AP US Final Project- 13 Days That Changed America

Kevin Randolph (krandolph@nscds.org), History Department Chair and AP US History Teacher
Vinnie Vrotny (vvrotny@nscds.org), Director of Academic Technology

Rationale for the Project

Contingency is the backbone of the study of history. Every student of history has to contemplate the what might have been phenomenon, regardless of the period or event under investigation. Are events random in nature, or are the logical outgrowth of the decisions and actions people take and the consequences that follow? Do people set out to make history or does history make them?

Our final project for the year will require you to use your research, analytical, reporting and presentation skills. The project has both an individual and a collective component and will be the final grade for the class and serve as your final exam

Step One

Using the model established by the History Channel series, “10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America,” you will need to survey all of United States history and determine the 13 days that had the most profound impact on shaping the country. Why eleven? There are 11 of you and that will eventually factor into the group portion of the project. It is important that you start with a large and comprehensive list, perhaps 25-30 events, and then narrow it down. You MUST work alone and should use sources beyond obvious things like wikipedia. Your final list of 13 days MUST contain a thorough explanation for why each event is on the list and why it is in the position it is in.

Within a very short time frame you will need to post your list on the discussion tab on this wiki and participate in an online discussion about the lists.

Step Two

The group will have a few days of very focused discussion in and out of class in order to identify the 13 days that make the list. When the list is agreed upon by ALL members of the class and the reasons for inclusion and position are written it must then be posted on the Moodle and the final project wiki.

Mr. Vrotny's and Mr. Randolph's reflections on the process

Step Three

Each class member takes one of the 13 events and will make a 4-6 minute film/presentation on the event describing it in great detail and with historical accuracy, why it belongs on the list and in the position it has. Each film/presentation MUST have a works cited page and MUST use more than Internet resources. Music, narration, text, images, etc. all play a role in the final product.

Each film/presentation needs a title and that should contain the day you are focusing on and the creator of the film/presentation. It is vital that you proofread all text for errors and have other class members peer edit your work for content, style, accuracy, etc.

While some general discussions are useful no attempt should be made to establish uniformity within the films other than EVERYONE USING THE SAME APPLICATION. The most likely option is Voicethread. Each film will be posted on the final project wiki.

Step Four

Once each separate film/presentation is completed the entire group will work to construct a 3 minute introductory film/presentation to the overall project that will be posted on the final project wiki. This is aimed at outside audiences so they can understand what the project was and what you leaned from doing it.

We will have extensive class time to work on this project and you should plan accordingly. The only other responsibilities you will have during the time after the AP US exam is the read On Paradise Drive and write a book review of it. More details will follow on that


Step Five - Reflection

Now that you have completed the project, it is time to reflect on the process. To do so, we are going to use a service call Gabcast. With a Channel ID and PIN, you will be able to call into the service from any telephone via a toll-free number. The details that you will need are:
  • Telephone Number - 800-749-0632
  • Channel ID - 20168
  • PIN -2787 (That's AP US for an easy way to remember)
  • Follow the prompts to record a new episode

Before you call make sure that you have formulated your answers to the following prompts:
  • Did the elements of the project(research, analysis, collaborative learning) reflect the nature of the course?
  • How is the creation of a digital movie an effective way to present an argument as opposed to writing a paper?
  • What is the benefit of working collaboratively as opposed to working independently on a project such as this?
  • Was this an effective wrap up project for this AP US History course?
  • What are the benefit of using new technologies (PhotoStory, VoiceThread, Gabcast) on a project such as this?
  • How you change the project?

Please record your responses by Tuesday, May 27th at 12:00 p.m. noon

Format for the Films

Each film should begin with a black slide with white lettering (18 font/Times New Roman) and the date your film is dealing with. There should be discussion of the things leading up to the date, the basic facts of the date and the impact of the day on future events.Citations will appear at the end of the entire concluding piece rather than at the end of each individual film.

13 Days the group chose-2008

Signing of the Constitution- September 17, 1787
Louisiana Purchase- May 2, 1803
Lincoln's Election- November 6, 1860
Golden Spike driven in at Prominitory Pt., Utah- May 10, 1869
Census of 1890- June 1, 1890
Model T introduced- September 27, 1908
Women's Suffrage (19th amendment)- August 18, 1920
Pearl Harbor attacked- December 7, 1941
GI Bill passed- June 22, 1944
Bombing of Hiroshima- August 6, 1945
Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier (Dodgers)- April 15, 1947
Brown v. Board of Education- May 17, 1954
War Powers Act passed- November 7, 1973

Final Project

Student Reflections on the Project

Creative Commons

There is a new type of rights reservation called Creative Commons. This is a newer way for users to distribute their work and to allow you to be able to use, modify, and mash up. There are four different kinds of Creative Commons licenses:
external image cc_icon_attribution.gif
external image cc_icon_attribution.gif
Attribution means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give you credit.

external image cc_icon_noncomm.gif
external image cc_icon_noncomm.gif
Noncommercial means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work - and derivative works based upon it - but for noncommercial purposes only.

external image cc_icon_noderivs.gif
external image cc_icon_noderivs.gif
No Derivative Works means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

external image cc_icon_sharealike.gif
external image cc_icon_sharealike.gif
Share Alike means:
You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

Creative Commons search for Google Pages, Yahoo Pages and Images, Flickr (images), BlipTV (video), and Music


These tutorials and handout is available courtesy of David Jakes (www.jakesonline.org)

Paper Tutorial - How to Use PhotoStory

A Collection of Blank Slides to use for Titles

Flash Tutorials

CONTEXT: The simple digital story that I am making in the screencast tutorials is about coming home from an stay of five years in the Southern United States. Being from Chicago, I missed many things that I took for granted. The story is in the format of the MasterCard priceless commercials.
Tutorial 1 | Beginning the digital storytelling process, corresponds to pages 1-2 of the tutorial handout.
Tutorial 2 | Removing black borders from images, corresponds to page 3 of the tutorial handout.
Tutorial 3 | Adding text to a title slide or image, corresponds to page 4 of the tutorial handout.
Tutorial 4 | Adding your voice narration.
Tutorial 5 | Customizing motion with Pans
Tutorial 6 | Customizing motion with Zooms
Tutorial 7 | Fine tuning motion in your digital story
Tutorial 8 | Adding transitions
Tutorial 9 | Adding background music-mp3's
Tutorial 10 | Adding background music-onboard music
Tutorial 11 | Finishing Your Digital Story

Soundtrack - Select and prepare your music for your soundtrack

As with images, with music, you have to make sure that your use of music is proper. If you wish to commercially distribute your finished work, including to either Google Videos or to YouTube, you need to make sure that you have obtained the licensing of the music that you are going to use.

You may use up to 28 seconds of a commercially recorded song as a soundtrack without licensing. Ever wonder why iTunes and other music sites allow for a 29 second preview or why corporations have to pay artists for the rights to a soundtrack for a 30 second commercial? Just because you have seen other videos on Google and YouTube that include musical selections longer than 30 seconds does not mean that you can do it.

Royalty Free Music

As we have seen above, you can search the Creative Commons site for royalty free music (OWL). There are a few other sites which you can find royalty free music for your presentation:


Audio Editing

Once you have selected your music, chances are you will need to trim your sound file to fit within the 3 minute maximum for the project. Or you may want to mash a variety of musical numbers to tell your story. The application that we are going to use to work with your soundtrack is called Audacity. It is a freeware audio editor which will work on many computer platforms. Listed below are tutorials on how to use Audacity to edit your soundtrack:

Getting Music from your iPod

If you want to choose a song from your iTunes library, you have a bit of a problem which can be solved before you can use the track. You will first need to convert the file format into something that Audacity, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker,PhotoStory or Pinnacle Studio can use.

When you rip a song into iTunes, it does it in an mp4 format. Once you have found a file, you will need to convert it to either an mp3 or a wav file. I have found a converter which has worked well for me from Xilisoft, their WMA MP3 Converter. You can download a free trial, which will limit you to converting 5 files in one session, but that should not be a problem for this project. It is a nifty piece of software which is reasonably priced ($19 per copy). They also make other converters for video files as well.