Do role-plays complement field experiences?

Historic sites and museums have long used role- plays, simulations, and similar activities to engage kids. While they “feel” like ideal strategies for consolidating student learning, I never thought much about why that should be.

From the observation station: day in the life #2  

Other stations had data to collect–pH levels, biodiversity counts, and core samples–the information we collected was less easily quantified: restoring high school students’ childlike sense of wonder. Some seemed surprised that a station was dedicated to asking them to engage their senses for the “mere” sake of engaging their senses.

FDR, Eleanor, & Teddy: Teaching the Roosevelts

Not long ago, after spending a week devouring “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Dina asked me, “What stuff is out there for teachers interested in teaching the Roosevelts?” We got busy, and here’s what we came up with.

Reflections from Muck City: Day in the Life #1

As station leaders, we wanted to spark students’ curiosity, while maintaining a fun-loving environment. After we had a chance to teach a couple of groups, we found a nice balance between the two.

Citizen History? Part 1

This, the first of two planned posts on “citizen history”, looks at ready-made opportunities–those most like what exists within the citizen science movement. Later we’ll share ideas and models from local teachers and historical societies that you can adapt to your situation.

Do they really know the River? Part 2

Our part of the Hudson River is such a small part. Lessons learned in books don’t always find a place in our hearts and memories. Sometimes we need to step outside out world to expand our learning.

Do they really know the River?

My students have grown up next door to the Hudson River, writes Brooklyn fourth grade teacher Mary Curry, but I often ask myself, what do they really know about it? Some students recite facts about its length or even explain about Lake Tear of the Clouds being a hydrologic source. My goal is to make those dry facts come alive.

Place-based learning is in my blood

Museum educator Ashley Hopkins-Benton says place-based learning is in her blood. Her father, Barry Hopkins, and other family members impressed on her the importance of place and inspired her career. In this essay, she shares some thoughts and pays tribute to her father who passed away in 2007.

Explore the Valley with Citizen Science

Citizen Science projects are flourishing in the region and are a relatively easy way for educators to integrate place-based learning. Eight examples plus free related activities and lesson plans. Please add your favorite Citizen Science projects and watch for future posts on involving students with historic sites, museums, and galleries.

Bringing a place alive…without visiting

I couldn’t take my first graders on the Clearwater so I worked hard to make the lessons tangible and grounded in community. One solution was having students write to crew members. After learning how every person on a boat has responsibilities and what each crew member’s job is, the children chose a crew member to write.

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