| By Nicole Albrecht |
Any social studies or history teacher knows what the month of September brings: many national holidays that fall during the school year and are required by their administration to cover in their lessons. One of the most popular of these national holidays is Constitution Day, which is September 17th and honors the day that delegates to the Constitutional Convention met and signed the Constitution. These delegates are commonly known as the Founding Fathers and for a history teacher, covering this holiday and explaining to students the importance of it is a cinch.
For the remaining teachers finding ways to include even one element of this holiday in their classroom can be a real challenge. As a former history and English teacher, I didn’t struggle with this administrational requirement, but I watched as my teacher-friends in math, science, and physical education moaned and complained over ways to include it in their instruction.
When I was creating this collection for GVRL, I was reminded of their struggles and I made it a point to not only find diverse titles to include, but to find creative ways that all subject area teachers could cover Constitution Day in their lessons.
For science teachers, this is easier than they think. One of the most famous of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin—who was not only an author, politician, and diplomat—but a “Renaissance Man” or “jack-of-all-trades”. He was known for his many roles including scientist, inventor, and librarian. Knowing this fact, a science teacher just needs to do a little research on what scientific inventions Benjamin Franklin is credited with and they can tie it into a simple warm-up activity or independent research assignment for their students. Take for example: his invention of the lighting rod that proved that lightning was electricity and he set out to protect people’s homes from being struck by lightning using this rod. Teachers can have students research the story of how Benjamin Franklin created this rod which later became a political statement of that time.
Constitution Day doesn’t just mean that teachers are limited to just “constitutional” information; Constitution Day also means honoring the men who were elected President of the United States. I worked with a very creative math teacher who took all the ages of the past presidents when they were elected and had his students calculate the mean of the presidents’ inauguration age. How easy is that?! The prefect book to use for this activity is the, American Presidency by Encyclopedia Britannica. Another fun way to tie this national holiday in, is for English teachers to use the literary element of symbolism and the Bald Eagle. A great GVRL title to use in the collection is Bald Eagle by Core Library. Students love learning about animals at any age level and there are many fascinating videos on the internet about eagles that a teacher could show while linking it to how this bird symbolizes freedom and the United States.
The only teacher I saw give up at finding a way to link Constitution Day to their content was a physical education teacher. Even I was stumped at how to help him when he asked his colleagues for ideas. Together, with other teachers, we decided to organize a Freedom Walk, where his students created banners and posters that celebrated all the different ways American citizens are free. After the banners were created, and approved by administration, we organized a pep rally, where the students marched around the gym proudly displaying their creations. There are limitless possibilities to make Constitution Day fun and educational for any classroom.
The collections created for GVRL in relation to Constitution Day can help teachers across curriculums not only cover this holiday in their lessons, but find creative ways to inspire their students and show them that they should be proud of the foundation on which America has been built.
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