Revisiting the Past
History is more than just memorizing facts—it’s a powerful tool to understand our world and who we are. At Dearborn, we believe that history is a living and breathing discipline. We try to connect history to the everyday lives of our students using re-reenactments, primary sources and discussions with people who actually experienced events to foster our students’ understanding.
We teach history and social studies four times a week in 40-minute periods. We work in small groups, no larger than nine students, with two teachers per class. In the Elementary School, we cover early American history, North American and world geography and map skills. Middle school students learn world history and geography, early and modern American history, economics, civics and map skills. Both programs follow a two-year rotation of topics in accordance with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
Assignments include research projects, presentations, games, discussions and debates. We also use periodic quizzes and tests to assess knowledge and improve test-taking skills.
History Comes Alive
We take extra steps for our students to internalize history and social studies concepts with experiential learning projects and history-related field trips.
For example, when studying the lead-up to the American Revolution, one class spent a day using chips as currency. A tax collector took away the currency, leaving some students with more than others—and those who ran out entirely were sent to “gaol.” By connecting their own outrage with the outrage of the American colonists, students came to understand the meaning of taxation without representation.
Our assignments are frequently project-based. Some students have created their own plays based on historical events, while others have written patriotic songs. Many have written letters to various Presidents, past and present, about historical events. One student even constructed a sample telegraph in woodshop to go along with her research project on important American inventions.
Many of our students have never explored Massachusetts historical sites first-hand, so field trips are much-appreciated excursions. Some of our most popular class trips have included State House tours, Freedom Trail walks, visits to Concord, Lexington and Salem, the interactive TOMB experience, which explores Ancient Egypt, the Museum of African American History and Plimoth Plantation.
To meet our students' individual needs, teachers adapt instruction, note-taking, and work expectations to different skill levels. Those students who show interest in certain topics are offered supplementary activities, including research projects and related books.
History is full of gifts. It is especially important for our students to understand the idea of change and the many different ways that change occurs, so that they can decide how to manage or create change in their own lives in the present and for the future.