Abraham Lincoln High School, located on the west side of San Francisco, is far from the traditional ethnic neighborhoods of Chinatown and the Mission District; centers of the city’s Asian and Latinx communities. Eighty percent of Lincoln’s students identify with these ethnic groups so AP Human Geography teacher Leon Sultan decided to utilize his own city to design a research project in these well-known locations in order to help his students dig deeper into their own communities and see them in a new light.
“Concepts of identity, culture, language, ethnicity, nation and the concept of the ‘nation-state’ are all central to our course – as well as to the lives of my students,” said Sultan. “I sent students on field trips into their own communities to research these concepts through new lenses.”
And by lenses, Leon means figurative and literal. Mirroring research he conducted on the Catalan independence movement in Barcelona last summer, Leon’s students took photographs, shot videos and recorded audio to document Sense of Place. They then worked in mixed ability groups to produce Vlogs (video blogs) using a clear narrative structure, voice-over narration, text graphics, and montages of still photo/videos and interview footage. The result were research projects that effectively demonstrate course concepts, utilize academic vocabulary and connect learning to their lives.
“Students benefit from seeing their teachers as role models and life-long learners,” said Sultan. “This summer, they watched me conduct field research through Vlogs I produced on my fellowship. When I arrived back to school this fall, students I had never met before were already well acquainted with me, and with key course concepts. Then, they engaged in the same type of learning that I did. Ultimately I want this project to serve as a template for other teachers to follow as our school moves towards more technology integration and interactive project-based learning.”
In celebration of Lunar New Year, we are also proud to highlight the learning of a few additional
2019 FFT Fellows: