History: Teaching More Than Just Common Core

With the rigor of the English and Language Arts and Mathematics Common Core State Standards, it can be easy to push aside social studies and history. We forget, however, that the background knowledge students gain from these activities and lessons can greatly enhance their ability to read, write, and even comprehend real-world mathematics. On Thursday, April 24, 2014, the Meadowlark 4th graders got to enjoy just that.

An all-day trip to the Battle of the Little Bighorn gave students a unique and very real perspective to add to the material we’d read or watched in class. Students were led by an experienced tour guide who walked them through specific scenes on the battlefield. He posed questions, forcing them to consider the way archeologists had formed their theory about Custer’s tactics, and made them consider the validity of some claims. Along with relaying this important information, students got to simply see, feel, and smell the same sights that the 7th Cavalry and Native warriors probably saw, and there is incredible value in that 1st hand experience.

Back in the museum, students studied artifacts and diagrams, further enhancing their knowledge of the event. After a quick lunch, students also spent time walking through the military cemetery, thinking about the cost of freedom in our country, and I heard many students discussing whether or not it was “right” that the soldiers attacked the Cheyenne/Sioux camp.

Overall, it was a very valuable day. Getting to see the battlefield and artifacts brought life to the topics that we’d discussed in class and gave students a deeper understanding of the battlefield, the time-period, and the policies of the United States during this time. It is that kind of background knowledge that will absolutely heighten each student’s ability to perform Common Core State Standard of all subjects.