Social Studies

Go West

November 11, 2005 1 min read

The beach community of Oceanside, California, isn’t what comes to mind when most people think of the Old West. But then Oceanside—the Roosevelt Middle School part of it, anyway—doesn’t look much like itself by the time Roxane Rollins gets done with it. For two days each year, the 8th grade history and language arts teacher and her 150 students construct and take on roles in a functioning replica of a pioneer-era frontier town, complete with gold-panning, a saloon (serving root beer), and a working jail.

Roxane Rollins takes kids back to the Wild West, down to the root beer in saloon.

Tired of her textbook’s skimpy treatment of the era, Rollins came up with the idea four years ago as a way to immerse students in Western history. The first year’s Frontier Outpost was held in her classroom, but with subsequent iterations becoming more elaborate and incorporating more people, the event moved to the school’s handball court. The petting zoo, where the wooden nickels that visitors buy at the outpost’s entrance can be exchanged for bags of feed, needed more space. So did the general store,where old-fashioned candy may be purchased. And the telegraph office. And the courthouse, and on and on.

“You see the kids who don’t take part in anything, and then you see them in costume doing their job. You think, Gosh, I wish they would do their homework that way,” Rollins says. William Belina, a blind student in his first year in a regular classroom, worked at the petting zoo and skipped lunch one day “because I was having such a good time doing my job,” he says.

Before they participate, however, students have to satisfy a language arts requirement by writing letters to businesses, asking them to donate materials or offer discounts.And long before the first facade goes up, the kids have to know their history: The favored roles go to the highest-scoring students, and they must exhaustively research the parts they will play. Justin Holgate, who was a sheriff, says the chance to be part of the past—or at least its reenactment—brought the subject to life: “Sometimes history can be fun—when you get to play it out.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 01, 2005 edition of Teacher as Go West

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Social Studies Opinion Civics Ed. Is on the Precipice of Becoming Common Core 2.0
Recent efforts to promote civics education suggest little was learned from the Obama-era dispute around the common core.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Social Studies GOP Leader: Biden Grant Plan Referencing Anti-Racism, 1619 Project Is 'Divisive Nonsense'
Sen. Mitch McConnell's letter to the Education Dept. about a small history program amplifies a political scrum dating back to last year.
3 min read
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 20, 2021.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks on Capitol Hill in Washington earlier this month.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Social Studies Biden Administration Cites 1619 Project as Inspiration in History Grant Proposal
The Biden administration's proposal is part of a heated battle over racism and what students should learn about America's past.
6 min read
The statue of President Abraham Lincoln is seen at the Lincoln Memorial on June 4, 2017 in Washington.
The statue of President Abraham Lincoln is seen at the Lincoln Memorial on June 4, 2017 in Washington.
Cliff Owen/AP
Social Studies Supreme Court Justices Call for More Civics Education Amid Risk From 'Domestic Enemies'
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil M. Gorsuch, both boosters of civics for years, renew their concerns amid deep divisions in the country.
3 min read
Image of people at voting booths.
LPETTET/E+