Annenberg Learner - Newseum Teacher Institute Intro

Hi All,

I am Steve Schwarten.

I teach 8th grade US History (Colonization to 1877) at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring Maryland (Montgomery County Public Schools).

I graduated from the University of Akron’s education program in 2006 and recently completed my MA in History from George Mason University.  I have been teaching since 2007 and I have taught in a charter school and a public school.  I have taught high school, middle school, self-contained special education government, co-teaching special education government and US history, on level US History, on level world history, and every grade level from 7th-10th grade.  I have seen so many different ways to teach it is kind of crazy, but right now I seemed to have settled into my current school and will be teaching the same subject and learners for two years in a row!  Woot!

I am also a soccer coach.  I have coached the Boys JV and Varsity soccer teams at my old high school and still currently am coaching a JV team at Wootton High School.  I also am going to start coaching the 7th and 8th graders next year at Eastern!  I really cannot get enough of being on the field.  It is just too much fun and I love how athletics can help kids grow into responsible adults.  A win-win for everyone!

My use of technology started about four or five years ago when I a couple teachers  that let me participate in their Civ Lab, which used Civilization IV to help teach social studies concepts every day.  My five classes compete with roughly ten other classes that my friends control.  Everyone always has a good time and we have each class for a state/country for which they are responsible for growing and trying out the concepts we learn.  I steer some of it by providing scenarios, but over all they drive the whole thing.  They wage wars with each other, make alliances, tax themselves, make national and state level laws, elect leaders, etc.  It can be pretty exciting.  Here is a link to my page that kind of explains some of it:

I started using technology like twitter and a blog maybe three years ago.  Some students asked me if I would follow them on twitter.  I never did that, but I did create an account they could use to follow me for reminders for HW, etc.  They loved it so I kept doing it and now I have an Instagram account I use to send pics out of history things I see in everyday life.  I started that this year and it blew them away!  I never have tons of followers, but some do and enjoy that I use it.  I also have many students that like I use a classroom blog where I post my notes and clips to further their learning.  I haven’t been brave enough to flip my class because many of my students do not have access to a computer.  Maybe some of you will be able to help me figure out how to be more successful at that.    

Lesson I enjoyed this year was using the SOLE to teach John Brown.  I gave them a laptop to share at their table group, a piece of paper, and the question was John Brown an American hero or an American Psycho?  They had to work to find the answer and debate with each other in their group what they thought the answer was.  I used an online chatroom to have them collaborate with each other as a group to share their information.  They seeing their information appear on the board at the front of the room and then after they had to create a poster.  After I did this many of them were able to talk about John Brown and it was neat to see them go so riled up.  Some students needed a bit of a mental push, but after they all got into it was a neat thing to watch.  

Well, I probably shared more than I intended to here to begin with, but I guess I just like to explain as much as I can.  I am looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks!     

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