Tommy 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.
At Moss Point High School on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, Lewis Sims’ ninth-grade English classroom is full of energy and excitement as students prepare to present a project to another class. Their project—a movie trailer that they wrote and produced for the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird—was the result of 21st century pedagogy designed to help them understand the novel’s primary themes and concepts.