By December 17, students will be required to build multi-media teaching exhibit that addresses a landmark Supreme Court decision of their own choosing. Exhibits must provide compelling biographical insight on the members of the Court and all the key litigants involved, as well as offer concise background, context and analysis about the significance of the decision. Students may approach the topic from almost any perspective, but their goal should be to create an online learning site that can help classroom teachers at the high school or collegiate level to humanize and contextualize a landmark Supreme Court decision. Students should begin the project by submitting an 4 to 6-page essay on the historical significance of the Supreme Court case combined with an appendix that provides concise biographical profiles of all of the key figures involved (court members + litigants). The paper and appendix should be sent via email to Prof. Pinsker no later than December 4 (counting for one-third of the overall exhibit grade). The paper should include a descriptive title, wide-ranging research, thoughtful analysis and careful use of Chicago-style footnotes to identify sources. The online exhibits should then transform a revised version of this paper into an engaging website (built on the free platform of Weebly) with various multi-media elements, such as image galleries, custom-made maps or timelines (using free platforms such as Google Maps, Timeline JS or Storymap), and / or short videos and podcasts. Exhibits may incorporate multi-media elements from external sources, but students must acknowledge and properly credit all of those sources. Late projects will be penalized up to 5 points per day.
Each website should consider employing various types of embedded multi-media tools, including image-based slideshow, custom-made maps or timelines (using free platforms such as Google Maps, Timeline JS or Storymap), and original multi-media efforts, such as a short video or a well-produced podcasts, but none of these elements are required. [for all of these elements, see video tutorials below]
- See how Fiona Clarke used an embedded TimelineJS
- See how George Gilbert used an embedded TimelineJS
- See how Samantha Reiersen used an embedded Google map
- See how Alden Mohacsi used embedded videos
- See how Alexia Orengo Green used graphic organizers
Each website should also consider creating a historical thinking section that explicitly engages teachers and students in a methods exercise, like investigating a primary source or analyzing competing sources. Students are encouraged to consider using revised versions of their earlier Gaddis review essay for this purpose.
- See how Amanda Donoghue organized her methods ideas on “Morality”
- See how Rachel Morgan organized her insights about genealogical research
Exhibits may also incorporate multi-media elements from external sources, but students must acknowledge and properly credit all of those sources.
The best exhibits will provide well-written and well-produced multi-media content that illustrates an important nineteenth-century theme or topic in a way that inspires high-level historical thinking. The best exhibits will also demonstrate skill in story-telling. See this advice on story from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns:
Finally, the best projects will be incorporated into public exhibits and displays from the House Divided Project. Late projects will be penalized up to 5 points per day.
- Always include a brief About section that provides information about the author and also about the project’s objectives and its intended audience
- Make sure your site is published to the web but discourage search engines from indexing to protect your privacy
- All exhibits must acknowledge and properly credit their sources. Please take care to use public domain components and to follow fair use guidelines when approaching copyrighted materials.
- Make sure to communicate with Prof. Pinsker by email if you are in danger of missing the deadline.
Special Tips for Video Production
- Remember, you must sign up for YouTube or Vimeo and upload your video to those free cloud-based services FIRST (with video sharing set to public) before embedding your video at your Weebly platform.
- General tips for Ken Burns-style documentary filmmaking:
- Always open with a title page, and whenever possible, with some public domain music
- The key to voice over narration with still images is to have good, clear audio and a narrator with strong pacing and a conversational style. Make sure to take care with your recording devices and sound environment (watch echo!) and feel free to consult or record with the LIS specialists at Bosler.
- Also critical for the success of your video will be images. Make sure they are high resolution, and be creative in cropping, framing and using tools such as pan & zoom, in order to create a sense of engagement. Remember, you need to make quick cuts (about every 4 to 6 seconds) while still connecting images to the voice-over.
- Documentary short films don’t need thesis statements, but they do need a coherent point-of-view and careful attention to narrative storytelling. Try to outline your project with a storyboard (i.e. converting your text into a visual outline with accompanying images).
- Finally, make sure your images, music and sound effects are in the public domain and properly credited at the end of your video.