Web Quest Teacher’s Guide: “Then and Now”

Boy with Teacher






The students will compare contemporary American life with American life in previous time periods as well as comparing current school and community with past school and community.

SOL Correlation

History 1.1, 1.2, 2.2

Time Needed

A total of approximately three hours, possibly 2.5- 3 class periods.

Resources Needed

Camera or digital camera and computers with worldwide web access. The oldest available photographs of your school that you can find. If your school is not more than 50 years old or you cannot locate a picture, the same activity can be done with historical photographs of buildings in your community such as churches, town halls, or libraries. Also, photographs of a section of your town or community may be used where the functions and purposes of the buildings have changed over time.

Teacher Preparation

The teacher will have to spend time looking at the “Then and Now” website. The teacher will also need to locate any photographs of their school or any materials that reflect when it was built and what it looked like when it was built, as well as acquiring a brief history of the building.


Warm up Activity: Analyzing Photographs

Present students with photographs of familiar community buildings, ex: local church, city hall, or library. Have students examine the photograph for 3-5 minutes, then ask students questions such as:

  • How does the building look different now from what it looked like in the picture?
  • How old do you think this building is?
  • What do you think this building could have been used for in the past?
  • If you could be part of this picture, actually in the picture, where would you be and what would you be doing?

Web Quest Activity

1. The students will begin by viewing the “Then and Now” website found in the Jackson Davis database.

2. The teacher will then ask the students to answer questions about these photographs on the website including:

  • In which sets of pictures do you see the most differences?
  • List the differences you see.
  • What do you think happened inside these buildings when they were first built?
  • What do you think happens in these buildings today?
  • What do you think had to be changed in order to make these buildings useful today?
  • Looking at the pictures of the Amherst Indian Mission School, list some ways that the schools in the past are different from schools of today?

3. The teacher will then instruct the students that they are going to compare current pictures of their school, or community buildings, with older pictures of their school or community to learn about the changes a community goes through over time. (Note: Even if your school or building is only a few years old, there should still be some noticeable differences in things such as the condition of the Grounds ex: shrubs, grass etc.)

4. The teacher will present the students with pictures of their school from the past. Then, with the students, take current pictures of their school from the same angle.

5. After the pictures have been taken, the students will be asked to compare the two different pictures.

6. The students will be asked to work in groups of 3-4 and:

  • List the differences in appearance they see between the two pictures.
  • Describe either in writing or orally, what they think school would have been like during the time when the picture was taken.
  • Rank their list of differences on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the biggest difference they found.
  • Have the students pick a spokesperson who will explain to the rest of the class what characteristic their group picked to be most different and why.

Extension Activities and Resources

  • Have students research the history of their school or community building and create timelines, reports or biographies about the life of their school or a building in their community.
  • Have students interview a grandparent, or community member to gain information about the history their school or a certain building in their community.