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Extraordinary “What If?” Student Project

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Last month, I shared two important articles pushing teachers to use the question “What if?” more with their students (see Asking “Why Not?” & “What If?” As Well As “Why?”).

This week, high school History teacher Carla Federman shared an extraordinary project she did with her students. You can read her complete lesson guide here, and here’ an excerpt:

You are to identify one specific point in American history for which you are interested in changing the outcome. Once you have identified your point of divergence, you will need to consider both the immediate changes and the long-term impacts that divergence would have on modern society. You will present your “revised history” through the creation of “new” primary sources and a multimedia project.

She was also kind enough to share all examples of the finished student projects. Here are a few outstanding ones:

What if John Brown’s mother did not die in childbirth?

What if Lyndon B. Johnson had kept the equal time rule in place in the 1960 election?

What if Betty Friedan had missed her college reunion?

Thanks to Ms. Federman for developing such an exceptional lesson and for being willing to share it, and congratulations to her students for doing such exceptional work. I know I’ll be using the idea in my classes next year!

Here’s the rubric Carla used

Carla also wanted to credit Diana Laufenberg for the idea of “What If?” projects, which she borrowed and adapted. Diana’s “What If?” resources can be found here.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. One quick addition. This project is adapted from a brilliant one created by Diana Laufenberg (@dlaufenberg). Many thanks to Diana for her guidance and assistance, and her willingness to let me adapt her work!

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