As many of you already know, I am very interested in working on the subject of passive to active learning. I overheard a young lady voice frustration around not understanding a class reading and bemoaning the idea of having to produce a lengthy writing around it. I have since spent time reflecting on how to produce a tool that would visually aid students to understand what they have read and potentially increase their desire to know more about historical events and human strife.
This exercise requires students to have read assignments before attempting to complete the exercise. They should leave the exercise space prepared to begin writing around themes in the reading.
Utilizing a web app, students would be able to pose a question around a reading, construct keywords, and then recreate visually what they perceive is going on within a passage by placing contemporary images in a grid that represents the action within the text. Students would have the ability to rearrange the images in the grid.
For example, if the reading was about the French Revolution, students could focus their responses around other themes besides the main theme and use the keywords to help form contextual questions to help them populate the grid. The option to add more rows to the grid would be available if students wanted to work in a larger space.
For instance, to answer the question why did the peasants revolt, students would be able to visually answer that question with the use of contemporary images to describe conditions around human hunger, greed, female suffrage or any of the other factors that figured in the politics of the day. Having created the visual grid, students should be positioned to write with a better understanding of the various themes within the text.
A backchannel could also be made available that would allow other students to comment on the question posed in the main space. Their discussions could be around other historical events that are similar to the topic in the main space. This comparison is meant to help develop interest in and understanding of other historical events, either past or present.
Teachers could introduce this tool to students at the beginning of the semester, so that students gain familiarity before using the tool in their personal spaces.