Teaching Students About Wisconsin
Wisconsin, known as “America’s Dairyland,” plays a crucial role in understanding the history, culture, and geography of the United States’ Midwest region. As a proud and integral part of the Midwest, it is essential to teach our students about this fascinating state. In this article, we will discuss ways educators can engage students in learning about Wisconsin’s history, culture, geography, and contributions to society.
Introduce Wisconsin’s unique history
Begin by engaging students in learning about Wisconsin’s rich history. Delve into the lives of Paleo-Indians who settled in the region over 12,000 years ago; narrate the native American tribes’ stories that inhabited the area through time, like Menominee, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk. Explore the French involvement, followed by Great Britain and their influence on Wisconsin’s growth. Introduce students to important figures like Robert La Follette, who was vital in creating progressive politics that still shape America today.
Explore its fascinating geography
Wisconsin’s picturesque landscape offers numerous teaching opportunities. Explore glacial formation effects in regions such as Kettle Moraine State Forest and Devil’s Lake State Park. Use maps to identify significant geographical features like Lake Michigan and Lake Superior’s shores and its major rivers (Mississippi River and Wisconsin River). Emphasize Green Bay city’s importance as an industrial harbor on Great Lakes waterways.
Dive deep into its rich culture
Culture plays a vital role in shaping a place’s identity – showcase Wisconsin’s heritage by discussing its Germanic influence (which affected its cuisine) and diverse ethnic backgrounds who lent unique characteristics to the state. Highlight famous festivals such as Oktoberfest USA celebrating German Heritage or Cranberry Fest showcasing local agriculture and foods.
Showcasing notable Wisconsinites
Introduce students to famous residents from Wisconsin, such as authors Laura Ingalls Wilder and Thornton Wilder, as well as notable individuals from the arts and sciences like architect Frank Lloyd Wright, artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and inventors such as Jerome Increase Case. Discuss how they left their mark in their respective fields and how their work affects us today.
Emphasizing Wisconsin’s place in science and innovation
Wisconsin has a strong tradition of scientific research, innovation, and industry rooted in agricultural machinery (e.g., the creation of commercial tractors by J.I. Case Company) and dairying (Babcock butterfat test). Share the state’s broader connection to industries like brewing, paper production, and cheese-making with students (e.g., being home to leading breweries like Pabst Brewing Company).