Posts Tagged ‘Timeline’

Mini Projects, Part 2

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

With these mini projects, being related themselves, I chose to stick to a related theme; that theme, of course, being Walt Whitman. My idea is to incorporate both a TimeToast timeline and a Google Trek as part of one larger learning project / experience.

Our journey would begin the the classroom. We would start our Walt Whitman unit with his poem Song of Myself– reading, analyzing, and having students write their own Songs of Self– and then we would find out who this Walt Whitman person was. I would show my students My Walt Whitman Timeline, and then show them how to use TimeToast (it’s pretty simple) to create their own. This allows them to concisely consolidate their research in one place and chronologically. Of course, I wouldn’t send my students into the Wild Blue Yonder of the internet to do research, so I would provide for them a Custom Walt Whitman Search Engine, made by yours truly.

Once the students had gotten to know Walt a little better, I would introduce them to his Civil War poems, many of which are written about his experiences right here in Fredericksburg, VA! Assuming the students were getting interested and involved with Whitman’s poetry (how could you not?), I would plan a field trip to historical Fredericksburg.

View Walt Whitman Fredericksburg Tour in a larger map

There are a few things on this Google Trek that I would amend for a field trip, though. First and most importantly, we all know that it’s not safe to walk over the bridge, so this is not truly a “walking tour” of Fredericksburg. Also, with children in tow, I would skip the visit to Colonial Tavern for a Walt Whit beer. But I think you get the general idea.

Admittedly, I felt pretty uninspired about creating a timeline, but I do think it a useful tool for historical and/or biographical information. The Google Trek, on the other hand, I found to be really engaging and fun to make! I especially enjoyed making it for an area that I am so familiar with already. Assuming the Google Trek is used for its intended purpose (a field trip), then it becomes part of the very definition of experiential learning– and I like that! Not only do students get the benefit of fresh air and getting out of the classroom, but also something that seemed unreal, merely words on pages, becomes real. Fredericksburg is a real place, Walt Whitman was really here, the catalpa trees he wrote about in The Wound Dresser are still alive and standing outside of Chatham House. When things become real, they become more meaningful.  And even if a student hates poetry and hates Walt Whitman, there is bound to be something along the way that interests him/her. That’s the beauty of having a shared experience, each person derives their own personal meaning from it.