Making Sense of Raw Materials

The driving question for my project comes from one Lévesque’s five essential questions about practicing history:  “How do we make sense of the raw materials of the past?” (37).

I am accessing the British Museum’s vast collection of digitized resources available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license in order to build a “history mystery” project around the Vale of York hoard.  My plan is to develop a small archive of items in Omeka for students to explore as “virtual interns” for a museum.  Students will note the individual aspects of their assigned piece, recording its distinct features and comparing it to other objects in the collection in order write a description of the item and to draw out possible theories for how the collection came together.

Once they’ve done the exploration, I will direct students to the British Museum site where they can round out the background of their specific piece, writing an exhibit tag and short description.  Each student will be able to use Maker technology to create a full size model of their item using the Glow Forge 3D laser printer. Students can use the replicated hoard as an instructional aid for teaching younger students about the Vikings.  It will also serve as vehicle for discussing the liberties and limits of digital technology in history. While one can take in so much of the world through digitized images or computer generated replicas, nothing can ever really replace the artifact itself.

I will also employ Story Maps to help students create a digital exhibit that they can share with younger students or their parents.  This vehicle will allow students to present their learning in a non-traditional format that allows for a greater narrative voice in historical writing.  It will also capitalize on digital mapping technology to help students explain how geography played a role in how the objects likely came together in England from places as far away as Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

The digital environment gives me access to materials and multiple tools for students to engage with the historical narrative on tacticle, digital, and spatial levels.


Lévesque, Stéphane. Thinking Historically. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.

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