Fifth Graders Present Impressive “Lewis and Clark” History Projects
Introducing this year’s Grade 5 Lewis and Clark Day, Middle School Head Nancy Posner said, “I really want to note how hard these students worked and also how well they worked together.”
Each year, Lewis and Clark Day represents the culmination of an extensive multidisciplinary study by fifth graders of American explorers Lewis and Clark.
In fact, learning across disciplines is a staple of the Middle School curriculum. During the event, students present music, drama, and dance performances, and share a visual arts display. They also complete intensive studies of Lewis and Clark and related issues in history, English, foreign language, math, and science, enabling them to understand key historical figures from different perspectives and extending students’ investigations far beyond the textbook.
“Since late September, fifth graders have been researching their topics in history class. Each student was assigned a member of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery (the government-sponsored team that explored Thomas Jefferson’s “Louisiana Purchase”) or an American Indian tribe the Corps encountered,” said Middle School history teacher Ann McCartney.
While busily researching in history class, fifth graders studied their chosen historical figures in other courses: writing poems in English, working out math word problems, studying the functions of compasses and maps in science, reporting on Lewis and Clark in newspaper articles written in current events class, and drawing images captioned in French or Spanish during foreign language classes.
Student performances kicked off Lewis and Clark Day in the Richard Perry Theatre on November 6. Performances included Middle School Performing Arts Coordinator Dan Doughty’s fifth grade music class, Middle School drama teacher Jill Bolstridge’s fifth grade drama, and Middle School dance teacher Pam Pollock’s fifth grade class.
In music, students performed “Tsiothwatasetha,” an Iroquois Social Song and Round Dance, as well as original music inspired by the piece, after studying Native American musical culture. Bolstridge’s drama students performed an excerpt from the musical “The Adventures of Lewis and Clark: A Musical Journey Along the Oregon Trail,” after learning about stage performance and storytelling.
Pollock’s dance class creatively explored movement through their individually assigned historical characters, creating a piece that illuminated the relationship between the Native American tribes and the Corps of Discovery. Middle School visual arts teacher Hilary Koenig’s sand painting was on display in the gym, too.
Next, as students, faculty, family, and friends moved into the gym for poster presentations and some celebratory desserts, students stood by their history presentations eagerly waiting to share all of the information they’d discovered over the last few months.
“They started by learning just 10 facts about their topic and finding just one picture. They worked their way up to have 50 facts and at least six pictures. Along the way they also studied maps of the journey and found excerpts from the primary source journals of either Lewis or Clark. Ultimately, they created project boards to share all of their information and gave speeches to their classmates,” explained McCartney.
Across the gym walls hung other projects exploring Lewis and Clark from different disciplines. Impressed visitors read from news stories, enjoyed poems, browsed through math books, and more! “It was wonderful to see the students sharing their projects,” said McCartney. “I know they were very proud of themselves and all the hard work they had done. I could not be more proud of each and every one of them.”
Before heading off to enjoy the weekend, everyone took a moment to enjoy some sweet treats brought in by some very generous (and proud!) Poly Middle School parents. For a photo gallery of this year’s Grade 5 Lewis and Clark Day, click here.
One fifth grader presents her Lewis and Clark history project.
Performances for Lewis and Clark Day took place in the Richard Perry Theatre.
Fifth graders solved word problems in math class inspired by Lewis and Clark's journey.
Sixth graders take notes on various interesting facts learned during Lewis and Clark Day.
Parents, family, and friends enjoy learning about Lewis and Clark.