Sunday, March 22, 2015

Building Something

Kim Garber spoke at the last 504 class about using a program which taught students math by letting them build and test bridges through a simulator. Math is not my subject area but she did talk about how the tech helps her differentiate and motivate students. What struck me most was how her bridge project extended beyond the classroom. Students compete for a scholarship. She also talked about how teachers could link the bridge project with a real problem America faces. Most of all, the bridge project and the coding project she also mentioned allows students to create something.
I thought about whether or not my students build things in my classroom. Yes, they do projects and comics and writing but there’s very little my students will do in my classroom that really matters after my students have graduated. Hopefully they will have learned a lot but I wonder if I allowed them to build something that mattered after they left if they would be more motivated.

I am trying to think about a project that students would feel mattered. What kind of problem could history students solve? One of the problems historians face is the lack of materials on a local level. Every day, as our grandparents’ generation passes away, we lose more history. I had thought about doing an oral history project when I was messing around with Audacity but I was thinking of more in terms of what it could do for students. After hearing Ms. Garber speak, I’m wondering if I should be reframing the project in terms of what students could do for their community. I am definitely going to have to look into seeing what historical societies would want oral histories added to their archives. I think if students see their work being useful to their community, it could add another layer of motivation for them. 

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