Four classes of 8th grade students at Higgins Peabody Middle School are teaming up with the North Shore Mall in Peabody to create an interactive history-based walk for mall visitors to enjoy.
As part of the Park for Every Classroom program offered through Essex Heritage and the National Park Service, Library Media Specialist, Sudi Smoller, and Technology Integration Specialist, Jarred Haas, have developed a place-based service learning project with history teacher, Anthony Furnari. These teachers and their students are working with partners at the Northshore Mall, Peabody Historical Society, and the Peabody Institute Library, to research the history of the property where the Northshore Mall now stands. Students will eventually create a walking circuit with historical panel stops featuring interactive web-based content that can be accessed via “Quick Response” or QR codes. Mall visitors will simply use their mobile devices to get a glimpse of the unique history of the mall property.
From Native Americans to early settlers to modern-day businesses, the stories of the mall property that students uncover and share will give shoppers, walkers, and all other mall visitors the opportunity to understand the layers of history that have affected the North Shore region. For example, the “Eppes Winter Sweeting Apple,” named for settler Daniel Eppes, was developed on site when the property was an orchard in the early 1700s.
While their research is about the past, the students are developing decidedly modern skills. Students will be conducting interviews with mall users and businesses, creating interactive websites, and working collaboratively via web-based document sharing as they connect with their “place” through the project. One student commented, “We are really making our own history with this project.”
Teachers see this as a multi-year project which may involve more disciplines over time, and have created a website to document project progress.