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High tech makes learning history fun

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Dec 2010 19:32    Onderwerp: High tech makes learning history fun Reageer met quote

High tech makes learning history fun
JULIA BIGGS, jbiggs.edwi@gmail.com , Monday, December 13, 2010

When studying American history in junior high, back in the day, most would attest to the very boring task of reading chapter after chapter of a history book and listening to lecture after lecture. But the use of technology in today’s classrooms has created a new way of teaching and learning.

Lincoln Middle School Team 81’s recent study of World War I is a perfect example of the mixing of technology with standard teaching principles to help students learn the material through various teaching methods.

Brooke Wiemers, one of Lincoln’s Team 81’s teachers, explained that their team approached the World War I curriculum with a variety of projects to accompany the lecture. Students made a time capsule that allowed them to step back in time and imagine how life was like as a 13 year old during WWI.

“They created a list of items that would help people 30 years after WWI to understand the significance of the war,” Wiemers said.

She also pointed out that a project comparing WWI costs, weapons and strategies to the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict was extremely enlightening to students.

“Students were very surprised by the cost of war and what it costs to fight per day,” Wiemers said.

While some students relate to statistics and the written word, other students are more “visual” which is why she said they also made “War Slogan Posters.”

“Students came up with a slogan to help campaign for assistance during the war,” Wiemers said.

Poster topics varied from “Planting Victory Gardens” to “Meatless Tuesdays” to “Donate to Red Cross.”

Team 81 teachers utilized technology during the unit in a couple of ways. Team teachers were able to incorporate a district-wide supplied program called, “Discovery Streaming” in their lectures. “Discovery Streaming,” a product of Discovery Education which is a subsidiary of Discovery Communications provides over 40,000 video clips and thousands of images that correlate to state standards and core-curriculum.

Wiemers explained that she utilizes Discovery Streaming while teaching by stopping at points in her lecture and then playing relevant short videos from Discovery Streaming that further illustrate the points in her lecture. “It allows us to show students short clips from Discovery Channel and the History Program to enhance student learning,” Wiemers said.

At the culmination of the unit, students selected a WWI topic and spent several days researching information through library books and the Internet. They composed a report from their research and then were given the option of making a Power Point presentation that highlighted their topic as well as also presenting it to the class. “The presentations were an optional component to accompany their written report,” Wiemers said. “But nearly three-fourths of the students took the opportunity to create a presentation.”

The students who made Power Point presentations did so by weaving online historical video clips, graphics and music into their presentations. In addition, many added their own voice-overs to their slide shows to explain their topics in greater detail.

The top presentations were then chosen by their peers each class period and 12 student presentations were chosen to be shared among all the social studies classrooms within Team 81. “They are so good, why let just one class see them,” Wiemers said the Team 81 teachers concluded. “Let everyone have the opportunity to see them. They are learning in a three to five minute presentation a lot of facts.”

The students chosen and the topics they highlighted were: Matt Trgovich (Nicholas & Alexandria), Chris Zimmerman (Aerial), Allison Stephens (Women in War), Cole Seifert (Trenches), Brendan Raferty (Tanks), Shaun Raferty (Weapons), Austin Pizzini (Trenches), Reece Halpin (Weapons), Cassidy Winters (Spies), Alex Johnson (Lusitania), Ryan Serfas (Battle of Somme) and Eliza Pauk (Spanish Influenza).

Two student’s presentations, brothers Shaun and Brendan Raferty, stood out for the amount of detail the two young men added to their presentations. “They are just unbelievable – awesome,” Wiemers said. “It was just amazing what they were able to create. It’s just not what you would expect from eighth graders.”

To understand the amount of work these students put into their presentations, the Raferty brothers’ video clips with their voice-overs can be viewed online at www.youtube.com/offdude77

Although researching the information for the report was a great way to learn the subject matter, Wiemers also felt the presentations provided the students with excellent preparation for what they could expect when they go on to Edwardsville High School or college.

An extra part to the presentation process was that the students who listened to the presentations would also be providing positive comments to the presenters about their presentations the following day “So it’s also interactive,” Wiemers said.

Lincoln’s Team 81, which includes Wiemers, Nancy Conner, Eric Decker, Marian Doszkewycz, Kristen Schindler and Angie Claypool, will end the unit by writing letters to injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Wiemers said that they decided to do this after learning through their studies that during WWI “one of the only things that kept soldiers spirits up were letters from home.”

http://www.theintelligencer.com/articles/2010/12/14/local_news/doc4d065b94b4bc4006570912.txt
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