Rossman Elementary Students Combine History and Writing for a Brand- New Learning Experience

By Galloway, Kristine | Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY), April 11, 2016 | Go to article overview

Rossman Elementary Students Combine History and Writing for a Brand- New Learning Experience


Galloway, Kristine, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY)


Hed: Rossman students combine history, writing for new learning experience At a glance Rossman Elementary in Cheyenne is teaming up with the State Museum and the Laramie County Library to give students a fresh perspective on writing. The writing committee at Rossman hopes the project will help them learn about the research that goes into writing while also raising their appreciation of the museum.

Wyoming Tribune Eagle CHEYENNE - "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Many people will recognize that as the Mad Hatter's famous line from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." But the Hatter admits to Alice that he hasn't the slightest idea what makes the two similar.

Well, the riddle may be useless, but perhaps Ashley Tafoya's fourth-graders can make use of the writing desk.

The students from Cheyenne's Rossman Elementary have spent time at the State Museum as part of a project to help them improve their writing skills through learning state history.

During a recent field trip, the museum's education curator, Nathan Doerr, explained to the students why the Hatter was so mad.

It turns out that hatters who made beaver felt hats suffered from mercury poisoning. That caused them to go mad.

Doerr told the students hat makers would collect hair from the beaver pelts and mix it with water and mercury.

"Then they would apply heat. What they didn't realize is: When they heated the mercury, it made fumes. And they breathed in those fumes," Doerr said. "Breathing in the fumes poisoned a hat maker's brain and made him go crazy, or mad." That tidbit is just one of many the students learned and might apply toward their writing when they return to school.

And it isn't just Rossman's fourth-graders who are visiting the museum. Between April 4-12, every class at the school will attend a program there.

Shauna Shaw, a third-grade teacher at Rossman Elementary, is the mastermind of the State Museum experience.

She is on the writing committee at Rossman, and she wanted to find a fresh way to teach and inspire kids about writing.

"As chair of the writing committee, I started reflecting on, as a child, what made me a better writer," she said. "I grew up in Cody, and with having the (Buffalo Bill) Historical Center there, I had realized over the years - going every year since preschool - the amount of knowledge that had actually given me. …

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