After teaching US History for several years, Denver Christian High School social studies teacher James Timmer had the idea to teach US History ‘backwards.’ So this year, on the first day of class, he took them through the events of September 11, 2001. Students also interviewed their parents about their personal experience of 9/11 — their thoughts, emotions, and actions on that fateful and historic Tuesday forever ingrained in our collective memories.
This led to a broader discussion on how the United States fights terrorism, which then led back to the Cold War and how that era had impacted their parents and grandparents’ lives. Mr. Timmer’s overall goal is to help students better connect to historical events by first connecting them to more recent history.
“History is more than just memorizing names and dates. History is the force that shapes our world (and then us) into who we are today. History teaches us empathy and therefore it needs to be experienced. I wanted to start with more current events that my students and their parents lived through, so that students might better connect to the past as not just a string of facts, but as life-shaping events that people they know and love endured,” explains Mr. Timmer.
While we have certainly felt the pressure of COVID-19 at Denver Christian, we are blessed with teachers who are eager to help their students thrive despite this challenging year. Our staff has also been eager to enhance students’ learning experiences and challenge them to think critically and deeply through a variety of new opportunities and and teaching approaches. Teaching history ‘backwards’ is one such way we’re doing this. Additionally, Teaching for Transformation early adopters are bringing new perspectives and practices into our high school.
Yet another way that our high school teachers are equipping our students for success through rigorous learning is by offering new courses and learning opportunities.
This year, we have added several new courses to the high school course catalog:
In the sciences, we have added Forensics; Earth Science; and Health, Wellness and Nutrition to the high school course catalog, providing additional options for students interested in expanded science course options.
Product Design (3D Printing)
Patrick Boyd has added product design, where students are using 3D printers to create entirely new product lines and learn about the many industries impacted by this technology today. In this course, students will research, present, propose with prototypes, and present product ideas for mass production from several pre-determined categories (kitchen gadgets, toys, car accessories, and more).
In addition to learning 3D printing, Mr. Patrick Boyd notes that this course offers “great opportunities to concentrate faith connections with our being image bearers of God made in the image of a very CREATIVE God, and being creative with our God given resources and talents.”
New Dual Enrollment History Course
In the history department, Mr. Cole McClain added a Survey of US Survey Dual Credit course. Dual Credit (or Dual Enrollment) offers our students a great opportunity to earn college credits in high school. If a student achieves a “C” or higher in this course, they will automatically achieve college credit through Colorado Christian University (and the credits are transferrable to most other institutions).
“Dual Credit differs from Advanced Placement courses in that dual enrollment college credits are not dependent on one, huge AP exam at the end of the year. The credits are dependent on a student’s engagement and performance throughout the entire school year. Both are good options to achieve college credit, as some students prefer the AP exam model and some prefer the entire year model. Both options are built into the social studies program at Denver Christian,” explains Mr. McClain.
Speech & Debate
The English Department worked over the summer to develop the curriculum for a new Speech & Debate course, designed as a successor to our standard Communication Foundations course. Students analyzed great speakers, developed their own speeches, and competed in (virtual) speech meets with their prepared events. Two of our students placed in 5th and 8th place in Informative Speaking at the State Festival this January!
“In a climate polarized and desperate for humble and thoughtful communicators, I could not be more proud of the posture I have seen students develop in this new course,” reports Mrs. Emily Director.
This year hasn’t been without its challenges. And yet, we are so thankful to be a part of a community that embraces experimentation and passion in our work, manifested in these new course opportunities!