Social studies teacher, Kyle Walk-Faust, has a cool little formula when teaching his units. He starts with the essential question and the learning challenge(s). Kyle then allows the students to own their own learning and find their own answers, solutions, new questions, and activities to help explain their knowledge of the unit. It’s a system that is working for him and for the kids!

He has an inventory process he uses that starts to see where he needs to assess and adjust the lesson, and in the end, he has a process for the students to do the same. I thoroughly enjoyed how he has the students create summaries in a media-rich context as well.

It is important for him to let the students make those connections as opposed to him making it for them. “We are not alone and we have other people and resources we can connect to to help us learn” is something he kept reminding us of during the interview.

After talking with some of the students, they felt this way helps them better understand the concepts, themes, events, and how they relate to their lives today. The system or process helps them connect those very important dots.

Kyle understands and helps the students understand that they need to own their own learning, identify key questions, and identify a process that will help them find answers. I love his “figure it out” approach to social studies as opposed to  “let me deliver all the information you need for the test onto you.” One of the things that we really appreciated was that the students kept referring to his class as FUN. Fabiola, one of the students I sat next to, told me that learning social studies this way, it’s a lot of fun! How can you beat that?

Reflection and video by Marco Torres, Director of Story at Digital Promise


About Emily Morris

Emily Morris is a Project Associate with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative.