Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Create Content Not Consume

The vision behind the Cardinal Innovation Center is to get students to create content, not consume it. Creating content can be messy and feel chaotic, but when student creations are born, it is very satisfying. My role this year has shifted a bit. In addition, to my tech coaching duties, I also teach two periods of World History. This allows me to really put a lot of the innovative strategies I have learned into play. This helps me model much better for teachers.

We recently started a lesson on the Enlightenment. Before jumping into the content, I wanted students to have a firm grasp on the spirit of Enlightenment. I knew most had no clue what it means. To help build context, I first had them guess. As expected, most were not even close. I then showed them some YouTube clips that I feel are good examples of Enlightenment. One was from the Matrix when Neo chooses the pill. The other was a clip from Straight Outta Compton when Ice Cube figures out the truth about the unfair deals between Jerry Heller and Eazy E.

After the clips, I had students guess again on the meaning of Enlightenment. Their guesses were much closer now. I shared the actual definition with them and had them reflect on how close their guesses were. Some laughed about how far they still were while others were slightly disappointed about how close they came. Long story short, the term Enlightenment was no longer this monolithic, abstract term. Building context with YouTube demystified the term. They were no longer intimidated by it.

Now demystified, I challenged students to choose how to demonstrate their learning and understanding of Enlightenment. They could, for a passing score, find their own YouTube clip they feel is an example of Enlightenment and write 1-2 paragraphs explaining why. To get an A/B score, they could either write their fictional story that is an example of Enlightenment or record a 1-2 minute skit.

My absolute favorite student submission was an actual personal story from a female student. The crux of her story is centered around the traditional male and female roles in Hispanic culture. She was always taught that the women are homemakers and the men make the money and work. An event happened in her life where those roles switched between her mom and dad. At first she was unsettled, but over time she realized there was nothing wrong with this paradigm shift. She felt empowered by it.

As we went deeper into the lesson, she quickly identified with the philosophies of Mary Wollstonecraft. I am rather confident this student will comprehend the Enlightenment much better that if I had gone the traditional consumption route of answering questions at the end of the chapter. On that note, no textbooks were harmed.....errrr.....I mean used in this lesson.

My students created content. They didn't not merely consume it. Real life connections to content were made and learning became authentic.

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