Thanks so much for your response. I was just incredibly thrilled when the
kids went on their own to American Memory and felt I had to let those who
could appreciate it know about it. When I suggested they go to the
Internet I had thought more in terms of public domain clip art, but they
headed right for American Memory. Then I was worried they would spent lots
of time searching to no avail and I was completely wrong. So, what was so
amazing, was that the kids led me into seeing a new way to use American
Memory! I truly underestimated what they had learned in January and could
apply now to a totally different task.
They easily used the search techniques they had acquired back in January
to search throughout the site, in collections they didn't know at all. I
only had to guide them to those that had images. It showed me so many
things. For one, how quickly kids this age pick up search techniques. When
I suggested they search the Internet I was afraid they would inefficiently
search and spend a whole period finding an insignificant images such as a
flag. That was exactly the sort of thing I had observed a few years ago
with some students and which inspired the History Firsthand lesson in the
first place. However, that didn't happen. The kids went on their own to
American Memory and then were able to find stuff quickly. I was just
We teachers are always looking to see how learning "takes." That is, do
kids really deeply learn something sufficiently to use it from then on?
Or do they learn it for the lesson and then forget it afterwards? I can
tell how some of what I teach takes, but much is more subtle and difficult
to assess. Then they go to the next year and the teacher complains that
they never learned whatever I thought they had learned! So here was an
unexpected situation to show me they had indeed learned well (even better
than I had hoped) something I wanted them to learn. I mean we create
performance assessments (that is what History Firsthand partly is) and
tests at the end of a study, but how often do we get to see kids using the
tools and techniques after a hiatus as has happened here? Especially
technology skills such as those my students acquired during the History
Firsthand lesson back in January?
I also was pleased to see your reference to teaching for understanding
having just read this past weekend Howard Gardner's new book _The
Disciplined Mind_ in which he recommends a focus on teaching and learning
for understanding -- less topics done in depth. Gardner's thinking
resonates with me. I found his book _The Unschooled Mind_ from a few years
back equally thought-provoking. In this one he writes about the potential
of new technology to help (and hinder) deep understandings.
Interesting that even at the college level there is a difficulty in seeing
how to merge new technologies with deep thinking. I always thought that
the older the student the less technologies were used in a simplistic way.
After all colleges have far better resources than elementary schools.
Again, thanks so much for your response.