The postcard activity was pretty successful in my high school classroom, so I felt confident presenting it to our Methods class. Having examples of the finished product helped students visualize the project and imagine what their completed postcard might look like. Overall I think it’s a great way for students to explore primary texts, perform some analysis, while also giving them the freedom to express themselves.
It’s hit or miss getting students to cite their sources. I think providing a clear example of how and where to cite the source would be helpful. Perhaps doing the citation in class would give me the opportunity to monitor their progress. Giving students the ability to hand-draw their postcards was somewhat time consuming; perhaps doing a lesson on how to use adobe spark would be helpful in the future.
Overall, my goal was to get students to engage with a primary text, and see the importance of “individual perspective” in examining source material. Giving students the ability to express themselves seemed to make the lesson more engaging and personal. I was impressed by the variety of responses I received, not to mention the detail and care that went into the postcards themselves.
This assignment was designed to build on students’ abilities to perform a close reading of a text. Using a primary source as inspiration, students are free to invent, embellish, and illustrate their interpretations of historical texts. Students were asked to imagine themselves in a specific time and place, along with anything they’d like to describe to family or friends.
Students will need access to the course website to access primary source materials, as well as any notecards, colored pencils, or illustration apps necessary to create a postcard image. Following completion of the assignment, postcards will be displayed for students to view, and to and discuss their interpretations with the class.
Did you know the Federal Government employed more than 5,000 artists during the New Deal era under the Works Progress Administration? Some of our nation’s most recognizable artwork was produced by WPA sponsored artists during this period, including the iconic posters for the National Park Service.
The Posters That Almost Weren’t
Posters like this one are a specific type of print called a “silkscreen” in which a pigment is brushed across a mesh, or screen, to create a colored image on an underlying sheet of paper. The process allows for numerous color copies to be made of the same image, though not without limitations. Silkscreening must be done in stages, one color at a time. Each color screen must be lined-up precisely for the image to come out correctly.
A total of 14 images were selected for print to commemorate America’s National Parks between the years of 1935 and 1943. Of 1,400 original color prints, only 41 exist today. Many were tucked away in attics and garages until the conservation efforts of a few enthusiasts tracked them down for the purposes of preservation. Five of the prints, including this one of Yellowstone, are located in the Library of Congress. The remaining posters are in private collections across the globe. We are grateful for the efforts of those who sought to protect these treasures for the enjoyment of future generations.