It’s been a few weeks since the completion of my Waldorf 7th grade Age of Exploration block, but it sure was a fun one to teach!
This was the block I taught in my very first teaching practicum and it was fun revisiting the content, but it sure reminded me of how far I have come as a teacher. In that very first practicum I memorized my lessons word for word — committing everything to memory out of concern that the words wouldn’t come when I was standing in front of the students.
These days I still do write out my content by hand, often composing sentences with the language I imagine myself using when I speak with the students. But I certainly don’t memorize everything and at times I even trust myself to work from a list of bullet points.
Here’s the basic outline of what we covered.
- Eric the Red and Leif Ericsson (1 day)
- Marco Polo (2 days)
- Henry the Navigator and Gil Eannes (2 days)
- Bartholomew Diaz (1 day)
- Three voyages of Christopher Columbus (3 days)
- Ferdinand Magellan (3 days)
Our block was a bit shortened because of the sailing trip that the 7th graders and I all took together on an historic schooner. We spent a couple of days reviewing and writing reflections on that trip at the end of the block.
In addition to the work above that was completed in class, the students all chose an explorer and completed a written report. They also made a board game that showed the voyage of their explorer. One morning we played the games together in class. Such fun!
I mostly used resources from the public library, as well as a couple of YouTube documentaries. I’ve actually found several YouTube videos to be helpful throughout the year — sometimes there’s nothing quite like a video documentary to summarize a story. Of course, I don’t show them to the students, but I’ve spent several Sunday evenings in front of my computer screen taking notes into my lesson planner!