I love my kid's school. Every year in the fourth grade all the students participate in a big project called Colorado Characters. Each student chooses a significant person in Colorado’s history to research and learn about. They have to research about their characters’ lives and how they impacted Colorado’s history. The best part is how they are required to present their projects. They must travel back into time and actually “BECOME” their chosen character. The classroom is transformed into a “Living” museum with characters from Colorado’s history.
Each student dresses the part and has a memorized speech to present as all the other grades in the school visit the museum. They sit “lifeless” in their seats until a “visitor” presses a button on their desk which magically brings them to life. Then with as much animation as they can muster, each child presents their project over and over to the entire school. It is such a fun way to have our kids learn about our states’ history. The whole school gets involved. The kids love being part of something so special and fun. The repetition helps them to remember the facts but is done in such a way it doesn’t feel overwhelming boringly. Way to Go Martinez Elementary School !!
My daughter chose Baby Doe Tabor. She was so excited because Baby Doe was a woman with lots of money and was known for her high fashion, extravagant lifestyle. She was a lady who was caught up in lots of drama as Baby Doe was in one of the world's most famous Love Triangles. Really she just wanted to wear my Grandmother's Fur Coat.
Please share ways your school helps students learn about characters who have impacted history?
My son has a teacher who likes to teach in fun ways too. His assignment was to select someone from a list of people compiled by the class and studied in their history class over the semester, research that person's life in greater detail, and dress up as the character to endorse a product or service of his choosing or design. He had to include facts about the character's life, appropriate props, and a motto that made clear why he chose that character to represent his product or service. He chose Abraham Lincoln to endorse his law firm in a TV ad and presented his "skit" to his class.
Thank you for sharing this! I still remember my 8th grade historical character project, which sounds quite similar to the one that took place in your daughter's class. I'm always excited to see students doing performances at National History Day, too--to support students' work on History Day performances, we put together a podcast with one of the actors here at the National Museum of American History--where we use drama to engage visitors in the study of the past--about researching and presenting historical characters. We also worked with a teacher last summer who took one of our theater program formats, in which the legacy of a controversial figure in history is put on trial by an audience of students/visitors, and transformed it for his classroom. You can read about his Time Trial of Andrew Jackson here, and see a photo below! I thought this was a wonderfully creative use of drama for history teaching.
National Museum of American History
High school teacher Jason Fox in his lesson The Time Trial of Andrew Jackson.