Introduction: We are excited to continue our Educator Spotlight series, which regularly will bring you inside the classroom of one of our exceptional educators. In doing so, the series will offer you a glimpse of how Gibbons educators care for and engage students, preparing them for college and beyond while forming them as men and women of faith, service, and leadership in church and community. Today, we are spotlighting Social Studies Educator Jessica Lowe '99. Our other spotlights featured
Spanish Educator Miguel Casas, Math Educator Leah Iyer ' 08, Science Educator Joleen Smith, Theology Educator Austin Faur, and English Educator Maria Hill.
It is a cloudy morning outside Gibbons on this recent Friday, but the thoughts of the sophomores in Educator Jessica Lowe’s first period World History Honors class are elsewhere – in ancient Rome.
Lowe, a '99 Gibbons graduate, has been teaching Social Studies at her alma mater for 15 years. Today, she is using Google Classroom to take her students through, “The Emperor’s Game.” This online quiz and exercise places students in both the shoes and the mindset of some of Rome’s greatest emperors, from Claudius and Augustus to Cleopatra and Nero.
Armed with their laptops, the students are tasked with assuming the role of one of these emperors and making important decisions for the future of Rome. “Imagine what you would do if you had this power,” Lowe challenges the students. They are captivated from the start. The hope, Lowe said of the goal of the class, is that the students understand how difficult the decisions were and how the future of all Rome depended on them.
This is a history lesson with a difference. This is a history lesson that engages students and puts them at the center of their own learning. Here’s how. Rather than asking her students to recall cold facts, which most eventually will forget, Lowe encourages them to analyze information and support an argument with evidence. In turn, students want to learn more about these rulers and about retaining and enhancing their understanding of history.
She also strengthens their technology, communications, and critical thinking abilities. All are necessary skills for them to flourish and become active, engaged citizens in the 21st Century.
Lowe accomplishes this because it is clear she cares about her students. At the end of this class, she is either complimenting students on their performances in the recent dance concert or praising them for their contribution to the Christmas Toy and Clothing Drive. The students return the affection.
It is also clear Lowe has a deep passion for her subject, which she conveys with openness and humor to her students. And she enlightens them to the many reasons why history and the past are important to the future – their future.