Tuesday, October 18, 2016

And I do research, too?

It's always hard to toot your own horn, but I can't help it for today was a pretty exciting day!  The extraordinary retired fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Harris, and I received an award from the New York State Archives.  Wild!  For three years Karen and I worked hard introducing kids to primary documents, our community, repositories and local historians in order to create a research project to submit to the NYS Student Research Award.  Kids researched what Castleton was like in its heydey!  They interviewed senior citizens, visited cemeteries and old movie theatres.  They admired wedding rings purchased from a jewelry store in our town and visited what was once an old jail.  Train wrecks, yearbooks, fire escapes, bakeries, newsrooms, wedding albums...And although the kids never won the top prize, in our minds they did. Yes, I cried when they didn't win, but I had to remind myself what hard work they put in and how much they learned about archives, historical records, primary documents and more.

Two years ago, we read the book Revolution by Deborah Wiles aloud with all of the fifth graders. Then we examined segregation and discrimination as the focus of our research projects. Some of the topics students examined were music, Title IX and literature. As a prerequisite to the research, Kathy Sheehan, the Rensselaer County historian took us on a field trip of Troy and we performed a reader's theatre.  Check this out:

Kathy Sheehan with our late superintendent, Bob Horan.
He met us in Troy that day.

Look at Bob participating in the Reader's Theatre!

Karen and I even took our show on the road!  We presented our program at four state conferences (one we even did twice because the workshop in our room was cancelled and people were anxious to learn something) and last year I wrote about it in my column for School Library Connection.

We couldn't have done it without the support of our administration and the perseverance of the village, town and county historians.  We were lucky enough to see the town and county historians today.  We reminisced about the time we had a 6:30 AM meeting with Kathy Sheehan to plan our project.  I did bring muffins to ease the pain of a sunrise meeting. But boy is that dedication or what?!

What an honor today was!  Thank you again NYS Archives for this award.  Thank you, Karen, for a seamless collaboration.  And of course, thank you to all of our students who worked so hard through and through even pulling their hair out to get the final submissions done as late as the 11th hour (literally!) on the very last day of school!

A Blast from Our Past

This documentary won an honorable mention in 2013.  It is from our very first year and is about a hotel that used to be right on Main Street in Castleton.  It's actually quite interesting.  They were lucky enough to get their hands on many primary documents and artifacts.  I was with the kids the day they were in the Village Hall and the ledger of the hotel was discovered in the back room. Needless to say, I was leaping!

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