Effingham High School history teacher Jim Hammer gave an overview of some new teaching methods that focus on participatory activities to Effingham Unit#40 Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting. One example is when students in Hammer’s class reenacted parliamentary procedure when debating current issues, such as free speech inspired by the discussion around 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. While Hammer was originally skeptical of attempting such methods, he said they yielded surprising results.
Hammer learned the new teaching methods at conference at Illinois State University during the summer and is now imparting his knowledge to history and civics teachers in surrounding counties. He said that focusing on the process, and not just the product, was important.
The approach is more student centered, suggested Hammer. He described his role as more facilitation and less simply conveying knowledge. While in his 18-year teaching career Hammer has attempted participatory learning before, it is only recently that he encountered the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, who provided training and resources.
“It’s been a great experience for me” Hammer said.