Every year, fourth-graders at Bi-Cultural Day School engage in a major research-based biography unit focusing on an historical person who has changed the scope of America in significant ways.
“I work with the kids for weeks, highlighting interesting and important and diverse people in American history,” says BCDS Librarian Dora Salm, of the “Living History Project,” which serves to demonstrate to students how exciting history can be.
Work begins with a visit to the school library, where each student selects a biography of a major figure in American history.
“I have collected and curated a number of titles at an age-appropriate level and arrange the library by historical periods to make it look as if they’re browsing in a bookstore,” explains Salm, who adds an element of fun—and motivation—by dressing up as an historical figure and presenting, in character, a short monologue to the class.
“This year, I chose Eliza Hamilton,” says Salm, who crafted her costume by hand after researching what upper class colonial women wore.
Why Eliza? Salm was inspired by the Broadway show, “Hamilton,” which she had seen. Even more, she notes, “Women are often overlooked in history, but women have made significant contributions.”