History comes alive at Churchville-Chili MS

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

Eighth-graders at Churchville-Chili Middle School recently completed what is normally a standard social studies unit on the Industrial Revolution in America. Their educational experience, however, was far different than what students may have had in the past. 

Social studies teacher Katie Armstrong, ELA teacher Jen Podanowski and math teacher Natalie Henty created a multidisciplinary program that combined the three subjects, making the Industrial Revolution relevant and exciting for 21st-century learners. A co-teaching experience was crafted using Zoom to run classes simultaneously. This enabled students to engage from their separate classrooms and remote locations.

After an overview of the history, students were invited to choose a topic and go deep into it with research. They were challenged to create unique history podcasts featuring Progressive Era subjects like the Gospel of Wealth, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Bessemer steel process and early 20th-century tenements. 

Students used research and critical thinking skills to become experts in each area. They organized their thoughts and wrote concise scripts that made the history accessible and easy to understand. A contemporary connection was included, demonstrating how their featured event remains important in today’s world.

Each student designed a rationale and title art for their podcast program, including names like the “Past Podcast,” “Blast from the Past” and “The Total Outcast.” As host and narrator, each developed their own presentation style. Then, they recorded and edited their three- to 10-minute audio podcast episodes. Some included a guest host to make things more interesting. Almost 100 students created original podcast episodes.

“I enjoyed the learning aspect of the project,” student Cameron Cohen said. “I learned things about the light bulb and its progression through history that I never knew before." 

“There were no limits for what we could use or how the editing was to be done,” student Jordan Cope said. “That made everyone's podcast very unique. It was interesting learning how to make a podcast without anybody else's ideas and get creative." 

People’s Choice Award semifinalist Amanda Conner, left, and winner Eliana Chalmers.

"I enjoyed recording my podcast and adding the sound effects and music,” student Jenjira Pellett said. “I felt like these aspects really brought all of my hard work to life."

Students listened, learned from and critiqued each other’s podcasts on theme, narration and hosting. 

"I enjoyed recording my podcast and then listening to all the others,” student Juanita Bishop said. “It made me realize what I needed to do differently next time."

Students used grade-level math concepts to collect and analyze their scoring data, exploring how different types of charts and graphs could be used to represent the findings and determine conclusions. Students learned to recognize the potential for bias in voting and strategies for avoiding it. The winning podcasts were recognized with awards at the end of the project.

Justice Swinton, left, wins Best Narration and Lilly Stouffer wins Best Art for their history podcasts.