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documenting Summer Hill


OBJECTIVE: Students examine a historical photograph to gather information and draw conclusions.

. Copies of historical photographs of Summer Hill (can be shared)
. Examining a photo worksheet (print one for each student)


BACKGROUND: Show the class a historical photograph from the Summer Hill community collection. Have students describe what they see. Encourage them to be as detailed as possible. Make a list of their responses on the whiteboard. Explain that historians examine historical photographs in much the same way as the class just examined the photograph. Historians look for details that will provide a better understanding of the people, events, and time period of the photo. Tell students they will now be studying a historical photograph in small groups. They will be looking for clues that may help them draw conclusions about the events surrounding the taking of the photo.

1. Divide the class into several small groups. Distribute a historical photograph to each group.
2. Distribute one "Examining a Photo Worksheet" to each group. Have students work together in their groups to study their photographs and complete the worksheet.
3. After groups have completed their worksheets, have each group write two brief paragraphs. The first paragraph should describe what students think was happening in the moments before the photograph was taken. The second paragraph should describe what students think happened in the next few moments after the photograph was taken.
4. Once groups have completed their paragraphs, have each group report their findings to the class. First, have them discuss what they learned about the photograph after examining it closely. Then, have each group present their paragraphs, pointing out details from their photograph to support their conclusions.
5. Encourage the rest of the class to examine the photograph for additional details or to ask questions following the report.

Conclusion: Discuss with students the ways in which their observation of details changed as they continued studying their photograph. Have them identify which details provided them with more information, and which details provided less information.

. Have students compare and contrast photos of the same location over an extended period of time. Have them note any changes they see. What do these changes indicate about the changing times? What aspects of the place remain the same? Why do the students feel this is the case?
. Ask students to bring in their own historical photographs. Have them study the details in the photos and try to draw a conclusion as to when each was taken. Once this has been done, have them create a historical photograph timeline on a classroom bulletin board.