Every year, AP U.S. History teacher Lisa Hitchcock has her students simulate their choice of influential, yet relatively unknown participants of the American Revolution. Students are required to create a costume, visual, primary source and background information in order to accurately depict their figure.
“I began doing the project about 10 years ago, in 2005,” Hitchcock said. “I had been looking for an interactive way to make all these influential figures feel more human, and up until then I didn’t have one.”
On the day of the presentation, students sit in a large circle with their costumes, visuals and information prepared. Each student speaks as if they actually are the Revolutionary War figure they have chosen. Within the structure of a socratic seminar, students feed off of each other as they all attempt to convey their character’s’ significance.
“At first I was a little apprehensive to present because I didn’t know what to expect, but when the discussion started flowing, I was able to form a relationship between my character and all the others’ pretty smoothly, which made it a lot easier for me to share my information with the class,” junior Sheridan Lasher said.
Leading up to the presentations, students are allowed to pick and research any person relating to the American Revolution. This gives them the opportunity to learn about impactful people they would not have learned about otherwise.
“There are so many important people who aren’t as well known as the George Washingtons, Ben Franklins, and Abraham Lincolns of American history. Our story has plenty of figures we can go further in depth about, so I take the opportunity to introduce new characters to the class through these presentations,” said Hitchcock.
Although the guidelines of the project have remained the same throughout its ten years of success, this year’s student are required to provide a primary source document relevant to their character.
“Most of it has stayed consistent; the costume, visual, background and sources have always been required,” Hitchcock said. “But this year, I thought that having a primary source in the presentation would be a great addition, and as it so far has proven to be.”
According Hitchcock, the project has proven successful year after year, as students continue to put increasing effort into accurately portraying their selection.
“Every year there are numerous impressive projects, and this year is no exception,” Hitchcock said. “I’ve loved all the efforts so far, especially Hannah Meeks’s Baron von Steuben. But so far, they’ve all been great; there hasn’t been one that I didn’t enjoy.”
The project gives students a sense of learning that a textbook simply cannot provide, and because of this, almost all of them love the project, and so does Hitchcock – who plans to continue the activity for years to come.