On Friday, Feb. 27, Charlton Heights second-grade students in Mrs. Brooks’ class brought their month-long research project to life at the 14th annual Historical Wax Museum.
During the month of February—Black History Month—Brooks introduced famous historical figures to her students by reading condensed biographies and holding classroom discussions about what made these people famous. Students were then charged with selecting a character who they wanted to research.
Brooks adds: “But, the type of research my students had to do was very involved. Yes, I wanted them to know the history and story behind the person, but I didn’t just want a recap. The students had to dig deeper and discover challenges the person faced and why, and they had to find a “Wow!” fact about the person—something unique or unusual that not everyone might know.”
In addition to honing their research and reading skills, the students had to be creative and write a biography poem using their person’s characteristic traits; they held Compare & Contrast class discussions where students compared their lives to the lives of the famous people they studied; they learned how to use Google Slides to create cover page and time line slides for their visual presentation; and, finally, they had to write a brief script about their character (including challenges and a Wow! fact) that they had to memorize for an oral presentation.
Brooks explained that she takes the study of Black History Month and incorporates it into just about every academic subject. “This project and the depth of learning that accompanies it embody the ideology of common core by allowing students to dig deep into one topic but in many subject areas—something we’ve been doing at Burnt Hills for a long time.”
For example, during class discussions second grader Dakota Harris was explaining that her historical figure—Ella Fitzgerald—was a famous jazz musician who refined the art of scat singing. That’s when Brooks realized most of the class probably hadn’t heard scat singing so they all listened to Fitzgerald’s music.
After students were done researching and writing about their characters, they had to become their characters. Brooks had the kids memorize their 1 to -2 minute oral biography, dress up like their character, and give their oral presentation to the entire class. They even videotaped themselves to participate in a constructive critique of their performance and talk about whether they needed to speak slower, louder or clearer.
Finally the students were ready. They had their biography boards and props ready for the visual presentation, they were dressed in clothing that represented their historical figures, and they had memorized their oral presentations. The entire school and parents were invited to the Historical Wax Museum. Now all that was left was for someone to literally “push their buttons”.
Using bottle caps, the students made play buttons that visitors to the museum had to push in order to bring a character to life through student presentations. Go ahead, push the button. [BUTTON] [PHOTO GALLERY]