Outline the transformation you would like to see in your teaching and your students’ learning
As the Technology Director at my school (and even more strongly as a teacher of Ancient History), my foremost desire is for students to have experiences that will transform their understanding. Students that experience learning tend to question more and engage more. They seek out knowledge rather than passively take notes. Students have the opportunity to apply what they have been taught in the moment to predict what they expect and compare it to the reality. I used to take students to a field and act out the Greek Forum or stand them shoulder to shoulder in the hallway and ask them to debate whether they could stand against the rest of the school and what weakness they had (to explain the battle of Thermopolae). These events almost always wound up with students coming to a deeper understanding of why events happened the way they did.
One of the most difficult things for me to accomplish was finding a way for students to “see” history (experience history). Videos are insufficient, and my telling stories, while entertaining to the students, didn’t attain the depth of understanding that I wanted. What I really needed was a way for the students to experience it. Now as the Technology Director, that desire remains but at a higher level. I want students to “see” what an underwater biome looks like. To find themselves inside a heart and look around to see exactly how everything functions. Sadly, we don’t have the budget to go on field trips or to get pig hearts to dissect. We certainly don’t have the budget to go on a snorkeling expedition.
The tricky part will be assessing understanding. The knowledge I am shooting for is not easily checked with a multiple choice test. I am a fan of having students explain what they have learned verbally to their parents/guardians. This can be done by a simple check in with their parents at home or a video creation that they can use to teach their parent/guardian about what they have learned. Occasionally, I will have students write about the experience and apply it to what they already knew about the topic, including anything that they feel they understand better.
This is the second of five parts, which are Part I: Brief project description, Part II: Outline the transformation you would like to see in your teaching and your students’ learning, Part III: Presenting the Total PACKage, Part IV: Evaluation, and Part V: How does your project connect with other key issues in educational technology? If you prefer, you can view the project all on one page here.