If You Were in My Classroom Yesterday, This is What You Would Have Seen

I had the opportunity to have education professionals from all over the country visit my classroom through the Blueprint for Educational Excellence National Institute yesterday morning.  The conference is sponsored in part and run in part by the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence organization.

Conference attendees who arrived from around the country were touring our school, Reading Memorial High School, to check out our teaching practice and technology integration.  I had visitors in an out of my classroom all morning.  The students, teenagers who LOVE to show off, were their animated, out spoken, fun loving selves in front of our guests.  (I'm sure the fact that those morning classes were the last in-school hours they would spend before a nice week long April Vacation was a factor in their restlessness.)  Teachers, administrators, and education leaders from as far away as Houston, Texas were walking in and out of my classroom at about 10 minute intervals.

What Did They See?
They saw everything from...

...an analysis of the interactions between the British Regulars and American Patriots during the Battles of Lexington and Concord...

...to an introduction to the Romanov family and Czar Nicolas II.

These are actual images that appeared on my SMART Board at the front of the room, and while these topics may not sound riveting, it is the integration of technology that made the lessons interactive and engaging for both the students and our visitors.

How Does Technology Integration Make History More Fun?
In the Lexington and Concord lesson, students read through short passages about the different phases of the battle, and then turned their attention to the front of the room and watched short video clips from Discovery Education.  Then we discussed the information from both the text and the documentaries.  This is the short clip they saw about Concord.
Did the facts in the text and in the video match up? If not, why does that happen when we study history?  Which provided more detail: text or video clip? What facts did they need help remembering? Ask each other! The students really ran the discussion and in the end everyone understood what happened.  The integration of the video clips and groups discussions made the lesson more interactive and more interesting than a typical classroom where the teacher is up front and the students are dutifully taking notes at their assigned seats.

In the Romanov Dynasty lesson, I was simply introducing the information, but the students would be charged with learning the content on their own and then sharing it with their classmates.  In this case, the technology integration came into play with the assignment.  Students were going to read and research various suptopics related to the Romanovs (like the Crimean War and the emancipation of Russian serfs) and then create a quiz for their classmates to take and help them learn the content for themselves.  The quizzes will be published on Google Documents for their classmates to access and take.  I even made and showed a video tutorial with SMART Recorder, which is part of the SMART Classroom Suite all teachers at my school have in their classrooms, that explains how to create, save, and share documents on Google Docs.

Yesterday was truly a typical day in my class.  I didn't do anything special because the tours were coming through.  These were simply the next topics I had planned to cover based on my curriculum.  Perhaps the lessons were slightly tweaked from last year, but they were not specially made for the Blue Ribbon occasion.

Since there were about 40 educators from around the country who got the opportunity to peek, I thought, "Why not give my blog readers the same opportunity?"

I hope you enjoyed it!

Image and Video Citations:
"Battles of Lexington and Concord, 1775." Map. World at War: Understanding Conflict and Society. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
"Nicholas II and family." Image. The Illustrated London News Picture Library. World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
Battle of Concord. Discovery Education, 2006. Video Segment. 15 April 2011. .


  1. Did you get any feedback from any of your visitors? Thanks for sharing, by the way. Terrific.

  2. They asked a few questions and nodded and smiled, but no other concrete feedback. It was fun to have "outsiders" in the classroom, though. I feel like teachers should open up our classrooms more often to people who do not know about the day-to-day goings on in education.

    Thanks so much for your comment!


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