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Social Studies Storytelling in Statesboro kicked off on May 27

Every town has a story to tell. 

Georgia Southern University undergraduate elementary education students, in tandem with faculty and local public history experts, are bringing Statesboro’s history to life with a new digital walking tour, which launched on May 27. 

Highlighting Statesboro’s evolution since its establishment in 1803, the digital walking tour showcases the told and untold stories of important historical sites in downtown Statesboro through the Open Tour app, featuring links to student-curated sources, written content and inquiry questions. 

“We hope that this digital walking tour will allow an increased number of local residents and tourists to technologically access and actively engage with place-based narratives and interpretative resources in our Statesboro, Georgia, community,” stated Ariel Cornett, Ph.D., assistant professor of elementary social studies in Georgia Southern’s College of Education. “The digital walking tour app would not be possible without the generous support of Georgia Humanities, Georgia Southern University Museum, Georgia Southern College of Education, Bulloch County Historical Society, Statesboro-Bulloch County Library and Downtown Statesboro Development Authority.”

The kick-off event, “Social Studies Storytelling in Statesboro,” began with a tour that highlighted historical venues featured on the app. Guests met in the Statesboro-Bulloch County Library’s Community Room and culminated at the historic Jaeckel Hotel that now serves as the Statesboro City Hall.

To facilitate thoughtful processes and research material for the app, Cornett implemented a field-trip learning structure for students in her fall 2021 and spring 2022 Elementary Social Studies Methods classes while they visited both the Georgia Southern University Museum and downtown Statesboro. 

“I wanted them to utilize both their student and teacher perspectives to think about how they would facilitate an elementary social studies field-trip experience,” Cornett explained. “Dr. Brent Tharp, who is the director of the museum and vice president of programs for the Bulloch County Historical Society, was extremely supportive of this goal. Then, I also took my students downtown to the library where Ms. Lillian Wingate, who is an expert on local history and genealogy, gave us a walking tour of downtown Statesboro. That experience informed my students’ selection of their historical site.”

Narrowing their choices, each student researched one historical site in downtown Statesboro. They gathered information on the local economics, geography, history, civics and government of their chosen historical sites while citing their primary, secondary and tertiary sources. Following, they wrote inquiry questions that directly linked to Georgia elementary social studies standards. 

The student-curated sources, written content and inquiry questions are embedded in the app and can serve as primers on local history.

“If you are a local resident or tourist using this digital walking tour and want to stop in front of downtown historical sites to have a conversation about them, it gives you inquiry questions that can guide your conversation,” noted Cornett.

The Statesboro Convention & Visitors Bureau also offers a QR code for the app to visitors looking to explore the downtown area.


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