In an effort to teach global studies using creative uses of technology, Christopher Kauter asked his 10th grade "History Through Multimedia" class to create a witty conversation among at least three historical figures using Google Story Builder.
Using the application, which creates visual stories in Google’s online file-sharing network, Deer Park High School student Christina O'Toole imagined a humorous dialogue between great minds John Locke, Galileo Galilei and Archimedes as they shared their impressive discoveries.
"The project was really fun and a creative way to get us to think outside the box," said O'Toole, 16, of Deer Park. "It's one thing to learn about a historical figure, but you get a different understanding when you put yourself in their shoes."
Kauter, a social studies teacher at Deer Park High School for 11 years, wanted to make learning more fun for his students, so he has integrated social media and online tools into the curriculum as much as possible.
Two years ago, he created a mobile web application, connecting students to Twitter, a calendar of assignments, class notes, grades and online sources.
For his efforts, Kauter was accepted into the Google Teacher Academy in Chicago, which he is attending today and tomorrow, where he will be among 63 educators to get hands-on experience with Google products and technologies and instructional strategies and resources.
“Education can be spoon fed, so my goal is to get these kids to have fun while learning and allow them to teach themselves something new,” said Kauter, 32, of Bay Shore. “I’m tricking them into learning by having fun and thinking outside the box.”
Utilizing Google Maps, Kauter has taken students on a digital field trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and exposed seniors to the benefits of using a Re.vu infographic resume.
The academy, which launched in 2006 at its Google Headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., is a two-day program recognizing educators from across the globe who are doing innovative and exciting things integrating technology in their classrooms.
“We’re helping them expand on their knowledge so that they can bring back what they’ve learned to their workplace,” said Danny Silva, director of the Google Teacher Academy.
Andrew Choi, administrator for instructional technology in the Deer Park School District, said Kauter is one of the district’s technology trailblazers.
“Technology is constantly evolving,” Choi said. “He’s already willing to share with his colleagues how he has integrated technology in the classroom and we’re so excited that he’ll be attending the academy because it will not only benefit him, but also the district.”
Check out an example of one of Kauter’s lessons, his student Christina O’Toole’s “History Through Multimedia” project: