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Day 44: Ethan
By Mark Heintz
Oct 16, 2019

Day 44

Student Contribution by Ethan York

As a student, I have never really enjoyed history-based classes. For me, it was always a stop and go, memorizing material for a test and forgetting it soon after. I never took the time to remember anything about history, because quite frankly, I was never given a reason to. As long as I kept my A in my class, I was happy. That’s why for me, the concept based application of AP Human Geography was such a welcomed change. I was able to play to my strengths, and could probably come very close to teaching an APHG course today. But this year, I dreaded AP World History. Don’t get me wrong, I had heard from many students what a wonderful teacher Mr. Heintz was, but I didn’t think even he would be able to make me learn and retain historical facts for a whole year.

This year, when school came in session, and I walked into AP World first period, I expected something close to the worst. But I walked in, and for a week straight, I didn’t have to memorize much. Instead of textbook readings, note-taking, and quizzes, I was pleasantly surprised. Those methods of learning were dropped in favor of short videos of Mr. Heintz teaching us about the material we would need to do, followed by a short quiz, but with a catch; the quiz wasn’t for a grade. Instead, it was to check whether we had really learned something from the quiz. Over the course of the class, Mr. Heintz has done a lot to make sure we have our own freedom. Twice now, instead of reading a document, Mr. Heintz lectures about the different parts of the world from a time period. He then lets us have free reign to make any kind of project about something from the time period. This incredibly forward-thinking way of teaching Mr. Heintz has demonstrated has led to me not memorizing for a quiz, but has moved me on to retaining information that I find interesting. I have made two videos now, and I have not only enjoyed making them but also retained all of the information that I put into them like I just read it.

Now, all good systems have a downfall, and Mr. Heintz’s methods definitely aren’t an exception to that rule. For his teaching methods, students are given immense amounts of freedom in their learning. If they choose not to learn or apply themselves, they will fail. This fact has already begun to show in some of my classmates. But for students who take the time to apply themselves and let their minds run wild, Mr. Heintz has created a classroom that is not only a positive educational environment, but also a successful one

 

My Response

Ethan is honest. As I read through his initial response, I was pleased with myself. He understands what the course is doing and he has embraced the ideals.  However, as I navigate towards the end of the post, there was truth in what he said. I have given a great deal of freedom. Whiles tudents continue to write and read and I have a few out of class things that need to be completed, some students are starting to drift a bit when I’m giving them time. I’m reading In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School and they elude that this occurs in classrooms that a are similar.

Now what?

I’m taking a few days this week to codify the project. Not in a standard format, but put some general frameworks to the thinking involved. After this week, I’m going to have the students set goals for their own learning and then help them monitor their progress in the completion of those goals.  I think this will help preserve the integrity of the time I’m setting aside for them and holding them to a standard.

 

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