(CNN) - There's something a bit different about Dan Johnson's classroom at Cambridge-Isanti High School in Cambridge, Minnesota. Johnson remakes the room and his wardrobe to help students understand history. Recently, he replaced the fluorescent lights in his room with bare bulbs and lamps, posted Depression-era grocery ads on the wall and played music of the era for his students. Johnson will retire this year after 32 years of teaching history, according to CNN affiliate KARE, but watch the video to get a sense of how his students have learned about history over the years.
I too do first person narrative, not to " teach" history, but to allow students an experience of another time and perspective. I routinely dress in a Redcoat and give the perspective of a Loyalist during the American Revolution. I speak with a Scottish accent and use music and visuals of the time. I recently did this as a part of my evaluation. The students loved it and I heard them say on the way out that they were going to look up aspects of the time they did not know about. The state of education though is that this lesson did not fit the principal's idea of a "good lesson" as it was "just a presentation." The is so much emphasis on testing that lessons not directly linked to one of the high stakes tests is now considered bad. I appreciate your story and will pass this onto my school.
I blieve that the teacher job like the prophets
Teachers like Dan Johnson are rare and as such should be treated as precious commodities in our society. What he does is not, really cannot, be taught in teacher preparation programs. His obvious talent as a teacher comes from passion for his subject and his students. When he retires, the school will loose an invaluable resource. Unfortunately, he will never be compensated one dollar more than his colleagues that may not have half his talent and drive. At least he knows he is rewarded in his heart from some of his students. Too bad that does not help ease his retirement. God bless Mr. Johnson. Thank you.
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