Here is a second question in the application process for the 2020 Teacher Institute at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. This question concerns the online resources from the property. I have quietly used their resources from year to year, especially enjoying the virtual tour available, as well as ordering some free Lewis and Clark posters a few years ago. With our new emphasis on early American history in fourth grade, however, I have come to appreciate the great depth of resources that Monticello puts at my fingertips. I can quite easily throw up an image of a real object from Jefferson's time, and students can analyze it with easy. Whether it be a document or an object to hold in the hand, these primary sources are terrific to use in the classroom.
The application asked the following question (with my revised response for this year following): Take a look through classroom.monticello.org. That sources appeal to you the most? Based on your onsite research, what's [a] resource that you would like to contribute to the site? Feel free to get creative!
As a teacher in the Midwest, I have no local options for experiencing the Colonial and Revolutionary Era, so Monticello’s online educational presence is invaluable to our classroom.
I have discovered materials at classroom.monticello.org several times in teaching my fourth graders about Thomas Jefferson dispatching the Corps of Discovery crossing our state in its earliest weeks. Lewis-and-Clark history remains my favorite part of Missouri history. Still, now that Missouri curriculum has shifted to the founding generation, I catch myself returning to the Monticello site to locate more and more resources for my fourth graders. The most valuable have been the images of some of the real objects from Monticello’s collection, the virtual tour of the estate, and a link to virtual field trips. The extensive educational website is full of quality materials for teacher and student use.
The images, infographics, and their accompanying 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 social status of these individuals help 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 love digging into the materials and burying myself in creative freedom. I take pieces of the lesson plans, mix them with the images and maps, throw in a video, and season the mixture with a gadget or two. When I tie in some science or some math, I know I’ve successfully made some connections. That’s when I feel the most successful.
I especially excel at connecting ideas from across the curricula, and I freely share lesson sets on my website at hoggatteer.weebly.com. Specifically, my year of 18th-century lessons can be found at hoggatteer.weebly.com/uniting-the-states.html.
I could also contribute ideas connecting science, math, architectural patterns, and Monticello to the site. My proposition includes aspects of water resistance, along with surface area, volume calculations, as well as identifying mathematical patterns within a growing set of bricks laid end-to-end or stacked. I also like to combine reading text pieces written for elementary students and give 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 cross-curricular unit like this engages students and keeps their interest.