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Project Name: Nefarious Deeds Museum Project

Facilitator Name: Andrea Behling

Grade: 11

Subject(s): US History, English 11

Course Name: American Heritage

Students presenting their displays at the Frazier History Museum.

Students presenting their displays at the Frazier History Museum.

Project Description & Content Topics Addressed: Students create museum displays around the theme of corruption and controversy in United States history. They must choose a topic that fits this theme, and create a display that informs the viewer of the topic, and analyzes the impact the topic or event had on US history and the lasting impact of the topic or event to today. Displays must meet size requirements, and are vetted by a group of community partners. Displays that meet the standard noted by the rubric are taken to the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, KY to be viewed by elementary school students. Each display must include an interactive element that draws in the viewer. Content topics include the Vietnam War and Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Prohibition, the Dawes Act, etc. In conjunction with their research display curation, students will read the novel 1984 and analyze its message about corruption and the government on citizens.

A: Learning Goals: Content Knowledge & Skills Addressed (Standards)

Content Standards:

  • Summarize major themes in the early history of the United States (states’ rights – Separation of Union and Confederacy)

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of government attempts to regulate business

  • Analyze the foreign and domestic consequences of US involvement in Vietnam

  • Explain the constitutional, political, and cultural significance of the Watergate Scandal

  • Analyze the laws restricting immigrants and immigration from other parts of the world in the late 1800s/early 1900s

  • Identify different political machines, such as Tammany Hall, and describe their influence on politics of the Gilded Age

  • Identify areas of social tension such as the Red Scare, Prohibition, Religious Fundamentalism, the KKK,

  • New Morality, and the New Woman and explain their consequences in the post-WWI era

  • Iran-Contra Affair

  • Pentagon papers

  • Dawes Act

  • Iraq War

Skills Addressed:

  • Written Communication – articulating content and analysis on historical events through professional and concise labels.

  • Collaboration

  • Display curation – creating a neat, appealing display that attracts the attention of viewers while also addressing the driving question

B. Driving Question: What impact to corruption and controversy have on citizens of the United States?

C. Entry Event: Nefarious Deeds Entry Event

D. Benchmarks & Scaffolding:

Benchmark 1Initial Research-Students complete research on all topics, and then are able to submit their top 3 choices based on interest from the initial research assignment.

Benchmark 2Topic Deep Dive -Students become experts in their own topic.

Benchmark 3Planning the Display 

Benchmark 4: Materials check/begin building-Students are required to begin bringing in materials and building their display.

Benchmark 5: Labels-Students attend a mandatory labels workshop with resources provided by the Indiana State Museum to understand and meet the requirement for labels on the display.

Benchmark 6: Final Display

*Students will attend skill and content workshops throughout the project.

E. End Products: The final deliverable is the completed display that depicts the topic or event in a professional way, including the three different kinds of labels that effectively tell the story and inform the viewer of the topic.

F. Rubric: Nefarious Deeds Rubric

G. Community Partnerships: 

  • Frazier History Museum: Hosts our students, requests the tasks of them, brings in elementary school students to view displays.

  • Indiana State Museum: Gives students workshop on label creation, feedback on displays

  • Bartholomew County Historical Society: Holds museum displays at completion of project to display for the local community. Helps provide feedback for students on displays before trip to museum

Authenticity & Relevance (Real-World Connections, Applied Learning, Active Exploration): The students analyze corruption and controversy in the United States, and identify its impact on the American people, lasting effects of historical events on today, and the development of the relationship between the government and the people. They address this issue by curating museum displays that are set up in the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, KY. The museum asks our students to create an exhibit for them based on the theme of Nefarious Deeds – corruption and controversy in United States history. They choose their topic, do research, and become experts on that topic in order to understand and exhibit the impact of corruption on the United States. They then display their work at the Frazier History Museum for a group of elementary school students as a teaching opportunity.

Inquiry: Students do research on what makes an effective and appealing museum display. They are able to express their knowledge in any way that meets the requirements for the display, which include some size restrictions due to space at the museum. Students can bring in their own materials, build the display, or use whatever method they see fit to get their ideas across through artifacts and labels. Students are given a list of acceptable topics, but may also propose other topics that fit the theme of “Nefarious Deeds” for approval during the initial research process. The rubric is vague enough to allow for various means of representation in the final display.

Student Voice & Choice: After completing an initial research assignment, students are allowed to request their top 3 topic choices based on their interest in the topics. They are guaranteed a topic in their top 3 choices, which allows for students to engage with a content they are interested in. They are also allowed to propose a topic idea that is not included in the initial research based on their interest and can propose that as a topic for the project. Students are able to create their displays in any way they see fit in order to meet the requirements of the project.

Employability (21st Century) Skills Addressed: 

  • Global awareness (impact of government corruption on citizens)

  • Creativity and innovation

  • Critical thinking and problem solving

  • Collaboration

  • Initiative and self direction (lots of independent/group work time to complete displays)

Required Materials and/or Tools: Students are required to bring in materials to complete their display based on the needs of individual groups. They use their school issued device to complete research and other benchmarks

Example of Student Work

Examples of Labels: