Tara Smith at A Teaching Life has begun a new meme, Social Studies Wednesdays, which touches so many kinds of teachers in their curriculum. In some way or another, we all teach some social studies in our classes. Please join her by posting your blog with ideas of work with students.
Last week I started talking about the beginning of studying place in the area of social studies. I told how I usually began with the connections of personal places at home with a writing and art project.
After this personal project, we moved to the study of the school's geographical place. Our school was fortunate to be able to move into several buildings on the disbanded Lowry Air Force Base, which has been in the process of re-development since the early 1990s. There is a visitor center filled with the history of the base and the time before that is also shown in a few stories. They also have an enormous diorama of the current plans remaining, where housing is, where the business district is, and all the schools, including ours! The students loved visiting this center, were welcomed by the employees there and told numerous stories about the Lowry history learned through the years that the center has been open.
I showed students that through research, pieces of land hold many layers of history, and encouraged them to research our school to discover those layers. I think this research idea could be adapted to many places, starting with your school, a favorite store in the neighborhood, a famous building in your city and so on. The basic question to begin with is "What happened before?" The possibility of geographic research was exciting to students. We finished with a class timeline of the history of our building.