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Teachers and community members can help young community members explore and contribute to their cultural heritage by arranging learning expeditions that include the ALERT processes.

The Heritage Project is an educational initiative that began as a partnership between the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Montana Historical Society, and the Montana Office of Public Instruction. Teachers work with these cultural agencies and with their communities to conduct learning expeditions that explore large and enduring questions through the medium of local knowledge.

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What is a learning expedition?

Learning expeditions are lived quests for knowledge.


Ronan students in Christa
Umphrey’s English class take notes
at the National Bison Range.

A learning expedition is an in-depth exploration of a topic. Expedition team members all research the same broad questions so they are all on the same quest, but their individual research questions may vary so they are individually accountable.

The goal is to find out what is in the library and then to go beyond that, gathering and constructing new knowledge. Expedition members begin in the library, and then they move out to bring new knowledge back to the community, based on interviews, observations, or experiments. To succeed, expedition members need to study and understand factual information, and they also need to learn and apply broad concepts and ideas.

A good learning expedition has several important characteristics:

Expeditions are readily organized around the ALERT processes, but this acronym is not meant as a linear guide so much as a reminder of the processes involved in getting from one level of understanding to the next.

The written documents (essays, scripts, transcripts) that are created should be added to a public archives. Work that is archived should meet publication standards. Publication is the final step in the writing process, and the standard for publication is perfection (we don’t always meet the standard, but we don’t lower the standard because of that).

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 07/02 at 05:06 PM
 

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State Heritage Projects

Support for Expeditions

Landmarks for Schools

The Digital Classroom (National Archives)

A Biography of America with Primary Documents (Annenberg)

A Chronology of U.S. Historical Documents (University of Oklahoma School of Law)

Words and Deeds in American History Chronological list of primary documents (Library of Congress)

Civics Timeline American history timeline with primary documents (National Endowment for the Humanities)

American Journeys Eyewitness accounts of historical expeditions by the Wisconsin Historical Society and National History Day

Expeditions (National Geographic)

Radio Documentaries American RadioWorks