The '20s come roaring into history class with an artful touch
It's back to prohibition time, and the happening place is the local jazz cafe. Fringed dresses and strings of pearls are flying as high-schoolers dance the Charleston to a live band, sip nonalcoholic bubbly from stemmed glasses, and imagine themselves in the company of the Great Gatsby.
When was history class ever so much fun?
In Sedona, Ariz., this has been a year of history immersion using all five senses. Local artists and humanities teachers have been collaborating to bring historical periods to life through lessons that incorporate everything from food to stained-glass projects. The field trip to the jazz cafe is the finale for a unit on the Roaring '20s. Next stop: Vietnam and the tumultuous '60s.
Engaging young minds in history has long been a challenge for teachers. While some students are easily engrossed in the past through classroom lectures and reading assignments, others especially adolescents find the whole subject an irrelevant bore.
Libby Caldwell, an artist and mother in Sedona, decided to use the arts to design memorable lessons for high-schoolers. Sedona is a small community known as an artists' enclave, and some artists were already making presentations in local classrooms. Ms. Caldwell's concept went a step further, giving students the chance to get out of their seats to experience an era.
"I was sure that if you immerse someone in a period, so they are creating something while listening to something while eating, the process becomes more natural for them and they learn something they never forget," Caldwell says. "The idea is that they would have too much going on to ignore the 1920s."
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