Sourcing and Applying Finite Local History Content


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My Topic and Purpose

The purpose of this mini-course is to promote cooperation between local historical societies and school districts to craft finite and meaningful educational activities and lessons that teach students about the area they live in. We will look at resources, ideas and methods for grades K-12 and touch upon many subject and practice areas.

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

This course incorporates formats used by THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD, N. A. E. P. (2018, January). U.S. History Framework with a couple of noteworthy exceptions:

1.     The focus of this course will concentrate on local history and how school districts can apply the proficiency of the established US Standards at a finite history at a local level

2.     This course will use the arts to help students construct knowledge.

3.      This course begins to build proficiency as early as the kindergarten level. As this is a "mini-course" we will focus on only the Kindergarten level, but we can apply some of the same techniques in building and using content for upper grades.

This mini-course is designed to help the teacher add local content as a supplement to national or more global content to meet the objectives of their learning modules. Adding local landmarks, telling stories about local predecessors and using local sites as examples deepens a students understanding of their community and triggers constant reminders. Using finite local history knowledge provides a "hook" to draw the student into thinking about what they see every day in their local community. In this course I will use many examples of my local resources and how to apply them.

Teachers after using this course will be able to apply suggestions and ideas to help their students attain proficiency in the End-Learner Objectives listed in the Performance-Based Objectives section of this mini-course.

Needs Assessment

Given the large number of demands on students, some may be argue that a finite knowledge of local history may be too focused and not address bigger historical issues. The purpose of this course is to show how teaching local history is a wonderful way to condition students to start observing the immediate world that surrounds them and use and apply their observations to construct knowledge. We can use hands-on examples and exercises built on the work of local historical societies to construct activities that will engage while entertaining.

Many students lack in-depth knowledge of local history or only understand it a superficial level. As students progress through grade levels, local history may not be integrated and students may not know how the community, the sense of community, or local government was formed. They may lack knowledge of how local humans impacted the land and environment and how the land and environment helped or hindered the growth of their communities. Students can also learn about the type of jobs and roles men, women, and children performed to support their families and communities.

Teaching local history gives the teacher and school district one more tool to build a sense of a responsible community working together to achieve things that benefit the residents of that community. Students should know what happened before them, when it happened, how it happened and who built the buildings they use or pass by each day. They should be exposed to the sequence of progress of their immediate local world and society as well as the progress of the inhabitants of the community over time.

Students should be mindful of technological progress and how the earth and specifically the surrounding areas have changed. They should be taught what worked in their communities and what could have been better. By looking back and studying we add perspective and use the experience of our predecessors to our advantage.

Primary-source analysis is foundational for getting students engaged in history classes. Rather than being the consumers of someone else’s synthesis of history, students who engage in primary-source analysis get to become historians, piecing together the past for themselves. It’s tremendously empowering and gives them a new perspective on secondary sources, as well as setting them up for the research they’ll do in higher-level courses. (Mintz,12019, as cited in Flaherty, 2019).

Local Historical Societies, Museums and Foundations can be a wonderful source of unique and targeted local primary-source material that can be use3d in exercises and activities to construct local historical knowledge in our students.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

The learners in this mini-course are teachers, school librarians, administrators, or historical society personnel. The intent of this course is to aid in providing or producing content, activities, presentation ideas, and assessment information about finite local history. The learners of this mini-course will use the information and ideas provided by this course to improve knowledge of finite local history to the End-Learners listed (by grade levels) in the Performance-Based Objectives listed below. The success of the course will ultimately be judged by the ability of the teacher to aid students to gain understanding of what follows.

Performance-Based Objectives

The objective for Participants in this course is to facilitate End-Learner Objectives by:

  • Understanding what sources are available to provide content and resources that can be used to teach finite local history.
  • Implement activities to sparks student interest in Local History.
  • Build a repository of content that can be used in the future.
  • Understand, describe and establish cooperation with local historical societies, museums, or historic sites, or local park personnel.

Our ultimate goal in this mini-course is to serve the End-Learners. It is vital to the success of this course to use the above Performance-Based Objectives to help students achieve the learning outcomes and competencies listed here as End-Learner Objectives.

End Learner Objectives:

Kindergarten students - should be able to identify, describe, and comment on the significance of many local historical people, places, ideas, and events. The focus will be on:

  • Colonial Townspeople, Tradespeople and Trading of goods of or services
  • Farmers and Farming - including animals and their purpose on the farm and farm to table
  • Communities - Rural vs Urban
  • Community helpers and leaders
  • Land use and Types – Then and Now
  • Important Buildings and Geographic Features - History of and uses and how they contributed to the development of the local community.
  • Daily Life - Then and Now
  • How education has evolved from the one-room Schoolhouses to today's schools.

The following is provided as reference only to get the teacher thinking about applying these techniques to upper grades. I will provide a listing of examples for upper grades in the last Module of this course.

Fourth-grade students should be able to identify, describe, and comment on the significance of many historical people, places, ideas, events, and documents. They should be able to interpret information from a variety of sources, including texts, maps, pictures, and timelines. They should be able to construct a simple timeline from data. These students should recognize the role of invention and technological change in history. They should also recognize the ways in which geographic and environmental factors have influenced life and work.

Eighth-grade students should be able to explain the significance of people, places, events, ideas, and documents, and to recognize the connection between people and events within historical contexts. They should understand and be able to explain the opportunities, perspectives, and challenges associated with a diverse cultural population. They should incorporate geographic, technological, and other considerations in their understanding of events and should have knowledge of significant political ideas and institutions. They should be able to communicate ideas about historical themes while citing evidence from primary and secondary sources to support their conclusions.

Twelfth-grade students should understand particular people, places, events, ideas, and documents in historical context, with some awareness of the political, economic, geographic, social, religious, technological, and ideological factors that shape historical settings. They should be able to communicate reasoned interpretations of past events, using historical evidence effectively to support their positions. Their written exercises should reflect some in-depth grasp of issues and should refer to both primary and secondary sources. And recognizing that history is subject to interpretation, they should be able to evaluate historical claims critically in light of the evidence. They should understand that important issues and themes have been addressed differently at different times and that America’s political, social, cultural and traditions have changed over time

THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD, N. A. E. P. (2018, January). U.S. history framework - NAGB. The NAEP 2018 U.S. History framework is out. Read more about how it informs that subject's assessment. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from course-level target objectives

Task Analysis

Through demonstration, examples, and case-studies we will provide teachers the means to:

  • Develop the skill to recognize where to find and adapt content resources to supplement their existing History curriculum.
  • Apply the content they find in creative ways that bolster their existing history curriculum.
  • Encourage, assess, and nurture a variety of creative activities performed by thier students to demonstrate the students' understanding of the content to build an awareness of local history.
  • Categorize and archive content.
  • To help their students gain a better understanding of how their communities were built, the roles people played, and how natural resources and innovation created or limited opportunities in their communities.
  • Recognize the value of working with other organizations to continually grow and refine the content they are gathering As well as the value of that content for future educational opportunities.

Curriculum Map

Course Navigation

Module 1 - The Importance of Local History and it's Sources and Sites
Module 2 - Obtain & Preserve Content
Module 3 - Select Content that Supports Objectives
Module 4 - Content Synergy

References and Resources

Aiséirithe, A. J. (2021, February 26). U.S. local history: A resource guide: Introduction. Research Guides. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from

Childs, P. A. (2018). 4 Pamphlets: Pitchers Mill, Janet W. Bowers Museum, Norton Wagon Works, & School House #4. Nanticoke Valley Historical Society. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from

THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT GOVERNING BOARD, N. A. E. P. (2018, January). U.S. history framework - NAGB. The NAEP 2018 U.S. History framework is out. Read more about how it informs that subject's assessment. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from

White, C. S. (2021, June 4). TWHP: The "Power of place" in the history/social studies methods course. National Parks Service. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from

White, C. S. (2021, August 12). Teaching with historic places (U.S. National Park Service). National Parks Service. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from