Beth Chappelear Takes History Into the Digital Age

Reported by: Joe Legge
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Updated: 8/13/2012 4:57 pm

They call the area she stands the "Great Wall of Chap," a fitting reference in a class devoting to studying the government and cultures of other countries.

Beth Chappelear, or Chap as she prefers to be called, teaches the Horizon program for gifted social studies students at Heritage Middle.  Armed with technology, she challenges her students to dig-in and find information themselves.  6th Grader Laura Sweeton says "you can look anything up on a computer, but you can only find so much in a book."

"It takes a lot of the pressure off of me from being the person with the immense amount of knowledge that never ends to teaching them how to find answers. Because as adults, when they go on to college they're going to have to find information on their own," says Chap. 

She readily admits she wasn't a big fan of history, until she started teaching it.  So, she jumped at the chance to move into this computerized classroom.  "That's what they do at home... they're on a computer, a video game, they're doing things like that so I already know that most of them are interested in it. They may not be interested in history, but if they're interested in computers I can use that computer to get them."

She's big on projects that result in knowledge gained.  6th Grader Michael Ho says "we do a project where we do a book cover and we'll have to do a summary on the book and at the end, we'll remember the book. But if we do a science project where we make a poster, we'll never remember the science project in 2 years from now."

Chap may be a reluctant teacher.  She tried talking herself out of this career path due to the hours and pay, but the dance and swimming instructor found a natural correlation between coaching and teaching.  "Its all about motivating the kids to do something and in dance it might be a little easier because in dance, they do love to dance, not every kid loves social studies."  That's because they can't all have Chap as their teacher.

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