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Grades 6-8

Contents

  1. What Is a Digital Library?
  2. History Lesson Plan: Through the Eyes of a Young Adult
  3. Math Lesson Plan: How Far Does Your Dollar Go?

What Is a Digital Library?

Overview:

Students will use Ruth Dorcas Gates' scrapbook alongside the other Notable Women of Simmons scrapbooks to discover what a digital library is and how it can help learn about the past. Students will explore the digital scrapbooks and write an essay on what they found. They will discuss why or why not digital libraries may be useful to historians and students, as well as the benefits or drawbacks of the collections for history education.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn what a digital library is.
  • Students will learn how to use both browse and search functions of a digital library to enhance their research skills.
  • Students will practice critical thinking and learn how to support an argument through their writing.

Resources:

Procedure:

  1. Before class, take time to become familiar with the scrapbooks in order to aid the students in their explorations as well as to decide on the most important elements of the students' essays.
  2. Schedule a time for the class to visit the computer lab or library.
  3. Have the students access the link provided above to the Notable Women of Simmons College Digital Scrapbook collection. (10 minutes)
  4. Once on the page, ask the students to pick one or two of the scrapbooks that they think they would be interested in. (20 minutes)
  5. Once in the scrapbooks, have the students attempt to both browse and search the collections for items of interest. (20 minutes)
  6. After they have spent time with the collections, ask the students to write an essay that discusses what they found, takes a position as to whether digital libraries are useful research tools for history students and historians, and uses their finding to support that position. If they find that digital libraries are not useful, what would they change? If they find that they are useful, which specific elements did they find to be the most useful?

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History Lesson Plan: Through the Eyes of a Young Adult

Overview:

Students will explore both the history of Boston and the history of their own town in the pre-Depression era through the experiences of young adults who lived in that place at that time. They will explore Boston using the scrapbook of Ruth Dorcas Gates as a guide. For their own hometown, they will explore its history through the experience of young adults who lived there in the first half of the 1920s. Through their research, the students will understand more deeply how it was to live in the American pre-Depression era in both of these geographic areas and what it meant to be facing the cultural, socioeconomic and possibly political issues of the day.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will become familiar with browsing and searching a digital resource
  • Students will learn how to work in larger groups
  • Students will learn how to research and interpret data, then teach others
  • Students will more deeply understand the historical period of the pre-Depression era
  • Students will be able to compare and contrast different parts of the United States in the early 20th century
  • Students will explore the cultural and socioeconomic experiences of young adults from the 1920s in the United States

Resources:

  • Ruth D. Gates Digital Scrapbook
  • Access to the Internet
  • Other miscellaneous supplies, such as costumes, video, music, etc.

Procedure (Four-Week Project):

  1. Introduce the class to the Notable Women of Simmons College digital scrapbook collection. Show examples of a few different scrapbooks on a large screen for the entire class to see. (10-15 minutes)
  2. Engage the class in a discussion of the importance of scrapbooks as a source of historical information. (10-15 minutes)
  3. Specifically introduce Ruth Dorcas Gates and her individual scrapbook (5 minutes)
  4. Allow all of the students in groups of two to explore the scrapbook in class on separate computers. (15 minutes)
  5. Divide students into groups of four.
  6. Within each group, assign two students to study the experiences of young people in Boston in the 1920s using Ruth’s scrapbook as a guide.
  7. Assign the other two students to study the experience of young adults in their hometown in the first half of the 1920s.
  8. Direct the students that they will have two weeks to research their particular area with respect to the lives of young adults, their experiences, lifestyles, etc. in the first half of the 1920s.
  9. After two weeks, provide the pairs with the space and time to come together in their groups of four and teach the other pair what they have learned.
  10. Direct each group of four to then spend an additional two weeks outside of class to create presentations for the entire group sharing what they have learned.
  11. Tell the groups of four that they may use the following in their presentations from the period of the 1920s:
    • Music
    • Clothing
    • Food
    • Slang
    • Dance
  12. Allow one full class for each group of four to present their findings to the entire class.
  13. Provide each group with the resources necessary (computer, audio, video, etc.)
  14. Have fun!

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Math Lesson Plan: How Far Does Your Dollar Go?

Overview:

Prior to the students learning about the concept of inflation, they will undertake a fun and exploratory exercise on the value of the U.S. dollar in the early 20th century compared to the early 21st century. Students will work in pairs and, using the menus found in the Ruth Dorcas Gates scrapbook, then they will compare the cost of meals in the period 1922-1925 to the cost of meals today. They will develop food expense budgets for a tourist visiting the area both in the 1920s and also in the early 21st century. When budgets and comparisons have been made, the class will gather together to discuss their findings.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn to create a meal plan for a tourist in a city
  • Students will discover the differences in food options in pre-Depression Boston compared to modern day diets
  • Students will begin to understand using a budget for planning
  • Students will discover the differences in the value of the U.S. dollar in the 1920s compared to the early 21st century in Boston, Massachusetts

Resources:

  • Ruth D. Gates Digital Scrapbook
  • Access to the internet
  • Access to Excel spreadsheets
  • Menus from modern day Durgin Park Restaurant and one other Boston restaurant or diner.

Procedure (Two class periods):

First class:

  1. Introduce the period of the 1920s to the class by providing some historical facts about the time and its relation to the Great Depression. (10 minutes)
  2. Have the students, working in pairs, create spreadsheets on their computer with two tables. Each table should have 6 columns.
  3. Tell the students to label the columns Food, Cost, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Totals. (5-10 minutes)
  4. Provide an introduction to the Ruth Dorcas Gates Scrapbook to the class. (5 minutes)
  5. Allow the students, while in pairs at computers, to view the RDG scrapbook (5 minutes)
  6. When they have familiarized themselves with the scrapbook, have them find the three menus. (5 minutes)
  7. On a separate blank document, ask the students to plan out what one person would need to eat for a three day trip to Boston in 1923. (5-10 minutes)

Second class:

  1. When the menu for three days is complete with three meals for each day, tell the students to list all of the foods from their meal plan in the first column and prices in the second column. (10 minutes)
  2. Ask the students to consult their menus and write the totals in the columns for each day. For example, on Friday, the tourist had 1 cup of coffee and 1 bowl of beef bouillon. (5 minutes)
  3. When the spreadsheet is filled out, ask the students to add up what was spent for each item and put this in the sixth column. (5-10 minutes)
  4. Then, tell the students to total each day and put these totals at the bottom of the each of the three “Day” columns. (5 minutes)
  5. Finally, tell the students to total each day to determine the amount they will need just for food for a three day trip to 1923 Boston. (5 minutes)
  6. Provide the students with two modern day menus either electronically or in hard copy: a menu of current day Durgin Park (one of Ruth’s favorites) and one other Boston restaurant or diner.
  7. On the second table, have the students create the same columns, as those in the first table. (2-3 minutes)
  8. On a second blank document, ask the students to create a menu of meals for three days using the two modern day menus. (10 minutes)
  9. Follow steps 8 through 11 for the modern day trip to Boston. (10 minutes)
  10. Ask the students about the amount of money that they would need for each trip.
  11. If the students are particularly interested, they might research the difference in cost of travel and accommodation in both time periods.
  12. Engage the students a discussion about why money has different values over time.

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