Weeks ago, I planned and booked a trip to Lexington and Concord with the National Parks Service. I am fortunate enough to live in Massachusetts, the cradle of liberty. Tons and tons of potential field trips here to learn about colonial America and the Revolutionary War. At the time I booked the trip, I had hoped I would be a little further along in the curriculum. Though I have to admit that I am not as far behind as I feared. We are close to talking about Lexington and Concord in class.
Fast forward to yesterday. After finishing the French and Indian War with the students, I completed a simulation with the students. Most students were assigned the role of Colonist. Two students were assigned roles as members of Parliament, one as the Tax Collector and one as the King. The colonists were given wrapped candy as currency. The king sat on a thrown with Parliament flanking his sides. Oh yeah, much to the chagrin of my students I was dressed head to toe in a colonial outfit I bought last year from the Tory Tailor (sorry no pictures).
As the King sat royally on his thrown, Parliament announced some Royal Decrees to tax the colonists, a tax by the way that was intended to pay for the French and Indian War. The Tax collector dutifully went around and collected taxes. Needless to say that after several rounds of being taxed the Colonists were ready to revolt. "This is unfair!" "They can't do that!" Some even resorted to hiding goods so they would not be taxed on certain items.
After the simulation was completed and the taxes were totaled (The King earned 50% of the taxes, Parliament split 40% and the Tax Collector kept 10% while the Colonists were left with nothing or next to nothing.) we had a nice discussion of what happened and connected back to what the Colonists may have felt and why they reacted the way they did to the British Policies and Acts. Students made insightful comments and connections from the simulation in class to what happened to the Colonists.
This morning I woke up, checked the weather only to see that today it was going to rain. Uh Oh. The trip is mainly outdoors. I did my best anti rain dance and got ready for the day, pulled out my black "Got History?" t-shirt that I got from the National Archives a few years ago for just such occassions and proceeded to get ready for the day. Oddly enough, one of the other teachers also had a similar shirt on with the same catch phrase. Hers was from Gettysburg.
I have to say that overall the kids were very well behaved on the trip save a few minute incidents. One retired couple made it a point to speak to me about how nice the students were and that I should be very proud of them, especially since a few of the kids gave up their seats so that they could sit down to watch the movie too. Later on at the North Bridge, you know the one...it was immortalized in a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a retired teacher stopped me and asked about the class. She commented that this was an awesome experience for the kids. She also mentioned that the kids were engaged and it was a great way for kids to learn history. Well if I wasn't bursting with pride earlier from the first interaction, I certainly was now!
Throughout the course of the trip the students got to see some artifacts and historical monuments, listen to a costumed interpreter explain what happened, read and discuss some primary source documents, see a musket fire and view two multimedia presentations about what happened at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. I would say it was not a bad day, and all without too much rain. Just sprinkles here and there. I guess my anti rain dance worked, because the torrential downpours did not happen until we were safely back inside the school.