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Eighth graders in Raleigh uncover family secrets, stories in classroom

LEARN NC’s project with to create a teaching guide for using Ancestry resources in teaching social studies and history was the subject of a story on WUNC, the National Public Radio affiliate in Chapel Hill.

The story looks at how students at Durant Road Middle School use to dig into their own family histories.

“I was surprised at how many kids didn’t know what I thought were pretty basic things, like even where their parents were born,” Kristen Ziller, the school’s media specialist, told WUNC. Ziller was one of the educators who worked on developing the teaching guide in the LEARN NC/Ancestry collaboration.

Ziller told the station that by digging into the documentation of their own family stories, history comes alive and students make connections with the past.

“Their social studies curriculum comes alive or characters in books and they’re like ‘Woah that was like Nana,’” Ziller said.

The students spent weeks doing research, then putting together presentations featuring images, timelines and videos.

One 14-year-old boy – Mario Eason – discovered that a great-great uncle in 1921 had killed his brother-in-law with an ax.

“When I tell people their mouths drop to the floors and they’re like ‘What, really?’” Eason said.

The WUNC story, including an audio version of the story, is here.

A story on the School of Education website about the LEARN NC/ collaboration is here.