Carbon to Computer
How to Use this Unit
The instructional design of Carbons to Computers reflects
the Smithsonian Institution's belief in the power of objects to teach. Use of
these materials does not depend on lecturing or on extensive use of valuable
preparation and class time. Instead, students use and collect materials in
guided, self-teaching activities.
This pedagogical approach introduces students to the
historical method: the approach historians use to explore, hypothesize about,
and make judgments about the past. Structured activities give students practice
in the following:
- distinguishing fact from inference
- understanding when to use written sources to answer
- setting goals for research projects
- conducting focused investigative field trips
- organizing and presenting research results
- working with other students as a team
- making reasoned predictions
Recommended teaching plan
These materials have been designed for classroom
flexibility. Although the activities have been planned to be used
progressively, with activity 2 building on activity 1, and so on, you may adapt
them to your schedule and curriculum without diminishing their effectiveness.
Possible variations on the four activity steps include using only the in-class
activities, using the photographs and essay as the basis for a writing
assignment, or employing the handouts in activity 3 as part of activity 4 and
not assigning the research aspect of that activity.
If your students have Internet access, they can read the
essay online or you can print out the text-only version of the site.
The photographs are ONLY available online; the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies cannot provide print copies.
developing observation skills
organizing and processing observed
data; raising questions for further research; ordering elements in historical
sequence; making interpretations
techniques; logically organizing data; summarizing results
creating a historical record:
collecting, organizing, and analyzing information and making projections and