An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Upper School History: Voice and choice

June 2016

Voice and choice are two guiding aspects of the Upper School history and social sciences department. “Within the framework of the history curriculum, we want to give students a greater choice of what and how they’re learning, and a voice in presenting what they’ve learned,” says department head Stephanie Wright.

In Wright’s United States History class, students are regularly given a choice of topics on which they will become the “class experts” and deliver a presentation to classmates. “It’s a way for the class to get a sense of what was happening without spending a long period of time on each topic,” said Wright.

In a unit on the World War II homefront, students choose among topics including the growth of unions, Japanese American internment, America and the Holocaust, and African Americans and the campaign for “Double Victory,” and then work in small groups to present their findings in a way that is meaningful to them – “which helps make it a deeper learning experience,” says Wright. Students might compose and perform a rap, walk classmates through a primary source, film and edit a video, present a PowerPoint, or create a visual exhibit.

Amber C., Chloe L., and Laura L. created a video for their report on women in the workplace. "It's always interesting to learn about the things that women did to gain equality and change the way that our lives are now," said Laura. Adds Wright, "They were thoughtful about how to present the research in an engaging and memorable way."