New Teaching Methods Create Order from Chaos

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.43.23 PMTommy Sumrall’s physics lab is hectic and noisy. In one area of the classroom, teams of students use hand-held computers to collect data from experiments on light reflection and refraction. Meanwhile, Sumrall and several students gather around laptops and engage in an animated discussion about an online optics simulation that allows them to use virtual mirrors and lenses to model the behavior of light.

Sumrall, the physics teacher at Forrest County Agricultural High School (FCAHS) in Brooklyn, Mississippi, is unfazed by the seemingly chaotic classroom. “To me, it’s a wonderful noise because it shows that the students are interested in learning,” he says. “Students are becoming immune to traditional teaching methods. They need something that keeps their attention. We can use technology to create relevant, hands-on learning experiences that stimulate their curiosity and interest.”

FCAHS, which serves approximately 560 students, offers new courses that support the development of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. Like many teachers at FCAHS, Sumrall has moved from lecture-based teaching to a 21st century pedagogy that emphasizes more student-centric methods. This allows him to engage students with different learning styles and levels of interest. “On their own, new technologies are nothing more than expensive toys,” says Sumrall. “But when combined with 21st century pedagogy and curricula, new technologies can help students learn subjects and concepts that are difficult to teach using traditional methods.”

FCAHS, which serves approximately 560 students, offers new courses that support the development of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. Like many teachers at FCAHS, Sumrall has moved from lecture-based teaching to a 21st century pedagogy that emphasizes more student-centric methods. This allows him to engage students with different learning styles and levels of interest. “On their own, new technologies are nothing more than expensive toys,” says Sumrall. “But when combined with 21st century pedagogy and curricula, new technologies can help students learn subjects and concepts that are difficult to teach using traditional methods.”

This success story provides more detail about how Sumrall created order from chaos in his high school physics class.

 

 

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