Students Try New Social Studies Electives

November 9, 2020

New social studies elective courses are giving students a chance to focus on history from different lenses this school year.

The new electives let students choose two out of four options such as American history through media, contemporary American history, United States military history and American history through sports.

Heather Schoemaker, the American history through media teacher, feels good about the new courses.

“I am definitely seeing more active participation from the students in the class,” said Schoemaker. “They had flexibility to choose what two history classes they wanted to take.”

Bill Kerr teaches students about the role of African Americans in history. Photograph by KC O’Neill

Going through the process of learning to teach a layout was a challenge, but Steven Wiles, the American history through sports teacher, made the adjustment.

“As a teacher, you often teach new courses,” said Wiles. “In life, any time you do something for the first time… you have a learning curve and with practice, you improve and get better the first time [teaching a new course] can be a challenge, and as you teach it again, it becomes a little easier. That is one of the rewarding parts of the job.”

Schoemaker wants students to start off the course on a positive note.

“Be open-minded,” said Schoemaker. “Be ready to actively learn the impact a specific topic in history has on all of the United States, including you and me.”

Students answer questions from a video they watched. Photography by KC O’Neill

Senior Elizabeth Bollinger expresses her feelings towards American history through media.

“My favorite part of the class was the final project we had to do,” said Bollinger. “I took American history through media, and we got to choose a form of media that impacted a disenfranchised group. It was interesting to learn more about how the rules of African-Americans in the movie industry have changed over time- not just the roles of movies, but how they were also seen based on the stereotypes that movies have made.”

Students take notes on a presentation. Photograph by Alexa Viands

The courses were not only a new learning experience for the student, but also for the teachers like Wiles.

“I have an interest in sports, so for me, this was an exciting course to design and teach,” said Wiles. “As you do the research, you learn many little facts and side stories that you just didn’t know beforehand.”

American history through media, contemporary American history, United States military history and American history through sports have given both teachers and students new opportunities and experiences.

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