Silver Cluster Students “Step Into” History

Posted on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Students brought their classroom learning to life last week with a social studies skit highlighting the story of the Puritans and Puritan minister (and founder of Rhode Island) Roger Williams.

Jane Moskowitz and Sydney Strauss’s Silver Cluster class has been learning about Colonial America, with a focus on social justice issues. Most recently, students explored colonial Massachusetts and what life was like when the Puritans arrived in the 1600s.

Ms. Moskowitz said, “Students astutely recognized the hypocrisy of the Puritan people who, on the one hand, left England for religious freedom, but, on the other hand, imposed their beliefs and religion onto everyone within the Massachusetts colony.”

They specifically looked at how one man, named Roger Williams, was an upstander and voiced his opinion that forcing others to celebrate a specific religion was unjust. As a result, the leaders in Massachusetts put out a warrant for Williams’s arrest, causing him to flee and create his own colony in Rhode Island, where religious freedom existed.

In order to bring a multi-sensory approach to the lesson, students helped develop a play about Roger Williams and the Puritans, giving them the opportunity to “step into” the lives of their respective characters.

“They spent a week learning and rehearsing their lines, developing props, and giving each other stage directions,” Ms. Moskowitz said.

The students were then able to perform their skit for two other Silver Cluster classes, Intermediate Division Director Michelle Fox, Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor, and School Psychologist Dr. Marc Guttman.

“The audience was completely engaged and was raving about our actors when the play was over,” Ms. Moskowitz said.

Ms. Fox commented on the experience by saying, “Watching students bring the content to life was a magical experience. The sparkle in students’ eyes was contagious and inspiring. Our ultimate goal is to look for ways for students to construct their own knowledge and bring the content to life and the 601 Roger Williams and Puritans play was a quintessential example of the harmony that takes place in our classrooms with our students and teachers.”