Local Education and History Collaborate
Author: Mark Salzer
The Ypsilanti Historical Society is partnering with the Ypsilanti Tech High School @ Ardis on a project called Hidden Treasurers. This project is framed in a letter from the Historical Society requesting that all incoming ninth graders at the school solve a historical puzzle based on artifacts from the local area as they take on a “Junior Archivist” role. Groups of students will investigate a box of artifacts that directly relate to an important local historical person. Each student group will work collaboratively in determining the owner of the contents and their contributions to local, state and/or national history. They then will create a narrative to compellingly tell that person’s “story” in relation to the objects associated with that person.
These budding historians will reflect on what they already know and what they still need to know in order to successfully complete their task for the Ypsilanti Historical Society. The students will learn what an archivist is, how to handle historical items, and further develop their research and analytical skills. Each student group will use the data they have gleaned to determine what family or person all items in their particular box relate to, and that family or individual’s contributions to the Ypsilanti area. The students will write individual and group reports as well as create a video of the investigation, evaluation and conclusion of their particular box of artifacts. All student course will be aligned to meet Michigan State standards and benchmarks whilst engaging students on real world projects utilizing 21st century skills.
The Historical Society has been involved in the planning stages of this project since near its inception and has made many contributions to its evolution and implementation. Among other contributions, the Historical Society will provide their expertise to the students through site visits and possible workshops. Student team members may need to visit the Archives for additional fact finding information as they develop an engaging story in history. One or more staff members of the Historical Society will be evaluating the students’ final oral presentations. The three student groups that best describe and identify the historical person connected to the items in their box will be videotaped for inclusion via a link on the Ypsilanti Historical Society website for one month.
The backbone of Ypsilanti New Tech High School @ Ardis’ learning environment is Project-Based Learning. Instead of handing out daily assignments, teachers assign long-term, real-world projects with different components. The school uses technology to facilitate these student projects. This is a great opportunity to immerse our students in the rich culture of the Ypsilanti area and the History/Tech class of the New Tech High School is excited about working with the community as this and other projects progress. If you are interested in connecting with the New Tech High School for a student based project, please contact us at (734) 714-1500.
(Mark Salzer is one of the history teachers assigned to teach at the New Tech High School in Ypsilanti.)