Interactive Timeline Project Brings History to Life at MSAP

     Published on 3/18/16   Tagged under:    District News    CORE K-8 @ Elmwood   

Social Studies Martin Pasternak had a clear goal when he applied for a SCSD Educational Foundation grant for his ‘Interactive Timeline’ project: he wanted students to learn to creatively embrace history through technology, within the scope of New York State and SCSD standards.
To accomplish this, he was awarded seven laptops to use with his seventh grade American History students at Middle School Alternative Program at Shea. Using the laptops, Mr. Pasternak implemented a modified ‘flipped classroom’ format, which allows students to study content on their own and use class time to reinforce the concepts they have learned. When students enter class, they independently watch a brief content video and complete a brief task associated with it. Then, they get to work on an interactive timeline project.
As students studied the American Revolution, each was given an event from the time period to research. Students were tasked with completing the research on their laptop and typing up a summary, including the date, a description, important people who were involved, why the event was important and more. Students submitted this information to their teacher for review, and the content was then compiled in Microsoft Sway, a platform to create interactive reports.
Students say they enjoy the class format because it allows for a more personalized way to learn. “It’s better than a normal class format,” seventh grader Aydan Cunningham said as he researched the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. “I like the computers because we can all do our own work instead of just all listening to the same thing. Now, we can do our own research.”
In this manner, students have been contributing to a timeline—comprised of their own work—that will serve as a study guide as the content expands, as well as prior to Regent’s exams. In short, Mr. Pasternak’s goal has been accomplished. But he says the scope of the project has now expanded.
“It’s become less about history now and more about seeing them participate in the educational process,” Mr. Pasternak explained. “The students are gaining more content knowledge and they’re participating more in history. But they’re also learning basic computer skills and they’re learning to focus and get work done. It’s fascinating to see how this project has changed their learning.”
In the future, Mr. Pasternak hopes to add additional computers to his set so the project can reach all seventh and eighth grade students. He also hopes to transition the project to become even more student-generated, allowing it to serve as an even better resource. Great job in finding a creative way to help students make educational gains! This is one of 19 projects funded by the SCSD Educational Foundation in 14 schools this year, totaling $50,000. The SCSD Educational Foundation has funded more than $750,000 in SCSD projects since 2003.