Stewarding the natural and cultural resources of the Cienega Watershed of Southeastern Arizona.

Lesson Plan Unit One

Unit One: Shared History and Creating Personal Timelines


Students will learn about the efforts to create a shared history of the watershed and understand why this is important. Students will create personal timelines that reflect their path of presently living in the watershed. The timeline will begin to establish their personal connection to the watershed. By developing their own timelines, students will see that they themselves are a source of historical data.

Note: The activity can begin in the classroom, but students will need to ask relatives for help filling in missing dates and information.


  1. Pre-project assessment: Distribute the questionnaire to the class. Tell students that they should not try to guess the answers. If they don’t know, it’s best to write ‘I don’t know’ so you can more accurately assess their learning.
  2. Distribute Student Note Page – this page is provided so students can be accountable for the information in the presentation.
  3. Give an overview of the project using the PowerPoint file provided. Use the notes for the slides to talk about the project’s components and to introduce the idea of a “Shared History.”
  4. Creating Personal Timelines:

    Ask students: How did you come to be in this watershed?  How has your past affected your life today?
    Materials: notebook paper, blank paper, family history information

    1. Ask students to begin by making a list of the life events that have led up to their family living in this area. 
    2. Once the students have completed their lists on notebook paper, use the blank paper in landscape orientation to draw a line across the middle of the paper for their timeline. Have students place their life events along the line in chronological order to make a visual representation of the events that led up to their living in the watershed. For more background go to
  5. Discussion: Conduct a class discussion of the timelines. Have students think about the reasons their families live here.  Some factors students will list may include economic opportunities, to be near family, climate, etc.
  6. Family’s Connection to the Watershed: Have students relate their family history to the watershed’s history. Ask students to select three different dates from their personal timelines. Use the Shared History videos to see what was going on in the watershed on those dates.


Levstik, Linda S., Barton, Keith C.. (1996), Doing History: Investigating with Elementary and Middle School Students.

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