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Mr. Lingenfelter

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Tucked away in the hills of Pike Creek, Delaware, at Skyline Middle School, lies a classroom that will delight students of all ages: Robert Lingenfelter’s 8th grade Social Studies room. Full of political paraphernalia, historical artifacts, posters and a mock courtroom, the classroom’s atmosphere draws in the most reluctant student into a world of living history. I am nominating Mr. Lingenfelter for the Educator of the Year award as he makes history and government exciting and significant by bringing it to life and making meaningful connections with the students. He is truly an amazing educator.
One of the first experiences a student has in Mr. L’s classroom is the “Coming to America” game. This game helps the student understand the immigrants’ journey of the immigrants coming into America from Britain. In order to play, the students chart where to land in the New World and how to support themselves. Everyone has to draw survival cards which tells if they discovered food, water and shelter. Since this is a random drawing, it demonstrates to the students how luck sometimes, and not skill, affected the lives of the settlers. If the students run out of food and water, they are out of the game. The team with most supplies, however, wins, much like the settlers with the most supplies lived.
Learning the ins and outs of the legal system in Mr. L’s class is experienced in a variety of ways. First of all, the class hosts its own Constitutional Convention where social and political matters are discussed, debated and then voted on. Another activity has students writing and proposing bills, which are then presented, and also voted on by the class. The best bills are then sent to Senator Carper for review! Each class also reenacts the Boston Massacre trial. The students are assigned to be prosecutors, defendants, or members of the jury. Scripts are student-written and based on real events on the trial, and acted out in front of the jury. With Mr. L as the judge sitting in his bench and students in the jury box, the reenactment represents a real trial with a real outcome.
The most intriguing part of the curriculum in Mr. L’s course is the study of the JFK assassination. Mr. L provides the classes with historical details of what happened on November 22nd, 1963 through videos, journals, and books about first-hand accounts of the assassination. All different perspectives and opinions and assassination theories are presented to and discussed with the class. With this information, students then are required to write their own account on who they believe killed John F. Kennedy. The student not only has to gather all the information from the theories, but they also have to assimilate it, think for themselves and form their own opinion. It is truly a challenging and exciting assignment.
Mr. Lingenfelter is truly a dynamic teacher. His presentation of history is one you will never forget. His ability to keep all of the students focused and intrigued throughout every class period is simply inspirational. From a mock trial to a Constitutional Convention, Mr. L’s teaching positively impacts and inspires his students. Instead of directly lecturing on the material, Mr. L. has the students experience history making meaningful, lasting impressions.





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