Day 1: Teachers Find Inspiration at Drayton Hall

This year Drayton Hall’s teacher workshop is a professional development class for teachers through the College of Charleston,  from July 11-15th. Two Drayton Hall interpreters have been approved as adjunct instructors at the College of Charleston in order to teach this course, so we’re actually having a graduate college course instead of a workshop! We had an overwhelming response from teachers which quickly filled the course and already have a waiting list for next summer. Our goal is to communicate the importance of site based education at historic sites and teach teachers to utilize their local resources to enrich their classroom curriculum. Through numerous visits to Lowcountry historic sites, we are empowering teachers to make history more interesting and relevant to their students. Through this course we are directly influencing the 21 enrolled teachers and indirectly influencing all of their future students to appreciate and preserve their history.

We’ve asked one of the enrolled teachers to write about her experiences each day at the workshop and will be posting her reflections on the blog for the next week. Keep checking back in to see how the teachers are progressing.  

“I am always amazed with the response I get when I ask my students if they’ve visited the places we talk about in class every day. Despite living only a dozen miles from sites some people travel hundreds of miles to see, there are only a handful that have ever visited Fort Sumter, Drayton Hall, The Old Slave Market or The Battery.

My school does not have the resources for weekly field trips, but I walked away from today with ideas of how to bring Charleston’s history to my students. Making our city’s history interactive will engage my students and get them more interested in the curriculum.
My wheels were turning all day brainstorming how I could integrate the hands on activities I was presented with and bring the places I visited to my students. The archeology session made my brain light up: what if I presented my students with a mock dig where they “excavate” artifacts that represent daily life on a plantation and must attribute tasks and purposes to each item?

After a demonstration of a connections session the Drayton Hall staff teaches daily about rice production, I was spinning with ideas of how I could recreate the same activity in my own classroom. Rice production was important to the colonial South Carolina economy and is important to my students’ understanding of South Carolina’s history. I have struggled with how to communicate the complicated and labor intensive process of rice production, but I walked away from that segment talking with one of my administrators (also in the workshop) about how we could recreate the tools used to winnow and polish the rice.

Teachers Steve Hardwick and Cait Denny play music on traditional African Instruments.

I left the first day of the workshop still thinking about other ways to integrate what I had learned into my classroom this fall and excited to come back tomorrow (even if it does mean waking up earlier than I have since June!).”

Cait Denny is an 8th Grade Social Studies and Language Arts teacher at River Oaks Middle School in North Charleston. Check back daily as teachers from the Workshop post a blog a day on their experiences at Drayton Hall this summer.

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