East social studies teacher strives to bring "laughter and joy" to her classroom

Who says learning history can’t be fun?

Not Alise Pape, that’s for sure. The social studies teacher at Lincoln East High School is known for putting a creative twist on many of her lessons, frequently incorporating art, video creation, debates and speeches. In other words, fun.

“I think sometimes at the high school level we get so wrapped up in the amount of content that we cover that we forget learning should be a fun experience,” said Pape, now in her second year of teaching at East. “I think the more engaging and entertaining we can make the material for our students the better they will be able to recall it in their future. Anytime I can create laughter and joy in my classroom through a lesson, I try to incorporate that because often their daily routines can become monotonous.”

Pape is teaching Advanced Placement U.S. History this school year. The class of mostly juniors will cover more than 500 years, beginning in colonial times and spanning through the Cold War and contemporary America. Last week, they were learning about Constitutional amendments one through 10, the Bill of Rights - and of course Pape made it fun.

She split the students into small groups, gave each group one of the amendments, along with paper, markers and colored pencils, and asked them to create a movie poster that depicted their amendment. They could not use any words, only images. Once they were done, they hung their movie posters around the room. Each group then had to move from poster to poster and guess which amendment was depicted - kind of like history Pictionary.

“I always try to think of ways to make history hands on. I came up with the idea by mashing together a few other lessons that I have done in the past,” Pape said. “I have done image analysis gallery walks, where students walk around the room and look at different historical photos, and I thought how cool would it be to have them create the images themselves. I find that if students are active participants in their learning process they are more likely to take ownership over it and be more invested.”

On this day the students definitely took ownership of their amendment artwork. After they reviewed the answers and discussed what each amendment covers, they begged Pape to pick her favorite movie poster. The winner was the second amendment poster, which creatively incorporated George Washington and a bald eagle.

There was only one winner, but Pape added, “I should have all of you autograph them so I can sell them on eBay when you’re famous...Nice work on this today, guys - great job.”

Published: October 9, 2018, Updated: October 9, 2018

"I find that if students are active participants in their learning process they are more likely to take ownership over it and be more invested."