By Liz MacDavitt, 3rd/4th grade teacher
On February 10, 2020 NSCS Beverly celebrated our students’ hard work at the History Fair. It was quite the celebration of what students have been learning this year, with projects representing “The History of Me” (K), “Famous Americans” (1/2), “Fifty Nifty States Parade of Floats” (3/4), “The Civil War” (5/6), and “Unsung Heroes of the American Revolution” (7). Students in all grades worked so hard to produce high quality projects and focused their in-class efforts on strong presentation skills. Parents, extended relatives, and friends enjoyed visiting each class’s displays and revelled in hearing from excited students. The following day, each class visited other classrooms to view each project. This year’s History Fair was a great success!
In 3rd & 4th grade, projects like the “Fifty Nifty States Parade of Floats” allow students to dig deeper into topics studied in class. Students have the freedom to learn more about people, places, and events in history while representing their newfound knowledge in creative and artistic ways. For this project, each student selected one of the 50 states and built a state float to represent important places, natural resources, landmarks, scenic attractions, agriculture, and historical events found in that state. These creative floats were accompanied by a one page essay on their state’s statehood process, or a well-known historical person/event in their state. To add to the fun of this project, students were awarded bonus points for dressing as a famous historical figure or sharing a popular food from their state. All of this hard work and creativity was celebrated the night of the History Fair! Their floats were amazing, eye-catching, unique, colorful, and accurate representations of 25 different states that make up this great country. I was so impressed!
Although projects like this are time consuming and may cause us as teachers to press pause on regularly planned lessons, they are important. Aside from teaching students more about history and their selected topic, this project taught students a great deal about time management as they followed a timeline of due dates, self-starting as they completed the majority of their research outside of the classroom, and that creative, artistic inspirations definitely have a place in the classroom. Some of the steps of this project were new and challenging to some students, but the end results were projects that had been completed carefully and with excellence. As a teacher, I love projects that allow students to display their learning in a variety of creative mediums, and it seems that so many students learn and remember more content when they are given the freedom to create and use their own talents and interests to enhance their schoolwork. This will forever be one of my favorite projects because I can see how seriously students take their research and how much they learn from it as a result. There are older students in this school who had done this project with me in 3rd & 4th grade who still talk about their state float and what they learned! This is a testament to their hard work and to the value of a well-done History Project at NSCS.
For now, we’re back to regularly planned lessons, which are equally important, but do stay tuned for more creative and exciting projects before this year ends!