An engaging history lesson goes far beyond important dates and famous names.
Some of the best history education will immerse the learner in the world about which they’re studying.
Claire Hughes’ teacher candidates at College of Coastal Georgia spent their fall semester making this kind of learning possible for local students.
College of Coastal Georgia partnered this year with Glynn County Schools and the Coastal Georgia Historical Society to provide a new field trip experience for fifth grade students at the World War II Home Front Museum on St. Simons.
The students created their lesson plans through multiple visits to the museum. Each activity can be offered at three levels, so that students on all learning levels can take part and be challenged by the activity.
“They got to see how history education can be beyond the classroom and beyond school,” said Hughes, an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Preparation at the college. “It can be a field trip and what you do on a field trip that helps kids be engaged in a way that you can’t necessarily do so in a classroom.”
Hughes taught a course on social studies teaching methods this semester, and her students created the lesson plans and activities with which the museum can engage young visitors.
The teacher candidates, who are seniors at the college, created the lesson plans in collaboration with the historians and educators at the historical society, as part of their coursework before graduation.
The World War II Home Front Museum opened in December 2018 and tells the story of Coastal Georgia’s contributions to winning World War II.
“We have such an amazing history in our own backyard, it was a wonderful opportunity for our teacher candidates at CCGA to learn how to teach social studies using local resources,” Hughes said. “As part of our service-learning focus, we seek out ways to engage with our local community and are so excited to work with Glynn County Schools and the Coastal Georgia Historical Society.”
The teacher candidates’ final exam took place Tuesday at the museum, when the soon-to-be teachers presented their plans at the Home Front Museum to a class of fifth-graders from Oglethorpe Point Elementary School.
“We designed the Home Front Museum to engage visitors of all ages and are thrilled that our approach has led to a partnership with Glynn County educators,” said Sherri Jones, executive director of the Coastal Georgia Historical Society, in a press release. “This is the realization of a dream to provide engaging and meaningful educational experiences for schoolchildren, especially Glynn County students.”
Cathy Pittman, Glynn County Schools’ social studies and science coordinator, initiated the partnership with Hughes, after both visited the museum last year. The pair realized how well the content fit with the Georgia Standards of Excellence, and Pittman, in her role, often stresses the importance of field trips as a tool for learning.
“Students can learn about history by reading and studying in classrooms, but for students to truly understand and make a connection they must experience it,” said Pittman, in the press release. “The Home Front Museum immerses students in the daily lives of the citizens of Glynn County through interactive exhibits that feature wonderful visuals, first person narratives and hands on activities. This engaging museum draws students in from the moment they enter, and they leave having a much better understanding of the importance of the Home Front and contributions of ordinary citizens during World War II.”
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