Technology Access Foundation Columbia City: A Portrait of a Neighborhood
Columbia City: A Portrait of a Neighborhood

Columbia City: A Portrait of a Neighborhood


Groups: 7 groups of 3 students

Objective: Gather primary data on an urban neighborhood

Understand and practice several google map features

Explore on-line archives for historical information and artifacts

Project Result: A personalized google map highlighting features and information about the neighborhood


The following curriculum is designed for student in 6-8th grade. In TechStart, students in this grade grouping typically explore social issues and then use tools such as Photoshop and code such as HTML to create final products that in some way incorporate the theme. For instance, last year’s students analyzed and interrogated media images from the standpoint of gender, race, and class and then created their own Ad Buster-like advertisements using Photoshop.


Generally our projects last the entire quarter—about 10 weeks, and they incorporate team-, skill-, and self-esteem building activities. We intersperse our hour and half long sessions with mini-lessons on how to use particular technologies. We also gather data to help ease the kids into understanding academic inquiry. One of our curriculum goals is to spend 60% of our bi-weekly sessions “workshopping” the tools while producing the content of the projects.


The project that we, as 6-8th grade students, will go through tomorrow should be considered as a snapshot of a larger curricular project on neighborhood change and gentrification. Put into a project-based learning (PBL) centralizing question, we ask: How has Columbia City changed over time? And what are the costs and benefits of this change? Our goal with such a question is to have students come to know the issue in more complicated terms—hopefully complexifying the issue, and getting away from simple dichotomies in order to form a meaningful understanding of neighborhood change. Again, today is just a snapshot, so we will only briefly touch on the issue.


It is your goal this morning to get to know the neighborhood of Columbia City. What better way to do that than to explore its streets, buildings, and people?


Project Agenda (Directions)


8:30 Meet your group in front of TAF at 8:30 am and pick up assignment. TAF is located at the corner of Edmunds Street. S. and Rainier Ave. You can drop off your belongings before venturing off into the neighborhood. Once your group has convened, walk to your assigned block and gather data.


If you were working with children and teens, you’d collectively put together the table for data gathering. For time sake, we’ve attached a sheet, but please feel free to add a column or two for data that your group would like to capture about your assigned block.

9:15 Reconvene at TAF


9:20 Mini-lesson: google map functions


9:40 Practice using the google tools


10:15 Round Robin Sharing

This exercise also assumes that students have some prior knowledge of the terms being used. For instance, a precursor to this activity would include a discussion of types of data, and mini-practice sessions on gathering data. Additionally an exercise like the one above would likely extend over several sessions in order for students to wallow in the information and tools—investigate and play. There would also be a quick lesson on writing a paragraph with a topic sentence and support in order for the youth to reinforce formalized writing structures as they describe details about the neighborhood. The lesson would likely be followed by longtime residents of the neighborhood coming in and being interviewed by the kids.



Standards Hit:



In progess

Photo Archives





University of Washington- Collections- Digital

1) Libraries
2) Collections
3) Digital Collections The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History


1) Seattle Neighborhoods

Seattle Public Library

1) Databases
& Web Sites
2) Local History


Seattle Municipal Archives



Seattle Government Website at

1) Community
2) Housing and Neighborhoods
a) Historic Preservation
b) Neighborhood Development
c) In Your Neighborhood


If you include photos from any of these sites in your map, please credit the site in the caption of the photo.

Useful links
Last updated  2008/09/28 01:32:15 PDTHits  158