Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The hardest thing ...

... about planning for the upcoming school year is knowing I won't be able to do everything in my first year that I've always wanted to do. I'm sure this is one of those times where I'll look back and laugh at myself for thinking so naively that it's going to be so easy to implement all these grand ideas, that the kids are going to love them, etc.

But for now I'm psyched. Stay tuned and maybe you'll get to see my descent into total cynicism and despair.

Anyway, one of my grand ideas, encouraged by NYU professor Diana Turk, is to base a quarter-long early U.S. history seminar around the study of material culture. The teacher finds a few really, really good artifacts and brings the objects (or good, clear images of them) into the students so that they can hold them, discuss them, write about them, and learn history through them. The idea is that kids will become experts in this particular method and will be psyched about doing the work of "real historians."

What I need to find are some really, really good artifacts. The class will cover the Americas: pre-colonization, colonization, and slavery. The Minnesota Historical Society has an online catalog of its holdings, which include numerous Ojibwe artifacts, but I haven't found anything quite awesome enough. I have a box of cotton bolls that I used in the eighth grade slavery unit, and it would be great to get a hold of some sugar cane. eBay has a lot of historical replicas, but I'm not sure if that will really do it.

So basically, this whole endeavor won't work if I can't find awesome enough items. Any suggestions you might have, any at all, would be extremely welcome!


Anonymous said...

When I was preparing for my first year, everybody told me to think of a set of rules I wanted to enforce in my classroom. I believed that I didn't need such a list of rules, and that simply following the school rules would be enough. Wrong. One of my classes was a big mess because I didn't know how to manage the classroom. So this summer I will work on the list: "How do I want the kids to behave and how am I going to enforce this?" Do you have such a list?

In2theTrenches said...

Write, email, or call US Sugar in Clewiston, FL, maybe they'll send you a sugar cane plant or two.

United States Sugar Corporation
111 Ponce de Leon Avenue
Clewiston, Florida 33440

(863) 983-8121

Good luck, sounds like a fun start to your first year!

RE: List of rules, make 3 classroom rules, 3 is the most you should have, but they can be broad enough to encompass several behaviors. EX) Be Responsible. (have your materials, follow dress code, get to class on time, help keep the room orderly, etc.)