At Ancestry, we have a long-term commitment to empowering the next generation of history makers with the tools they need to succeed. May 2-6 marks Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States, a time to celebrate the educators who are working to provide tomorrow’s leaders with the knowledge and support they need to make history.
For nearly a decade, AncestryClassroom™ has provided educators with access to educational resources and Ancestry record collections at no cost to help students find their personal place in history. We've seen first hand the incredible impact teachers make everyday in the lives of students and we are proud to play a small part in providing tools and resources that support students’ discoveries. If you are an educator or school administrator, click here to sign up for access to AncestryClassroom™ at no cost: https://ancestryclassroom.com/k12/GrantProgram/
To further aid family history exploration in schools, today Ancestry launched a new “Family History Starter Kit” for educators on AncestryClassroom™. These foundational lesson plans and materials were crafted in partnership with educators to help students gain lifelong interpersonal and interview skills, learn how to understand and cite primary sources, and explore the stories of history makers before them. You can view the new Family History Starter Kit on AncestryClassroom™ here: https://www.ancestryclassroom.com/k12/resources/
Below are some of the inspiring ways educators and administrators in our community have leveraged AncestryClassroom™ to help students learn more about themselves, become more resilient and navigate the world around them.
Keira M., Genealogy Teacher at St Edward’s School
High school teacher Keira M. created a meaningful genealogy curriculum that helps students explore their families’ unique stories and find their personal places in history. With support from AncestryProGenealogists®, these high school students learned the basics of genealogy, including how to search and cite historical documents and interview relatives about their story. She shared, “I believe teaching genealogy research skills to young students is critical to their development as a curious and conscientious student. AncestryClassroom™ resources enhance genealogy and general history discussions in the classroom, and have helped me inspire my students for many years.”
Love F., Coordinator of Secondary Language Arts and Reading at Half Hollow Hills Central School District
As an avid Ancestry user herself, Love F. is passionate about family history research. Through her staff development role at Half Hollow Hills Central School District in New York, she created a curriculum to help educators understand how to use AncestryClassroom™ resources to enhance their students’ learning experience. Love has hosted workshops with more than 70 fellow educators across the district to guide them through their own family history research and illustrate the creative ways to incorporate genealogy into school curriculums. She has also partnered with Ancestry to create engaging lesson plans in the new “Family History Starter Kit.” She shared that “AncestryClassroom™ provides teachers and students with access to primary source documents that enrich both their educational and personal lives. Whether viewing a census entry from the 1700s, a newspaper article from the 1800s, or even a World War II registration card with a family member’s name on it, learning the human stories is both a collaborative and personal journey.”
Brian H., Social Studies Teacher at West Springfield High School
Brian H. has used AncestryClassroom™ to transform the way he teaches AP US History and Applied History. His students explore real WW1 draft registration cards from where they currently live to foster a deeper connection and understanding of the material. Brian noted that personalizing the curriculum to students’ interests makes this new information stick. He says, “AncestryClassroom™ gives students the opportunity to cater their research to their interests. One student, with a particular interest in medicine, ended up seeking out a particularly complicated death certificate and left a history class knowing the meaning of new chemistry terminology. Another found that one was buried in their church courtyard, and paid respects that Sunday.”
Jennifer T., M.Ed., Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher at Unity Elementary School
In 2016, Jennifer T. began using AncestryClassroom™ with her 6th-8th grade students to search for census data and local records from their town to complete ELA/Social Studies local history assignments. She reported, “AncestryClassroom™ wonderfully enhanced my efforts to embed more place-based and project-based learning opportunities into my teaching in addition to teaching students effective online database research skills.” Now, Jennifer T.’s students combine field exploration, primary- and secondary source analysis to explore how their town's geographic, demographic, economic, and cultural makeup has changed during the last century.
Krystal W., Literature Teacher at Harrisburg High School
Krystal W. uses AncestryClassroom™ to empower her students to make personal connections to the curriculum. When her students form a connection to the material in front of them, they stay engaged and excited to learn more. Krystal observed, “Adding AncestryClassroom™ to my lesson plans has enriched learning and spurred curiosity and conversations that have transformed the way we interact in class.”
Debbie M., Information Literacy Teacher at City Charter High School
During the 1950s true crime unit of Debbie M.'s curriculum, her students use AncestryClassroom™ to discover immigration papers, census data, death certificates, along with many other artifacts related to the event. In her own words, Debbie noted, “AncestryClassroom™ is a critical resource for our students when researching the history of our city along with their own families.”
John S., Art Teacher at Rutherford Hayes High School
John S. uses AncestryClassroom™ in his art class as a way to bring primary source documents into the forefront. His students make links between their past and their own personal journey. John says, “using AncestryClassroom™ makes history real, and gives students a grounding in their story that they may not have known beforehand.”
Keith H., Technology Education Teacher at Lancaster High School
Keith H. uses AncestryClassroom™ as a genealogical research tool to teach his students to explore and create their own family history discoveries. His students integrate their individualized information by using graphic programs to create logos that represent each of their stories. Keith notes, “AncestryClassroom™ gives my students a tool that can make connections to their family history that have been lost over time.”
Eric L., Humanities Teacher at Discovery Middle School
Eric L. leads his students in a project involving researching genealogy, migration and geographical movement in the context of familial impact. He reported that AncestryClassroom™ “is a valuable tool in providing students access to primary sources that really interest them, because they are about them.” His students receive an exciting introduction to learning more about their own family history.
William L., Social Studies and Civics Teacher at Greater Latrobe Junior High School
In his junior high class, William L. uses Ancestry to contextualize the topics he covers by engaging the students in research techniques. He notes that AncestryClassroom™ gives his students “a larger sense of self and creates a mechanism for cross-generational learning” when they reach out to extended family members. His students look forward to a weekly "Individual Genealogical Research Assistance" activity that encourages students toward further discovery and learning.
We are grateful to the AncestryClassroom™ teacher community and are inspired by the incredible ways they are bringing family history and history research to the classroom. This week and always - thank you, teachers!
Note: some teachers were compensated for providing AncestryClassroom™ feedback to help improve the user experience.