Technology in the Classroom

Author: Patrick Baker  • 

From March to May of the 2016-2017 school year, I switched my teaching strategy to a more personalized format focused on student-centered, self-paced learning. With this change, technology became a vital part of the learning process in history classes. In order to facilitate personalized learning, the students used the Summit Learning platform, which provided a digital set of learning objectives, essential questions, and a resource playlist for each unit. The students could learn at their own pace, in their own way, using resources that best help them to learn. Students used their devices to access articles, videos, and other linked history resources, and once they could prove that learning had occurred, I would approve their requested content assessments, which they took online in the classroom. In addition to the Summit platform, students used Google Docs and Google Slides to collaborate digitally. Some students chose to share out on their learning by creating a video and showing it to the class. For some students, the practice of personalized learning through a digital platform was liberating. They were no longer forced to learn at a slower or faster pace than what is most beneficial to them. Other students were pushed out of their comfort zone, but were better off due to the fact that they had to think about the learning process, how they learn best, and ultimately they learned how to learn.

AP U.S. Government & Politics students used their devices to participate in the University of Virginia’s National E-Congress. Students across the nation learned through an online module how bills are initiated, debated, and voted into law in the Legislative Branch. Then students researched an issue important to them using their devices, created a bill that would address this issue, and submitted this bill to the University of Virginia. Student bills were redistributed around the nation, and Allen seniors debated and voted on bills created by students from other schools. In the end, two of our students had their bills voted into law in the National E-Congress. Seniors also used their devices to engage in an online presidential simulation from iCivics, allowing them to experience what it is like to be president for a period of time.

During the upcoming school year, students in ancient history, AP U.S. History, and AP U.S. Government & Politics will continue to use the Summit Learning platform, their devices, and Google Apps for Education to facilitate deep and personalized learning. The use of technology in the history classroom empowers teachers to tailor learning to each individual student more than at any point in the past. The result is authentic and intentional learning.

– Bryan Hunt: History Department Chair

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