Portland students discover Family Ties Online
June 5, 2013
This spring, fifth grade students in Mrs. Gurney’s class at the Ocean Avenue School in Portland, Maine, added a new component to their social studies lessons with Family Ties Online, a web-based curriculum available free through the Historic New England website. Family Ties Online includes lesson plans, activities, and primary source documents from our collection and is designed to give young people the skills and tools needed to document their own family history.
After an initial planning meeting with Education Program Manager Carolin Collins, Mrs. Gurney decided to assign eight of the more than forty available activities and discussion topics that would be the best fit for her students, including family trees, inventories, and documenting a family treasure through conducting oral histories. For a final project, students compiled their work into a digital collage and slideshow, which they presented to their classmates.
The students were surprised and delighted by the discoveries they and their classmates made, and by the realization of just how diverse a group they are. This class of twenty-five included students whose families came from Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Peru, Turkey, and Iraq, as well as all corners of Europe and the United States. Treasures included a kutub al-sittah (collection of sayings or acts of Mohammed) passed down over four generations, a Bible in Aramaic, a blanket hand-woven in Ireland in the nineteenth century, and a recipe for ginger icebox cookies.
Mrs. Gurney was impressed with the results of Family Ties Online and plans to use it even more with next year’s students. Visit Family Ties Online.