Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cliffhangers, Hamilton, and Revolution: Ending the SS Year on a High Note

Yesterday as I was trying to figure out how to teach the remainder of the social studies curriculum I had in a few short weeks it dawned on me that I did not have to stand up and teach it. Students would not want to be reading out of our history text for the remainder of the year during social studies lessons. I wanted to bring the American Revolution and Constitution alive! I decided I needed to create an experience that students would remember because I remember learning nothing about this time period in elementary school. I put the binder of lessons away and began to ponder how I could put the students in the driver’s seat. This would be a culmination of our voyage into student-centered learning. Then an idea popped into my head, which I shared with the students before they left school. I told them I was excited for social studies tomorrow.  I followed this with one word, Hamilton. I was asked if this was a person? A place? A musical? A play? I answered nothing but told them they would see tomorrow. Leaving a cliffhanger is a great way to end the day.

I do not want to write directions, as there should be none. Students need to direct themselves. I want to plant the seed tomorrow and see what happens. So here is my plan, which I am sharing with the world. Students are going to read and watch Guns and Ships from the musical, Hamilton (we are connecting to popular culture this way).  Then we are going to take a look in our book to see what made America into this great country. Students are going to choose something they want to learn more about (either by themselves or with a buddy/buddies). They will be responsible for reading the text and writing a song for our class musical, Revolution. Students will learn from each other. I have no idea who will choose what. I am not sure what they will write. I just hope they are engaged, empowered, and excited to learn about history. I cannot wait to see their performances! Lin-Manuel Miranda started with an idea and look where it took him!

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