Third Graders Study The History Of Orchard, Create a Living Museum For The Community

Third Grade Teachers
Mrs. Driskell and Mrs. Underwood attended a workshop during the summer of 2017 in New York City on using imaginative inquiry to teach Social Studies. Mrs. Driskell and Mrs. Underwood shared that information with Mrs. Starlin and last year they all used that method to teach Indianapolis History. This year they decided to expand it into teaching Orchard History.

The students started with learning about what a school in the 1920s might be like in an imaginative inquiry drama. In these dramas, the teacher takes the students back in time describing where they are and what is happening. Then the students take on roles of one or more of the actual people in the drama but they come with their own ideas and feelings. In the 1920 school drama, students were met by the teacher as they jumped back in time to actually experience the classroom. They walked into a room with desks in straight rows. They were told to sit at their seat and not speak. The teacher quizzed each student to see if he/she knew their times table and had the students choral read together. The students were all in and readily took part in the oh-so-strict school setting. Afterwards, when coming back to the present they listed some of the things they learned about public schools in the 1920s. 

Then they took part in a drama where they jumped back to a meeting of the Founding mothers as they discussed a “new” Progressive kind of education. A couple of the mothers were sharing Marietta Johnson’s new method of Progressive teaching with the group. When we were discussing this new Progressive education idea the students (portraying the 9 mothers) came up with the idea to start a school. In their discussion they came to the decision to start small with maybe a first grade class and add on as each year passed. The students came to the same conclusion that the 9 mothers had decided so many years ago.

Other methods we employed during our Orchard history study were examining primary sources such as pictures and artifacts around the school. As we looked at artifacts around the school, the students developed questions. We examined the pictures of the Heads of School and they started asking what a Head of School does. We invited Dr. Sherri Helvie down to talk to the students and answer their questions.

The students broke into smaller groups and worked on different decades to explore a few important events of that decade. To gain more information and get more questions answered, the third grade teachers met with some alum teachers. There were many fun stories told by them. That information was then shared with the students in their small groups.

Picture (L to R): 
Margaret Sharples: Retiree, Former Teacher and Assistant Head of School, 40 Years at Orchard, 
Marcia Fidler: Retiree, Former Teacher, 45 Years at Orchard
Cheri Driskell: Current 3rd Grade Teacher, 18 Years at Orchard
Sarah Madtson: Retiree, Former Teacher, 40 Years at Orchard
Debbie Underwood: Current 3rd Grade Teacher, 21 Years at Orchard
Kim Starlin: Current 3rd Grade Teacher, 23 Years at Orchard
Anne Scheele: Retiree, Development Director, Public Relations Director, Director of Institutional Advancement, 28 Years at Orchard

We also read parts of the book “A Path Well Chosen” with the students, which lead to many more questions about things that happened in the past. We joined with Kelsey Schlarb (Development Associate) and Deb Thornburgh (Development Director) to invite some Orchard graduates from as far back as 1945 to serve as a panel to answer the students’ questions. The students confidently stood up and asked questions they had about Orchard’s past. The 1945 alums were very impressed by the students.

Picture (L to R): 
Regan Reams: Summer Camp Manager/Kids Connect Admin. Assistant, Class of 2005
David Hamilton: Class of 2000
Meredith (Thornburgh) White: Class of 1997
Nick Eble: Assistant Head of School, Class of 1988
Steve Thompson: Retiree,Teacher, Coach, Athletic Director, Advisor, 47 Years at Orchard, Class of 1963
Bob Robinson: Class of 1945
Weber Donaldson: Class of 1945

For our culminating activity, the students choose to share an event from each decade as part of our living museum. The 1920s shared box town and the May pageant. The 1930s created a skit about a teacher who came with a passion for dinosaurs, which led to third grade dinosaur studies for many years. They were building contraptions and working in shop in the 1940s. The explored lip-syncing in the dining hall for the 1950s. The 1960s brought us the rummage sale to collect funds to help the school. In the 1970s they worked on the The Orchard News, which was an Orchard newspaper that included work from the students. The 1980s shared showboat, which highlighted student’s talents. And finally, the 1990s focused on Orchard in Bloom, another fundraiser.

Watch the video below to see a sneak peek into the classroom during the living museum project! 


At the Founders' Day assembly, the third graders sang a song highlighting the decade activities, performed a short skit depicting how the 9 mothers decided to open their own school, and a past and present slideshow of Orchard at each decade. And of course, we had cupcakes for lunch...

Happy 96th Birthday Orchard!

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