Teacher Q & A: Beth Spaulding, Henniker Community School

16 May 2011

Beth Spaulding teaches fifth grade American History and sixth grade History and Culture at the Henniker Community School in New Hampshire. Beth has attended Primary Source seminars on early United States history, China, Japan and Latin America, and recently finished introducing her sixth grade students to topics in Latin American history, geography, art, and music.

Students collaborated with a musical band from Ecuador and artists specializing in Latin American art to make instruments and to put together a South American dance and music performance. History and geography lessons on Latin American countries were connected to exploring and creating different kinds of protest art: retablos from Peru, murals from Mexico, posters from Cuba, and arpilleras from Chile.

Read on to hear from Beth about how she developed this exciting project and what students have created as a result!

Primary Source: What inspired you to develop a unit on Latin America for your students?

Beth: This unit was shaped by Primary Source's Latin American Rhythms institute, which I attended last summer. I wanted my students to have an enhanced awareness of Latin America, including an improved awareness of its geography, environment, history, government, and culture. Latin America continues to strive for self-rule and national identity, and I hoped that it would become a part of each student's developing personal map of the world.

PS: What were the most exciting aspects of this project for your students?

Beth: The students could not wait to begin their projects on Latin American protest art. They were so excited, that every project came in on time. The display turned out wonderful and the children have spent a lot of time looking carefully at the artwork. It turned out to be one of the best projects I have ever assigned.

The discussion within the classroom on Latin American history was also happening as the events in Egypt and Libya began to unfold. The parallels with Latin America were striking, and I was thrilled and amazed by my students and their interest in discussing current events in relation to our unit of study.

PS: How has Primary Source helped you to bring international perspectives into your classroom?

Beth: Primary Source has helped me to develop all my units for the sixth grade. The readings have given me an adult background and perspective, so that I can teach in depth. The speakers have engaged my interest and prompted me to do further research and reading on my own. Each institute has presented tools that I had not been aware of or did not know how to use, such as Google Earth and the gallery tools at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Program Director Liz Howald also put me in touch with one of the scholars from the Latin America program – David Scott Palmer – who helped me choose which countries to focus on in my unit. An art instructor who presented retablos (a form of Peruvian protest art) at the program inspired me to include these in the unit, and Primary Source's online resources led to the idea of including protest art. I have used the library at Primary Source to great advantage as well, and each course has provided me with an incredible set of resources that have led to strong units. My students have benefited tremendously.

PS: Why is global education important for your students?

Beth: The cultural units have expanded my students' personal maps of the world and created interest in current events that they now can connect with because they have learned about cultures that are in the news. Without education about the world, we lack the tools that can connect us to the world and the events that are spinning around us.




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