Blue Ridge Parkway: Educators' Guide

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This lesson is intended to complement a Story of the American South: The Blue Ridge Parkway Experience. After reading The Blue Ridge Parkway Experience, students will determine an area of interest related to the story, research that topic through the Driving Through Time resources, and develop a digital historical narrative to share their research and understanding.


For the Students:

For the Teacher:

Essential Questions

How does human/societal progress impact landscape and smaller communities?

In what ways did the implementation of the Parkway affect the land and physical environment?

Opening Activity

Students will read the Blue Ridge Parkway Experience. As they read, students should make note of the materials and themes which strike their interest. Be sure to allow students sufficient time to explore all of the materials in the story, as it is both a narrative and a gateway to a sampling of the materials available in the Driving Through Time digital collection.

Students should share their areas of interest and the class should be grouped into topics by interest. Sample Topics may include:

  • Landscaping
  • Planning Maps
  • Blasting & Grading
  • Construction (Building, Road, Bridge)
  • Tunnels
  • Immigration & The Parkway
  • Parkway Workers
  • Newspapers and the Parkway
  • Signage
  • Support Structures (Buildings, Organizations, Staffing etcetera)
  • Driving

Main Activities

Activity One: Research

Using the Driving Through Time search page, students research the effect of the implementation of the Parkway through the lens of their chosen topic. Students may focus on a topic as it relates to the Parkway as a whole or a specific community. Student groups should search the Driving Through Time collection for relevant materials (photographs, oral histories, overlooks, maps, drawings, articles, editorials) and share them with their group members.

  • "Hi-Tech" - Using a social bookmarking site like Zotero, Diigo, Delicious to create a group and share bookmarks of found resources
  • "Low-Tech" - Create individual lists/print-outs to share with a group

Activity Two: Planning

Students should organize and review their research as a group to identify sub-topics and trends within their topic. It may help for them to arrange their materials chronologically to see potential directions for their narrative.

Students must determine an individual or set of individuals who can narrate this digital historical story. These individuals can certainly be fictional (although they must be realistic) historical figures.

Activity Three: Writing

Students should create a storyboard, including the text, images, documents and other components. This storyboard process will ensure a coherent narrative, as well as save time by enabling students to split up duties.

Similar in appearance to a comic strip, the storyboard should include some, if not all, of the following:

  • text
  • images
  • music/oral histories
  • primary source documents
  • script for narration

Closing Activity

Creating: Using a multimedia presentation program, each student group creates a digital historical narrative using text, images and primary source documents to tell their Blue Ridge Parkway story from the point of view of an interested individual. Student groups should share their final products with the class.