As a teacher from Danvers, MA, a town once known as Salem Village, I have been teaching the Salem Witch Trials to my students for years. Students often have difficulty understanding the gravity of what happened in their own backyard until they see the sites themselves during their 4th grade local history tours.
This year, when it came to covering the trials in our classroom, we incorporated a lesson from Google Expeditions allowing students to go through the sites in Danvers tied directly to the Trials again, but this time virtually. Seeing these sites within the classroom gave our students context, allowing them to see the physical places where these events unfolded while we discussed them. This in-classroom experience facilitated a deeper conversation into the mentality of the time. Mandi, an 11th grade student, said that the Expedition “brought a whole new level of understanding to what we are learning”. “It’s almost like we’re there in person” added 11th grader Sarah.
Now, you don’t need to be in from Massachusetts to experience these sites. The new Expeditions invite you to explore the landmarks from the Trials including the Witch House, the home of Witch Trials Judge Jonathan Corwin, and The House of Seven Gables, which tells the story of the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and his connection to the events of the Salem Witch Trials. This Halloween, students everywhere can take part in learning about this chapter of history.
Students can also experience a new Expedition for another holiday that falls this week, Day of the Dead. Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a two-day holiday that is celebrated throughout Mexico when families honor the role of death in life and connect with those who have died. Far from being a sad occasion, Dia de Muertos is colorful, humorous, and joyful. In this Expedition, students can visit sites like the Mexico City Plaza de las Tres Culturas, The Museo de la Muerte and The Dolores Olmedo Museum.
This Fall, these Expedition experiences will allow students to explore their world and bring deeper meaning to their classroom discussions.