by Lacy Saye

Digging Deeper

Authentic Learning In The Historic Triangle

How often have you needed to face a real-world problem in order to truly understand and learn? We recognize that life’s complexities cannot be solved in minutes, but instead require time to investigate. We are ultimately left with a decision to make and are able to utilize the direct knowledge gained through this personal experience to truly understand problems and the solutions. This is authentic learning.

Authentic learning is an integral learning approach incorporated in the guided tours of the Historic Triangle of Virginia: Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. We recently spoke with Joni Carlson, a lead educator for Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, who has been guiding tours for 15 years. Joni sees the value of authentic learning, describing it as “one more tool that allows us to continue to give excellent and engaging tours, while allying with the teacher and what they are trying to accomplish in the classroom.”

Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum offer many programs that not only meet national curriculum standards, but are also fun and engaging for students. The “Dig Deeper” programs in particular offer the kind of collaborative, reflective and problem-solving activities that define authentic learning. “The process is critical...they may succeed, they may fail. That’s real life, and everything is a learning opportunity.”

One popular program is “Dig Deeper: Jamestown Crime “Seen”, where students are tasked to solve the 400 year mystery of John Smith’s death, determining if it was an accident or a crime. They work in teams to analyze evidence, draw their own conclusions, and present their own theories as to what happened.

As Joni wisely states, the programs and museums of the Historic Triangle tell a much larger story than Virginia, it tells the American story. “There are intersecting themes: discovering new worlds, migration of people groups, interaction with different cultures, how people lived, problems people faced at that time.” The Dig Deeper program,"A Chance for Freedom," challenges students to understand what life was like for enslaved people during the American Revolution. Taking place in Yorktown in a recreation of the Continental Army encampment and revolution-era farm, students use hands-on activities to decide - what is my best chance for freedom?

“Our museums make memories that matter. New worlds, new people, new cultures ignite curious minds.” If you would like more information on how to ignite curious minds through a historical class trip, contact us here.

MyTour Fund

MyTourFund.com is a free fundraising website available to all STA traveling educators and students.

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