Fifth graders learn timeless skills studying heroes from history
Emma was super excited to be in the group that was researching Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony for the fifth grade’s annual Day Before Thanksgiving Day Parade. Not only is she a distant relative of Stanton, she identified with her work in human rights. She also gained experience in a skill that Stanton and Anthony certainly practiced: collaboration.
“I learned a lot about working in a group,” said Emma.
Between three and five students were assigned to each hero. They organized themselves; determining who would lead the research, write a short presentation, and design the visuals.
“I learned that it’s always better working as a team,” said Jessy, a student whose group worked on Eleanor Roosevelt. “If one person couldn’t do something, another one of us could.”
A KES Tradition
From Columbus to today
American heroes are honored
The Day Before Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual tradition at Katonah Elementary School. Students work with teachers Judy McBride, Gloria Miller, and Geneve Patterson to prepare their projects. Librarian Jeanne Hand points them toward additional resources.
The entire fifth grade parades into an all-school assembly in the order that the celebrated American that their group studied lived—from explorer Christopher Columbus to Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Henry Hudson, Thomas Jefferson, the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., and others in-between.
They hold hand-made signs (called floats, as an homage to the other Thanksgiving Day parade) representing their person. Each group stops in the center of the auditorium’s stage to display their float and share a brief overview of why their person is an American hero.
Character Development is folded into the project
The fifteen-minute parade is low-tech, fun, and informative for the whole school. Fifth graders become experts in an American hero and exercise their research, drawing, writing, and public speaking skills.
Maggie's group worked on Jackie Robinson. She felt her American hero’s legacy personally. “He was the first black person to play in Major League Baseball,” said Maggie. “He inspired others to not be afraid and to be who they are.”
“Look at my hair!” Maggie continued. “In the summer it even gets more orange/red. People always ask me if it’s real. I can be different. It’s okay.”