One of my first stops at the school was the computer lab. The fourth graders are just learning how to use Google Sites for their blogs. With the tech teacher off for a few weeks following knee surgery, I went with a few of the seventh grade Google experts to see if we could offer any help. I hope Mrs. Massi didn't mind me borrowing her chair.
Later in the morning it was time to sit in on the eighth grade social studies class. They've just started studying the Civil War, so I got to listen to the students talk about slavery. The topic was the Wilmot Proviso, but the conversation focused on how slaveholders viewed slaves as property not human beings with the same "unalienable rights" that Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence. The eighth graders just couldn't believe that people were ever treated like that.
In the afternoon, I enjoyed a few of the seventh graders' presentations on African history. Each student researched a different African country, created a powerpoint, and then have to give a ten to fifteen minute lesson on the country they've studied. I was quite impressed with the presentations I've seen so far; their presentations don't contain as much text as their history books, and the students barely use any notes to get through their talk. They really know their stuff!
Monday and Tuesday of next week I hope to get around to several of the other grades to talk with the students and answer any questions they may have about the Civil War or American history.