Instead of asking students to research and present projects that view the Industrial Revolution as a whole, let students home in on a specific aspect of this subject. Giving students the freedom to choose among several projects and having them create their own specific focus based on what interests them will encourage students to gain a greater depth of knowledge rather than just a topical introduction.
Diary Composition Project
As students take on the perspective of individuals who lived through the Industrial Revolution, they get a chance to express through creative writing how everyday peoples’ lives were impacted by the historical events. Students will create a series of diary entries from the perspective of a historical person, choosing a role such as a child laborer, a factory worker or a working-class mother. This project lets students creatively combine historical events and details from their learning about the Industrial Revolution, but it also encourages them to think about the emotions and ambitions of working people during a time of technological and economic upheaval.
Working Conditions Research Project
Students who are interested in the economic implications of the Industrial Revolution may choose to do a project targeting a specific economic facet such as working conditions. As students research working conditions during the Industrial Revolution, they can also research today's working conditions to discover that poor working conditions persist in many places. Have students create a list of companies that are known for good working conditions and, from that, identify what constitutes satisfactory working conditions. Finally, have students create a final product such as a poster advertising one of the companies they researched.
Soundtrack Compilation Project
Students express their knowledge of the living and working conditions of the Industrial Revolution in a creative way by choosing songs to create a soundtrack for the period. They can choose modern songs if some aspect of the songs connect them to the Industrial Revolution. For example, songs about sickness or low wages could be used to comment on some of the problems workers faced during this time. In addition to creating the soundtrack, have students design artwork for the soundtrack’s cover that depicts the Industrial Revolution and an insert giving a synopsis of how each song ties into the Industrial Revolution.
Students can use the impact of visual media to document the working conditions of the Industrial Revolution and compare them to today's workplace. Ask them to find or create images and scenes of factories, worker housing and child labor and compile their images into a multimedia collage or presentation with captions to explain pictures. In their research, students may find a particular angle they wish to further research to give their project a focus. For example, students may decide to focus all images on comparing and contrasting child labor during the Industrial Revolution to modern child labor.
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