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Using the lessons of History to teach high school students better ways of approaching their social lives.

Being a student teacher at the high school level, one of my goals is to continuously improve student engagement. Remembering back to my days in high school, and also noticing that students today still seem to prefer their social lives over learning the lessons of the past, I began thinking about the different ways that the social lives of students could be merged and improved through social lives of unknown, "everyday people", historical figures.

Basic Possible Steps:

Introduce primary document posing everyday problem (Diary, letter, etc)
-Give students basic historical info to begin

Have students write or discuss how they would approach the issue

Discuss as a whole class and introduce more complex historical details


I am still ruminating on the different paths this could take, but imagined a course that was grounded in primary sources of everyday people, with everyday problems. Students would learn about the historical framework that these everyday people lived in and would begin to answer how they would handle their issues. The class would then discuss as a whole in order to reflect on all of the possible influences due to the time and place.

I believe that this approach to history would make history more realistic to students so that they can begin to see the similarities of past people. Also so students may see how the success and failure of past people can teach them better ways to improve their immediate lives, social or otherwise.

This is a very new thought of mine and I would love any discussion over the benefits, drawbacks, possible improvements, and any other relevant talking points.

Topics: education history
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    Nov 23 2012: This is what we teaching artists call process drama. The idea is a simple one.

    I will try to address the issues brought up and answer any questions. You say drama, and most teachers say, "Who? Oh that visiting teacher that comes by the school every Wednesday, and dresses kinda funny." Yes, that one. Truth is she spends most of her/his time advocating for the arts as an intrinsic PART of education, not just IN education. Presenting a problem to a classroom is a central part of what is called process drama. Normally three 35-45 minute lessons where students work together to solve a problem, usually presented with TIR, which is Teacher In Role. TIR is when a teacher accepts the role of a created character and addresses students as this character. The objective for students is to help this character solve a problem. For example, in a Kindtergarden class, I taught part of my lesson as "Old Lady Green". Her Plants were dying and she needed the help of the students to bring her plants back to life. The students explored this through becoming the role of scientist, detective, and overall problem solver. The students primarily as a group, as well as in small groups and individually. The students learned the parts of a plant, their function, and how they worked together.

    Starting with a biography, is called Story as Springboard. Followed with appropriate and researched creative drama activities. In my teachings, I assess by performance, not written tests.

    I teach Acting and Broadway techinique at a local theatre. For more info please visit http://travisheights2.wix.com/missjess or www.facebook.com/missjessco

    I hope that helped.

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