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Background of the Project

In July of 2002, teachers from Houston schools participated in a Summer Institute at Rice University with the theme “Your Community in History.” The Institute was part of a grant to Rice University from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

_____The Institute encouraged teachers to initiate oral history projects within their own communities. Ms. Paula Cooper who teaches at Hogg Middle School took up the challenge. Her school is located in the old Houston Heights, a neighborhood that has changed from a largely Anglo community to a diverse community where the majority of the public school students are from Hispanic backgrounds.

_____Approximately two miles from the school is an area of Houston that was the first African-American town incorporated in Texas, a town with a disappearing history. Very few current Houston residents are familiar with Independence Heights, its boundaries, its history, or its legacy. With the help of Mrs. Vivian Hubbard Seals, Mr. Charles Bolton, and staff from Rice University Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning, Ms. Cooper initiated a COMMUNITY IN HISTORY project. Independence Heights provided a place for students to learn about local African American history from a community literally in their own backyard!

____Ms. Cooper’s enthusiasm was contagious. Mr. Edwin Rose, a fifth grade teacher from nearby Burrus Elementary School, prepared his students to join Cooper’s students in conducting videotaped interviews. Hogg students worked with Ms. Cooper and Mr. Francisco Blasco in digitizing and editing the interviews.

____After listening to the interviews, students worked with Mr. David Rogers, a Hogg English teacher, to summarize the interviews and create Power Point presentations. Burrus Elementary students, with the guidance of their art teacher, Ms. Bridgette Phillips, created paintings depicting historically significant events and places in the community. The Houston Museum of Fine Arts displayed the students’ work.

_____In the summer of 2003, three students from Hogg Middle School participated in a month-long internship at Rice University; they created illustrations, helped organize material, and wrote their reflections about their experiences.

We hope you enjoy their work!

Leslie Miller
Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning
Rice University

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