Learning with a Purpose
Taking their learning far beyond the walls of the classroom, the second and third graders at Robert C. Parker School are preparing a display for the Rensselaer County Historical Society museum in downtown Troy.
Students will hold an opening of their exhibit, Native Americans, Farms and Troy: The Transformation of a Landscape on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 5:30 PM. They will present essays, 3-dimensional landscapes and painted murals to depict how the landscape in and around Troy and on the school’s 77 acres has evolved over time. Their research traces the evolution from rural to urban and suburban landscapes.
Teacher, Lynn Schuster, says, “By focusing on big, complex questions like “How did humans change the landscape to better meet their needs? the students had to gather evidence and use analytical thinking.” They worked closely with the Historical Society in three study-groups, using historic maps, photos, documents and artifacts to aid their research. They went on a scavenger hunt in Troy to find evidence of historic architecture, a trip to Hancock Shaker Village to view a planned community, and hikes around the Parker grounds to map the property and visualize how it might have looked in the time of the Mohicans.
The class has been asked to create a time capsule for the Historical Society that will live in its archives.
“The time capsule will include objects and writing that capture the students’ lives as seven and eight-year-olds, so that their grandchildren will know what life was like in the early 21st Century. They have learned that artifacts are crucial for understanding the past,” said Schuster.
The study incorporates language arts, social studies, history, art and statistical analysis. Essay topics include: wigwams, dugout canoes, three sisters gardens, water wheels, steam engines, row houses and the manufacture of shirt collars.
Robert C. Parker School is an independent, co-ed school for students in preschool through 8th grade located on 77 acres in North Greenbush. The school emphasizes a challenging curriculum with learning that has an effect beyond the classroom.