Every year our fourth graders read a biography and transform themselves into a notable character. Today was the day when they all showed up in costume, with symbolic paraphernalia in hand, to read their scripts aloud and put on a museum of famous people. I met Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart (two of them), MLK, Anne Sullivan, Michael Jordan, and many others.
The same famous people tend to show up, over and over, but today I met at least a couple of new ones. I don't think John Muir has ever visited Trinity before, and Charles Schulz also made his debut.
Most creative award goes to Mozart, with high collar and jabot ruffled shirt, playing an electric concertos on an programed electric keyboard.
Several things about this project are worth noting. The students live into another character. Their written pieces are first person, helping them to stretch their imaginations. They practice their writing, and they read their piece out loud, one of the best stress tests for any piece of writing. And, of course, they get the chance to practice reading and projecting in front of a group. Third graders do this with state day and country day, and this is a sensible step up from that.
You have to be careful, though, when you visit the museum. When you stop and ask these students to tell you about their character, you had better be ready for a long story. Sometimes I invent ways to skim my way through the class ("Tell me one thing you enjoyed learning"), but today I decided to let Muhammed Ali go on for as long as he could. That was a long time, and I learned a thing or two I had never heard. This is what we mean when we speak of a rich education.