Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why students took pictures of this review

A deceptively simple outcome. 
American History II, like most history classes in my experience, is chock full of facts, events, legislation, key figures, and cause, cause, cause, effect, effect, effect. But a mere 90 classes (optimum, no interruptions scenario!) in a semester makes the task seem monumental. Depth can be a definite challenge when faced with the breadth of information--so what's a student to do?

Today we tried a new low-tech--but high engagement!--approach to reviewing, as a jumpstart.
President's names were printed on one set of large index cards, and passed out randomly to students as they entered the room. They were then tasked with sequencing them from the Era of Reconstruction to 2015.  Without notes or computers. 
A definite challenge, we soon found out. 
                                            And we let them struggle. 

Rather than correct their presidential order, we then handed out key events for students to match with the presidents. It soon became evident their order was...well, out of order. 
More discussion. 
More thinking. 
More questioning. 
More debating. 
More thinking...

Getting closer?...
My co-teacher is amazing at weaving all of these time periods together, and as she guided the class through discussion of causes and effects, students took notes, were engaged, and began to re-piece the events and presidents together. This was the first time they had really considered all of the events at once, and soon there were even murmured "oh!"s of understanding. That bigger picture eased itself out of it's hiding place, and loomed large, students could self-assess without pressure, and teachers could conduct an overall formative assessment in a snap. (Did I mention we had fun?) 

Not too shabby, plus it gave us the idea to use a similar activity as a pre-assessment for next semester. Hmmm....

Of course, not all events were covered, but this turned out to be a heck of a jumpstart to all that has been addressed this semester. Amazing how much they had learned--and how much they'd forgotten. Students found it very useful, and even wanted to take pictures of it. The next step starts tomorrow, the last day before Christmas break, then finishes in January. Stay tuned. With cameras ready. 
Gotta love when students take pictures of a review activity!
Say wha...?
What are some ways that you review with your highschool history classes? Please share in the comments below!

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