Education has changed a great deal in the last ten years. Some of the biggest changes have been in the field of technology. New technology is permeating our schools. Classes often get sets of laptops. Some schools are even giving students laptops to take home. Interactive white boards are changing the way teachers present information. One of the most entertaining new ideas is the Ignite! Curriculum, formerly known as the COW (or Curriculum on Wheels).
The concept is fairly simple. Ignite! Is a software program that can be downloaded onto teachers’ computers. It covers science, math, and social studies and is designed specifically for the middle school mindset. It has readymade slideshows, videos, and animations for units studied in middle school. There are even pre-made tests that go along with the unit. Teachers can show one video (or slideshow, animation, etc) or cover an entire unit worth of material using the Ignite! Program. However, your school must purchase rights to it before you can use it.
The reason your school should purchase the software will probably be readily apparent, if you ever get the chance to see it. It is not the typical readymade lesson, prepared by someone who has been teaching for 30 years. Instead, it features rap songs that teach about your subject. Or it may be interviews with animated characters, with names like Mr. Big Head, which most middle schoolers will get a kick out of. A DJ presents lessons on everything from the value of pi to the contributions to global civilizations from Sumer. There are also games designed to review the subjects. My personal favorite is review game that requires students to help an ancient culture figure out ways to solve problems using their knowledge of how ancient civilizations developed. Rarely will students complain about having to watch Ignite! videos.
The only problem I can foresee, if you don’t look at cost, is that it may be TOO fun. Students will want to hear the rap or rock songs over and over again, but may miss the point. Instead of learning the importance of the life systems of a plant, they may learn the tune that this presented in. You, as the teacher, may also find yourself singing along during the middle of your third of fourth period showing the presentations.
Ignite! is an interesting way to go about teaching. The company has been around now for several years, and Ignite! is their new, exciting baby. Some schools may still be using their COW projectors, which are wonderful. However, if your school has one, I recommend that you recommend checking out Ignite! Instead of having one or two COWS that need to be checked out from the media specialist, the Ignite! software can be installed to your desktop, allowing all classes to become much more interactive. If nothing else, your lessons won’t be seen as boring by the students if you utilize Ignite! wisely.