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Making history in Collierville Schools

History is ordinarily taught directly from a textbook, but in Collierville, that isn’t necessarily the case. One study showed students are six times more likely to retain information from interactive learning. So, when a school year requires students to cover a lot of historical materials, it’s time to get creative with interactive lesson planning. Through grant submissions, we learned about these plans and awarded engaging history materials to teachers in our district.

Crosswind Elementary School teacher Susanna Bortz wanted to help her students become critical readers and thinkers while learning American history. In the fourth grade, students are taught about the Revolutionary War to Civil War reconstruction. CEF granted her a set of American history materials to enhance her lessons. With the grant, her class gets an up-close look at different “artifacts” and even has the chance to try on historically accurate fashion.

Research shows 65% of the population are visual learners, meaning they retain information best when they see it. Using these artifacts not only helps students retain information, it motivates them to learn. Connecting with historical events in new, exciting ways encourages students to delve deeper into the historical timeline of the United States. Each day, students come to class eager to participate in a new historical event. For example, students in Bortz’s class signed their names using a feather and ink on their own Declaration of Independence.

Period-appropriate costumes place students directly in history, and the grant from CEF provided hats, crowns and accessories for students to dress up in. These materials make the classroom feel like playtime with students acting out the events of history with their friends. With classic Revolutionary-War-style hats and lanterns, students can pretend they are Paul Revere or American soldiers heading to battle. The materials even came with a King’s cloak, crown and staff to let students pretend they were the king of England.

Teachers, if you are interested in receiving a grant to make your classroom interactive, our grant application for 2023-2024 will open online this fall. CEF’s goal is to fund every eligible teacher grant in Collierville, so stay updated with us on our website.


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