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Markers in the Classroom: An Historical Marker Application Simulation

Today in our Markers in the Classroom series: adaptive reuse of government documents!

IHB’s State Historical Marker Application process can be a little daunting.  We’ve tried to lower the frustration by creating a lot of tools to help marker applicants ask the right questions and present their research to us concisely.

In a nutshell, here’s how our process works:

  • Applicants let us know that they intend to apply for a marker, offering a short paragraph about the topic they’re focusing on.
  • IHB staff use these Intent forms to weed out any topics that don’t meet our requirements for statewide significance.
  • All seemingly significant topics are accepted for the application phase.
  • Applicants submit at least 6 and no more than 12 individual “points” that demonstrate the significance of their topic.  The Significance & Documentation sheet in the Application also requires applicants to attach a primary source to each point or fact they list, which demonstrates the viability of the topic for the research phase of the process.
  • IHB staff work with applicants who request assistance to improve their applications.  IHB provides research tools, recommendations, and early reviews.
  • IHB staff review applications based on the published criteria, recommending the strongest applications for research and casting.

    Students can use the Significance Worksheet from the Indiana State Historical Marker Application to organize the main points of their argument, citations, and sources (internet, libraries, oral interviews, etc.)

Educators can put these documents to use when assigning a research paper to their class.  For a longer-range project, consider running a marker application simulation in the classroom:

  1. Ask students to read over IHB’s guidelines, or your modified version of our guidelines for an imaginary school, city, county, or state marker program, and imagine they are submitting a topic for consideration.
  2. They’ll submit a summary of their idea on an Intent to Apply form, which will allow you to guide their research.
  3. Then, each student would tackle the Documentation phase, using the  Significance Worksheet from State Form 45937 in place of, or in addition to, idea maps and outlines to gather their main arguments and evidence along with citations.
  4. For peer review, assign each student some applications for an early review.  Like IHB’s staff during the real marker application cycle, they will read the significance worksheet to make sure the criteria are met.  Are the required number of primary and/or secondary sources cited?  Are the points clear and well-written?  Does anything appear to be missing?  Could anything be removed to make space for a more compelling part of the story to be included?  Students should incorporate peer suggestions when writing their ideal marker text and research summary.
  5. Indiana State Historical Markers have titles of no more than 25 characters, with a limit of 375 characters and spaces per side in the text portion–this is about 2.5 “tweets” per side.  Your classroom marker program’s limitations can be more or less strict.  You can find a blank Indiana State Historical Marker here for students to submit their ideal marker texts.
  6. IHB makes marker research summaries, annotated texts, and accuracy reviews for each State Historical Marker available online so that the public can learn more.  Ask students to write a research paper to accompany their marker and provide additional information about the topic.

If you don’t have the time to incorporate a full-scale simulation, consider making the Significance Worksheet, Leading Questions for Research, and IHB’s Resource Checklist available to students as they plan and implement their research projects.