As you know, your grandfather, brother, and I took a trip up to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I LOVE Baseball. I can spend days in that museum. You NEVER can see all that is in that building in one day. The uniforms begin to fill out as I imagine the games in which they were worn. You can "take in" the smell of leather radiating from the gloves behind the glass. The pictures of players, stadiums, and fans pull you into the moments depicted. Tradition permeates the whole building, and a sense of reverence overcomes you as you enter the hall with the plaques of the Hall of Famers. The sense of wonder transforms me into a kid again.
It also gets me thinking about my classroom. Many people (your aunt, my wife, included) find (found) history to be a boring subject. My motivation for the past 21 years has been to change that perception.
How can I make my classroom come alive just as the baseball mementos behind that glass? How do I create that enthusiasm for a middle school Social Studies course? Of course, I am not naive enough that I can recreate the emotions that overcome people in the Hall of Fame, but not trying is sure failure.
I used to refer to my classroom as the World Geography Experience. That is what I want my students having in my class, an experience. I want my classroom to come alive for students. I want there to be traditions that they can discuss with their siblings and friends in other classes and in other years. Hopefully these layers serve as a hook to the lessons and themes we learn in class so the students retain ideas and skills to use later in life.
Learning is solidified in minds when linked to memorable experiences.
Last year I created a baseball theme that I use as a motivational device. Groups are "teams", classes are "leagues", they begin each marking period creating a team logo and flag. They compete in review games and other challenges to earn either wins or losses and hopefully win the pennant. This year I am looking to expand upon what I started.
Yes it seems like fun and games, but who said you can't learn through games? Why does a teacher have to stand in the front of the room and dictate notes?
Baseball team, like all sports, have nicknames that typically identifies a feature of the city in which the team plays. What nickname would the students give to your classroom?
And where did this baseball idea come from? My pilgrimage to the "Baseball Cathedral" on the shores of a lake in Cooperstown, NY last summer.
When teaching is your passion, everywhere you travel should fill you
with ideas for your classroom.