This past summer I had the privilege of being awarded a scholarship to attend a seven-day teacher institute with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. As a fifth grade teacher, I can say that this summer professional development truly transformed my Social Studies instruction this year.
For twenty years the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has been working with their network of donors to be able to provide teachers with an all expense paid scholarship to attend their summer seminars. These seminars are not like any professional development I have ever done. We were immersed in 17th and 18th-century life through hands-on explorations such as:
- Experiencing the hard work of farming by working on the real working farms at Colonial Williamsburg
- Participating in the process of being a brick maker, including the difficult physical work of stomping to mix the brick raw materials
- Learning from several Native American tribes regarding the key tools and ways of life of some of the several hundred tribes that were in the Virginia Colony before Europeans came over and after
- Sitting on the three replica ships that came to settle the Jamestown colony and considering the sacrifices of those that traveled on those boats
- Participating and learning from six character interpreters who shared about their daily life, including George Washington’s perspective on this idea about revolting
- Considering on a daily basis the perspective of an assigned person and how Colonial life was experienced through their eyes
- Arguing for or against declaring independence in the replica legislative house where those such as Patrick Henry engaged in the same conversation years ago
- Getting to see and hold primary source documents such as original Virginia Gazette’s or casually walking by a copy of the Declaration of Independence at the John D. Rockefeller Library collections
The daily learning and collaboration with my fellow elementary colleagues transformed the way I teach and the multiple perspectives I bring in not only to my Social Studies instruction but also by connecting that to other content standards.
Colonial Williamsburg offers not only elementary but also middle and high school programs as well as shorter programs tailored to specific content areas such as African Americans in 18th Century Virginia, Women in Colonial life, or Apprenticeships, STEM, and Colonial Daily Life. Scholarships are available for all programs.
The end of the first semester often brings a time of rest and renewal, I hope each one of you has time to be able to do that with family and friends. If you find yourself interested in taking advantage of this program, then perhaps you could take a little of that rest and renewal time to apply for a scholarship, you have until the middle of January to do so.
Have you ever considered traveling and taking part in hands-on professional development to grow your practice? There are numerous programs available for all types of teachers. Let me know below…
For more information: http://www.history.org/history/teaching/teacherdevelopment/index.cfm