Round about mid-May, summer-itis infects most fourth grade classes. Who can blame them? They have been listening to me yap about fractions and quotations marks for close to nine months and Humboldt County is a glorious playground in the summer. They want to be outside! I have a few curricular “tricks” to help alleviate the symptomatic wiggles, but it is a very difficult disorder to cure.
While this particular infection doesn’t require the use of shots or mask wearing (phew!), social distancing can help. Known to cause short attention spans and wiggly butts, my usual go-to vaccine for alleviating summer-itis is doing a three week physics unit around force and motion. It culminates with student using alka-seltzer tablets to shoot off pop rockets. The promise of a future “bang” does wonders to help focus attention. I also know that if I mention the word “horse”, Rosa will be paying attention to the conversation. (While conversations about horses are a valuable addition to my medicine cabinet, that particular remedy is pretty person specific!)
When I got the news that I would (finally) be going to Peru for 1o days this summer to fulfill my Teachers for Global Classrooms Fulbright commitment, I immediately started wondering if learning about a faraway country could cure students in the same way that an “explody” science lessons does. I knew that learning about Peru would be right in Ollie’s educational wheelhouse. A history buff, he is extraordinarily motivated to learn anything about history and geography. That said, I wasn’t as sure if this study would be engaging for every fourth grader. (I needn’t have worried!)
I decided to go for it. I changed horses in mid stream. Despite my love of science, I dropped the explosions. Peru it was. Initially, the goal was simply to have each student create a short, multimedia informational report ( a few seen on this post.) This particular gaggle of scholars is astoundingly curious and awfully tech savvy, so I was expecting some top notch stuff. They didn’t disappoint. Colorful, well-researched, (mostly) grammatically correct reports that ranged from ancient Peruvian history, geography, the Amazon, wildlife in the Andes, ancient ruins, to food unique to Peru.
But the class’ inquisitive nature and ability to reason led us in a more interesting direction, as well. They weren’t limited to scouring the internet for more facts about Peru. In the midst of our deep dive into Machu Picchu (fascinating on so many levels!), a lively debate arose regarding who actually built the ancient ruin. Some websites claimed that the Incas could not possibly have built the site. The main point of the sites’ argument was that this ancient civilization did not have metal tools or the technological chops to build this feat of engineering. It must have been aliens. Websites were compared, sources checked, expert testimony was heard. In the end, Benji, along with the rest of the fourth grader class, used evidenced-based reasoning to come to the conclusion that Machu Picchu was NOT built by aliens. Instead, they reasoned that the Incas developed the technical skills over a long period of time by trial and error and by using techniques borrowed from those cultures that they had absorbed into their empire. All that being said, Sam (more on my traveling buddy tomorrow) and I will be double checking for any evidence of aliens in the “hidden room” (ask a fourth grader about it!) when we are standing on top of that spectacular ancient ruin in a few weeks.
Our studies took a more personal turn in the following weeks. Stay tuned for the next post…
BTW Don’t tell August that we were going to do pop rockets last May. He LOVES explosions!!!!
And, Don’t forget to leave a comment or question below. Let me know what you think or what you’re curious about.
This is really awesome! We learned so much from your writing and the informational posters! Thanks!
I am fascinated by how much information the fourth grade students uncovered with their research on Peru and the Incas. They are fortunate to have a teacher who lays the ground work for such a great project.
What a great way to help your students with summer-itis!! That just speaks volumes about what type of teacher you are!! I know you will learn a lot about Peru and share it with your students. Best wishes on your journey!!
Thanks, Kim! I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. I had a fantastic year with my students. This is turning out to be a great way to finish out the year.
Hey,mom! Good to hear from you. My students have been very hard workers all year long. They are a great group of humans!
Hi, Wilder! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Looking forward to sharing more about Peru with you and the school community. Have a great summer!
Thanks so much Greg! I think Inca mythology is super interesting and can’t wait to hear more. I am super excited for your next log and can’t wait to hear about everything else in Peru.
Hello Greg, What do you think of Inca architecture if you have seen any monuments?
I read it had amazing stone works.
So great to hear from you! I have not had a chance to see any Incan architecture,yet. I have been sitting in class for most of the last two days learning about Peru and it’s education system. We went to the American Embassy in Lima today and met with a lot of educational mucky mucks. They were very inspiring. What was really interesting to me was that Peru is struggling with a lot of the same issues that American schools are struggling with. I’ll be writing more about it in a few days.
I’m having an amazing time learning and writing! I’m really glad that your enjoying it. Tell the other newly graduated about the blog. I’d love to hear from them!
How is Peru? Have you seen any animals in Peru that are not in the United States yet? How has the food been? Did you eat any guinea pig ? Have you seen any cool rivers in Peru?
Hi, Luca (Haystack)!
How’s the summer going? Have you been rafting? Surfing? I have been really, really busy. The Fulbright people have a lot of really amazing things for us to do. Today we explored Pachacama, a large ruin south of Lima. There is evidence of four different civilizations living there over the course of 1,000 years (the Incas were the last civiliztion to inhabit it. I’ll be writing more about it in a few days. I did see some Alpacas today, but we’ve been mostly staying pretty close to the city, so there’s not a lot of wildlife. The food has been FANTASTIC. Much of the food has been sea food because we are so close to the ocean. The Ceviche has been over the top wonderful! Get outside and do some exploring of your own!
COUNTESS ELIANA ZENYATTA MC.READERSTINE
How are you? Have you mistaken your wife for an alpaca yet? Please tell me when you do. Have fun. I will see you next year, and I expect to hear at least 20 story’s about your trip/. I want a play by play, full of detail so pay attention. If you learn anything about Matchu Picchu. Anything, but if there is some new, you HAVE to write.
Sorry about the gramar mistakes. The computer I am using is hard to controll
Don’t tell anyone, i kind of maybe miss you.
Countess Eliana Zenyatta Mc.Readerstine
Countess Eliana Zenyatta McReaderstein!
Wow! I loved your message!
I am having a great time in Peru and paying close attention to all of it! I will have lots of stories for you. My favorite part so far has been meeting some Peruvians. In my experience, they are very, very passionate and excited about learning. You would fit right in! Maybe you could study in Peru some day?
I have not confused my wife for an Alpaca yet, because she is not here. She will come on Friday. That is when we will go to Cusco and then Machu Picchu. I have not seen it yet, but I did go to Pachacamac the other day. They were fascinating ruins. Weird to be walking back in history. I can’t WAIT to tell you all my stories.
And hey… I miss you, too!