The intersection of history with real life adds a whole new dimension to learning. Ask fourth-graders at Churchville Elementary School, who experienced this recently when a class reading project on the eruption of Vesuvius at Pompeii grew into a real-time Zoom™ visit with volcano expert Amelia Winner, from the University of Oregon.
A collaboration between Library Media Specialist Katie Andres and fourth-grade teachers Diane Gratton, Tracy Moran, Lindsey Salvas, Katy Miner and Sydnee Tucciarello focused on historical fiction and combined elements of both grade-level ELA and library curriculum standards.
“We used the book ‘I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79’ by author Lauren Tarshis to spark students’ interest and learning,” said Andres. “What I love about this author is that she made the content of her story accessible to online learners with a series of videos and encouraged readers to learn more by adding associated ‘quests.’ I created my own corresponding read-aloud videos and expanded the author’s quests to incorporate digital resources available to CES students.”
Videos and research materials were posted on Google Classroom™ (a closed platform) for students to access each week for their class assignments, adhering to publisher’s guidelines and giving students an opportunity to learn a little about copyright law.
The real-life portion of the story came together due to a personal connection teacher Diane Gratton has with Ph.D. candidate and volcanologist Amelia Winner. Winner agreed to lead a Zoom session with all four fourth-grade classes, including about 40 students calling in from home, on December 22. In anticipation of the meeting, students generated a list of questions for the expert based on her career path and her education and specialty area within volcanology. The students also inquired about volcanology tools of the trade, field work, lab research and volcanoes in general. Winner interacted with the students, and shared photos and video of live volcanos with the fascinated young participants.
“I’ve been honored to work with an incredible team of teachers at CES to make this all happen,” said Andres. “It takes a team to navigate hybrid and synchronous learning, and I am fortunate to work with the best!”
Feature photo: Library Media Specialist Katie Andres facilitated the presentation and kept everything running smoothly.
This page: Teacher Diane Gratton and her class welcome the dozens of fourth-graders participating remotely in the volcanology presentation.