History Curricular Center
Activities are designed to be 1 – 2 week units that are great starter projects for teachers and students that may be new to digital storytelling. These ask students to innovate on a relatively traditional assignment with a digital layer (adding voice over or music, a storyboard or a YouTube format). They are designed to simultaneously increase student engagement as well promote deeper learning.
Creative digital activity that asks students to analyze the predicament of a situation – could be a historical situation or the current state of a country – and predict the immediate future, in a weather forecasting style.
Creative digital activity that asks students to explore the meaning of a given essay they are assigned by re-producing, for the screen, the essay’s exact words using text, voice, sound and music.
Creative non-digital activity that immerses the students in the 4C’s of 21st Century learning by asking them to playfully practice game design techniques in order to create a functional game about…whatever topic you are teaching: immigration, government structures, battles, ancient civilizations, etc.
Projects are designed to be 2 – 4 week units that consistently ask students to dive deeply into targeted curriculum; translate their understanding of that curriculum into a story; and then produce that story digitally for others to view. Projects are informed by the foundation of Meridian Stories that values deep curricular explorations equally with the practice of the 21st century skills of collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, digital literacy, and public presentation.
Learn more about the History Projects by clicking on the titles below.
Sports Casting History (US History, World History)
Imagine being a sportscaster, reporting live, based on images being streamed to you from a GoPro camera on Paul Revere’s hat? Fun, right? What if you were there at Washington’s re-crossing of the Delaware? Or a sportscasting fly-on- the-wall as Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase? Or in the room when Benedict’s Arnold was confronted at West Point for being a traitor?
In this Challenge, your team must pick a key moment in US or global history – one which did not happen in public, like the landing on the moon in 1969 — and create a verbal, play-by-play account of the action, with a broadcaster and color commentator. The final deliverable should include the use of still photos, drawings and/or actual footage (historical recreations, if desired), intercut with shots of the sportscasters.
Sister City Pen Pals (Global / Local Culture and Geography)
In this challenge, student teams will explore how two people, at the same time in history but on opposite sides of the world, could be so similar…or so very different. Here’s the plan:
- Choose a town or city – your own or one nearby.
- Choose one decade…any time before 1970. Research your town or city during that decade, selecting two events that helped to shape the identity of that town. Then, create a character who lives there.
- NOW, choose a city on the other side of the world: anywhere but in Europe or North America. Using the same decade as above, research two significant events that shaped the future of that city. Then, invent a pen pal from that city.
- Create a video that documents four letters being exchanged between these two characters – along with pictures, cut-outs and knick-knacks (anything that you could put into an envelope) – that describe your chosen events within each city.
Immigration Rap (Local Community, Immigration)
Immigration. This is a hot political topic; a wrenching personal topic; a global issue; and a cauldron of tragedy and transcendence. In short: it’s a rap.
In this challenge, your team must create a rap about immigration, as informed by information collected in your community. Your team can talk to first, second or third generation immigrants; local politicians; educators or others who have opinions on the immigration debate that is ripping at America’s core. Once you have a cross-section of opinions and experience, coalesce this information into an exploratory rap about this explosive issue.
Monopoly Tribute (Ancient Societies, Cultures)
Monopoly. An amazing game of shrewd economics, strategic thinking, conquering and being conquered (fiscally, that is). This Challenge asks you to re-imagine the facets of Monopoly through the lens of ancient tax and tribute systems. While our model will focus on the tribute systems of Mesoamerica, with reading and exposure of original source materials from that period, you can choose any ancient tax and tribute system. For example, in Monopoly, there are four lanes of real estate, each with increasingly higher real estate values. What are the four levels of real estate in your civilization? How are values established? What is your currency and its “gold standard”? What replaces the value of the four Railroad cards? What does one have to do wrong to be sent ‘to jail’? What is ‘jail’?
The deliverable: an instructional video, with accompanying visuals, explaining the rules of the game and the overarching system of values on which they are based.
Global Team Building (World History, United Nations)
Since its inception, the United Nations Security Council has had five permanent member countries: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. With their veto authority, each of these permanent members carries enormous power over U.N. deliberations. The world has changed significantly since the end of World War II when the U.N. was formed, and the victors granted themselves permanent seats and veto authority. Your challenge is to propose a new and improved U.N. Security Council, by suggesting three countries you think could be added to the current group of five. Then, in a 60-second video, using only two edits, build your case for adding two of these countries.
WWI Radio Drama (World History, Conflict)
Pick a pivotal moment in WWI and create a radio drama about it, bringing the audience into the room when that moment occurred or when a critical decision was made.
Rivers, Roads and Rails: How Communities Came to Be (US History, Local History)
Pick a community and trace the history of how specific transportation paths – road, rail, airway, river, canal – shaped and impacted the development of that community. This Challenge will ask student teams to deliver their narratives in a traditional documentary format.
Nation Building – The Movie Trailer (US History, Government)
There are a handful of seminal documents – the Louisiana Purchase, the Monroe Doctrine or the Treaty of Fort Laramie – that altered the course of the character of the United States. The evolution of each document is informed by hundreds of personalities and stories. This Challenge asks teams to create a movie trailer that tells a story behind the creation of one of ten featured documents.
Minecrafting Historical Communities (World History, Ancient Cultures)
You are an architect from the year 2060 specializing in creating communities from ancient societies. This specialty follows the new craze for “historical living” where people choose to live in communities that are based on select historical societies. Using Minecraft as your operational tool, create a sales video that shows the look and feel of your historical community.
Federal Writers’ Project Audio Portrait (US History)
The Federal Writers’ Project employed thousands of writers, editors, historians, researchers, art critics, archaeologists, and geologists who had lost their jobs in the Depression. Americans from every background and color were interviewed, and the result was a cultural portrait of cities, states, and regions of the United States of unparalleled detail. Your first-person audio portrait should attempt to enrich your audience with as much detail as you can about the culture, religion, folklore, music, organizations and institutions, language and dialect, superstitions, medical remedies, and lifestyle of the person – real or fictional – that you have chosen to interview. You may choose to remain in the Depression, or cover any other period of importance in 20th century US history, from the Roaring 20’s to the Beat Generation.
Competitions are curricular projects that student teams produce and upload to the site in the spring in competition with other registered schools. Each Competition is equipped with a step-by-step breakdown of the work, an Evaluation Rubric, Support Resources, Essential Questions, Student Proficiencies and Curricular Correlations to the Common Core and NGSS. All student entries are evaluated by two outside Mentors who score and comment on the entries for place and digital badging.
Minecrafting Carmen Sandiego
Geography – Global Country Exploration – Minecraft Coding – Game Design – 21st Century Skills
Gumshoes – your mission today is to build a world for the greatest thief to ever live: Carmen Sandiego. Using the open sandbox video game of Minecraft you will create your own version of the beloved 90’s television show. The set will be a multi-room puzzle game that takes your contestants around a single country (of you or your teacher’s choice) with questions that revolve around that country’s language, geography, history and current events. (Due: 3.23.18)
Minecrafting Carmen Sandiego
Current Events and US Politics – Primary Source Research – Video Production and Narrative Construction – Interviews – Community Engagement – 21st Century Skills
The United States is divided between Republicans and Democrats in ways that threaten our very democracy. This begins with the politicians and extends to their constituents – the current and future voters. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that each side is unwilling to listen to the other; is unwilling to seek compromise between their two divergent positions. This Challenge asks you to address that head on through the creation of a dialogue between local community members who happen to be opposed politically. This is about prompting the parties to exchange, listen and seek a position that bridges their beliefs. This is about taking a small step to re-awaken our Democracy through modeling civil discourse. (Due: 3.23.18)
Depression Era Research – Current Events Research – Primary Source Research – Artistic Design – Video Production and Documentary Narrative Construction – Interviews – Community Engagement – 21st Century Skills
After the Great Depression, the American Government enacted a multitude of programs through the New Deal to provide relief, recovery, and reform to the struggling country. One of these programs – the Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP) – was designed to “fund patriotic art projects in an effort to rally dispirited American citizens.”
In this Meridian Stories Competition, your challenge is to research the history of TRAP as it relates to this concept of ‘patriotism’; then research what this word means today to your team and the community around you. Finally, design (not build) a contemporary TRAP installation – a mural – for installation in your school that reflects your findings. (Due: 3.23.18)
Where Were You When?
Recent History (after 1940’s) – Primary Source Research – Audio Production and Narrative Construction – Interviews – Community Engagement – 21st Century Skills
We have all lived through recent momentous events in our nation’s history. From the bombing at the Boston Marathon to the election of the first African-American US President; the fall of the Berlin Wall to the assassination of John Lennon. Your challenge is to produce a podcast that tells the story of one critical historical moment through mostly primary sources – people you know who were alive when the event happened. The end result will be a piece that brings that day to life more than any textbook can. (Due: 4.13.18)
Where Were You When?
Historical Escape Room
Historical Research of an Event or Time Period – Video Production and Narrative Construction – Game Design – 21st Century Skills – 3D Printing, Engineering and Design
Escape rooms are physical problem solving spaces. In this Challenge, you and your team are going to design an escape room that has a historical theme to it. OK, here’s a little more detail. There’s a museum in town – say it’s a museum about Prohibition, the Underground Railroad, the Battle of Fort Sumter or even ceramics from the Middle Ages. The proprietors want to build an Escape Room full of puzzles that test the visitor’s knowledge of that historical theme. And you have been commissioned to design it. Go!
If applicable, inclusion of a 3D printed, historically accurate prop is recommended. (Due: 4.13.18)
Historical Escape Room
Resources are short videos and three-page print outs that support the technology driven, project-based learning that comprise the core of Meridian Stories. From Digital Rules to Minecraft; Creative Brainstorming to writing fiction, as told by a best selling author, the Resource Collection is an exclusive Meridian Stories asset that assists students and teachers in their work.
JOIN THE MERIDIAN STORIES' COMMUNITY OF SCHOOLS TO ACCESS ALL THE COMPETITIONS, ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES.
Singular Curricular Area
$150 per year
- One of three curricular areas
- Language Arts
- participation in up to 5 Competitions (which includes posting Student Video, receiving Mentor Feedback, and earning Digital Badges);
- access to 8 Activities and 10 Projects; and
- access to the entire Media Resource Collection.
All Curricular Areas
$350 per year
- All three curricular areas
- Language Arts
- participation in up to 15 Competitions;
- access to all Activities and Projects; and
- access to the entire Media Resource Collection.