The power of Google Classroom has been on display in many of the blog posts on this website. This year I have embraced the use of Google Classroom when working on projects and mini-lessons with my class in the computer lab. By posting an interactive Google Doc agenda, I have found it much easier to keep my students on task. Students are aware of the expectations going to the lab, and they are able to move from agenda item to agenda item until they finish the lesson.
Most recently, I employed an interactive Google Doc agenda with my junior class as we analyzed oral histories. Through a partnership with Brandeis University, myself and another teacher have been granted free access to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. This archive hosts a plethora of African American oral histories. The archivists have spent hours and hours recording the stories of African American veterans, civil rights leaders, and ordinary citizens. My junior class spent a period analyzing previously culled oral history stories about World War II and race in the 1940s.
The only problem we ran into were technical problems on the HistoryMakers website. (After all, it wouldn’t be a lesson featuring technology without technical difficulties!) After a little troubleshooting, we were able to resolve the issue standing in the way of accessing the oral history videos, and students were on their way to listening to the interviews.
Overall, I think my students enjoyed working with the website and the oral histories in general. A few students shared with me that they were watching the videos of different individuals and that they got sucked down rabbit-holes, watching video after video for an individual. One student wrote in their reflection, “It’s important for these people’s histories to carry out to new generations of people to understand and appreciate the accomplishments.” I couldn’t agree more, and I’m happy that my students enjoyed interacting with the archive.
Over the next few months, my students will be working on compiling their own oral history projects on important events in American history and discussing their effect on Waltham. The HistoryMakers lesson was an important introductory step for my students, who will be working toward this larger goal.