Heritage, 2009, Volume 3 Page: 26
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"New Deal for Texas Parks" Website
Using the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website as a
classroom resource for teaching Texas history might seem like
an unusual choice, but sometimes a worthwhile learning tool
can be found in an unexpected place. This is certainly the case
with TPWD's "A New Deal for Texas Parks" website (http://
www.tpwd.state.tx.us/ccc), which features an online, interactive,
educational exhibit documenting the impact of the New Deal-
era on the people, communities, and landscape of the Lone Star
State. Developed for teachers and students of Texas history, the
site incorporates a wealth and diversity of primary source materi-
als geared toward meeting state educational standards. However,
while "A New Deal for Texas Parks" may offer a classroom course
of study, the well-executed, interactive design easily invites ex-
ploration by history enthusiasts of all ages.
The TPWD's New Deal website was funded, in part, by Hu-
manities Texas' Linden Heck Howell Texas History grant, which
encourages the development of K-12 instructional materials for
teaching Texas history. Sarah Lisle, project manager for the web-
site, says that the online program serves as a much-needed addi-
tion to what teachers and administrators described as a limited
availability of 20th century Texas history educational resources
for classroom use. She adds, "We felt that using an interactive
multimedia exhibit to connect tangible resources from the De-
pression era would encourage students to discover history in their
own communities and foster appreciation of the contributions of
the Civilian Conservation Corps."
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Designed graphically as a scrapbook, five theme-based sec-
tions-Depression and Relief; Nature Lovers: Texas Parks and
Public Lands; Building Parks, Building Communities; Keeping
the Boys Busy; and CCC Legacies-provide a wealth of infor-
mation on this historic era. The scrapbook's pages open up to
display topic-related photos, artifacts, and informative passages.
On the page opposite each theme introduction, a "my keepsake"
icon appears on a large envelope; clicking the icon opens up a
downloadable, TEKS-compliant learning guide for that section.
Each keepsake is a series of writing/thinking activities designed
to further engage students as they explore the chosen theme.
Primary source materials include editorial cartoons, personal
letters, campaign buttons, and magazine articles; clicking on an
artifact not only enlarges the picture but also gives a description
of the item and an explanatory caption. Additionally, embedded
within some pages are links to audio and visual source materi-
als, including period-music, oral histories, news reel videos, and
historic speeches. Students can view a promotional video for the
National Relief Association, a New Deal government program,
or read an authentic CCC form letter, which was sent home to
family members and described daily life in the camps, or watch
videos of oral history interviews with CCC camp alumni.
While there are no plans to add more thematic content to the
"A New Deal for Texas Parks" interactive program, Lisle says that
the TPWD is currently putting the finishing touches on a com-
prehensive, printable curriculum for teachers. -Parn Murtha
HERITAGE Volume 3 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 3, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254214/m1/26/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.