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Our Place in the World

Syreeta Bennett's picture



Francis D. Pastorius Elementary School is located at Chelten Avenue and Sprague Street. It is in an urban setting and goes from kindergarten to seventh. I wanted to do a blog on resources in the neighborhood because many of our students are not exposed to the many treasures in their own community.


It is not a secret, neighborhoods change and I think that my students would find it interesting to see how their neighborhood has changed. I have below two maps that shows how the immediate neighborhood change from 1871 to 1895.




Map image comes from Ward Maps



The lower map shows Pastorius School in 1871. As you can see, Pastorius School did not exist and was part of the Bover Estate. From here you can lead discussions on who was the Bover family and what did they do.The top map is a map from 1895 and Pastorius School is now there. Comparing the two maps can lead to rich discussions in the classroom. From 1871 to 1895 there is a vast amount of development and this can lead to discussions on what caused this development, was it economical, social or cultural? I can also have the students look at census information and track when did the neighborhood become predominately African-American and what caused this shift. You can also have them research about Frances D. Pastorius. You can also have children map the area as it is today. The lessons from just introducing two maps can be endless.


Frances D. Pastorius

Who was Frances D. Pastorius and why is our school named after him is a typical question I hear. Frances D. Pastorius founded Germantown. Like William Penn, he too sought a land to practice religion freely. Pastorius was a prolific writer and he was the leader of America's first formal anti-slavery protest. Below I have a link to Pastorius first impression of America. One activity that I can do with my students is to desrcibe their first impression of the school when they first came.


Awbury Arboretum

In fifth grade we begin to look at adaptions and ecology and while many of my children know about the ocean, and even the rainforest, their knowledge about their own ecosystem is non-existent. In fact, I didn't know that our ecosystem is called the Decidous Forest. As a teacher, I am always questioning how I can best bring a lesson alive and so when teaching adaption , I found a hidden gem.

Awbury Arboretum is located on Chew Avenue, about three blocks from my school. It was like stepping into a living example of our ecosystem. It is 55 acres of trees and shrubs native to the area. They also have a pond that creates a wetland. Awbury has a field studies program that focuses on the enviornment and ecology. My kids enjoyed it and I am definitely going to go back with my students.


The Disappearnce of Germantown Watersheds

Our lesson on watersheds, had me thinking about existing watersheds in Germantown. I remember while visiting Awbury that the creek that was once there was no longer there and that memory with our lesson had me wondering is there any creeks in Germantown? So, I went to the web-site Philly H20 and discovered that the creeks no longer exist. On the site, there is a before map that shows the Winghocking Creek and the Rock Run Creek. The next map shows the creeks' disappearance and the following map shows that they were replaced by the sewer system. I found this site interested because it had a picture of the building of the sewer at Winghocking Creek but it also led to questions. For example, what health issues were prevalent before sewers and what health issues may exist now? I also wonder how has the environment been affected because of the destruction of the creeks. A great exercise for my students could be mapping the natural resources in their community.



The Germantown Historical Society


The Germantown Historical Sociery is an excellent place to take students to help them gain further knowledge about their neighborhood. The Society was founded in 1901. The society has a museum and archive that houses more than 50,000 objects, documents and photographs. The Society also offers many programs fom K to 12. Some that might interest my students was Introduction to Historic Germantown and Gadgets and Gizmos:industry in Germantown. They also have a program for middle school students that looks at family names and their history. In addition, they provide walking tours to historical sites throughout the community. I believe that exposing my children to the Germantown Historical Society is beneficial because it is history come alive. It will allow them to question why has society change and what caused those changes. I also hope to further their questioning about Germantown in the future and what it would look like.



Using Inquiry in the Classroom

This year, I hope to do one or two guided inquiry projects that encompasses all subjects. I like the idea of doing these projects because even though they are based on students' interest they also teach students how to do research. For many of my students this type of learning will be new to them. One of the guided Inquiry projects i will like them to do is to focus on their neighborhood Germantown. Within this very broad sprectrum, they could look at different aspects. For example, they could research historical events, haunted houses, their street, parks, etc. My role will be to guide them towrds resources, to ask questions and to learn from them.