Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Video Tributes

Last week, I embarked on an experimental project-based learning activity with my standard and honors classes.  As mentioned in my previous post, the students amazed me with their creativity, collaboration and their willingness to work through challenges to create video presentations.

Below are the videos they created.  Overall, the results are remarkable!  Some of these videos are very powerful, some are entertaining and all are fascinating.  The videos are ordered as follows:

  • September 11th - very powerful!
  • Cold War: Nuclear Disasters, Cold War Intelligence and the Space Race
  • Protest and Rebellion: Civil Rights, Woodstock, Hippies
  • War: World War II and Vietnam
  • The Sixties: Tribute to JFK and 1960s Overview
  • The Twenties: Roaring 1920s and Women of the 1920s
  • Local History: Jacksonville

Saturday, May 18, 2013

#eduwinning - A Great Week to be a Teacher!

This has been an extremely busy, yet very rewarding week as a teacher!  I am extremely fortunate to be doing a job I love and to be able to work at an outstanding Catholic, college-preparatory school (of course, I'm biased because Bishop Kenny is my alma mater).  But, this week in particular has been quite fun in and out of the classroom.  Let me re-cap...

For my AP U.S. History students, we began the week by finishing our review for Wednesday's AP exam.
In addition to review time in class, many students stayed after school on Monday for an additional (and optional) hour and a half review session.  Despite being a long day, they were energetic, knowledgeable and they impressed me with their understanding of history.

When they came out of the exam on Wednesday, the consensus was that they were well prepared.  I'm hopeful that nine months of hard work and analysis will pay off with good results on this exam.

Students entering the Castillo de San Marcos
We finished the week with a trip to St. Augustine.  This is a great time to visit St. Augustine as the oldest city
prepares to celebrate its 450th anniversary in 2015 and Florida continues its 500th anniversary celebration.  We had a very ambitious schedule, yet we accomplished all of our objectives and had a great time.  The students did everything I had hoped: they represented themselves well, they learned from the historic sites and artifacts, they asked questions and explored the city.  Even more, they seemed to really enjoy themselves!

In the coming week, I will blog more specifically about the trip with pictures from our various stops.

For my standard and honors U.S. History students, the week was also just as exciting.  On Monday, we wrapped up our last units of material and spent the rest of the week in our school's wireless computer lab working on a video creation project.  This project was an experiment for me.  Last year, I directed a project with my honors classes where each class produced a video "tribute" to a generation.  The project resulted in two videos, one dedicated to the "Greatest Generation" and the other to the "Baby Boom Generation."  In completing these videos, I directly managed the design and production.  This year, I decided to let the students have full control of the project from start to finish.

On the first day in the lab, each class was divided into three or four teams.  Each team had to pick a topic, choose a team leader and begin work.  I was amazed at how quickly students became engaged in their work.  Each group demonstrated creativity, collaboration and patience as we experienced several technical issues in the lab.  Despite the challenges, most groups finished by the end of the week - even while I was away on Friday.  We still have a couple groups that will upload Monday and Tuesday due to some technical issues in the lab.  Once all videos are uploaded, I will make a separate blog post to showcase all of their videos along with more details about the mechanics of the project.

While all of this was going on, I continued to grade oral history papers from my standard and honors students.  This is an annual paper assignment where I ask students to interview someone who experienced a historical event first-hand and then write about that experience, the event and the historical significance.  While it takes me a few weeks to grade these papers, I thoroughly enjoy reading the stories.  Already, I have read some fascinating stories from war veterans and average citizens who experienced life-changing events.  This is one of my favorite assignments because it allows me to learn new information and new perspectives.  I also hope that the conversation with an older family member, friend, teacher or acquaintance is a meaningful experience for each student.

Overall, I walked out of the classroom Friday evening with a big smile on my face and a longing to get back to work on Monday.  I am grateful to my students for being so willing to learn and making each day exciting.

I can certainly mark this week as an #eduwin !  If you don't know what that means, check it out as a hashtag on Twitter or see this site: http://www.whatisyoureduwin.com/

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