The Founding Fathers and the age of computer technology really do go together. It took a bit of a journey for me to find that out…
My first week of Mr. Gwaltney’s AP Gov class was frightening to say the least. Now, I’m a senior at a school that has a laptop program and likes to uphold an image of tech savvy-ness, but alas, I wasn’t prepared for this. During the first week, we signed up for online accounts through numerous websites like Vimeo, Twitter, Voicethread, WordPress, Skype, Google, etc. My first tweet ever was a Bushism (“They misunderestimated me”) and my first Vimeo video was a nice “about me” that looked grainier than images produced by cell phone cameras circa early 2000’s. Now that I’ve conquered most of these technologies, I’ve noticed how much easier and how much more fun it is to convey my ideas.
A little tangent: my actual school announced that our students will now document community service online through a nifty program. One of my friends thought that a paperless system would be a complete failure, but I praised the merits of Web 2.0 and convinced her that the future is everything.
Back to AP Gov – One of our assignments a few weeks ago was to write a discussion board post/respond to our classmate’s posts on Haiku about the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, as documented on Frontline. Back at school, we rarely watch documentaries because there isn’t enough classroom time to do so. I’m a fan of watching documentaries of most any nature, so was excited to learn about the Katrina response in depth. I was maybe only ten years old at the time and remember the footage I’d seen on CNN, but I never ever knew that the tragedy was made so extensive because of a lack of efficient decision making and much pointing of fingers at the city, state, and national levels. I enjoyed this assignment because I read reactions from girls all over the country with different opinions and backgrounds. One response in particular that struck me was Amber’s, whose dad went to Biloxi, MS shortly after the storm and described how new federally-funded houses for victims hadn’t been built to code. The things we get to talk about in this class are so real and make it a lot easier to make connections through history to the ideas of the Founding Fathers.
What I really love about this class is that the questions posed in our assignments are taken as jumping off points for all kinds of directions in our conversations. Also, I really enjoy creating Voicethread presentations on landmark Supreme Court cases (this week I get Brown v. Board of Education, yes!!) and mixing in other forms of project-based learning. Back at school, AP Government is already offered, but my friends who take it seem to only be getting the AP side of it. It’s pretty cool telling your friends at lunch about the realities of Katrina or how you Skyped people all over the country after the State of the Union. I used to be a stickler for the paper and pen system of learning, but this class has really changed my mind. (Whoa, I just had a thought: what if we could type the AP exam or take it online? That’d make things easier on the essay/free response graders!) I’m excited to see what kinds of discussions we’ll have in the next few weeks.
See you in my next post on Leap Day!