Telling the untold stories of historical greatness in Singapore – Andy Ng, Singapore

For Social Studies teacher and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Andy Ng, bringing history to life for his students is just one aspect of what he does each day. Technology also plays a starring role in his 5th grade classroom at St. Hilda’s Primary School, a Microsoft Showcase School, and Ng understands that by using technology throughout his lessons, he’s reaching his students on their terms.

“Kids today are digital natives,” says Ng. “It’s a language they speak. If we can’t speak it, they don’t understand us. Technology…is really essential for us to get our message across and have learning being authentic. Technology is fundamental to the classroom.”

Ng’s philosophy has been the guiding force behind his learning activity, Democratizing History with Photosynth and Google Earth. “We live in a media-dominated world where we are consciously or unconsciously told the stories of conventional greatness: the glitz and glamour of fame, fortune and power,” notes Ng. “But what if we could show our students the other stories of greatness? The greatness of the common men and women who in their own way, in a small corner of their civilization, contribute great deeds? What if our students fight to tell the stories amidst the world’s voices telling them to focus on the world’s definition of greatness? What if our students can make a difference?”

Ng refers to this kind of storytelling as “history from below, not above,” and sees it as a paradigm shift from “great men history” to history as the story of us all. This philosophy is contextualized in Ng’s curricular unit on Ancient China. His students use Skype, Photosynth, Paint and Movie Maker, or parallel apps such as Tatsuyi Sketches and video functions of tablets. They then share their work on OneNote or Edmodo.

Eager to share his students’ work and his progress, Ng does so regularly through Twitter , Skype, and his blog. And he views his MIEE experience as a crucial part of taking his teaching to the next level.

“[Being an MIEE] means that I can be dauntless,” he says. “Without this specific role, I would have limitations. I wouldn’t be able to travel because I’m in a government service position. With this (MIEE), it’s brilliant. I get all these ideas I can bring back and I can try out. I can be daring, and try new things. And that’s really opened up a whole new world for me.”

If you’re an educator hoping to change the way your nation’s history is written with your students, visit the Unsung History Project to get started!

Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Andy Ng. Enjoy!

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