By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate the legacy of Ballou Senior High School and Frank W. Ballou in the Congress Heights neighborhood.
  • Design a class exhibit for the history of Ballou Senior High School.
  • Justify the inclusion of a single artifact for the exhibit through a brief paper.


DCPS Content and Skills Standards:

United States History - 11th Grade 

  • 11.4. Students analyze the changing landscape, including the growth of cities and development of cities divided by race, ethnicity, and class.
D.C. History and Government - 12th Grade
  • 12.DC.10. Students compare the employment (e.g., skilled and unskilled trades, entrepreneurs) and educational opportunities (e.g., elementary through postsecondary training) for white and black Washingtonians.
  • 12.DC.15. Students describe efforts to overcome discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, and education in the District (examine the National Committee on Segregation), and explain the local and national effects of these efforts.

Historical and Social Studies Skills

  • 9-12.HCI.1: Students compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past events and decisions and determining the lessons that were learned.
  • 9-12.HCI.3: Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.
  • 9-12.HCI.4: Students recognize the complexity of historical causes and effects, including the limitations on determining cause and effect.
  • 9-12.HCI.6: Students interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded rather than present-day norms and values.
  • 9-12.HREP.4: Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations.


Daily Handout

All questions and portions of the lesson are included in this handout.

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Warm Up

Warm-Up: Students use this time to compile the data from the community survey.  The front board should be prepared for them to write answers to each of the survey questions.

As classmates arrive, they each try to make meaning from the results and answer the following questions.

1.  In general, what do people think is the significance of Frank W. Ballou?

2.  Do people associate positive or negative words with the Old Ballou?  What words are most frequent?

3.  Do people think it’s a good idea for us to have a new school building?

New Material

New Material:  The following text is included in the handout to explain the reasoning behind the project. 

We shape how people view Ballou.  Yes, there are many things out of our control, but that’s no reason for us not to put our best foot forward and celebrate who we are as Ballou Knights.  A part of creating a distinct identity is celebrating the parts of the past for which to feel pride – and understanding the parts of the past for which to feel shame.

Historians don’t just read old documents and write books that collect dust.  Historians debate the meaning of the past and help shape our perceptions of the present.  One important outcome of this is the creation of exhibits in museums.

During the summer of 2013, Mr. Evans visited the Sumner School, which holds the existing historical records for all DC Public Schools.  Here there are several floors of displays celebrating a rich history of public education in the District, but notably absent is any mention of Frank W. Ballou Senior High School – except a small portrait of Dr. Ballou.

Our task is to collect artifacts to be included in an exhibit celebrating the Old Ballou.  Each student will be responsible for locating an artifact and arguing for it’s inclusion in the exhibit.


Guided Practice: Before we start collecting, there are several decisions the class needs to make.  Students will record the class decisions during the discussion.  It might be a good tactic to have them write their first thoughts on one section of the blank space, then the final decision on the second.

4.  Who is the audience for our exhibit?Where will it be on display?

5.  Should our exhibit challenge or support perceptions from the community?Which ones?Why?

6.  In general, do we celebrate, condemn, or complicate the Old Ballou?Why?

7.  Should we include Dr. Ballou in any of our exhibits?Why or why not?

Independent Practice: To be completed by individual students.

8.  What item that best represents your time at Ballou? Describe it.

9.  From our research, what are some of the most significant changes at Ballou over the past 54 years? Are there any items that might represent those?

10.  Do you want your artifact to paint a positive or negative picture of the Old Ballou?

Each student must have a different artifact, though you may include the same type. 

A football jersey from 1962 is not the same as one from 2013.

Be nice.  If there is an uncivil argument, neither student will be eligible to use that artifact.

11.  List three potential artifacts, as well as what each will reveal about the Old Ballou.

12. Which of these items best fits with the overall message of the exhibit, as agreed to by the class?

13.  My artifact will be: ____________________.

Project Rubric on the back of this Sheet


Project Rubric

These guidelines are general, as requirements such as length will be tailored to individual classes. Nonetheless, each student is responsible for the elements included in the rubric. Each student is required to practice sourcing, collecting evidence, contextualization, historical questioning, argument construction, and writing in completing this assignment.

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Closure and Reflection

Exit Slip:   This question is included to get students to realize the hardest work can still leave some questions unanswered.  I honestly have no idea why we picked this mascot.  We're not medieval Europe

14.  Why are we the Knights?