Two years ago the entire Upper School History Department sat down together with a single challenge. How could we take one aspect of Grade 8 United States History and make it more dynamic, more interactive, and more 21st century? How could we not only teach the students the core curricular information but also make sure we heightened their creativity, curiosity, ability to work in teams, resilience, and public speaking. The solution—The Constitutional Convention!
Rather than discuss in a traditional classroom setting the path that the Founding Fathers took in developing our nation’s Constitution, why not let the students try to figure it out for themselves. Broken into groups each representing one of the twelve colonies who attended the real Constitutional Convention, the children had to research their state's position on representation, taxation, slavery, etc. They needed to know the geography and economy of their state, and then when paired with representatives from another state, they had to find common ground on which to build our new nation. They quickly found out how difficult this task was!
The entire Friday we devoted to this activity was fantastic. When we surveyed the students at the end and asked them to share with us how to make the day better next year, dozens of students wrote, “We wish we had more time to debate and discuss the issues!” As an eighth grade history teacher, I am not sure I could have asked for more. Check out this video to get a flavor of the day!
Adam C. Rohdie
Headmaster, The Greenwich Country Day School