Education - Teachers First

Apr 13, 2011 6:40 PM by Andy Koen

History teacher strives for lessons with impact

The students in Heidi Rickard's 10th grade world history class at Pine Creek High School have been studying genocide. Today's lesson involves rice, each grain represents a person.

A couple of tablespoons equals the the size of the school population, a cup is 10,000. The holocaust measures 240 pounds and fills the bed sheet she's spread on the floor.

During the demonstration, she reminds the class of the starvation, imprisonment and torture endured by the mass murder victims.

"I feel like to learn history we need to experience it and we need to understand it. And so to understand it I often tie things to an analogy," Heidi said.

The lesson is powerful. In fact, she has been asked to present it at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Shriever Air Force Base.

But Heidi doesn't stop at awareness. She wants her class to go further and discuss how they plan to personally stand up to genocide. They write their thoughts down on paper and spend the remaining 10 minutes of class taking part in a group conversation about the sight in front of them.

"If you just learn about it that doesn't do anything," Heidi says. "It's learn about it and then take action, and every program we do is all about that."

Along with driving home the point, her students are also learning invaluable skills like the ability to speak in front of a group and to believe in themselves and their ideas.

Heidi says that's the point. "If you can state here in this room that I have a talent and I'm worthy, then that worthiness is going to travel out in our community and go so much further and I want a kid to feel that worthiness here."

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