Sunday, October 14, 2012

NMHS Social Studies Teacher Brings Technology to Capitol Hill

Two of my Social Studies teachers were recently invited to Washington DC on October 4, 2012, to deliver a model lesson that illustrated the effective use of technology.  The following is a guest post by Rebecca Millan who attended with her colleague Nicolette Perna.  For more information on this event check out the summary provided by ISTE.

As a social studies teacher, being asked to take a professional development trip to Washington DC is an extremely exciting offer.  When it was furthered by the occasion to actively participate in the National Coalition for Technology inEducation and Training (NCTET) to show Senate staffers what a 21st century social studies classroom looked liked, Nicolette Perna enthusiastically accepted the invitation. The experience was truly a culmination of history: taking an Amtrak Train from Metropark to Washington DC, navigating the Metro subways of DC and lastly, filing through security and joining the ranks of US Senators and Senate Staffers for the day.  Upon entering the upper floors of the Hart Senate Building we were captivated by a panoramic view of the Capitol Building and Washington Monument. While taking the time to set up our SMART Board and applicable technology, we were greeted by Jon Bernstein, the director of the event, in addition to a variety of people representing SMART Technology, Common Sense Media- Digital Passport, Pearson Education, and the Director of Hybrid Learning for Washington DC Public Schools, John Rice.

The event began with an introduction and panel discussion moderated by the Executive Director of Learning First Alliance, Cheryl Williams, who discussed the pertinent value of integrating technology into our 21st century classrooms. At the conclusion of the discussion, guests were divided into the four quadrants of the room to learn about the power of technology to improve teaching and learning in the fields of Science, Special Education, Adaptive Curriculum and Assessment, and Social Studies. Upon entering the Social Studies quadrant, Senate Staffers were asked to take out their cellular devices and to answer two Poll Everywhere questions on the Election of 1860. The first was a close-ended question that asked: Which of the following is most effective in reaching voters: Newspaper, Poster/Slogan, Button/Trinket or a Rally.  The second, an open-ended question, polled staffers on any prior knowledge they had about the Election of 1860.  

After finishing her anticipatory set, Nicolette then moved on to her Prezi presentation of the Election of 1860 which discussed the issues of the election, major candidates involved, the candidates positions on slavery, the controversies of the results and an embedded YouTube video which highlighted the major points of her Prezi.  As the audience enthusiastically followed along, they were then asked to participate in using the SMART Board to play a Who’s Who review game using the SMART Markers and an Adobe PDF file she had created.  Lastly, to culminate the assignment, Ms. Perna demonstrated how to create an interactive Glogster poster advertising and highlighting major ideas and perspectives of one of the four candidates of the election. It was evident that the audience enjoyed their brief return into her social studies classroom a lot more than their earlier memories of reading dusty and antiquated history textbooks.

Throughout the entire day, from the panel discussion to our interaction with the technology and learning personnel, fellow teachers, and Senate staffers; it was evident that everyone in the room shared a common sentiment and admiration towards the positive aspects of education and the ways in which we can all contribute to making learning valuable and relevant to our students.  After leaving the Hart Building and walking past the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court on our way to the Metro, we felt greatly rewarded by the experience and refreshed to return to the classroom with some new perspective.


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