Class 4 Historians

Class 4 Historians

In Noreen Keller’s Humanities class one recently morning, Class 4 students were chatting happily as they put the finishing touches on their social studies projects.

To culminate their in-depth unit on the American Revolution, students selected a topic they wished to explore further. After researching their chosen subject and taking detailed notes, students synthesized the information into informative tri-fold pamphlets.

“These were fun to make,” remarked one student as she added some color to her cover page. “The pamphlets are similar to what you might find when you visit another state or a museum.”

Inside, students listed vocabulary words/phrases related to their topic (and their definitions) and included a page-long summary and reflection. They also added creative elements like drawings, printed images and timelines. On the back, they listed their sources.

Choices ranged from the Declaration of Independence, the French and Indian War, the British Acts and spies in the American Revolution to Alexander Hamilton, Debora Sampson, King George, Nathan Hale and George Washington.

When asked about their pamphlet, each fourth grader displayed ample knowledge and passion about their selection. “I chose the British Acts,” stated one student, noting that these acts spurred the start of the American Revolution. “We learned about so many, like the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act,” she said.

Another student shared what she learned about Benedict Arnold, an officer who served the Americans during the war but shifted his allegiance to the British in 1779. “My topic was spies, so you can learn about a few more by reading inside!”

“I know it’s a very popular topic,” said another student, reflecting on her choice of the Declaration of Independence. “But that’s why I wanted to learn more because, to be honest, I didn’t know much about it before this unit.” Some of her vocabulary words included Continental Congress, colonists and Thomas Jefferson.

“Check in with me to review your pamphlet when you’re finished,” Ms. Keller announced. Prompting students to ensure their sources were written correctly, she added, “Remember, you need to write more than ‘book’ as your source. List the title and the author.”

Another young historian opened her pamphlet to display her list of vocabulary words. “A patriot is someone who was against Britain and a loyalist supported Britain,” she explained. She also listed the words bayonet, a metal blade attached to the end of a musket; militia, a group of citizens who are not soldiers but are called to supplement an army; and redcoat, a British solider.

“After attending King’s College, Alexander Hamilton became Washington’s assistant in 1777, and in November of 1780, he married Eliza Schuyler. But the excitement didn’t end there!" wrote one fourth grader in her summary. “In 1784, he founded the Bank of New York – the first bank in New York – which is still operating today!”

Noting that she first learned about Hamilton after seeing the Broadway musical of the same name, the student added, “What I found especially interesting was that he spent the majority of his adulthood in New York and the fact that there are records of him being not far from Chapin!”

After students checked in with Ms. Keller and wrapped up their social studies work, they transitioned to their new Humanities project: a personal essay!