The application asked the following question (with my respond following: Take a look through classroom.monticello.org. What sources appeal to you the most? Based on your onsite research, what's resource that you would like to contribute to the site? Feel free to get creative!
I have discovered materials at classroom.monticello.org several times in the past, but now that our Missouri curriculum has shifted to the founding generation, I catch myself returning to the site to locate more and more resources for my fourth graders. I enjoy showing images of some of the real objects from Monticello. I encourage students to appreciate the things they are seeing in the image – the age, the origin, the owner(s), and the interactions implied by their existence at Monticello.
I also value the infographics and prepared informational images at classroom.monticello.org. These images and their texts assist students in visualizing life on the plantation from varying points of view. For example, there is one picture that depicts the residents at Monticello – from Thomas Jefferson himself to overseers to the enslaved community. The comparison of numbers and the comparisons in the status of these individuals helps my class understand the size of the plantation, along with how much work was constantly demanded of the inhabitants of this little portion of Virginia.
Mostly, however, I enjoy building my own materials, lessons, and activities. I like getting my hands into the materials and burying myself in creative freedom. I take pieces of the lesson plants, mix them with the images and maps, throw in a video, and season the mixture with a gadget or two. When I can tie in some science or some math, I know I’ve successfully made some connections. That’s when I feel the most successful.
One example of this is when I pulled information about the construction of Jefferson’s house from the Monticello website. I researched about some of the architecture and found that bricks were Jefferson’s choice for the exterior. I even played a Flash-based activity on the site to depict the sequence involved in making the bricks on site. Taking that as a base, I am currently creating a lesson that includes science (water resistance) and math (surface area and volume calculations, as well as identifying mathematical patterns within a growing set of bricks laid end-to-end or stacked). This, combined with reading some of the text pieces that are written for elementary students, also gives students ideas for writing personal narratives from a brick makers point of view or journal entries for the things they learned in the lesson. A recipe like this is easily shared with peers, and I will be happy to contribute something like this as a resource on the Monticello website, as well.
Keeping a larger picture in mind, at some point, I may also lead my students in some kind of mock protest on behalf of the enslaved people, asking for compensation for the work they are doing. We will easily conduct conversations or debates about slavery and wonder how Thomas Jefferson justified owning slaves while declaring All men are created equal…