Walking in Memphis: How Teacher Innovation and Student Collaboration Enhance the Learning Experience, by Megan Albonetti, 4th Grade Teacher

Posted by Amy Smythe on 11/26/2019 2:42:00 PM


Did you know that:

  • Graceland got its name long before Elvis bought it?
  • Parents of patients at St. Jude never receive a bill?
  • Most deals at the Cotton Exchange were made official by just a handshake?
  • Beale Street was named after a forgotten military hero?
  • Schwab’s is the last remaining original store on Beale Street?
  • Both Elvis and B.B. King recorded music at Sun Studio?
  • Tom Lee rescued over 30 people from the Mississippi River, and he couldn’t even swim?
  • The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated?
  • The fountain in the lobby of the Peabody is home to live ducks during the day?

An exciting tradition for our Woodland fourth graders is the annual “Tour of Memphis” field trip. In past years, a professional tour guide introduced us to important local landmarks as we explored our city in a chartered bus.

This year, we “put our students in the driver’s seat.” Our school’s Educational Philosophy says, “Woodland chooses experiences intended to foster the individual growth of the intellectual, spiritual, creative, physical, social, and emotional roots.” With this in mind, we promoted our fourth graders to the role of tour guides for the day.

Our fourth graders teamed up in cooperative groups. Each group was given a Memphis landmark to research and become experts on. Then, with the help of greenscreen technology, our students were transported live to their landmarks where each group gave an informative presentation about the destination. These destination videos were played on the bus as we arrived at each landmark. Personalities blossomed on the screen as each student group used their unique talents to add to their presentation—humor, jokes, the use of props, songs.

How fun and educationally enriching to see our students rise to meet high expectations as a result of being engaged and passionate about their learning. This shift to participatory learning enhances the educational outcome many times over. The students honed their interpersonal, social, and small group skills; grew in individual and group accountability and cooperation; and experienced a climate of appreciation and mutual respect, reveling, along with us, in their own creativity and ability.