High school teacher Armand Doucet decided a long time ago that traditional, lecture-style teaching wasn’t for him. He wants his students to relate to what he’s teaching, not just remember it.
“My main focus is to link their passion to the classroom and make curriculum relevant in today’s society,” says Armand, who teaches modern history at Riverview High School in Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada. He’s always looking out for new ways to transform his students’ learning experience. A few months ago he saw something that really caught his attention. A fellow teacher, Ian Fogarty, just had a Nureva™ Span™ classroom collaboration system installed in his classroom. From the moment Armand saw it, he was hooked.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Wow,’ because it was finally a tool that encompassed everything that we could possibly want for 21st-century learning.”
Armand and Ian often work together to create lessons that give students more control over how they learn. Once a week, Armand uses the Span system in Ian’s classroom to work on group activities with his students. But he’s anxious to get one of his own so he can use it more often.
How one lesson took students back 100 years
History teachers like Armand face a tough challenge: making past events relevant to students whose lives are full of instant-messages and real-time information. Technology helps him bridge the gap.
Using the Span system has brought a new dimension to the student-centered teaching he was already doing. His biggest success so far was a lesson on World War One trench warfare. Armand didn’t want to just teach his students about life in the trenches – he wanted them to feel what it was like to be there.
His lesson went like this:
- Students were asked to consider all the human senses as they created a mosaic of life in the trenches
- Working in small groups, they used laptops and interactive whiteboards to make notes, gather artifacts and post them to the Span system’s digital canvas
- Students organized the content into 16 topics. Then they made notes on the four topics that interested them most, which added an individualized learning element to the exercise.
- To wrap things up, each student wrote a letter through the eyes of a solider to his family back home
“It permitted us, in 50 minutes, to have a real view of what trench warfare was like,” says Armand.
Engagement goes “through the roof”
Armand was amazed at his students’ reaction. They had a real and emotional connection to what they learned about the horrors of war. Some even cried at what they saw.
“Engagement was through the roof,” he recalls. “I haven’t seen engagement with children like that in a long time. Sixteen lectures couldn’t have done what we did in one day, in terms of the reaction, engagement and thought process of the students.”
He says because students made their own discoveries, the level of learning was far deeper than it would have been if he had simply given a lecture about what life was like in the trenches.
To Armand, the success of the trench warfare lesson proved that the Span system is the tool he needs to support the student-focused style of teaching that he’s convinced leads to better learning.