Curriculum Opinion

Curricular Activities—Elementary

By Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach — February 26, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Digital learning consultant and instructor
The College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia

See Also

Students need 21st-century skills to succeed in our rapidly transforming society. They must also perform well on high-stakes tests. How can teachers meet both agendas?

Technology provides the perfect medium for children to build their learning experiences, construct meaning, work in teams, create products, and solve content-based problems as they improve higher-order thinking skills. Many teachers using digital media and Web-based tools are discovering we can have rigor without sacrificing excitement. The secret: Focus on the learning, not the machines and software.

While teaching at W.T. Cooke Elementary in Virginia a few years back, my colleague Becky Thomas and I chose a project-based approach for 4th graders’ exploration of antebellum plantations. We identified standards, objectives, and the necessary digital tools.

“A Mystery Adventure on a James River Plantation” integrated research, writing skills, social studies, and technology use—not to mention pirates and hidden treasure!

Student teams selected plantations, gathered information from Web articles, and chose real-life plantation figures to profile. They incorporated all this into fictional stories featuring ghosts based on their characters. To jump-start the kids, Becky provided a spooky opening and told them to include a treasure hunt in the plot.

They were guided by a detailed worksheet, but they had to finish the stories in a specified amount of time—a relatively advanced skill for this age group. Along the way, they sharpened their Web-searching and word processing skills.

Typically, students answer questions to show understanding of material. In this project they wrote imaginative stories after analyzing their own research. It was the ideal mix of creativity and standards-driven methodology.

The author is a member the Teacher Leaders Network, a nonprofit professional community of accomplished educators dedicated to sharing ideas and expanding teachers’ influence. For more information on the group, visit: www.teacherleaders.org.
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2007 edition of Teacher as Curricular Activities


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
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.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

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

Curriculum More States Require Schools to Teach Cursive Writing. Why?
Technological advances notwithstanding, advocates give a long list of reasons for teaching students cursive.
5 min read
Photo of child practicing cursive writing.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Curriculum Computer Science Courses Are on the Rise—But Girls Are Still Half as Likely to Take It
Schools expanded the availability of foundational computer science classes, but stubborn gaps in access to those courses persist.
4 min read
Photograph of diverse group of primary school students using laptops in a bright classroom.
Curriculum Many States Are Limiting How Schools Can Teach About Race. Most Voters Disagree
A majority of polled voters want students to learn about the history of racism and slavery in the United States and its legacy today.
4 min read
The "statue" of Michelle Obama, played by Kaylee Gray, talks to students during Black History Month's wax museum at Chestnut Grove Elementary School in Decatur, Ala., on Feb. 27, 2020. Instead of the usual assembly, Chestnut Grove students played the roles of famous black and white people who contributed to the civil rights movement and black people who have made significant contributions to history.
The "statue" of Michelle Obama, played by Kaylee Gray, talks to students during Black History Month's wax museum at Chestnut Grove Elementary School in Decatur, Ala., on Feb. 27, 2020.
Jeronimo Nisa/The Decatur Daily via AP
Curriculum Download DOWNLOADABLE: Choosing Grade School Books With Complex Representation of People and Topics
A new tool from The Education Trust helps educators think deeply about what complex representation of people, cultures, and topics means.
1 min read
Image of an open book, and a hand drawing a character of the content.