Andra Minor, an 8yh and 10th grade English teacher at Juniata Valley High School, has introduced a new project to her 7th period sophomore English class. The class has been constructing a diorama for several weeks regarding the World War I-based novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
“I have never taught this book before. The students were begging to read a war novel, so we did it. Teaching this kind of book is not really my thing, but seeing them work together and being so excited in the process has made me grateful that I did,” said Minor of the project.
The diorama, which has been entirely constructed by the students, illustrates two sides of a battle: one side is Germany, while the other is France.
“‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is a very descriptive book about the mental and physical sides of war. I brought in barbed wire and toy army men. We have used STEM — but more STEAM because there was a lot of art involved--in making our diorama,” stated student Johnny Foster.
STEAM, which is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, has been used by each student in one way or another in the making of the diorama.
“Each student has their own role. It has been so cool to watch them use the aspects of STEAM in this project while referencing ‘All Quiet on the Western Front.’ They have read about the horrors of war, as well as how a person never is never the same — even if they are physically okay,” Minor discussed.
“This is a really cool way to express everyone’s imagination,” stated Bryan Hearn when asked about his role in the project. “I constructed the box. My classmates and I had to measure the door in order for me to figure out the box’s dimensions. I had to make one box into two in order for it to fit through the classroom door,”
Morgan Sunderland and Jenna Moore-Betres were the lead artists of the diorama.
“Jenna and I googled what the French and German flags looked like at the time, then constructed them. We made older and newer flags. Lastly, we painted them for the diorama,” explained Sunderland.
“Painting has been really fun. We also painted rocks,” commented Moore-Betres.
Ben Carolus specifically enjoyed the ways in which the whole class came together in using STEAM to make the diorama while referencing the book along the way.
“I really like that this is a hands-on project. We all are working together well. I have learned many new things about WWI from reading All Quiet on the Western Front and then making the diorama,” explained Carolus.
It is evident that Minor has found a creative way in which to teach a book. It is also evident that she has taught it in such a way that students have been able to learn aspects of a topic of great magnitude — war — while being grateful to learn such a topic and use their imaginations along the way.