MiddSouth Innovates

Issue #3 2018-2019

Mudslinging: Mediterranean Edition

Election Day is fast approaching. Which candidate are you voting for?

Nero? Marcus Aurelius? Caligula?

No you didn't miss a last minute addition to the ballots. These are just some of the candidates that Mrs. Brosonski's World History students were able to choose from when making their campaign videos. The students were asked to serve as the campaign manager for a Roman emperor and present the candidate in the "most positive way" possible. They conducted research about the Emperor's major accomplishments, leadership style, and any other qualities they could find. The students were then given choice as to how they wanted to showcase their candidate: video, flyers, brochures, websites, etc. Some of the students chose to use LucidPress or Piktochart for their brochures, while others tried Animoto for campaign videos. But no campaign would be complete if you didn't take a moment to acknowledge what a terrible person your opponent was. Each group was also required to find dirt on their candidate's opponent and show the voting public how awful a person he was.


Check out some examples of the students' work below. Giving the students options on how they were able to communicate their ideas and findings really helped create interest in the project and motivated the students to produce better final products.

Sharing Is Caring

"Student-centered learning environments" are very popular across the education world right now. This system moves students from being passive receivers of information to active participants in the process. "Planning, teaching and assessment centers around the needs and abilities of students." While this concept is not new (it goes back to the 1960s!), it is causing a lot of educators to re-examine their classroom practices to put more focus on student learning. Let's take a closer look at what is being said about student-centered learning.

First, while some classrooms are letting the students drive the content of the class, most teachers are using more of a "guided-choice method": the teacher gives the students options of ways they can demonstrate their learning, but the teacher still directs the content. As was mentioned in the previous MiddSouth Innovates, this might include Tic-Tac-Toe boards or project menus with a variety of project ideas allowing the students to use their creativity to present their learning.

Second, both teachers and students need time to adjust to a student-centered environment. When making the initial shift, students will need guidance to adjusting to the level of freedom in the classroom. This may include discussions on learning preferences, long-term project planning, or peer learning strategies.

Third, teacher-directed lessons still play an important role in the learning process. The teacher must fill in gaps in learning, guide students toward a general objective, and manage the overall learning that is happening. Also, at the end of the day, all "college-prep classes" are supposed to be preparing students for a college learning environment, which has not really adapted to 21st Century learning. Active note-taking is still an important skill, which can be used beyond the classroom.

A student-centered learning environment really requires a mindset shift by both the teachers and students. But most importantly it requires work and constant adjustments for it to be successful. Here are some additional resources if you would like to read more:

https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/student-centered-learning

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-learner-interest-matters-john-mccarthy

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-centered-learning-starts-with-teacher-john-mccarthy

More Than Great Tech

Marc Seigel is looking for examples of great classroom practices for our Future Ready Schools Application and for our #middsouthinnovates feed. Are you doing something in your classroom that you want to share? Have your students produced a project that has really impressed you and you want to tell the world about it? Reach out to Marc and he will gladly come discuss it with you. You might even be featured in a future issue of the MiddSouth Innovates!


Also, Marc is eager to help with both your tech and non-tech needs! Want to infuse more technology into your classroom, discuss brain-based learning strategies, chat about social media, learn about 3D printing, or simple bounce ideas of someone? Send Marc an email, Tweet at him, or schedule an appointment on his calendar. No idea too big, no project too small!