This is Chapter 5 of the Creative Master’s Thesis I completed as part of the requirements for my master’s degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in storytelling. The purpose of this study was to create a role-playing program of the life and times of Christopher Columbus for use with fifth-grade social studies students. It was intended that this creative unit may either be used as a substitute for or in conjunction with a textbook approach. These seven role-plays are also appropriate for grades three and four. The links to all role-plays, tests, and teacher scripts will be included.
Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations
Summary and Conclusions
The purpose of this thesis was to provide a viable alternative to traditional teaching methods.
A fifth-grade group of 18 students participated in the creative sessions on Columbus. They first completed a social studies attitudinal survey prior to the program. Given the choices of language arts, math, reading, science, and social studies, five students indicated that social studies was their favorite subject. Three students chose social studies as their second favorite subject. Two students liked social studies third best. Three students liked social studies fourth best. Five students did not like social studies. One of the students who indicated that social studies was her fourth favorite subject mentioned that she really liked it that they were allowed to “draw about Indians and other things,” and she really liked “having [our teacher] tell us stories about social studies.” Most of the students had good attitudes about the subject, but almost all of the students indicated that they did not like reading the textbook. Whether the students made low scores or high scores, they all seemed to have a good attitude about the subject and could see the validity of the subject. This could have been largely a result of the classroom teacher’s teaching style.
The fifth graders also took a pretest on Christopher Columbus to test prior knowledge on the subject. They then took part in eight one-hour role-playing sessions on the life and times of Christopher Columbus. Afterward the fifth graders took a posttest on Columbus. The pretest and posttest were identical tests. They were highly fact-based and largely of a geographical nature.
The 20 classroom teachers who participated in session one of the creative Columbus unit all appeared to be excited to see a creative approach to teaching social studies. All 20 teachers indicated that they would like to use such a program in their classrooms. This would require that the Columbus role-playing sessions be published and made available for classroom use. Additionally, other programs on other explorers and for other topics of interest in social studies would need to be developed. This writer recommends that the effort be made to create programs similar to the role-playing unit on Columbus for classroom use.
In the opinion of the writer, based on her experience with this study, the ideal teaching strategy would be to combine traditional and creative teaching methodologies for each social studies unit. All children have a different learning style. Some children are visual learners, and some children are auditory learners; still others are a combination of the two. For maximum student learning and retention, each unit of social studies could combine traditional and storytelling strategies. This writer contends, however, that students will recall the basic storyline far longer than they will recall dates, facts, and figures. Assuming that the goal is long-term student recall, the use of storytelling techniques is the ideal teaching strategy.
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