From the contributor:
World History can get very boring and distant quickly, and I am always looking for ways to make it come alive for my students. This is a project that I gained ideas from and built upon from one of my projects in college. Ancestry.com allows you to create a free account and lets you build a family tree without needing to pay any fees. I believe some other ancestry websites do as well but I am not familiar with those programs.
My students were able to create a family tree quite easily and follow their ancestry back to the 16th and 17th century. Once they had their family tree created, I had them make observations about their ancestors and make historical connections to their family. In reflecting on the reports the students wrote, I would require “x” amount of historical connections. I had good feedback from students and parents about this project. I think some got their parents and grandparents involved, which is always wonderful. I had students say this helped bring history so much closer to home and make it less distant.
One downside is that you may have a student or two that do not have much information about their family, and their tree comes to a quick end. This can be frustrating because the other students are getting so excited about what they are discovering and they are not getting anywhere. I tailored that student’s assignments and tried to help them grow their family tree as much as possible. The more information about a person, the better suggestions ancestry.com will give for the next person.
Below are instructions I used for my class. Feel free to edit the documents. Make them your own. Have fun with it.
I highly suggest making your own tree and using that as an example to get students excited!