Digital Project Proposal- An *Interpretive* Program

Have you ever been watching a historical fiction television show or movie and wondered if something was historically accurate or fictional? If you have, you are like me. I often watch historical fiction and always want to look something up but don’t want to pause the show or tear my eyes away to do research. My digital proposal is historical accuracy subtitles for shows and movies. This gives viewers the option to turn them on and for historians from the networks to talk about the historical accuracy or decisions regarding historical integrity in the film or show. This annotates the script and factors on screen to give more context into what is happening on screen. 

This idea came from Spotify using Genius to annotate and give context into song lyrics and to give context into lyric decisions by artists. This could be so beneficial to not only history lovers, but also those who might just be curious and try watching an episode of their favorite television show Bridgerton with the subtitles on to see what is really factual about the show. Audience is important so figuring out how to promote this to historians, lovers of history, and those who don’t even know this is something they would enjoy, would be beneficial to get more engagement in the application. This would also be beneficial to use in classrooms when showing historical fiction films and asking students to think about what is accurate and what is fiction within a show and to engage it with their learning of historical events. A movie that comes to mind for this is Pocahontas where teachers could engage students in a learning activity about the real events of the film and then compare their knowledge to the context given.

This is an example of what the subtitle would look like on screen. It would give content to setting and character as well as events depicted in the programming. Bridgerton.

To develop this project, I will be writing a proposal for the project as well as creating a prototype of scene scripts with historical accuracy annotations to be used for a show or movie. The proposal would consist of the description for the program, the need for digital formatting that would need to happen, historians to complete the annotations, funding, and how this would engage with multiple audiences and how to market it. This project would be a great deal to make with Disney or with Netflix to help audience engagement with historical learning while making it fun and pleasurable.

-McKenna Crews

Print Project Proposal: History Makes You Genius

It seems everyone has heard of Spotify. Whether you use it or have just been seeing it in the news recently with Neil Young and other artists leaving over COVID-19 misinformation. But have you ever scrolled down and watched the lyrics as your new favorite song was playing? Or used the Spotify app on your TV and it gave you all this insider knowledge on a song? That is Genius. As in smart of Spotify, but also a website where people can give the lyrics of a song, book, you name it and annotate the lyrics.  

This is the website Genius being used to annotate the popular song “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” and an example of the approved annotations by the site.

College’s, professor’s, and K-12 educators have started to use this across the country as a tool to help students share their thoughts with their classes about texts they are reading, songs they are using to analyze texts, and more. Annotators can also request for Genius to check their annotation and for it to be approved by the site and be made public.  This tool can be very useful in a history classroom to engage students in the words of primary source texts in live action with their fellow students also working on reading the assignment.  Below is an attached picture of an Black Literature class I took in undergrad and how my professor used this platform to give students the opportunity to share their thoughts on the book The Hate U Give and compare the passage to a 2Pac song we had listened to.  

Photo of Dr. Rutter’s ENG 215: Black Literature course at Ball State University the Fall semester of 2019 using Genius to analyze a text in the classroom.

The purpose of this print project would be to explore the site and see how classes are using this platform to engage in learning and different kinds of texts.  I would explore different subject areas to see how these methods would transfer to history classrooms at the secondary and collegiate levels.  Primary source based learning is significant in secondary education so having a useful tool readily available for educators to upload to and have their students annotate their understanding of a document would be useful for knowledge and skills checks. This could also be useful to people browsing the website who happen to cross your classes page and read about historical topics.

To accomplish this task, I would compile pages of classrooms using the site and identify different methods and sources used in the classroom.  This would help to facilitate and analyze what types of texts have engaging annotations, what those annotation requirements were, and what the purpose of the assignment was.  I would then take this and compare it to history classes that have Genius pages and describe the best methods for educators to use this tool to analyze historical writings.  This research would be useful for social studies educators and history professionals alike as a tool to engage students and the public in historical learning.

-McKenna Crews

Introduction: McKenna Crews

Hello! Sorry I am so late to the party but I am here now so buckle up!

My name is McKenna Crews and I am a first year MA Public History student. I was born and raised in the Buckeye state and moved to Indiana to triple major at Ball State University for Social Studies Education, History, and Public History with minors in African American Studies and Political Science. I am also currently an 8th grade Civics teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools at Lake Braddock Secondary School. My history interests include focusing on the Gold Coast of Africa and the slave trade that took place there. I received an award at the Ball State University History Conference last year for best undergraduate paper for my thesis on this topic. I am interested in museum education as well and how to make it more accessible to students in low socioeconomic status school districts.

My entire family is made up of teachers and I grew up around education and its importance to future generations. My dad teaches 8th grade US history and is my biggest influence on becoming a historian and educator. I gained my passion for working with low income students while working at a summer camp back home in Ohio for kids with severe medical disorders who received treatment from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital as well as working with children in the foster care system and in homeless shelters throughout the greater Cincinnati, Ohio region. I went to this camp as a kid because I had cancer and it changed my life making me want to be a counselor. I worked there for 5 years working my way up to Leadership and Development Coordinator working with young adults who wanted to gain leadership experience. At camp, I realized the limited access to hands on education in schools due to funding. I made it my mission to learn as much as I could to be able to help combat this and help children and families have access to museums that had entry fees. Here I am at summer camp where my campers decided to stick a plethora of glow sticks into my hair, including a unicorn horn on top obvi!

My goal in this class is to be able to bring my knowledge of classroom education, public history, and digital networks to help make museums more accessible to students and teachers especially during the pandemic. How can I upload a virtual tour? How can I still create hands on learning in the history classroom? Can I make interactive lesson plans for teachers to follow based off of museum exhibits and curriculum? Being able to combine these passions and make history more accessible is so significant in working with low SES communities to create a partnership between the institution and the local school districts in the area.