K-12 Web Archivists Capture History in the Making

by Sylvie Rollason-Cass, Web Archivist, Archive-It

This year marked the 9th season of the K-12 web archiving program. Students from 11 schools around the country worked together to think critically about information on the web and to select websites to archive for the future. Their collections are centered around topics that reflect their interests, their day-to-day lives, current events, and topics they studied in class. Each school incorporates web archiving into its curriculum differently. This year 3 teachers generously shared their experiences participating in the K-12 Web Archiving program. Find out more about their year below, and be sure to check out all of the 2016-2017 Student Collections.

Web Archiving in the Civics Classroom at Williams Middle Magnet School 

Elizabeth Smith – Civics Teacher

My name is Elizabeth Smith and I teach Grade 7 Civics at Willaims Middle Magnet School in Tampa, Florida. I was so excited when I read about this project and could not wait to apply. I am technologically challenged but always look for ways to integrate technology into my classroom. Our civics curriculum is spiraled with analysis of primary and secondary sources and this project was a great way to enrich what we were already doing. We chose Florida as our focus as many of my students wanted to learn more about the state in which they live. Students chose to research websites of their own personal and academic interest. Several said this project would help them identify areas of research for their upcoming 8th grade community project. We are looking forward to being a part of the project again during the next archiving season!

Check out William’s Middle Magnet School’s 2016-2017 Collections >>> 

Using the Wayback Machine at the Rooftop School, Samuel discovers that YouTube was originally a dating website.

“Archive/Opera” – The Studio at Mayeda at Rooftop School

Andi Wong – Teaching Artist

At Rooftop Alternative PreK-8 School in San Francisco, 40 seventh and eighth graders worked with teaching artist Andi Wong to establish The Rooftop ARTchives. The “Archive/Opera” class at the school’s Mayeda Campus gave these students the opportunity to create both the “archives” (“public records” from the Greek ta arkheia,) and the opera (new “work”).

In this tumultuous political climate, the importance of community, civic responsibility and cultural memory became clear to our students. History will record how tribes of water-protectors gathered together at Standing Rock; millions of women marched around the world in pink knitted caps; scientists worked with archivists to save climate data and disappearing government websites; and the National Parks Service went rogue on Twitter. The act of archiving requires careful consideration of the past, present and future. As our students ventured beyond the walls of their classrooms to experience the stairways, slides and expansive vistas of Twin Peaks, their open conversations led to many questions. How can we know what is missing, if something has not yet been found? How many students have graduated from Rooftop? How far does the raven fly? Will San Francisco still experience fog in one hundred years? When today’s youth are sixty-four, will they still remember the lyrics to all of the songs from Hamilton?

The Archive/Opera class culminated with a community gathering — an Open House celebration of the Mayeda Campus’ 20th Anniversary, featuring artwork, musical performances, student speeches about the archiving experience. A tea serving ceremony honored principal Nancy Mayeda and the teachers who first opened the doors to the Mayeda Campus in 1997. The evening’s program closed with the presentation of a City proclamation and the dedication of the Rooftop ARTchives. When our students were asked to reflect on what they valued most about this year’s experience, they spoke of freedom, friendship and community pride in accomplishing something important together. Many thanks to the Internet Archive, the Library of Congress and Archive-It’s K12 Web Archiving Program for helping Rooftop’s students to capture history in the making. The act of archiving gave our students a very real sense of their collective power and responsibility as the keepers of their own stories and memories.

Check out Rooftop School’s 2016-2017 Collections >>>

Reflections on the 2016-17 K12 Web Archiving Project at Mount Dora High School

Patricia Carlton, PhD – Media Specialist

Challenging adult authority may be the bailiwick of teenagers, yet when questioning the authority of the Internet, teens are not as skilled or tenacious. Web archiving presents a fun and empowering way for my high school students to critically examine the authorship and credibility of the Internet, as well as identify what is historically and culturally significant. When this year’s web-archiving students began selecting and creating collections for the archive, I suggested they peer more closely under the hood of each site and object. What did they discover from their crawls that wasn’t immediately apparent from their first “reading” of the website? The following quotes excerpted from a sampling of the students’ final review and evaluation of the project reveal the type of discoveries made regarding their collections and the Internet in general.

The web is an extremely important factor in preserving things in order to view them in later years. The web, in my opinion is also much easier and more accessible to a wider range of people. While on the web, you have to be extremely careful on what you consider a reliable source. – Felicia

I have learned that the web is very contradictory and is filled with differing opinions, facts, and beliefs, and you normally can find an answer you like if you search long enough, despite general public beliefs. – Kacee

Most students assumed greater responsibility for controlling their crawls than my previous web-archivers, evidenced by their attention to their crawl scopes and carefully crafted descriptions at both collection and seed level metadata. The 2016-17 cohort “authored” their respective collections and even added corresponding MLA citations! They believed not only in the significance of their collections (conspiracy theories, political memes, and chick flicks to mention a few), but they also believed they were contributing new knowledge – real, meaningful content to the Internet that someone, someday might discover. And, their teen voices would be the authority behind their interpretation and curation!

Check out Mount Dora’s 2016-2017 Collections >>>

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