One of my favorite studies in our two year curriculum is a focus on immigration and the Industrial Revolution. As with all our studies, it is a cross disciplinary approach to help our students gain a deep understanding of the concepts. As part of this study students explored current and historical issues of immigration in history classes and literature. The focus on push and pull factors as well as adapting to a new life were central to these classes. Students interviewed a recent immigrant and crafted a non-fiction narrative about their experiences in Writing Workshop. Students also explored their own family history. In science, students explored the changing use of land and watershed as they related to industry. We also focused on how new industries required a larger workforce and new ways of manufacturing. A field trip to Lowell, MA provided a rich experience for our learners. The entire unit culminated with an Ellis Island Simulation in our small gym where the entire community could come together in celebration of learning.
I have used Minecraft as part of our Westward Movement study and see it as a valuable tool to capture student understanding. For years I wanted to integrate Minecraft into the rich study of immigration and Industrial Revolution. After collaborative discussions with our Director of Technology, colleagues, and students I created a Minecraft Challenge (my notes). My goal was to help students understand the connection between watersheds, changing land use, and industry. I wanted to provide an experience where students could develop their skills of collaboration and communication. I also wanted to students to share their learning with a wide audience. A Minecraft world connected with screen casts seemed like the best fit.
After exploring watersheds through hands-on activities and excursions into nature we examined maps of Lowell, MA. The maps depicted an agrarian Lowell and industrial Lowell. From this focused examination students began to explore the connection between watersheds, canals, and industry. With this foundation of experience students eagerly accepted the challenge of creating their own mill city to share their understanding of the subject matter and to express their creativity.
This was my first iteration and I am curious how I could make this experience better for my students.
Reflection from our admissions department