Sunday, June 07, 2009

Blog #17 - Evaluation of Retro/Backwards U.S. History

Change of plans - I decided to do this blog instead of the one on who's to blame for the Cold War. I figured this might be easier, plus you get another day to do it since I didn't put it up yesterday, and I could use the feedback.

We're practically done with the school year and you've been working with our most recent American history (1941 - present) in a backwards, thematic manner. This semester, I've taken several issues or problems that we see in the news regularly - the Iraq War, the economic meltdown, energy costs and renewal, nuclear weapons and terrorism, foreign policy, Hurricane Katrina - and show you the roots of these problems by working backwards from the present.

What I'd like you to do in this blog is assess your learning:

1. Do you think you learned history better by learning it backwards or in this case, starting with a modern day problem and then working towards its root causes, much like a case study? Or was this approach more confusing because we didn't learn history in the traditional manner? Or wouldn't the approach matter - history is confusing? Why?

2. What do you think are the benefits of learning backwards? What are the faults or drawbacks?

3. Compared to what your friends in other U.S. history classes learned, do you think you learned more, less, or the same amount of stuff? Why?

4. Which unit do you think you learned the most in? Why? Which unit do you think you learned the least in? Why?

Due by Tuesday afternoon- 4 p.m. - 200 words minimum.

Thanks for your comments in advance. I appreciate all the feedback; it helps me improve for next year's class. I used last year's classes to help improve the flaws from last year and I hope to make this class better for next year.


sam said...

I feel that this way was more confusing the traditional method of going forward. It is king of confusing figuring out the sequence when you learn it going in reverse of what really happened. Some benefits are learning the effects of what happened before you learn what happened but that is also a draw back. I think we learned the same amount of stuff as the kids in the other classes. We just learned it in reverse. I think we learned the most about the war on terror, and the least of the unit we are working on now.

lisa S fifth said...

By going backwards in the class instead of the traditional way of starting off where we left from U.S history A, I didn’t find it difficult to follow along. The only thing that has confused me is when the soviets and U.S started the cold war when comparing their part in working as allies in World War Two. When talking to other history classes, I think that we went more into depth while they followed the traditional book and don’t read articles. The quizzes really helped my grade if you read them and made it easy to succeed in your class. The unit that I know I have a strong grasp on is Vietnam and President Nixon. Watching the movies like Frost Nixon helped clear things up and made it easier to picture what was going on in that era. The most interesting part of history was learning about the rebellion groups who spoke out against the Vietnam war and came up with ideas on how to make the government listen. I think I took a lot of good information that made more sense when explained through articles and movies rather than reading them in our text book, it was interesting and kept my attention.

Tyler Porritt (5th) said...

I thought that learning backwards was a more confusing way of teaching this class. While it is a good idea to look at a problem today and connect it to the roots in history, it should not be done in this fashion. It was hard for me to learn this way because we were seeing problems, but not finding out what caused them until much later. I would much rather learn what caused the problems, and then lead up to them.
Some of the drawbacks of learning backwards are that it can be very confusing. You can learn about an event, but not know what caused it. This can be very bewildering for some students.
I think that I learned the most about the Cold War. So many of our units covered it, and it went on for so long, that it was impossible to not learn a lot about it. Even Vietnam, which was one of our units, was part of the Cold War. It marked a long and arduous period for America.

Thurgood McCants said...

I think learning things that are going on today first is easier, because say we learn about the economy 1st week of school. We are constantly being reminded of it by the news, newspaper,and computer articles everywhere. Where as stuff like WW1 that is constantly talked about in our society will be harder to remember and study for on the final. Learning backwards is definetly more confusing for me, and like porrit said "Some of the drawbacks of learning backwards are that it can be very confusing. You can learn about an event, but not know what caused it. This can be very bewildering for some students".

Jake Prosyniuk 3rd Hour said...

I thoroughly enjoyed learning history in this class, the reverse method was not too confusing to grasp the key concepts, and it helped me learn more about events in the world today. History would not seem as relevant if we were not able to link events of the past to things going on today. Confusion wasn’t a big issue; you just had to get it into your mind that what you are learning now happened before what you were just learning. I think learning backwards allows you to start at things going on today, and allows you to follow a trail back to its root. The problem is students aren’t normally taught this way, so they are used to finding about something that happened, and then find out what happened as a result of that. We do the opposite, and look at the results first, then try to find their cause. This can cause confusion for students. Talking to my friends, it seems like they covered more years, but I believe we went more in depth into what we learned, and spent more time learning about every aspect of the time period. I believe I learned most about the 80’s and 90’s units, since I did not know much about politics during this time, they tend to be somewhat ignored years, while the big wars and politics of the past are more common topics. I think I learned least during the World War 2 unit, but only because I’ve been watching history channel since I was young, and already knew most of the things we covered.

Anonymous said...

I think that this trimester of history was the most comprehendible and fun. Learning about events that are happening recently is very beneficial because I can understand what is happening now opposed to what had happened. What also helped me not only understand now but also the past was the comparisons between the events happening now and some of the ones that had happened in history. The traditional way that teachers teach history has always bored me, but this way I pay more attention and feel more involved.
There are very prominent points on learning backwards. The one that I experienced first had been the fact that the past was able to relate to the phenomenon’s happening now. I feel like I am more part of the learning that just being a side product of the learning. Some of the draw backs may be the fact that it may get confusing and some of the comparisons may be unclear. This never happened during my learning experienced but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.
My friends in the other history classes always seemed to be learning something different than us. I do think that we may have been learning less but I think we were learning things that may have been more important. The things that we learned helped us get a better understanding of the material that both classes were learning. I think that I learned an equal amount in each subject. Just because I may not get the best grades doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. I did enjoy most of the units that we worked on. As you may be able to see I took this blog so seriously that I didn’t add any comic book references, instead I added this:

Ryan St. John

Sarra Serhane said...

I do think that I learned history better by learning it backwards. I do not think it was confusing. Learning about history in a traditional manner is boring and not very original. Learning about the outcome before the cause of these problems was really an interesting approach to learn about our country’s history. I was always interested during class.
I think the benefits of learning backwards include that we get to learn a different and interesting way to look at history and we get to learn the outcome of events and decisions so when we are learning about the event that lead to a larger issue, we already know what the outcome was. The faults or drawbacks include that it may be confusing to learn backwards for many students because it is not a traditional way of learning and may be hard for students to understand events in a backwards manner.
I think that our class learned more. No other classes had to read the articles that we did. Because of the articles, we got to learn extra and interesting information that other students did not get the chance to learn about.
I think I learned the most in the Civil Rights Movement. I have always been more interested in how people earned their rights rather than wars. It really amazes me that the people involved during the Civil Rights Movement are some of the most influential people ever to have existed.

-sarra serhane 5th hr

Donavin Camarata 5th hour said...

1.I think that learning history is a lot better by learning it backwards because it shows how the events build up on one another and it shows the reasons why we decided to make our decisions, and that we don’t learn from our mistakes, such as Iraq. This approach wasn’t confusing at all, it really seemed to flow really well.

2.The benefits of learning backwards is being able to see the outcome of a decision and then trail all the way back to the roots of it to find out why a decision or action was made the way it was. Drawbacks could be mixing up dates of events and other things. Such as thinking the Vietnam war was before WW2 and etc.
3.I honestly don’t know, but I would have to say that we learned a lot more stuff than other U.S. history classes, because we were able to get through so much and understand things easier by relating them to current or past events.
4.I think I learned the most in was the Vietnam and Watergate unit. I’m not exactly sure why I learned as much as I did, but I think its because I originally watched Frost/Nixon before the unit and the unit just helped me learn the roots of the movie and the early situation about Vietnam, and Watergate.

Jack Dilaura said...

1.I think it was better to learn things backwards because it gives you a different viewpoint on how things happened and may affect how we see the past. I think it is better to learn this way because we can learn better how our country works, in decision making, for example. Learning this way, we can see how the cold war affects some of the decisions that we make today, or in the past.
2.The benefits of learning backwards are that we may not be affected by the opinions of the day, it’s up to us to make a judgement. This example could be used with the hippies. If we learned forward, we would see how they were ridiculed at first and then see how some of their ideas became a part of our culture. This way, we wouldn’t be affected by the opinions of the past, and we can make our own opinions based on the effects they had on the future. The downfall would be that we learn the events in a different order than they happened, which could confuse some people.
3.I think I learned better and more this way. I feel that I could pay attention better in this environment than in others. This helped me remember more information and helped me do better in the class. I think that splitting the information into small quizzes helped a lot because we didn’t have an overload of information to go over. This also helped me study better for the quizzes because we didn’t have to know everything at once.
4.I think I learned the most in the Vietnam/Nixon’s Presidency unit, because I was interested in the topic. I also think that watching Frost/Nixon helped keep my interest in the topic. I think that I learned the least in World War II because I knew a lot about the topic from previous classes.

Dallas Paritee said...

I think that the approach taken in teaching us backwards was a good idea it started out with the most recent events and working back to the roots and their causes. It may have been a little confusing at first because it wasn’t the routine way of teaching. About after a week I found it a lot easier. We learned about why we have so many problems with neighboring countries and why we are in so much debt. The faults of learning backwards could not only be confusing but you could get off track and then start bouncing back and forth between events from the present and past. I feel like I did learn the same things they did but to an extent. On some subjects we spent a lot of time on like the Cold War we spent a few weeks on it and I don’t really know a time period for it. Those are just a few reasons. The Unit that I think I learned the least in was the Iraq War. Even though most of us already know some details about it I think that if we went over it more I would feel a bit better about the topic.

evan fried said...

Well you see, there are numerous pros and cons to the teaching style of learning backwards. In this case the cons outweigh the pros and in the end has led me to believe that teaching backwards, although good in some cases, is not the best way to teach this. The more traditional method, I think, is the better way. Because we learned backwards many things would not make sense when we first learned them because we didn't know the actions that led up to them. We would start at the end of something and not learn about it why it happened untill about a week later. Although there are some benifits to learning backwards. It helps us link the past and the future together and how the past repeats itself in the form of wars and recessions. Compared to my friends in other U.S. history classes I learned basically the same because at the end it all makes sense. But along the way it gets really confusing at some points because we are learning backwards. I think i learned the most in the Vietnam unit, probably because we spent a lot of time on it. And i think i learned the least in the cold war, because we learned about the end of the cold war, then a couple months later we learn about the start of the cold war.

Anonymous said...


1. Do you think you learned history better by learning it backwards or in this case, starting with a modern day problem and then working towards its root causes, much like a case study? Or was this approach more confusing because we didn't learn history in the traditional manner? Or wouldn't the approach matter - history is confusing? Why?

**I think that I learned history better starting with a modern day problem and then working torwards the root causes of the problem. Even though we did learn some things starting from the root causes to the modern day issue I dont think it would be any difficult than learning it the oppisite way.

2. What do you think are the benefits of learning backwards? What are the faults or drawbacks?

**I think that the benefits of learning backwards are that you can evaluate the current issue by going back and seeing each peice of the problem and how it happened ex: The recession that we are in now. I dont think that there are any faults or drawbacks.

3. Compared to what your friends in other U.S. history classes learned, do you think you learned more, less, or the same amount of stuff? Why?

**Compared to what my friend in other U.S history classes learned in other U.S history classes I think that I learned a lot more than they did. I think that my class was more organized with the subjects that we learned and the timing to seperate the subjects and the amount of time we spent on them.

4. Which unit do you think you learned the most in? Why? Which unit do you think you learned the least in? Why?

**The unit that I think i learned the most in would be the debt and recession that we have and how it began. The unit that I think I learned the least in would be the subject on Iraq. I learned a lot about the looting and how they were angry and wanted revenge because they felt displaced away from everyone else like everyone had just forgot about them and all that but besides that I dont think I learned as much ad I did with all of the other units

Sydney Hirsch said...

1.I think this approach was more confusing than learning history chronologically, at least for a second trimester course, because we had to deviate from what we had been learning first trimester and then come back to it much later. It would be a little easier to learn more relevant things at the end of the trimester because it would be easier for us to relate to them and we'd have less work to do and figure out at the end of the year.
2.The benefits of learning backwards would be to see how and why things happened and the causes and results of certain situations. The faults would have to be that it was a little confusing, and that it was hard to put together things we learned so far back in the previous trimester.
3.Compared to other classes, I felt I learned just as much US History has I have before. We took a lot of quizzes and had a lot of blogs and homework which was more work than I did in other classes, though.
4.I think what we learned most ABOUT was the Cold War because so many events lead up to it and were caused because of it. We could have spent more time on World War II just because I think that's a really big piece of history and we didn't have as much time for it as I think we needed.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like going backwards because I felt like I could have learned more starting in the Pat and moving forward. I feel that it is easier to learn history when you start from the beginning and move forward. We could have spent more time talking about each subject, like maybe have a class discussion or something. Some benefits of learning backwards are that since we started with today, it was easier to get into class because we all knew exactly what was going on. Some drawbacks were that we didn't get enough time to go really in depth to the wars and the people (excluding Frost/Nixon). I think we learned the same as other U.S. History classes, but I feel we could have spent more time on some of the topics.

Danielle M.

Brandon Kauth said...

1. I think that learning backwards is a bit more difficult than learn history traditionally. I like to learn what events occurred before and then seen the result, rather than learn the events and go back and see what caused them.
2. The benefits of learned backwards are; starting with more present future events, rather than starting way back to the beginning of time and not really relating at all to yourself. But you may not get a full grasp of the event due to the fact that you don’t see what caused it because you are going backwards.
3. I feel I learned the same amount of material. I’ve actually thought I learned more this semester than previous US history semesters (and I’ve taken many tri-mesters!). I believe that this is the case because you (mr wickersham) did a fabulous job of teaching in depth and to the point, rather than making us stick our faces in the textbook. I loved the open class discussion and enjoyed it because you could voice your opinion and listen to other peoples outrageous comments.
4. The unit I feel I learned most in was WWII. I think this because I love watching WWII movies and fully understanding them and learning about what exactly went on in depth. The unit I feel I learned the least in was probably Korea. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t understand the whole concept and possibly was not covered to the fullest extent. But overall I had a very enjoyable US History class and I liked learning.

Anonymous said...

Melanie Eiten
I believe the benefits of leaning backward are that get to learn what’s going on with today’s society and then when you work backward you get to see how the subjects in the past influence what has happened today. Another benefit to learning backwards is you get to end where you should be starting off so you do remember the things from the farther past because they were the last things you learned. A drawback to working backwards is that the modern day stuff you learned at the beginning is pushed to the back of your mind not allowing you to always remember the information you learned when you need it. Another drawback to learning backwards is that a lot of people are not used to it so things may get pushed around and may become mixed up with the other things you have learned. Lastly another drawback is that if you come from another class that is teaching history a normal way, its kind of a push back because you’re not used to learning forwards at first then backwards, because if you start one class and start from beginning to the middle of history, then start your next class form end to again the middle, you get all discombobulated.

Allison Smart said...

I thought that learning history backwards was different but not all that bad. I didn’t think it was a little confusing because we would learn something and the move on. But we also would go back to some of the stuff that we learned and added more to it. I think the benefits of learning backwards is that since we start at what’s going on right now we can relate to it personally. The drawbacks are you learn how previous wars affected the wars after it first so some things don’t always make sense until you learn it later in the trimester. Comparing to the other kids in other classes I don’t think we covered WWII as much. It seemed like they spent about 5 weeks on it while we only covered it for about 1. But in return I think we were able to cover more of current events like the economy now. I think I learned the most when we covered Nixon or Reagan. I think they were about the same in what stuck with me personally

Allison smart

Anonymous said...

I do believe that learning history in reverse was more effective for me, rather then the other way. i do not think that it was confusing in any way. I believe that learning about the events that occured in today's society helped me to grasp a better understanding of the events that took place in the past. it helped me be able to compare them, and contrast them easily as well.I also think that the backwards method helped us get a better point of view as to why things are the way they are now, due to the fact we were able to go deep within the events that occured. the backwards method gave us kind of a cause and effect type deal.Compared to other classes I feel we had a lot more quizzes than others, however we did not have many serious tests as the other classes did.I can actually say I have learned more, and gained more from this class than I have in any other previous U.S classes that I have taken. There was alot more stucture, and the events were explained in more depth. I understood every lesson because of how well taught it was. I believed I learned the most about World War II, and the great depression era as well. I think I learned the least in the cold war and Japan unit. All in all I have aquired more knowledge about all of American history in general.
Allacia Gibson