Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.
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Last Friday, excited by the thought of a day off and no specific plans set, I talked to my husband about going down to The Field Museum in Chicago to visit "Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair." Growing up north of Chicago, I had never heard of the 1893 World's Fair - The Columbian Exposition until after college when I read Erik Larson's amazing book The Devil in the White City (which I'll be reviewing later this week).
I was completely fascinated by the book as it shares in amazing amount of hard-to-believe facts surrounding the fair and a serial killer in Chicago at the same time. When I saw that The Field Museum had an exhibit devoted to the fair, I was so excited to go.
For a variety of reasons, I decided to go on my own to visit the exhibit. Part of my reasoning was that I really only wanted to go and visit the World's Fair exhibit, I wasn't interested in spending the whole day at the museum. And another part was that I wanted to be able to take my time and soak it all in.
So I went. I packed myself up, grabbed Starbucks on the way, and cruised down to Lake Shore Drive and was all parked and waiting in The Field Museum lobby at 8:56, waiting to buy my ticket. Stepping inside the museum brought back all sorts of memories of every other time I visited the museum. As I waited, I tried to remember all the different visits I had made to the museum. My favorite was when I got to sleep over in the museum with my Girl Scout troop, a night I will never forget.
I got my ticket and headed straight for the World's Fair exhibit. I looked at every artifact, read every word, took all sorts of pictures. It was perfect.
In the last few weeks, I've been visiting classrooms and talking to kids about having access to laptops for learning in their rooms. Many students have used the laptops for research. They've told me how much they enjoy doing research with the laptops and how they can find information much more easily.
My visit to The Field Museum was a different kind of learning but it stemmed from the idea that I'm so fascinated by the Columbian Exposition in general. I've been doing my own research on the fair, visiting various websites, reading books. I even contacted the curator of the exhibit and a University of Chicago librarian who did extensive work on the exhibit for more information. I've never really done passion-drive research like this where I'm delving into finding out more about a historical event.
There are a few classes I'm working with that are participating in Genius Hour or Passion Projects and after visiting the World's Fair exhibit and jumping in to learning as much about the fair as I can, I'm experiencing my own kind of Genius Hour first-hand. I have to say that it's fulfilling and it makes me want to learn even more.
Part of me felt selfish for taking advantage of the day off to go downtown all by myself. Part of me felt guilty for spending $19 for parking, $25 for my ticket into the museum, and another $20 on souvenirs. But part of me also felt exhilarated and alive and awesome for following my passion.
It reminds me of one of Meenoo Rami's messages in Thrive. She spends a lot of time talking about how important it is for educators to take care of ourselves. To take time to dive into our passions. To take time to feed our souls. She explains that while we are exploring what is important to us, we just might realize something we can share with students.
Last Friday, I took the day and let myself explore the 1893 World's Fair, a topic that fascinates me. I learned about the fair but I ended up also experiencing the thrill of passion-driven research that I can now share with teachers and students. Meenoo's prediction was right!
What topic fascinates you? What would you love to take the time to learn more about? Have you shared your interests/passions with students? I would love to hear what interests you!