Most people don’t think of dance as a way to bring history to life. Looking at dancers in photographs, films and other images and reading about dancing and its role in celebrations, commemorations and other events can help students learn about what issues and events were considered important in a community, how people celebrated, what mores and values were important and how people dressed when going to certain events.
We engage our students in learning, and then we hope that their learning continues to spread, influencing others around them. Many times, we don’t see the effect of our influence until years later. In my role as a literacy coach, staff developer, and writing project teacher consultant, and because I don’t have students of my own, I always feel that my job is to drop pebbles and stand back as the professionals I work with create unpredictable and beautiful ripples.
On March 25, 1911, a fire swept through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, killing 146 men and women, many of them recent immigrants. It was later discovered that the workers faced many obstacles as they tried to flee the fire: Doors were locked by the factory's management and the fire escapes were inadequate. This catastrophe, which led to a public outcry, prompted updates to labor laws and reforms to fire and safety regulations.
Once a student has used primary source items to develop research questions, as in our previous post in this series, a next step is to begin delving deeply into primary and secondary sources to seek answers.