Event Details
Event Title Colonial Williamsburg Foundation : Using Artifacts as a Bridge to the Past
Location moodle.learnnc.org
Date/Time 07/16/2014 - 08/08/2014 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Event Price
For more information, contact the event administrator: Mike Bamford mbamford@unc.edu
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Course description

How do artifacts - things that humans have made, used, or altered - help us to understand similarities and differences across time and cultures? How do we teach with material objects? In this interactive course, participants will learn key principles of object analysis and material culture. Participants will develop classroom strategies for using artifacts as learning tools for history and content literacy. This three-week online study focuses on the ways that people of the past and present conceptualize, use, and value objects of all kinds. Using the resources of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the course models hands-on interpretation and analysis of artifacts through videos, course readings, digital media, and discussion forums. Participants will work individually and as a learning community to construct ready-to-use classroom resources.

Course objectives

The participant will:

  • participate in artifact analysis using instructed techniques and principles.
  • apply artifact analysis to gain insight into material culture and social strata.
  • create a two-day lesson plan that incorporates the method of artifact analysis as a classroom tool for historical inquiry.

Course requirements

This course takes place over three weeks. Participants are expected to complete activities and assignments, engage in discussion forums, design a lesson plan that incorporates artifact analysis, and provide feedback to other participants where relevant. Through video demonstrations, readings, discussion posts, and assignments, participants will engage in the process of artifact analysis that then allows them to examine the relationship between artifacts and their periods in history.

Course information

K-12 teachers in the social sciences and history
Time commitment
Participants will devote three to six hours per week to completing assignments, participating in online discussions, and designing a lesson plan that includes artifact analysis of an object.
This course runs 24 days, starting on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 and ending on Friday, August 8, 2014. The introduction section of the course takes place during the first three days. Weeks then begin on Saturdays at midnight Pacific Daylight Time and end on the following Friday at midnight Pacific Daylight Time.
Credits and fee
Upon successful completion, participants will receive 20 hours to be used toward CEU credit. The course tuition is $200.00, which is non-refundable upon purchase. Questions about this policy should be directed to Lisa Heuvel at lheuvel@cwf.org.

Course syllabus

At the start of the course, participants interact with each other through a series of activities aimed at community building. These activities begin the introduction to exploring the ways that objects express relationships between people and the world around them.
Week One
Over the course of this week, participants will observe and engage in the step-by-step process of artifact analysis as modeled by Colonial Williamsburg experts and staff. Participants will analyze a collection of objects to construct a possible narrative about them, a deduction that utilizes primary sources from the Virginia Gazette. Be forewarned: Sometimes, things aren’t as they seem!
Week Two
Over the course of this week, participants will apply the process of artifact analysis to differentiating the social strata of 18th-century Williamsburg as evidenced in material culture. Activities of this week utilize artifacts, images, and texts from the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg to analyze objects within a historical and cultural framework. At the end of this week, participants will develop a lesson plan that does the same.
Week Three
Over the course of this week, participants will finalize their lesson plan project, using the feedback provided by course instructors and peers. Participants may pursue the option of having their lesson plans considered for publication by either Colonial Williamsburg or LEARN NC. All participants will receive a course packet of the teacher-created lesson plans.

Standards Alignment


  • Goal 3: Teachers know the content they teach.
    • Objective 3.02: Teachers know the content appropriate to their teaching specialty.
    • Objective 3.04: Teachers make instruction relevant to students.
  • Goal 4: Teachers facilitate learning for their students.
    • Objective 4.02: Teachers plan instruction appropriate for their students.
    • Objective 4.03: Teachers use a variety of instructional methods.
    • Objective 4.04: Teachers integrate and utilize technology in their instruction.
    • Objective 4.05: Teachers help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


UNC - Chapel Hill