How Can the Values of the Past Be Seen in the World of Today?

I love working with Social Studies and History classes in an inquiry model. The essential questions students create are always fascinating. Students make connections between past worlds, cultures, and issues with the world around us that are incredibly difficult to make in a traditional classroom model. I love seeing their questions begin to take form, their research guide them in unique directions, and the new understandings we create when we use our past to better grasp our present.

Case in point. Recently I collaborated with a colleague here at Oak Bay High School named Nichelle Soetaert. Mme. Soetaert teaches Sciences Humaines at our school which are (for you non-Canadian folks reading) our French Immersion Social Studies courses. Nichelle was keen on using technology to help her students create their demonstration of understanding at the conclusion of a unit of study. She had an awesomely planned unit that guided students through a comparison between Victorian era values and those of our present day society using the essential question “how can the values of the past be seen in the world of today?”

Nichelle had planned a guided inquiry unit, one where she structured the essential question for the entire group and provided some of the resources to be used, but she then gave control and ownership over to students to further select resources and personalize their understanding using a common means, iPads and the Explain Everything app.

Types of Student Inquiry by Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt

Types of Student Inquiry by Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt

Students used Explain Everything to create a split screen visual comparison where one half of their illustration was a collection of images depicting their understanding of the values and morals of the Victorian era. The second half of the illustration was a collection of images depicting their understanding of the values and morals of our present day society. Have a look at a few of the jpegs below:

Students then used the same app and created a video where they discussed what the images they used in their comparison represented as well as their new understanding of their essential question. We published these videos to my class Youtube channel and decided to publicize our learning at our Grade 8 Open House event, an evening where grade 8 students and their parents from across the district visit our school for a look-about. We printed off the jpegs and hung them in one of our common areas. Accompanying each project was a student statement of learning (a brief paragraph providing some context for the viewer) as well as a QR code that linked our audience to each student’s video. We provided iPads for our attendees to borrow and browse our virtual gallery. The final result was pretty cool.

Have a look at a few of the videos below:

Nichelle and I were super impressed with the attention to detail students demonstrated in their work. Their images and presentations were clean, meaningful, and entertaining. Further to that, Nichelle found that their recorded voice offered her a rich assessment that more accurately reflected student skill and understanding. Because students worked towards creating a script and that they re-recorded their presentations until they were happy with their work, Nichelle’s assessment, in our eyes, was more full, accurate, and honoured the student. I cannot wait until we can do it again next year!

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