Making History in 8th Grade Computer Literacy

I introduced MAKING HISTORY by selecting a few students to “test drive” the program before introducing it to others as a class project. All students went through the Tutorial at least once (in some cases twice). I then made sure I had a student “expert” in each class setting who could also assist others. (I often have as many as ten different technology projects going at once in my classes, depending on what students select from my list.)

I used MAKING HISTORY as a week long project that students could choose to select from a list of a variety of educational technology-related projects. Almost all of the students were very comfortable working with a partner, even on a single player game. The collaborative nature of the project really appealed to them, however those who chose to play as a single player also readily assisted and aided the other players as well!

MAKING HISTORY enhanced the classroom environment by giving those students with an interest in History to expand on what they already know from their Social Studies classes into a subject that, to be quite honest, doesn’t get much attention until they take History in high school. I believe this experience will enhance their high school learning and understanding of World War II and the effects of the war on many nations.

I set up three laptop stations, one for each two-person team. I intentionally grouped students who I knew would work well together, and I did notice by the end of the week that the quieter students at the start were now fully engaged and interacting with their partners. I saw an increase in self-confidence in these students.

I am in a junior high computer setting, and MAKING HISTORY allowed my students to meet these 8th Grade National Educational Technology Standards (both state and federal):
8.3.1-The student will use content-specific tools, software, and simulations to support learning and research
8.5.3-The student will collaborate with peers, experts, and others using telecommunications and collaborative tools to investigate curriculum-related problems and issues
8.6.1-The student will apply productivity/multimedia tools and peripherals to support problem-solving, collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum
8.6.2-The student will select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to solve problems

This type of learning through simulation allows students to develop essential 21st Century Skills: critical thinking, creativity and innovation, problem solving, self-direction, and teamwork. MAKING HISTORY fosters a deeper understanding of the subject because of the inherent complex and contextual learning students experience. These solid 21st Century Skills will equip students with tools for success on any educational assessment–local, state or standardized.

I will definitely use MAKING HISTORY in my classroom next year. I believe that interactive simulations that teach the subjects and topics we, as educators, are required to cover is engaging for today’s students. The role of “mentor in the center” is no longer effective with this generation of learners. Being a facilitator, or “guide on the side” is much more empowering for the student and allows for individual success and accomplishment at the student’s own level. I would love to see other topics addressed in this interactive simulation environment, and I would be glad to offer my classroom as a testing ground for future products.

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