As a second grade teacher at Southlake Elementary in Oklahoma City, Shannon Cross is charged with teaching events, symbols, landmarks, holidays and historical figures associated with American History. She scoured the web, library books and You Tube for interesting resources, but found little age-appropriate information that would also interest a fidgety seven year old. After completing her fellowship/road trip this summer investigating major landmarks across the northeastern United States, Shannon decided to let her students become the primary sources.
She started the school year by sharing from her itinerary artifacts and videos of her at landmarks discussing the symbols, reading the signs and telling stories about what she was learning in
Washington DC at:
- the U.S. Capitol Building
- the White House
- the Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington Memorials
- Ford Theater
- the Smithsonian American History Museum
- the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
- the Newseum
- Independence National Historic Park
- the Liberty Bell Center
- Independence Hall
- Congress Hall
- the National Constitution Center
- One Liberty Observation Deck
and Boston at:
- the Old North Church
- Paul Revere’s home
- the Old State House
- the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, and
- the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library.
Then, she invited students to research one of the sites or symbols and present their findings to the school community.
“My students loved seeing, touching, experiencing and even becoming history during my lessons by dressing up as different monuments and symbols,” said Shannon. “By acting out their research, they compared and contrasted stories and were inspired to write pieces about their own version of history based on my fellowship research and our new curriculum.“
Shannon is passionate about teaching young students American history and believes that by going to these sites and researching them first-hand during her fellowship, that passion “revolutionized” how she taught the subject.
“History is not just stories in a book, it is real people and real events, which my students are learning through non-fiction texts,” said Shannon. “On my fellowship, I learned about the history of these famous historical figures, however, the most important thing I learned is that we have all come together to form this great country and create it as our life and culture evolve.”
Shannon has taught for 15 years in the Dallas and Oklahoma City Metro Areas. Her recent accomplishments include winning the Moore Public Schools PTA Pat Henry Award and being a nominee for the South OKC Chamber Teacher of the Year Award.