You know when your students are really passionate about something? Like Legos, Star Wars, or Harry Potter? Well guess what? Teachers get that way too. And today my students witnessed their teacher fully geeking out about American history.
Now before you get excited, no it wasn’t about Alexander Hamilton (despite the fact that I do LOVE that musical). Nor was it about the Schuyler Sisters.
Our reading story this week is all about elections, government and why people run for public office. We were looking at a photograph in the book of men walking in protest in 1929 for better health coverage, employment and the state of the economy. Looking at the opening line it mentioned The Great Depression. I asked my students if they had even heard about it or knew anything about it. A few had heard it but had no idea what it was. Grabbing a dry erase marker I got to work. I wrote the word economy on the board and we discussed what we thought that meant and several thought it had to do with the environment. Once I told them it was about money I switched back to the Great Depression. I wrote October 29, 1929 below the heading and started discussing the stock market and how it works. Drawing a small graph we discussed how it’s okay to see a rise and small dip because that’s just how the stock market works and there’s no need for panic. But the next graph I drew I showed a steady incline and then a sharp & sudden decrease. One of my students gasped and said, “Ms. Barrick, I have a feeling that means something bad happened on that date.” I nodded my head and launched into how it became known as Black Thursday.
Transitioning from the Great Depression I moved onto the Dust Bowl and the big dust storms in the Midwest during the 30s. I noted that the Great Depression ended in 1938 but unemployment didn’t begin to be on the decline until 1941.
“Why did unemployment begin declining in 1941,” I asked them. They started thinking and I could see them thinking, ‘Do I know this? Has she told us something about this before?’ I let them discuss it in their groups but no one guessed correctly. This led to me writing December 7, 1941. Cameron jumped out of his seat and yelled, “PEARL HARBOR!” But then he had a look of utter confusion on how the two correlated. I began talking about how up until 1941 we stayed out of WWII. One of them asked, “Wait WWII began before 1941?” Well that got me started…
WWII is one of my two favorite times periods to study and discuss. My 4th graders got a 6th Social Studies lesson today. As they were lining up one of my boys and I had the following exchange:
“Ms. Barrick, were you nerding out today?”
I looked up and just replied, “Yes, I was but were you interested?”
“Good, then that’s all that matters.”
“You made learning dates and facts really fun. How did you do that?”
“Easy, I had an interest in it. If you have a genuine interest in it then you’ll want to keep learning more.”
“Are we going to talk more about it after lunch?”
“Oh yeah…that is if you want to learn more.”
That earned me a big smile and a high five. I love it when I can ignite the love of new knowledge into my kids.