Caledonia High School students teach third-graders about their favorite explorers

Caledonia High School students Mady Tanner, left, and Tori Woodwyk gave explorer Ferdinand Magellan a sidekick, Bunni, in their book for third-graders from Kettle Lake Elementary School

Caledonia High School’s ninth-grade world history and creative writing classes got a chance to share their discoveries and writing skills with third-graders from Kettle Lake Elementary School recently.

After researching more than a dozen Old World explorers and writing children’s books about each explorer, some 60 students of high school English teacher Megan Ley and World History teacher Payshence Uyl played host to 77 visitors from the nearby elementary school.

Ley and Uyl encouraged their students to get creative as they learned about the elements of a short story and developed plot structures to tell a historical story in a fictional style.

The visiting third-graders also gave her students an authentic audience for their work product, Ley said. “Ultimately, our goal is to work with a publishing company,” she said.

Third-graders from Kettle Lake Elementary School line up during their recent visit to Caledonia High School

As they researched and explored the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, Mady Tanner and Tori Woodwyk decided the world traveler would need a mascot if they were going to tell his story to third-grade readers. So they created “Bunni” for their presentation about the first explorer to travel around the world.

For the third-graders, the stories were designed to build their reading vocabulary and introduce them to the topic of world history.

Elena Noakes, a third-grade teacher at Kettle Lake, said her pupils had been introduced to Michigan explorers. The stories about world explorers exposed them to a higher level of learning, she said.

“It gets them to see what they will be doing as they get older,” Noakes said.

Sean McLaughlin, Kettle Lake’s principal, said the field trip exposes his school’s pupils to the type of lessons they will learn when they get to high school.

James Harger
James Harger reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor. Read James' full bio.

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