Travis Hardenburger is a seventh grade Kansas history and geography teacher at Wamego Middle School. He is working on a great presentation for the Kansas Council for History Education’s annual meeting on November 10 and 11 at Derby High School. You are already registered, right?
I don’t want to steal his thunder (he ok’d that I share this) but he developed a creative way to kill a lot of birds with one stone. Don’t turn me in to PETA.
I felt it important to teach the kids Kansas geography before we went into stuff about the U.S. or even global. We got to a part where I wanted them to know about Kansas culture. I grew up in a small town and I felt if I wanted the kids to know the backbone of Kansas culture, it was our small towns.
I grew up in a town of 2,000 people that was near a town of 300 called Cuba, Kansas. I actually went to school there and played little league from kindergarten through fifth grade. Nine years ago National Geographic did a spread on Cuba. Jim Richardson was the photographer on this shoot; he now lives in Lindsborg. He spent 30 years off and on photographing the town and people of Cuba.
I shot him an email. He was in Scotland on a shoot but agreed when he got back to Skype with my kids. We studied his pictures, discussed them, analyzed them, and wrote about them before the Skype session. Yesterday, Jim Skyped with our kids and they got to ask Jim about the pictures, the people, and small town life. It was an AWESOME way to get the message across to middle school kids about what Kansas is all about and it covered all five of the new standards.
Jim Richardson’s photographs are dynamic to say the least. They capture the emotional as well as the actual. In his lesson, Travis was able to teach Kansas geography, rural culture, and the importance of using art to learn history. What other photographer’s and artist’s work is out there for use in your classroom? It is just a Google search away. When you find it, let us know and we will be glad to share it on Doing Social Studies.