Monday, December 15, 2014

A "Cookie Cutter" Lesson

For those that know me, you've probably guessed I'm totally against the typical "cookie cutter" lessons. That is, I hate the "cookie cutter" approach: I don't like when lessons are taken and used in the same way in multiple classrooms. Each teacher, each student, and thus, each class is different. No lesson should be used without enhancing it in ways that meet the needs in your own classroom. In other words, every lesson should have distinguishing characteristics that set it apart from the teacher down the hall. What works for my coworkers and their students might not work for mine, and what works for my students and I, might not work for them. So, teachers should constantly adapt and enhance lessons, not always re-inventing the wheel perhaps, but always keeping in mind the varying needs and interests of the students in their classroom.

So, I've taken the idea of a "cookie cutter" lesson to a different level this holiday season. On the day before Christmas break, I'm bringing in over a hundred cookie cutters (it's nice to have a wife that loves to bake) for my students to create scenes from history.

Whether it's the Boston Massacre with snowman Redcoats and candy cane guns or a gingerbread house that turns into Fort McHenry with a shooting star becoming a bomb bursting in air or a rocket's red glare, there is no shortage of creativity with this lesson.  How cool it is to see students creating scenes of gingerbread men Iroquois Indians in the Christmas tree-forested Eastern Woodlands hunting Rudolph, a teddy bear Sojourner Truth giving her "Ain't I A Woman" speech with a candy cane microphone, or re-creating John Gast's famous "American Progress" painting with an angeltoy trains, and countless other cookie cutters. 

The kids never cease to amaze me with their ingenuity, originality, and creativity. Hopefully later in the week, I'll have some images of their work to show you...I forgot to take pictures last year when I combined this activity with a carol-writing one.

If you are interested, 101 cookie cutters for $16 on Amazon: Wilton 2304-1104 101 Piece Cookie Cutter Set

Women's Suffrage protest

The Beating of Charles Sumner

Fort Sumter

Iroquois Indians

Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad

Boston Tea Party

Steam Locomotive