Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Secret Of "Enrichment" - Humanities For The Ages

Source: Humanities Enrichment
All parents want "enrichment" for their children. Kids, without knowing it, also crave enrichment, because it's the fun stuff, the hands-on exploratory stuff. Teachers, when they have the time and support, ache to offer students expansive investigations and motivating projects.

For many students, the classroom at times can seem dull, yet the Internet is their reliable playground. During recess, they huddle around laptops to watch YouTube videos, check sports highlights, and scope celebrity gossip. We admit that for us, the panoply of web media has taken on much the same enlightening distraction. The extraordinary graphics and nimble videos that we find via Twitter have filled our bookmarks and our evenings with professional wonder. Everyday we find something new that we want to share with our students. But when the realities of curricula, schedules, and assessments set in, we frequently can't find the "extra" time required to show supplemental maps or photographs or poems.

Source: Humanities Enrichment
Because of all the captivating online creations, and because our students latch on to visual resources, our History and English teachers in grades 5 - 8 joined together to assemble a website of self-directed learning. We created a Humanities Enrichment Tumblr page. Anything helpful or fascinating that we come across and that our students might find intriguing, we post on our page. Tumblr proved to be the ideal platform for quick, constantly updated posts that scroll easily through the days.

The goal of any enrichment is to enhance learning or add nuance to quotidian ideas. This kind of self-guided enrichment, where students can click on pictures that grab their attention and skip elements that seem bland, is valuable for learners along the spectrum of academic achievement and capability. It also offers a wonderful outlet to inspire a distracted child or a "bored" student. Additionally, enrichment pages are ideal for letting parents know that we as teachers are excited about providing their children with dynamic complements to the school day.

Source: Humanities Enrichment
We are strong believers in cross-curricular learning, so we teamed up with our English colleagues Gina Sipley and Barbara Thomas in cooperatively designing a joint page. We all want our students to recognize the intertwined nature of their Humanities studies. All four of us, therefore, post media about the blended worlds of social studies, language, geography, literature and cultural research.

Thanks to our favorite websites and our PLN, it's not hard to find links to display. So far, we've been able to post a new tidbit each school day. It's a great way to cultivate collaboration among fellow faculty members and to learn from the exciting resources each person unearths.

Each of us maintains the page link at the top of homework assignments and/or class websites. It turns out our students check the page regularly. They frequently remark in class about a fiction contest or antique map or financial infographic that appeared during the prior evening. Sometimes the humanities posts connect directly to what they're learning in class, but just as often, the snippets relate to current events or quirky scholarship.

Source: Humanities Enrichment
Please feel free to check out our Humanities Enrichment page for yourself. We've intentionally tried to keep it clean and simple and unassociated with any person or institution. Also, feel free to share it with your students. Because it features varied media such as animated clips, museum exhibits, and historical etchings, the page is hopefully relevant for any age group. Each item is something that caught our eye in the first place, so we think kids will find them curious as well.

Note: All images are sourced and linked on the Humanities Enrichment page.

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