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Students get a moving lesson in local history

April 06, 2001

Students get a moving lesson in local history



By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Third-graders at Eastern Elementary School in Hagerstown fanned out in groups to learn about a Washington County they didn't know.

Larrisa Shafer saw a piano without foot pedals and a cloak rack at the Wilson Schoolhouse in Clear Spring.

Xavier Richardson saw the widening stairs and the chandelier at the Miller House in Hagerstown.

David Vaynman went to the C&O Canal and found out about an aqueduct.

David Marsh visited Boonsboro, where he looked at a baby-sized coffin and bullet-pocked walls at the Boonsborough Museum of History.

Sunni Wilson saw where John Brown hid slaves in an attic at the Kennedy Farm House in Sharpsburg.

Buses ferried about 120 Eastern Elementary students to three towns, one city and miscellaneous transportation-related attractions in the county as part of a nine-week lesson.

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Michelle Church, one of five third-grade teachers at Eastern taking part, said the learning project is funded by a state Challenge Grant.

The children visited at least two historical attractions in each locality.

When they returned to school, they crafted clay maps of the county, drew and assembled story quilts and created tall story boards with the photographs they took. The accompanying photo captions at times captured the kids' enthusiasm. One read, "This is a picture of the Hager House in the city park!!!!"

As a community service project, students designed a series of kid-friendly brochures about the sites they saw. The brochures will be available at the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Public Square.

The synopses are concise. One group wrote: "This is a picture of City Park. It is found in downtown Hagerstown, Maryland, which is part of Washington County. It is important because it is the biggest park in Maryland. I found it interesting because it is very cool and because it has different parks to play in, and ducks and fish to feed."

Xavier, who drew a picture for one brochure cover, said he had been to City Park, but had never seen the Hager House or the Miller House.

David Vaynman's group studied transportation. At the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, they learned why they shouldn't throw things at trains and to stay off bridges and out of tunnels.

Facts about the Beaver Creek Schoolhouse, the Log House Museum and Antietam National Battlefield remained fixed in children's minds this week.

Church said each group shared what they learned with their classmates, a teaching technique known as "jigsawing," or fitting pieces of curriculum together on their own.

Their project will culminate in a "showcase" for students' families, representatives from the localities they visited and anyone else who wants to watch. It will be at the school Wednesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Students will sing three songs: "Hagerstown," to the tune of Petula Clark's "Downtown"; "Western Maryland Wonderland," to the tune of "Winter Wonderland"; and a takeoff on Del Shannon's "Runaway" featuring a chorus of "They're wah-wah-wah-wah-wonders."

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