Last spring I had the chance to go to a Massachusetts DOE seminar promoting service-learning in public schools across the state. Impressed with some of the projects I saw at the meeting, I spent the next few months thinking of something neat I could do with my classes. When I talked to a teacher at the Solmonese school about the annual tour of Norton for 3rd grade students, the lightbulb went off. Why not have my students research all the historical points of interest in town and then conduct the tour themselves? It seemed like a win-win situation. The elementary school teachers would certainly approve as it would mean less stress for them. My students would most certainly enjoy getting the opportunity to get outside the school to work with 3rd graders. And the 3rd grade students? Lets just say they were thrilled to hang out with the "cool" kids from the high school.
The project took a lot of planning and ironing out of details, but finally came to pass on June 5th. I think its safe to say that many of my students were anxious and even nervous prior to our departure. Despite this, I think my students clearly hit a homerun. Being the first class to ever attempt this project, I can't compliment them enough on how much responsibility and initiative they all showed for this assignment. With so many eyes watching them, they clearly realized how important the work they were doing was and really wanted to do a great job.
Their research included trips to the Norton Historical Society to speak with members as well as take advantage of the archives there. They also completed research online and from the resources available at Norton High. A number of students later expressed interest in getting more involved with the Historical Society which really pleased me as well as the society itself.
The trip itself started on 9:45am when 3 buses full of 3rd graders picked up 20 of my sophomores at NHS. From that point, the buses went all over town in different orders checking out several points of interest including the Historical Society Schoolhouse, the Town Common, King Philips Cave, the Common Cemetary, the Wetherell Homestead, Crane Farm, Devil's Rock, the Unitarian Church, and a few other spots. From that point, all the buses brought back the JCS students to school where there were some heartfelt goodbyes from the 3rd grade students to the high school students. I think just about every one of my students made at least one new friend that day.
I'd like to thank the following people for their support and assistance in helping me get this project off the ground: Mr. Dewar, Mr. Barth, Mr. Duff, George Yelle, Ruth Gould, Miss Alves & all the JCS 3rd grade teachers, and lastly all my students who worked so hard for the past month in making this project such a success.