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BRE fourth grade students dive into history

Article and photos by Celeste McNeil

Photo of BRE student Caleb.

Student Caleb M. embraced the new Colorado History showcase format, as he shared the information he and his partner researched about Bent’s Fort and the Bent brothers’ fur trapping and trading enterprise.

Fourth graders at Buffalo Ridge Elementary traditionally invite parents into the classroom to showcase their research skills and knowledge of Colorado history. As with everything else this year, the showcase looked a little different than in the past. This year the showcase was completely virtual.

Students learned broadly about Colorado history, including topics such as the gold rush, homesteading, fur trapping, the dust bowl, ghost towns, mountain men, the Louisiana Purchase and native cultures. Then each student chose a topic to research more in depth. Many students were paired up in twos or threes to work together on the same topic.

Photo of BRE student diorama

Students created dioramas, like the one of the ghost town of St. Elmo pictured above, to depict what they learned during the project.

After researching for a couple of weeks and becoming experts, students created an interactive presentation using the Padlet app. Each presentation was shared with the entire fourth grade, and every student had the opportunity to comment on several of their peers’ presentations.

Caleb M. and Evan F. worked together to create a Padlet presentation about fur trappers. The boys researched mountain men like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson, but ultimately focused their attention on the Bent brothers and Bent’s Fort, near La Junta.

Students were asked to include at least three sources from sites such as Colorado Encyclopedia, Kiddle and the Colorado History Museum online. Many students included historic photographs, original art, audio recordings of original songs, videos, dioramas and quizzes. Students were encouraged to dress up to represent some aspect of their topic.

Caleb’s favorite aspect of the project was researching about mountain men and fur trappers. He said the coolest thing he learned while researching was the speed fur trappers could break camp. “They were fast … really fast,” Caleb said.

Learning about an aspect of Colorado history and creating a project to share with their peers and families is often one highlight of fourth grade for many students. This year was no exception, despite the new format. “It was really fun to research and learn about Colorado,” said Caleb.



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