Using Local Places & People in History Instruction

Instructor: Shannon Orr
Your local community and the people who live there can be great resources for teaching History. This lesson will discuss how to help students make real life connections between the information they are learning and the area in which they live.

Learning Outside of a Book

Imagine if the only exposure students had to the outside world was what they read in a book or saw on television. Of course, they could learn a substantial amount using those resources, but there would not be a real life connection between what they read or saw to their actual daily lives. Learning cannot be limited to the pages in a book or documentary. There is so much that can be learned from the people and places usually within a few miles of your school. As the teacher, it is your responsibility to help students understand and appreciate the communities they live in and expose them to individuals who have taken part in various historical events.

History consists of things that have happened in the past. When some people think of history lessons, they instantly think of boring lectures given by the teacher or long passages read out of the book. Not only can history be exciting, but it can also help students connect with the communities in which they live.

Time for a Field Trip

One of the best ways to learn about the community you live in is to pretend to be a tourist. People travel from all over the world to visit and learn about new places. Many times, people who grow up in a community have no idea about the historical events that have taken place right in their own city. As the teacher, you should review your curriculum for the school year and determine what events happened in your area that you could connect to a lesson. Giving students the opportunity to go to actual places and see things that are discussed in class gives them a deeper understanding of the information and they are more likely to retain and recall the information that is taught.

Another important lesson students walk away with when they learn about their community is pride for where they live. When students realize that their town contributed to history, they can feel good about being a part of that place. For example, if students learn that their city held the first official sporting event and all other cities shaped their programs around what was established in that first city, students can take pride in their community and grow up wanting to preserve the history that happened there.

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