Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Classroom Experience: The Word is "History"

I won't say what grade this was, but one of the vocabulary words this week is history. I was sitting with a small group of four or five kids during a reading class. And we were talking about what the word means...

The kids seemed to view history in terms of important events and leaders. I tried to explain that history also studies what life was like in the past.

"For example," I said, "Think about the first pioneers in West Virginia (where I teach) back 160 or 170 years ago. Do you think they ate much macaroni and cheese?"

The group all quickly agreed that that seemed unlikely. I asked what knowledge they had that led them to that conclusion.

"Because the microwave hadn't been invented yet," one child said. Everyone agreed.

Hmmm. I tried to think how to recover from that. I also looked at the clock and realized I had about 45 second left before I was due to leave this room for my next group of students, down the hall.

"Well, you know that people ate macaroni and cheese before the microwave...," I informed the students.

Facial expressions: shock and disgust.

"What did they do?" one student asked. "Did they eat it raw?"

I explained that you could cook macaroni and cheese on the top of a stove. My students were skeptical. And I decided I'd have to be more convincing on the subject at a later date. I excused myself and moved on to my next classroom.

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