As I am preparing for the end of the semester, I can’t not help but think about how much of a challenge and joy it will be to teach a new group of students to enjoy history. All too often history teachers rely on textbooks, test scores, maps, and routine memorization to teach history.When students are not engaged they become bored and passive in the classroom.
I think it is more important to teach our students to think critically and reflect about the past. We want our students to analyze social institutions, ask who benefits, who suffers, and how our country got this way. My last project of the semester was the final realization when I stepped back and realized my students were asking other students critical questions about our recent president’s. No standardized test scores or multiple choice questions could measure that amount of interest and intrinsic motivation for learning.
To get students motivated and keep their interest, I design student centered lessons that are engaging and reflective. On my end of the semester evaluation, many (if not most) of my students reflected their favorite lessons were not the ones where they were learning history but the lessons where they were “doing history.” Project based learning has so many benefits and is often undervalued in education.
For more information: Here is some more information about project based learning: Seymour Papert, a distinguished professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is among a growing group of scholars who support project-based learning. Read a short introductory article or watch a brief introductory video.