When teacher Bridgette Gatzert entered her classroom, she was not looking at her typical House Creek Elementary School third-grade class. Her room had been transformed into a living museum, lined with famous American figures.
When Gatzert approached the figures in her museum, they could recite their birth dates, dates of death, reasons for being famous and interesting facts about themselves.
After many weeks of research, reading, memorizing and preparing, the House Creek students created a biography portfolio and took on the role of famous figures. The students exemplified their knowledge by dressing up as their figures and recounting their significant contributions.
The students also created timelines, researched facts, and wrote a biographical poem throughout the stages of the project. They read books from the school library and searched information from library databases to understand more about their historical figure.
After they had enough information on their figures, each student presented himself as that person in a museum setting. Each student was required to play the part of his character and memorize a minimum of three facts. The students were encouraged to be as similar to the historical figure as possible. Some students including Peyton Velesky memorized more than the required information and truly embraced their characters.
“I was nervous, but it was so much fun pretending to be someone important,” Velesky said.
This assignment allows students to take ownership of their learning by researching and embodying the history of Americans who helped shape the country. The project encourages the scholars to become independent thinkers and to become actively involved in the curriculum with the use of technology and peer interaction.
Third-grader Zhori Hunter said it was exciting to learn about their characters knowing they would get to pretend to be them at the end of the assignment.
“It was fun because I like my character really well,” Huntersaid said. “This is a project I will remember forever.”
Gatzert said the assignment encompasses reading, writing, social studies, and technology Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills from the third grade second English/Reading/Language Arts unit.