It was a massacre. Bodies lying everywhere, draped over rocks and sprawled in the road. The cries and moans of the wounded loud in our ears. The smell of gun smoke wafting through the air. Other soldiers hiding in ditches and behind trees, yelling instructions at one another.
And then . . . the bell rang and we all went to lunch.
Welcome to my 3rd hour 8th grade American History class sometime in the early 1990s. Before standards or state assessments, and without a clear district curriculum, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted.
And one of the things I wanted was for my kids to understand a bit about how historical battles were fought and at least a little about battlefield conditions. So during our study of the American Revolution, we recreated the battle of Lexington and Concord.
Kids were assigned roles as British regulars or colonial militia. Tactics were discussed and practiced. We talked about historical context. And we carefully handed out the weapons – left over paper from the teachers’ lounge, wadded up into balls. Each soldier was allowed only so much, based on their role.
The colonial militia was allowed to turn over the desks to act as rocks and trees. British regulars, with red construction paper taped to the chests, had to march down the center of the classroom – surrounded on both sides by over-turned desks and angry Massachusetts farmers.
I would strike 10 or 15 old fashioned matches, blowing them out quickly so the room filled with smoke (pre-smoke alarm days) and the battle was on.