During our trip to Washington DC we took a night bus tour to explore various monuments and memorials. We visited monuments for individuals, for wars, for groups and more. I really enjoy the bus tour, including everything the tour guide tells us, and it definitely helps fill some gaps in my American History (I'm British). I also like learning about a lot of the symbolism and thought that went into the creation of each one.
The next evening we spent time together at the hotel and sharing our sentences, phrases and words. We talked about the importance of the different monuments and what message and guidance they can give us today.
We then split up into our advisory teams for a special challenge! The students were to design a monument or memorial. They were given only three minutes to decide as a group who/what they would make their monument/memorial for. Students picked Michelle Obama (my group!), Steve Jobs, Malala, Mr McMahon (one of the advisors), Gandhi, animals for had helped advance science and more! They were then given a selection of limited supplies, including play dough, toothpicks, colored paper and felt tip pens and were given only 12 minutes to create their model. Finally they had to pitch their monument, in only one minute, to the grade level. Staff who joined us, who did not have advisories, were judges.
Students seemed to really love this activity. I was worried that a lot of students wouldn't participate, but everyone contributed. I believe the competitive element, the timing (including us announcing throughout how much time was left), the limited supplies and knowing that they would share their work with the team really helped build the excitement.
Here are some photos of their creations (all wildly different too!)
students really thought hard about the information they received on the bus tour - as they were telling us exactly what materials their real monuments would be made of, where they would be located, what direction they would be facing and they explained the symbolism they put into their works in great detail too!
This was a really great activity - and something you could easily do in your class without visiting these places.
In my last school I was the MYP Design teacher. I wrote a unit about Monuments and Memorials, where we explored famous ones around the world. This was quite a heavy unit, so we ended with something a little more light - students would research different animals that had been to space, and they would each create a monument or memorial for them! This was inspired by an activity I did on a Facing History workshop, as well as a room, with paintings of space dogs, in the Museum of Jurassic Technology!