As I have begun to mentor an aspiring educator, I’ve been thinking about my various roles as a teacher. At any given moment I am a mentor, a guide, a sources of knowledge, a hero, a villain, a supporting player, a taskmaster, and a cheerleader. I am an ever-shifting presence in the lives of my students until I become a memory.
In addition to my metaphorical hats, I also have many physical hats that I don to embody different historical characters. I play Napoleon, Charles Knight (author of The Working-Man’s Companion), Otto von Bismarck, and a variety of generic roles from different periods of history. I often find myself on Amazon thinking, “seriously, how have I lived 35 years without owning a Victorian era top hat?” As a teacher, you try many ways to make learning more engaging and the smattering of characters is simply one of those ways.
Over the past few years, I have been trying to create opportunities for my students to interact with history. Sometimes ideas for this hit you at the oddest moments. One snowy day during winter break, I was myself watching one of the Mission: Impossible movies when I heard…
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to…”
My mind began racing…
Could I use this as an assignment set up in the classroom?
The idea delighted me as I imagined myself sending self-destructive assignments to my students.
What if it wasn’t me who assigned the students a project but a rather a voice from the past?
This led me to, over a year or so, develop several Voice from the Past assignments. I am sharing three in this post that while are formatted differently and use varying levels of technology, they all have a similar set up. One is about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, one of an investigation into the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, and the final is a look at the origin of the Mexican War. Continue reading