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Murray Journal

Longview fifth-graders go in-depth learning about Amazing Americans

May 31, 2017 05:04PM ● By Julie Slama
By Julie Slama  | [email protected]
If Henry Ford hadn’t created the assembly line in 1908 for his Model Ts, Longview fifth-grader Nicholas Johnson said cars wouldn’t be as affordable or accessible as they are today.
“If Henry Ford hadn’t created the assembly line, cars wouldn’t be as common as they are now,” he said.
Classmate Faleh Faleh said that if Alexander Graham Bell hadn’t invented the phones, Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been inspired to create the iPhone.
“We wouldn’t have iPhones or Samsung Galaxies,” Faleh said. “Our world wouldn’t be what we know it.”
Fifth-grade teacher Tina Nilsson said learning how Amazing Americans impacted our world was part of the assignment to research and present information about historical figures who have helped shape America.
“We asked students to compare what it’s like or would have been like without this person and his or her contributions,” she said. 
Nilsson said they wanted students to learn leadership characteristics and “be inspired by people, not just learn facts.
“It’s about people they read about, how many times they’ve failed and have tried again until they have overcome obstacles in their lives. We want students to learn how they may have started out poor and impoverished and didn’t let that stop them from achieving great accomplishments. We want them to learn about them, not just what they did.”
After researching in books and online, students wrote a report as well as created tri-fold displays that included a timeline, a picture representative of their American, character traits and fun facts they learned. In addition, students presented a creative representation of their American such as dressing like the person, writing songs or poems, and creating videos or sculptures. Nilsson estimated that the students spent about 40 hours in class on the project.
Students could pick from a list teachers have created that amassed of more than 400 people.
Nicholas said he wants to be a car designer.
“I picked Henry Ford because I’ve always had an interest in engines,” he said.
Fifth-grader Kate Bowen said she reads the comics every Sunday looking at Peanuts cartoons by Charles M. Schulz so she chose to learn more about him.  She created a miniature-size Snoopy dog house as well as a life-size advice booth in addition to her tri-fold.
“Snoopy was the biggest thing in his life, so I thought that was best to represent him,” she said about the comic strip that first began as Li’l Folks. “A lot of cartoonists were inspired by him and even though he at first struggled, he was very determined and never gave up. I learned that about him. He ended up having a Hollywood Star and being one of the richest cartoonist ever who has affected so many people by his talent and his humor.”
While doing her project on Rosa Parks, Caitlyn Page learned that she wasn’t the first person who wouldn’t give up a seat for a white person. 
“It was Claudette Colvin,” Caitlyn said. “It’s important to know that because of these people, they helped inspire others who got Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead the movement for equality.”
Her classmate, Jostin Woodson, created a tri-fold on Martin Luther King, Jr.
“He was beaten, he led a boycott, he went to jail, his home was vandalized and yet, he continued to be a leader and minister and said it wasn’t fair to be judged by skin color,” Jostin said. “Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world for both black and white people. I can’t imagine what it would be like if he hadn’t.”
Fifth-grader Josie Richardson said that she liked learning about how Helen Keller overcame her setback.
“A lot of people thought she couldn’t do anything,” she said. “People back then thought those with disabilities couldn’t do anything.  I liked how Helen Keller proved them wrong. She learned, communicated with others and inspired so many other people. It makes me realize we can do so much if we set our minds to it.”