"Let Them Solve It!" Students Experiencing History in the Secondary Education Classroom

Sunday, January 6, 2019: 11:20 AM
Stevens C-5 (Hilton Chicago)
Todd Peeler, Cleveland Early College High School

We want our students to better understand the history that we teach. We want them to improve their thinking skills and to synthesize and analyze the content better than when they first arrived. As educators, we aim to help them draw conclusions, make inferences, and engage in discourse. Hopefully, in the end, they also become citizens with a more accurate understanding of the world around and its connection to the past. The goal of this presentation is to explain an approach for secondary students to make an historical situation experiential through role-playing, problem solving, and decision-making using primary and secondary materials. As a component of our school’s “Expeditionary Learning” focus, students get elbow-deep in historical scenarios, often prior to learning the academic content. This form of experiential learning helps form bonds between peers, develop communication skills, and other soft skills, and more importantly, it helps bridge content with character development and citizenship. Whether escaping from doom, building a public works project, or deciding how to handle conflict, experiential learning offers a possibility to draw the best out of students, to help them make connections to the past, and enables them to develop the skills we are aiming for in our own classrooms.