Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure: Canadian History Style

This week's post comes from Charles Jennings, History, Law and Politics Teacher.

"You mean we get to choose?!"

If you had the choice, which would you choose to learn about: Prohibition, the Women’s Movement or the Economic Boom in the 1920s? Students in Grade 10 Canadian History were surprised to learn that they had this very choice at the beginning of the Roaring '20s Unit. This is one way in which we personalize the teaching of history at Greenwood. The results of this interest-based approach showed outstanding student success, and greater student engagement and excitement.

Here is why it was so successful:

  1. Student Choice: Our first unit provided built-in opportunities for students to explore themes within the broader study of World War One. This prepared students to view history through different lenses, readying them to study the Roaring '20s unit under one central theme. Students jumped at the opportunity to independently select from Prohibition, the Women’s Movement or the Economic Boom, and were grouped accordingly.                                                                                                
  2. Blended Delivery: Online materials developed in-house by Greenwood history teachers provided rich content tailored to each theme. These, in combination with the work done in class, create a blended learning environment that helps students work to their interests. Navigation is easy through clear and simple organization and delivery in Moodle and Google Docs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  3. Self-Paced Learning: Students appreciated being able to independently work through the unit at a pace appropriate to their learning needs. This allowed for more opportunities to extend learning and access support. Assessments dispersed throughout the unit provided students with timely feedback and greater preparation for their final task, and provided teachers with immediate and concrete evidence of learning to better gauge progress.                                                                                                              
  4. Greater Teacher Support: During each class, teachers worked with each theme grouping to clarify understanding, ensure progress and extend learning through engaging activities. Teachers acted as learning coaches to ensure students progressed successfully through the unit, providing one-on-one and small group support.                                                                                                                       
  5. Collaborative Learning: Engaging whole-class activities challenged students to share their learning, deepen their historical understanding, and make sophisticated connections between each theme. A lively debate highlighted the importance of each theme, and brought history to life.  

It is clear that students ‘do’ history best when they are engaged with content and can find meaningful ways to connect it to themselves and the world around them, Students responded to this new approach with enthusiasm, interest and Roaring results!

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