Lesson Four

Objective: To collect, organize, and analyze primary and secondary source information that documents a local office. (Students will synthesize what they have learned to predict the office's organization and functions in the year 2025.)

The preceding activities have helped your students recognize the significance of evidence in interpreting and understanding history. In this activity, the students will conduct research to create a historical record, interpret the evidence they find, and extrapolate from it to make projections about the future. Like curators in museums, the students will observe and collect objects and try to interpret their meanings based on available evidence.

Small groups of three or four students will take field trips to visit offices in their community. Using the Research Guidelines students should prepare for the trips by obtaining materials from the company and writing Interview Worksheets like the one supplied in Lesson 3. On the field trip, teams of students will conduct two formal interviews as well as informally question other people. They will also sketch the physical layout of the office and its contents. Later they will write summaries of the interviews, project how they think the company they visited will change in twenty-five years, and write an essay (of about 500 words) explaining their projections. Their final presentation should include a set of materials documenting the company as it is today, a complementary set of materials depicting the company in the year 2025, and the explanatory essay. For example, using sketches and a computer, students may prepare a product brochure like the actual brochure obtained from the company, describing its products in the year 2025. The interview summaries will describe an imaginary manager and subordinate in 2525, and so on.

Selection of site visits should receive careful consideration. Small offices may be easier to sketch and inventory than large ones; they may also be less interesting. On the other hand, a very large office may simply exceed the limits of feasible investigation. Students may find that focusing on one department or manageable work area within a larger entity will offer the best opportunity for research.

Assigning the Project

1. Organize the class into small groups of at least three but not more than four students.

2. Give each group two or three days to decide on a company or organization to visit. The students' interviews in Lesson 3 may have identified some local offices; or they may wish to use the telephone book or a local chamber of commerce listing of local businesses for addresses and telephone numbers. Suggest that each group determine its scheduling and transportation needs. As most offices conduct business until 5 or 6 p.m., the field trip can be fit in after school.

3. Have each group organize itself as a research team based on the information they need to obtain (as described in the Research Guidelines). Two students may be responsible for interviewing, one for obtaining company literature and writing up the essay, another for sketching the layout or preparing the inventory.

4. Set aside class time or suggest that students arrange time to work on their presentation following the field trip. Set a deadline for completion of the field trip and submission of documentary and written materials.

5. Make copies of the Research Guidelines for each group. Allow class time for students to ask questions and do preliminary planning.