteristics: 
First, I always examine the objectives that need to be accomplished.  Then I look at the characteristics of the students and class as a whole.  After that, I try to match the needs of the curriculum to the needs of the students and plan an activity to accomplish both.

How the Activity Has Evolved Over Time:
It started out as just a media presentation, but as the students put in many extra hours outside of school time, it became “their” project.  They selected material that added spice and humor to the presentation.  They used trivia questions at several places in the video to involve the audience, they used old yearbook pictures of parents of the middle school students to hook the audience, and they used music that made the audience want to tap their toes along to the beat.  It turned out to be a huge, exhausting project, but worth every golden minute.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students/)