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Community Landmarks Have Stories to Tell

Use the 5Ws to uncover the significance of landmarks in the community.

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Suggested Activities

In this challenge, students learn that historical landmarks (e.g., statues, plaques, old buildings), natural landmarks (e.g., rock formations, trails, dry river beds) and recent human landmarks (e.g., movie theatre, churches) offer clues about changes in the community. Take students on a walking tour of the community–or neighbourhood within a larger community–and invite them to take digital photographs of landmarks that are of cultural, historical or geographic interest. If this is not possible, locate photographs of local landmarks in community history books, photo albums or on the Internet. Include landmarks of significance to various cultures and groups.

Invite students to examine the pictures of the landmarks and draw conclusions about their significance. See Investigating Pictures (Modelling the Tools) for detailed suggestions on how to teach and assess the tools for thoughtful analysis of images. Draw students' attention to the clues (details) in the photographs and generate conclusions (thoughtful guesses) about them. Begin by asking students what a "clue" is. Use charades to offer several examples of clues (e.g., cross your arms and look nasty, mime washing dishes) and invite students to reach a conclusion about your feelings and actions. After several examples, ask students to suggest words to define clues (e.g., hints or information that help you find something) and conclusions (e.g., answers or ideas that you think of because of a clue). Indicate to the class that clues can be found by looking at pictures. Explain that historians, like detectives, study photographs for clues about who someone is and what they might be doing. Suggest that the class will be "community" historians–trying to find out about the landmarks in the community and what they are and why they are important. Create a chart organized around the 5W questions and ask students to look for clues to answer the "What" question. You may want to adapt the chart and strategies for Supporting Conclusions (Support Material) to structure this activity. Write their clues in one column. If students suggest a conclusion, write it in the "conclusions" column and ask what they see in the picture that encourages them to think that (e.g., "Why do you think it's a post office?"). Collect a number of student clues and conclusions. Encourage students to locate additional clues in support of the conclusions they offer.

Repeat this procedure with questions: Who? Where? When? and Why? (conclusions for the question "When was this landmark built?" can be answered with "Before I was born" or "After I was born"). Encourage students to see the last question, "Why is this landmark important?" as an invitation to explain the landmark's purpose for people in the community (e.g., shelter, education, belonging, fun, earn a living, food, learning, remembering). Arrange for students to study another picture in pairs. Clues and conclusions can be recorded in words or simple drawings.

Assist students in confirming or revising their conclusions by inviting community members (e.g., local historians, elders, museum/archive staff, business owners) to the class or by assembling community resources (e.g., Websites, archival information, postcards or tourism pamphlets). When the landmark research is complete, post all the photographs and conduct a gallery walk. Ask students to notice what is similar and different about landmarks from the past and present (e.g., "How have buildings changed in design? Purpose? Materials used? Location?" "How has the look and uses of the land changed?"). Make a record of conclusions students draw from the landmarks about ways in which the community has stayed the same or changed.

As an extension, identify the landmarks on a simple map of the community. Provide students with clues so that they may find the spot on the map and paste a small image of the landmark. You may want to invite students to play a "How do I get to...?" game by asking another student to provide directions (e.g., go up four squares and across two squares) to assist the student in travelling along the map to a designated landmark.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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