Making history come alive

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When I was in school, history always seemed boring to me; it was just dates and numbers and events that I could never remember, much less in the correct order.

But if I had had Pitsco’s April 2017 Teacher of the Month Robert Barbosa for my history teacher, I have a feeling I might’ve paid more attention – and retained quite a bit more.

Barbosa, who teaches World Geography, US History, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and Crime in America Studies at Sharyland High School in Mission, Texas, makes it his mission to find ways to bring history alive for his students.

“I enjoy teaching history because of the variety of approaches that can be taken to teach its concepts,” he said, “whether it’s making connections from the past to the world today, exploring cause-and-effect relationships and concepts through traditional history and that of pop culture, or by examining alternate history and what could have happened if an event had or had not occurred.”

“Instead of teaching history in a static form from a book or lecture, we are evolving our approach by using project-based and hands-on learning through the use of Pitsco products and more.”

Barbosa explores the various approaches through several hands-on activities. He lets students discover the Roman Empire’s military might and technology by building catapults and trebuchets. His students learn about earthquakes by building structures and testing them on Pitsco’s EQs Tremor Table.

“Using a hands-on approach allows students to experience it firsthand, even though it might be re-created,” he explained. “With this approach, students not only learn the historical concepts needed, but at the same time actively practice skills that historians would use in the field.”

Using hands-on projects also gets Barbosa out of the rut of teaching from a textbook and keeps his students interested in the subject. “The students are engaged throughout the class period,” he said, “whether it’s putting together sets like the catapults so they can see them in action or building their structure for the tremor table, with the use of Pitsco (hands-on) products, the students never want the lesson to end because of the various uses and ways they can implement what they are using. . . .”

A teacher for five years now, Barbosa counts his ability to provide hands-on activities as his greatest teaching accomplishment thus far. “My department and I have been able to increase engagement with our students and transform the way we teach history,” he said. “Instead of teaching history in a static form from a book or lecture, we are evolving our approach by using project-based and hands-on learning through the use of Pitsco products and more.”

Robert Barbosa, thank you for making history come alive for your students. Congratulations on being named Pitsco’s April 2017 Teacher of the Month.

Learn more about Robert Barbosa.

Read about our other Teacher of the Month recipients at Pitsco.com/TeacheroftheMonth.

Patty Cooke

I've worked for Pitsco Education since 2008, first as a technical editor and currently as a communications assistant. I received all my degrees, which include master's and bachelor's in English and minors in Spanish and Creative Writing, from Wichita State University.

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