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Closet of Curiosities

Posted by Margaret on September 11, 2011 at 8:50 PM

In order for teachers to develop a natural desire tolearn in each of their students, they must allow the students to expand theircuriosities and discover answers for themselves.  It is not enough to read from a text book togain information.  Students must learnthrough creative play, dramatic recreations, impromptu field studies,discussions, and debates.   In short,students learn better by doing.  Sincemuch of history has been formed by hypotheses and speculation rather than coldhard facts, Social Studies is the perfect discipline to engage students inmaking deductions and forming inferences to draw conclusions.  

            In order to utilize the interrelatedthemes of production, distribution, and consumption I use an instructionalstrategy known as a jigsaw.  One year, Idecided to implement a jigsaw-style strategy into a cumulative yearly review.   Alongwith my students, we turned our classroom into a museum.  The students named our museum, “Crayne’s Closet of Curiosities.”  Students werepaired with a partner and each pair of students was assigned a specific chapterin our Social Studies textbook (we were doing Florida history so they wereassigned topics such as Florida and agriculture, Florida and transportation, Floridaand business, etc).  I challenged them tobecome the “experts” on their topic. Together, we decided what the important elements of our assignment wouldbe and then I created a rubric.  Eachstudent in the class had a copy of the rubric so he/she knew exactly what wasexpected.  Each group made an interactivemuseum exhibit, PowerPoint presentation, 3-5 final exam questions, and boardgame (blank board games can be purchased rather inexpensively at Barebooks.com).  The students stayed after school to learnPowerPoint and use the school’s computers. As part of their interactive exhibit, the students were charged withteaching our guests and fellow classmates about their topic.  They had to create something that visitorscould take away with them.  For example,our agriculture group had Florida oranges to share.  We invited special guests to our “grandopening” and served tea, coffee, and pastries. Each child came to school dressed to impress.  The children were prepared to teach theaudience about their topic using their PowerPoint presentations and then they mannedtheir exhibits.  People asked lots ofquestions and it was solely up to the pair of students at the exhibit to answerthem.  I watched firsthand as my studentsexhibited mastery not only of the academic elements of this experiment, butalso their proficient understanding of marketing and the social graces.  After a week of visitors, we closed themuseum and spent an entire day playing each other’s board games.  I can honestly say that each student learnedmore than I could have hoped for if I had simply had them read a summary ofeach chapter.  Our class did fabulouslyon the cumulative exam.

 

Margaret Crayne

Volusia County Social StudiesTeacher of the Year

Freedom Elementary

 

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2 Comments

Reply k conway
8:57 PM on September 11, 2011 
Great post Margaret! The children in your class are very fortunate to have such a creative teacher! Congratulations on Volusia County Social Studies Teacher of the Year!

Kelly
Reply jkentwohlrab
1:30 PM on September 29, 2011 
Thank you for sharing this creative approach to determining student progress toward proficiency of understanding and working with content material. Congratulations on fabulous summative results! jkw