I teach high school Social Studies, Broadcasting, and Web Design in Union City, MI, and am in my eighth year there (and teaching overall). Education has been a lifelong pursuit, and in recent years has been a dedication.
As a teacher, I am also a learner and have been involved in various professional opportunities to expand my skill set from which I draw daily in my classroom. Technology is a driving force in every aspect of learning in today’s world. Although it is possible to learn in the absence of technology (regardless of your definition), it is unlikely. How can we leverage the tools available, regardless of the cost, to maximize student learning and teacher instruction? This question has become my most recent pursuit – in and out of my classroom.
What Has Made My Classroom Different Is…
Learning in today’s society is far from the cookie-cutter methodologies that have driven instruction for decades. The reasons why substantial education reform fails in America is because the system that has been created serves too many powerful interests, and no package can successfully appease all parties and still institute the change required for the achievement demanded of our schools.
As a result, generations of students have been subject to minor reforms which have allowed the educational institution to falter. Current technologies have the ability to harness the collective strength of students, parents, and teachers and allow students to take control over their education. These collaborative tools employed in the classroom stregthen student understanding, build critical skills necessary in the socially connected, technology-infused culture we’re in.
Considering this, I have used the best web technology to energize learning and empower students. An example can be seen at our YouTube Page as a media site for a Broadcasting class. Furthermore, click the media below to view the way I have employed Wikispaces in my U.S. History classroom.
Let me show you what I mean…
Students were assigned to work as a pair on a selected inaugural address from our electoral past. Their assignment was to research that address and use it to evaluate context surrounding the address. Students used Wordle to generate a word cloud on the speech for a quick visual analysis of priorities that may have appeared in the speech. In the end, the pairs collaborated on the creation of a wiki page starting from a template I had designed to provide assignment expectations. Click the heading “Inagural Addresses” above to view.
The objective of the Big Kahuna was to uncover the many happenings in United States history between 1800-1850 through cooperative strategy, collaborative structure, and focus on technology as an integral part of learning.
Topics are Michigan grade level content expectations from USHG Era 4 – Expansion and Reform (see the Wordle image below). Students worked in pairs, two or more pairs for each topic, and created a wiki page devoted to that topic. The page features a multimedia creation that captures the essence of the chosen topic. The pages were created asynchronously, meaning that the pairs worked collaboratively, but at different times; one pair may be in 1st hour, whereas their cohorts may be in 5th hour. Within each page you will find a video created by the two pairs. See how we did! See below for more on the assignment behind the wiki. Click the heading “The Big Kahuna” above to view.
According to expectation 7.2.2 of the U.S. History and Geography HSCE, students were asked to “evaluate the role of the U.S. in ﬁghting the war militarily, diplomatically and technologically across the world.” Students were asked to create videos telling a digital story from some area of the war, from the attack on Pearl Harbor to responses to genocide. Student videos were embedded on a wiki page with a short description of what their video was attempting to accomplish. Pages were created as containers for the videos, and students chose topics within the themes at random therefore there were multiple videos per theme. Click the heading “WWII Video Project” above to view.