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Wayne Post
  • Erie Canal study comes to life for students

  • Life on and along the Erie Canal was the focus of yet another inventive study unit in January and February that culminated Feb. 28 with Kelley School fourth graders reenacting life along the “canal” in the school gymnasium.

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  • Life on and along the Erie Canal was the focus of yet another inventive study unit in January and February that culminated Feb. 28 with Kelley School fourth graders reenacting life along the “canal” in the school gymnasium.
    Passengers aboard  “packet boats” made stops along the “waterway” where costumed students relived historical scenes from the era.
    Again this year, fourth grade teachers and students partnered with Young Audiences of Rochester visiting artist Brian Coughlin to create the innovative and instructive living timeline of the Erie Canal during an eight-session artist’s residency.
    Students created their own scripts depicting the important influence the canal had on New Yorkers. Coughlin worked with students on a variety of theatrical skills including acting, reading and presenting skills.
    “This was another great experience this year in which art, history, and cooperation came alive,” said District Enrichment and Arts-In-Education Coordinator Robyn Ross-Squirrell, who coordinated the event.
    She said students learned about how the Erie Canal not only significantly improved transportation, but greatly improved economic opportunities and encouraged more settlers to head west and expand our nation.
    “Students explored the trials and tribulations of early transportation, leading up to the conceptualization of the Erie Canal and the development following it,’’ Ross said.
    Parents, students, teachers and others were among those visiting the unique living timeline February 28 and were treated to rides on wheeled “packet boats” in which they “sailed” through the eight stations of canal history.
    Packet Boat captains were: Coughlin, Becky Hauf and Neil Chodorow.
    Students enjoyed participating in the event.
    Jackson Vermeulen, a student from Sarah Consentino's class commented: "We learned how people during that time period acted, not just what happened, but how and why. Learning through the arts creates more experiences for us than just what’s in a book. My favorite part was learning about our history, playing the theatre games and learning skills like diction that can help you in school and in life too.”
    "When you get to act out history, it is more fun and it stays with you longer,” Riley Rice, a student from Anne Bannister’s class said. “I really liked taking on a role of a person that was a part of building the Erie Canal.  It felt like you were there.  Everything we did for this unit was my favorite part.”
    “I enjoyed making my own script and taking on the role of a person that lived during that time period,” Sam Tarnowski, a student from Amber Phelps and Kathy Zappia's class, said. “I liked working with Mr. Coughlin and playing the different theatre games. Those games really did help me in the end for the performance.”
    “This was more meaningful and realistic to have it brought to life,” Amanda Quku, a fourth grade teacher, commented. “This approach especially helped those visual/kinesthetic learners.”
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