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We had a great field trip to historic Jacksonville on Friday with Mrs. Pickett’s 5th grade class. One of our major focuses this year is using primary source documents in project-based study. Jacksonville is a natural destination in our region when looking for primary sources.

We started the morning at the Jacksonville Children’s Museum, formerly the Jackson County Jail. The museum is very much a hands-on, kid-friendly environment where the students were able to explore, experiment, and have direct contact with artifacts and objects. The first video in this post is a sampling of some of the activities the students enjoyed while at the museum. Chelsea, our docent, was wonderful and spent some time discussing the value of primary sources in historic research.

After leaving the museum, our next stop was the Jacksonville Pioneer Cemetery. A collection of photographs is now up in our class Flickr stream. Once again, we had a wonderful experience with the docents who led our class through a narrative about the men and women who played important roles in the early days of non-native settlement in our area. Thank you to Anne and Marcy were informative and delightful.

The second video on this post is an animation I built at GoAnimate.com using photos from our time at the cemetery. While not a perfect school-friendly tool, GoAnimate does offer some intriguing web-based animation tools that I could see students use in a digital storytelling situation. There are other onilne animation environments that we will be looking at and working with this year. Please contact me if you are aware of any that you’d recommend.

As the title of this post suggests, there was one minor caveat to the perfection of the day’s experiences. In an effort to get our class quickly and safely from the Children’s Museum to the Pioneer Cemetery, I led our band of sojourners in what I thought was the most direct route. A simple map consultation would have proven quite helpful and saved us from some significant back-tracking. Of course, it was all intentional. I was merely demonstrating how early pioneers often had to explore multiple routes to determine the most ideal path. Hey, I’m a teacher. It’s what I do!

GoAnimate.com: DreamExtreme Invades Jacksonville by cosand

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