California's Best Brings History Alive at Bancroft

No one falls asleep in Ryan Baker’s classes. They’re too busy rebuilding the Alamo or fighting the Revolutionary War with muskets made of plastic pipe. The award-winning eighth grade history teacher doesn’t believe students should spend too much time memorizing or reciting dates and names. "That’s a very dull way to learn history," Baker said. He prefers active group participation. "I think that’s what they remember," he said. The Bancroft Middle School teacher is the new statewide winner of the Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Teacher of American History award. He will now represent California in competition for the national award. He accepted the DAR award at a recent ceremony in Santa Clara. Baker’s students videotape their reenactment of the King of England discussing the Stamp Act and the colonists’ reaction. They march and sing "The Battle of New Orleans." They compose raps, poems and songs. They become Hamilton and Jefferson debating the merits of federalism. They love history.