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Teacher of the Month – April

Name: Robert Barbosa

Role:Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair, Sharyland Flight Academy Sponsor, and History Club Sponsor

School: Sharyland High School, Sharyland ISD

Located: Mission, Texas

Number years teaching: 5 years


What do you teach and what grade?

World Geography – ninth grade, US History – 11th grade, Holocaust and Genocide Studies – 11th and 12th grade, and Crime in America Studies – 11th and 12th grade

Why do you like what you teach?

I enjoy teaching history because of the variety of approaches that can be taken to teach its concepts and because of the various focuses that it can be approached from, whether it’s making connections from the past to the world today, exploring cause-and-effect relationships and concepts through traditional history and that of pop culture, or examining alternate history and what could have happened if an event had or had not occurred.

Did you always want to be a teacher?

My goal was to be a teacher and later in life transition to working as a college professor. As a teacher, it has provided me with the opportunities to continue exploring the fields of history I’m interested in and developing various approaches to generate student interest. By being a teacher, you are able to shape the wave of the future and in the process hopefully generate a renewed interest in history.

Why do you like to teach with hands-on products?

By using a hands-on, project-based approach to teaching, student engagement tends to come naturally. Rather than delivering instruction in a static lecture or textbook format, like the study of history tended to be, using a hands-on approach allows students to experience it firsthand, even though it might be re-created. With this approach, students do not only learn the historical concepts needed but at the same time actively practice skills that historians would use in the field.

How does using hands-on products improve the students’ learning experiences?

In using hands-on products to learn historical concepts, students can gain a greater insight to the inner workings of devices that were used in the past. To teach about the Roman Empire’s technological innovations, we used Pitsco’s catapults and trebuchets to show students not only how the Romans used their military might to conquer much of Europe and beyond but also how they did it and how the technology worked.

How long have you been using Pitsco Education products?

We began using various Pitsco products this school year after we were awarded several grants from our Sharyland ISD Education Foundation. With their help, we were able to purchase and put into practice Pitsco’s catapult and trebuchet kits as well as the EQs Tremor Table classroom set.

What is your favorite Pitsco Education product and why?

My favorite product, thus far, has been the EQs Tremor Table set. The enjoyment of my students when using it by far demonstrates how effective Pitsco’s hands-on and project-based products are at increasing student engagement and comprehension. Students were engaged throughout our World Geography lesson on human-environment interaction regarding earthquakes and how humans modify their buildings. Students put this knowledge to the test when building their own structures and competing with their fellow peers to see which would survive the tremor table and how high it would be.

How do the students respond to Pitsco Education products?

The students enjoy the products and are ecstatic and eager whenever we are using them in class. The students are engaged throughout the class period, whether it’s putting together sets, such as the catapults, so they can see them in action or building their structure for the tremor table. With the use of Pitsco products, the students never want the lesson to end because of the various uses and ways they can implement what they are using, such as building the tremor table structures larger, loading more weight, or using a weighed snowcap on the roof to see what effect they all have.

What’s your greatest teaching accomplishment?

My greatest teaching accomplishment would be the awarding of the various grants these past few years of teaching. With the funds they have provided, my department and I have been able to increase engagement with our students and transform the way we teach history. Instead of teaching history in a static form from a book or lecture, we are evolving our approach by using project-based and hands-on learning through the use of Pitsco products and more. Without the availability of the grants we applied for and were awarded, the possibility of these types of lessons would be made difficult to accomplish, and student engagement would also have to be strived for rather than naturally forthcoming like it’s been when Pitsco products are used.