SOUTH PLAINFIELD – In honor of Black History Month, South Plainfield Middle School students have put their knowledge to the test with the game of Jeopardy. Students were given the assignment to work in groups and create their own trivia questions to celebrate important African Americans who have contributed to different fields in the U.S. On Feb. 25 and 26, students had the opportunity to play each other’s games. 

“The students are having so much fun with this project,” said Barbara Pinelli, 8th Grade History Teacher. “I am very proud of their projects and their participation.”

Pinelli has been working in conjunction with SPMS Library Media Specialist Christine Brandenburg to find creative ways to engage students virtually.

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“I have been working with Ms. Brandenburg on several projects this year,” said Pinelli. “The students enjoy learning this way and I find that they retain the information as well.  For Black History Month, I wanted to expose them to more topics and people that they would have had in a regular classroom setting.”

Using the Google Add-on called “Flippity,” students were able to create a digital Jeopardy style game show.

“Students in Mrs. Pinelli’s class enhanced both their technology and history knowledge and skills in February when they worked on a digital project for Black History Month,” said Brandenburg. “Students worked in groups to create the questions and answers and then had the opportunity to play each other's games.”

Pinelli says that by researching and making their own Jeopardy games, and then playing the games their classmates made, the subjects and events are reenforced. 

“I have been doing my best to research Black History beyond slavery, and especially during Black History Month, I wanted to do more,” said Ray Pascale, 8th grade student. “Working as a group made it a lot easier to work on the project, and we were all able to learn more about Black History as a group. Not only this, but it was a fun way to learn through other's projects as well.” 

“It also gave them the opportunity to create a Final Jeopardy question, which they enjoyed as well,” said Pinelli. “I believe that it is important for students to learn about Black history since it is part of our history.  We need to know, learn about it and understand their contributions.” 

“While there were quite a few technical difficulties while we worked on projects, things worked out well in the end,” said Pascale. “I find it much easier to work digitally, especially with projects, so there weren't many problems for me generally. I overall enjoyed working on the digital projects that I was given.”

As the one-year mark of virtual learning draws near, educators are working to find inventive ways to teach online. Brandenburg and Pinelli have teamed up on multiple projects to enhance the students’ lessons. When researching the Constitution of the United States, for example, they created Adobe Spark movies with their findings.  And when learning about voting and The Electoral College, they made their research into digital books using 

Students find this method of learning fun and the creativity gives them a feeling of accomplishment.

“I enjoyed the Black History Month Jeopardy project, as it was very straightforward and got directly to the point,” said Brandon Taggart, 8th grade student. “I also enjoyed digital projects such as the book creator project.”

“Students get so much more out of creating their own projects,” Brandenburg said. “Throughout this school year, Ms. Pinelli and I have collaborated on project-based learning with a digital twist. Because of the fun and interactive nature of digital projects, students will retain the information in these units for years to come.”