Social Studies Unit Reflects More Accurate Understanding of European Colonization

Fourth graders are wrapping up presentations for their “European Colonizers” unit in social studies, “a title we use in our ongoing effort to de-emphasize a Eurocentric historical approach, which privileges and romanticizes European experience during their conquest of the so-called 'New World,’” explains resident teacher Torin Coffino. “We wanted students to recognize how the idea of exploration and discovery works to erase the people and nations that were here and thriving long before European contact.” Students were placed into groups and tasked with researching a European colonizer who came to California: students have researched Junipero Serra, Gaspar De Portola, Juan Batista de Anza, and Christopher Colombus, among others. They used a variety of sources to compile information about their colonizer’s mission, routes, and impact on the lands and peoples they encountered. “Students are learning a more accurate understanding of the role these men played in the colonization project of the Americas,” says Mr. Coffino. After completing their research, students put together a PowerPoint presentation with essential information to share with their classmates.
Adds Mr. Coffino, "The goal is for students to refine their research skills and learn how to give a presentation using technology, in which students become the teachers for their peers—a critical element of a student-centered learning praxis.” MORE PHOTOS