Friday, 27 May 2011

Roadschooling unit study on studying people

 Of all the people we studied, Thomas Jefferson is Antonia's favorite. 
For writing what she refers to as The List of Complaints !

I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the things Antonia's been working on in our roadschooling.  I especially like it when we found ourselves working on a unit study without even knowing we were going to.  In the last few weeks we've learned a lot about the study of people.  I think that's partly because the US lends itself to that subject.  When you see how much they are into biographies and famous people and searching for heroes and mentors is when you realise they're not kidding about the whole individualism thing!  They do it a lot more than us anyway.  So here's what we have done:
  • Read biographies on William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John and Abigail Adams.  The public library has been great for this.  I've just picked out picture books that are quick and easy to read, which is how we got through so much.
  • Learned to use and make timelines of people's lives and important events and how to interpret them.  We used the timelines in the biographies and also made our own using this free internet site.
  • Did some real and pretend interviews.  The real interviews were part of a structured exercise in one of our course books.  The pretend ones involved the exhibit at the African American museum in Philadelphia called conversations.  This is a brilliant exhibit that would really take too long to describe, but in it you get to 'interview' a dozen African American Philadelphians from various times in history.
  • The most sophisticated thing we did was develop a biography map. This was based on the idea of the story map that's also in our books, but is a bit more complicated.  It's a form of things to fill out to structure our knowledge of a person we're studying: name, date and place of birth and death, places lived, family background, education, professions, talents and personality, health and so on.  We developed this after we read the book on the Founding Fathers and tested it at the African American museum. It was a tough project but very helpful.
What I liked about this project was that apart from learning a lot of facts about individual people and times we developed techniques for studying history.

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