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IMGALTTAG Volume VII: Pittsburgh Landmarks and Parks


Trees of Pittsburgh
By Doris Braun
Mifflin Elementary School

The purpose of this unit is to enable my students to develop an appreciation of the beauty, usefulness, and variety of trees. Since my classes will be visiting Pittsburgh parks, we will focus on the trees of Pittsburgh. I plan to discuss the history of trees as well as the many different types of deciduous and coniferous trees found in the Pittsburgh parks. I would expect my students to identify the main parts of a tree and to be able to list the many uses and products of trees. This will be accomplished through several trips to the park and by doing computer and library research.

I am currently teaching Science, grades 1-5. Next year I expect to be teaching Grade 5, Science, Language Arts, and Math. The unit includes activities for grades 1-5 for the fall, winter and spring seasons. The activities described in this unit will allow my students to meet many of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Communication, Math, and Science standards. They will also be able to meet the portfolio requirements of a personal narrative, a persuasive essay, a response to information, and a research paper. Of course, any of the books that the students read would count toward the 25-book requirement of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.


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Pittsburgh: From The Point to Frick Park
Guy Clafshenkel
Carrick High School 

I have been a life long Pittsburgher, and I know quite a bit of local history. Yet, in no way can I claim to know all, or even a sizable portion of the parks and landmarks of our fair city. Given the sheer volume of characters alone both famous and infamous, which have passed through Pittsburgh over the years, and the methods of remembering them, it may well be a life-long task to research all the possible answers to a seemingly simple question such as, “Why is this here?”

This Socratic method of questioning is what I would employ in my unit on Pittsburgh Parks and Landmarks. The beauty of questioning is that answers to questions often raise further questions, which require further thought.

The rationale for this unit is the hope that students will gain an appreciation of the importance of Pittsburgh in the development of America as a nation; from an agrarian settlement to a world power. It is further hoped that students will be able to describe and analyze the transformation of Pittsburgh from a frontier town to an industrial metropolis.


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Pittsburgh- Let’s Read, Write, and Explore
By Ellen Connelly
Mifflin School

This curriculum unit is designed for middle school students and is specifically targeted for sixth grade Communications students. This unit will explore the rich history of Pittsburgh. The purpose of the unit is to help students discover the history of their city by researching its many historic landmarks and interesting people. Students will explore specific Pittsburgh landmarks and influential people associated with the city. Students will be directed to online and print resources that will complete their understanding of Pittsburgh’s Landmarks and famous people. Throughout the course of the unit specific district standards will be met in the Communications area.


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Landmarks:  Preserving Our Past
Amy B. Davies
Taylor Allderdice High School

This unit is intended to supplement the ninth grade civics curriculum.  Students are introduced to “landmarks” and their use in documenting history. Students will examine landmarks at the national, state, and local levels and learn about the organizations that designate landmarks at all three levels. This unit uses the internet as a research tool to examine landmarks. Students will also study local landmarks that have national, state or local significance. The unit also includes a study of Kennywood Park, which was designated a national historic landmark in 1987. Throughout the unit, various civics skills are reinforced as students learn about Pittsburgh’s landmarks.


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Meet Me by the Mother’s Statue
Mary Ann Gaser 

Meet Me by the Mother’s Statue, requires the students to study Pittsburgh’s public sculptures then plan, design and construct a public sculpture. The students are required to develop a site map, preliminary drawings and a scale model of the proposed sculpture. The students will present and defend their design to their peers. The course is designed for seventh and eighth grade students who attend the Pittsburgh Gifted Center one day a week. It is appropriate for other grades.


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Celebrate Pittsburgh through Public Sculpture and Architecture
Joanne Marie Hattrup
Grandview Elementary

This unit, Celebrate Pittsburgh through Public Sculpture and Architecture, explores a variety of Pittsburgh’s parks, sculptures, landmarks, and buildings that were designed and built within the past two centuries. The unit provides opportunities for children to observe how artists see and design art. The initial exploration features historically and artistically noteworthy landmarks in close proximity to the students’ neighborhood and school, then it extends to architecture and monuments throughout the city. It features places where students and their families and friends go to school, work, and play. Students reflect upon their prior knowledge of architecture-their houses, apartments, school buildings, churches, and city skyscrapers- all structures, which are built to provide shelter. They expand upon their personal reality to see how architecture is an avenue to trace history, people’s legacies, entertaining stories, and artistic elements about Pittsburgh.  Students build their knowledge and understanding of sculpture as they focus on public art and outdoor sculpture ranging from relief sculptures, friezes on buildings, chiseled forms, and statutes in parks. The sculptural forms embrace heroes, sports figures, gargoyles, panthers, and even dinosaurs. Children investigate Dinomite Days, the temporary sculpture installation in 2003, the new acquisition for the Pittsburgh Convention Center carved by Thaddeus Mosley, and a projected site delegated to be a 19th Century Mary Cassatt Impressionist Memorial Garden, to be unveiled on the North Side, in 2005.

After students complete their investigation of parks and monuments, document the process in their art journal, and analyze each piece of public sculpture and architecture’s unique characteristics, they will begin to see how landmarks develop more value in their lives and communities. They will apply their knowledge and imagination, to make judgments and preferences to plan, sketch and make collages, construct paper forms, and create clay sculptures.

During a period of six to nine weeks, third, fourth, and fifth graders will be immersed in art, architecture, and sculpture in their community. Students meet for forty-five minute classes, approximately six times each month. The unit contains activities and lessons that span nine weeks, which may easily be adjusted to meet different needs.


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The Pittsburgh Time Machine-Back in Time
By Cathy Horowitz
Woolslair Elementary

This unit is intended to supplement the third grade study of Pittsburgh. It will emphasize the use of technology both as a motivator and as a medium for student expression. The main focus of the unit will be an electronic timeline which each student will save on the hard drive and on a CD throughout the year. The first 20 or 30 years of the timeline will be a trip back in the student’s and his/her family’s life. Then we’ll drop back around 250 years and study Pittsburgh from its earliest times to the present. We will mount student printouts of their timeline power points on sentence strip for display. We will display two or three at a time for a few weeks and then replace them with others as the year goes on. Thus, they will serve to show the student’s work as well as reinforce the lessons. Besides the history of Pittsburgh, the unit will concentrate on history and development in the Strip District and Lawrenceville, two geographic regions close to Woolslair Elementary School.


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Strolling through the Park
By Barbara C. Kengor
Pittsburgh Gifted Center

Strolling through the Park is a study of the four great parks of Pittsburgh. Highland Park, Schenley Park, Riverview Park and Frick Park are dealt with in this curriculum. Each park is looked at historically by having students investigate a landmark or significant structure housed in or near the park. The recreational opportunities available in each park are reviewed and experienced through the curriculum. Lastly, the natural habitat formed by each park is studied as students learn about biodiversity and sustainable resources.

The primary goal of this curriculum is to educate Pittsburgh students about the rich history and vast resources of their city parks. The secondary goal of this curriculum is to promote healthy and active experiences for students that will carry over into their family life.


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Schenley Park
Candace Morgan
Schenley High School

One of the most attractive features of Pittsburgh is the considerable amount of “green space” within the city limits. This is not typical of urban areas the size of Pittsburgh, and I think that those of us who have lived in Pittsburgh all our lives often take it for granted. Pittsburgh’s four city parks – Schenley, Frick, Highland and Riverview – have long provided Pittsburghers with a natural setting for a wide variety of recreational activities. The parks are part of Pittsburgh’s culture and history. The very existence of the city parks is part of the story of the growth of the steel industry which is such a big part of Pittsburgh’s unique identity. The same people who were such powerful forces in Pittsburgh’s industrial history were also key figures in the history of Pittsburgh’s system of city parks. By learning more about Pittsburgh’s city parks and their development, we can come to a deeper understanding of the social, historical and economic forces that helped form Pittsburgh.

Schenley Park was Pittsburgh’s first park and is still the “flagship” of the city’s park system. This curriculum unit will take an in-depth look at the history, ecology, and significance of this major Pittsburgh asset, and present a flexible set of activities that will enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the importance of Schenley Park in particular and urban public parks in general.


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Public Parks:  A System in Crisis
Helen M. Norfleet
Pittsburgh Gifted Center

Few features of the American landscape and culture have the name recognition of national and state parks. Every year millions of people enjoy visiting them. They cause us to think, reflect and reverence nature’s beauty. However, more and more natural parks are becoming the focus of tourism and human entertainment, instead of the place where animals roam freely and safely enjoy their habitat in a natural and protected environment. The issue of how national and state parks can be managed to meet the needs of both human society and natural ecosystems arises.

The curriculum unit, “Public Parks: A System in Crisis”, is an interdisciplinary unit aimed at increasing students’ awareness of the issues facing the public park system and how their visit impacts on the ecology, wildlife, air quality, water and even monuments. It is also aimed at helping students understand that there is an ongoing compromise between conservation and the use of public parks. The activities are designed for middle school students, but could be extended for high school students. The unit is divided into four parts. Part One explains what a National Park is and how it gets its designation so students can have an historical starting point. Part Two focus on the historic and modern day use of two local public parks and the problems they face. Part Three examines what it takes to manage a public park by exploring the various careers in Park Services, and Part Four culminates in the construction of a park.


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Architecture of Pittsburgh Parks and Landmarks
D. Russell Peters
Carrick High School

The World of Architecture is all around us. It has been one of man’s conquests to bring the thrill of lasting beauty to the eye of the beholder. Sensitivity to design, skill in drawing techniques, and a knowledge of the latest construction materials and the combination of these abilities yields the outstanding architecture of Pittsburgh’s Parks and Landmarks.

This unit will develop a student’s eye toward historical trends in how the architect of the time communicated between the needs of the client, public, and user as a whole, and the standard construction techniques of the time period. The decision-making process and critical thinking that is involved in designing a room, a building, or a city will allow them to open up to new insights and ideas on how the architects of these older structures (as well as new) balance the function, aesthetic, economic, environmental and safety factors into finding an appropriate solution to the needs at hand.


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Pittsburgh Scavenger Hunt for High School Students
Patrick K. Schlemmer
Carrick High School

This unit, designed for my English 3 CAS class, is intended to help them connect to the geographic, cultural, and historic landmarks in the Greater Pittsburgh area. My students will work cooperatively in small groups to research and create a set of clues concerning specific landmarks, and then to research and solve a different set of clues. The process of creating and solving the clues will require extensive research and creativity.

This unit will take students out of the classroom, individually and as a group, to the sites and locations of existing landmarks as well as places that no longer exist. The end products of the unit will include a detailed journal that describes the entire process and which will also include artifacts gathered from various landmarks. Each group will also make a Power Point presentation detailing their efforts.


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Discovering Geometry at Kennywood Park
J. Jay Slosky
Taylor Allderdice High School

This unit enhances the ninth grade PSP geometry curriculum. It provides students the opportunity to learn more about one of Pittsburgh’s national landmarks, Kennywood Park, while reviewing the major content standards in geometry. Students will study the history of Kennywood Park, and apply concepts studied throughout the year using various aspects of Kennywood Park to solve problems. The culminating activity in the unit will be a field trip to the park. The students will work in teams to solve a series of mathematical problems throughout the park.


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Pittsburgh Parks and Landmarks
Ask Not What Your City Can Do For You-But What You Can Do For Your City
David J Walchesky
Carrick High School

The school and the community would receive invaluable benefits from developing a close working partnership. I believe that creating this curriculum unit is a fantastic opportunity for the school to reach into the Pittsburgh community and enlighten the students to the wonderful offerings that are available for them to experience. The community would be more willing to publicly support the school, while the school would be ultimately providing more benefits for the children. Making the school and its children a vital part of the community would increase safety and develop a sense of pride and ownership. Also, a close partnership between the school and its community would develop into a positive and beneficial public relations system and program.


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Chatham University
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IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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