A part of the application process to Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, applicants are asked to describe at least three ways students will benefit when their teacher attends the institute. Not only did I want to list as many benefits as I could, I also wanted to make sure I included some specific plans that are already in my mind.
The toughest part was organizing my thoughts. In a previous question I was asked about my reasons for wanting to be selected for the 2020 institute, and some of those reasons seemed to bleed into the ideas that my students would benefit from my experience. Here is my final list:
1. My students will benefit from my own discovery and understanding of primary sources at Colonial Williamsburg. I will bring these into my class for students to consider and study.
2. I seek to curate ideas for lessons that go beyond the printed page. As an educator, I thrive on keeping my students engaged by creating nontraditional projects for my students.
3. The more we learn about our history, the more we understand about the present. The more we apply our knowledge, the easier it is to make wiser decisions.
4. American history and civic understanding is greatly lacking in schools in my area. While focusing on standardized tests in Reading and Mathematics, administrators and legislators have allowed Science and History to be shoved to the back of the line. Many teachers, lacking a distinct script and textbook, have ignored it. They find worksheets and art projects on the internet, rather than seeking knowledge for themselves and creating their own methods for engaging students with rich content; I prefer creating my own materials and relevant lessons, curating ideas from a variety of sources and tying it all to other areas of the curricula. My lessons connect with students' current and future lives.
5. Students who have an excited and motivated teacher are apt to learn more information. This teacher's attitude is contagious.
6. Upon completion of the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, I will more accurately include actual sites, real characters, and relevant events in my cognitively rigorous classroom.
7. My experience will allow me to quickly integrate materials and lessons from Colonial Williamsburg.
8. I want to create an archaeology unit for the beginning of the school year, but I also want it to be deeply memorable for my students. I have tried to do this before, but have seriously lacked the resources to make the lesson more than a flat experience. In short, it was a waste of time. The idea is still a good one, but the Colonial Williamsburg experience promises to help me revive it and make it worth our while.
9. I need to do a better job of presenting the story of the first enslaved people. I feel confident with most of the African American experience, including the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, but I need more background in the 17th and 18th centuries.
10. I have started to learn more about the Native Americans who lived in and around the colonies, but I will appreciate any help in this area to make my lessons better.
11. I have already made room in my schedule to accommodate some type of "trader faire" project that will include some of the historic trades and crafts I will witness at Colonial Williamsburg.
12. I seek a better understanding of the geography of the area that played host to so many Revolutionary activities.
13. I love to tell stories. The details of early American history add seasoning to the stories. Students are captivated by the tales. The greater my own understanding, the more I keep them interested.
14. I strive to be that "different" teacher, a rebel educator, the maverick who doesn't play by the rules of tradition. Yes, I am that elementary teacher who puts in the extra effort to make meaningful connections with my students and the things they are learning. I've had enough of two-dimensional history and science. The teacher institute at Colonial Williamsburg can only animate our studies even more.
15. My students will anticipate my involvement with Colonial Williamsburg as much as I will. I included them in this application process, and I shared the writing process with them so they can see that adults have writing responsibilities, and that serious applicants take their responses seriously. I plan to wear out this year's class, talking about the upcoming teacher institute, until they anticipate it with as much excitement as I do.