Live from the American Revolution
On stage at Pinchbeck Elementary School, 18th century characters performed in a 21st century play. In powdered wigs, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry rapped and danced about the American Revolution.
“Taxation without representation, what a bad situation,” they sang. “Before we have nothing left, give me liberty or give me death!”
The historical figures came to life in a play written, directed and performed by fourth- graders in Ryan Stein’s social studies classes. “Live from the American Revolution” featured 10 acts highlighting the important events of the war. Students dressed as newscasters and reporters interviewed the characters and updated the audience.
“The whole play is about the students searching for a deeper understanding of the American Revolution and showing what they know,” explains Stein.
“It’s making them use higher level thinking skills. Instead of only reading about the American Revolution, they are actually creating the American Revolution from their own eyes and perspectives. They think about the kind of conversations George Washington would have with Thomas Jefferson. They are developing it themselves.”
In the play’s first act, news reporters questioned Principal Kirk Eggleston, who gave a cameo appearance as the King of England. In act 2, the Red Coats faced the Patriots in the Boston Massacre, while student Andrew Hess reported live.
“This has been my favorite unit so far,” says Hess, who enjoys history and learning about other wars as well. “I just think it’s interesting. Learning about how the patriots won the battles is interesting.”
Fourth-graders performed songs, dances, and commericals in the play “Live from the American Revolution” at Pinchbeck Elementary School.
To learn the curriculum, the students created iMovies, podcasts and Comic Life projects, in addition to novel studies. They memorized several educational rap songs to reinforce key concepts of the time period.
“Some students are great on the computer; some are great actors,” says Stein. “Everyone has a speaking part. Not only do they get to learn the key components of the American Revolution, but they also learn 21st century skills.”
Other scenes included the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and The Battle of Yorktown.
“I argued with Patrick Henry and Jack Jouett about who was more important,” she says. She also played a red coat in the Boston Massacre.
“I like to act a lot, and Mr. Stein enhances all the things that I like to do into learning. When you hear all the things about the Boston Massacre, you want to act it out. It’s really good to act, but you really need to know what you’re doing. We had to learn a lot about the American Revolution to be able to do this play.