A great way to prepare for SOLs

Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It has been increasingly difficult to get in touch with teachers in the past week, all because of three simple but incredibly important letters: S-O-L.

Teachers for all grade levels and subjects are gearing up for the standardized testing that will take place the last two weeks of May.

Covering education offers a front row seat to view the great lengths to which schools go to prepare their students.

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On Wednesday, Oakland Elementary School had the last of its special SOL events with the fifth grade’s Civil War Day.

Throughout the year, each grade gets a special day filled with activities that pertain to specific topics in social studies.

The third grade’s event focused on ancient Greece, and second graders had Native American Day. The events are set up by resource teachers, which include instructors for art, music, PE and library.

The students see learning as a reward in this type of setting, because they get to get up from the desks and move around. The fifth graders got to interact with history by tasting Civil War-era food, touching equipment from the era and hearing about the hardships and challenges of a soldier.

Of course, it can’t be the only way students learn the lessons; reading, studying and lesson plans all have to play a much bigger part in the process. But by engaging all of their senses during these events, the students might just retain those facts a little better.

In a similar event last month, Booker T. Washington Elementary School hosted a living museum night to allow students to submerge themselves in the subjects.

Every class made a display that gave an overview of what the students were learning in social studies. For example, kindergarteners dressed as famous Americans, like George Washington and Betsy Ross, while spouting off facts about them, and second graders turned classrooms into ancient Egypt and invited guests to build pyramids out of Legos.

The event also got parents involved in the learning process. If they hadn’t already, parents could see what their children were learning.

Additionally, BTW administrators and teachers held a meeting that covered SOL dates and offered advice about what parents could do to prepare their children.

Most parents jump at the opportunity to see their students in a school play. This event took that idea to the next level by having all of the students participate. The more students featured, the more parents who attend.

One of the coordinators at Booker T. said she had never seen so many parents show up to a school function.

This type of hands-on learning might not reach all students, but it certainly can’t hurt them. Especially with history, it is a fun way the children can be a part of what they are learning.

If children can relate to the subjects and understand them on a different level, they are adding more to their pool of knowledge.

The events are fun, engaging and educational – a perfect combination for test prep.