Administer the pre-test and discuss the essential question for the unit, "What do you know about life in Albany 200 years ago?" Structure this initial discussion to help you learn about student's prior knowledge. Use the discussion and pre-test results to guide what you emphasize in future lessons. Subsequent lessons in this unit use primary source materials to help students develop their critical and visual thinking skills.
Examining historic records, in this case a 1798 newspaper, offer students a different, sometimes clearer, understanding of specific periods of time. This lesson gives students a glimpse into what was important to the people of Albany 200 years ago. Two Albany newspapers from the collections of the Albany Institute of History & Art Library are analyzed for important events and advertisements.
This is the second pre-visit lesson before visiting the Albany Institute and Schuyler Mansion. Designed to help students get to know actual people who lived in Albany 200 years ago, this lesson will five students a better understanding of everyday life. The lesson uses a web site dedicated to colonial Albany. The study of specific Albany residents includes birth and death records, employment, family size, neighborhoods, and similar everyday household information.
Visits to two different sites familiarize students with the life and culture of those who lived in Albany at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. Activities specific to each site are completed during the visit.
Teachers and museum educators are increasingly challenged in their efforts to engage middle school students in the study of Albany's past. Strategies that worked for prior generations falter when students saturated with rapid image feeds and technology centered learning.
When we can answer the question, "Is that the real one?" with "Yes," the level of engagement rapidly rises and learning begins. Learning from authentic objects in a museum setting can easily compete with reproductions, re-enactments, and digital recreations. This program engages students, promotes learning, and increases awareness of and visits to historic sites.
Touring an 18th century Georgian Mansion decorated and furnished for the period offers a wealth of everyday "visual" evidence. This lesson tests student recall. Students will use informational floor plans they completed at the Mansion and copies of historical primary sources received during the visit.
Students write a descriptive narrative essay on an important person, place, or object they learned about while visiting The Albany Institute of History & Art, the Schuyler Mansion Historical Site, or The People of Colonial Albany Live Here web site.
This is the closing analysis for the unit, Everyday Evidence. Students retake the test they took at the beginning of the unit and compare prior and acquired knowledge of life in Albany some 200 years ago.