Shawnee teacher featured in Education Nation summit

Uses hands-on approach to teaching history

Watch Keil Hileman's appearance on NBC's Today Show and the Education Nation Summit by clicking above!

SHAWNEE, Kan. - If you poke your head into Keil Hileman's history class at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee, you might find them digging in the sand.

"Almost every unit that I teach, every topic I talk about, I have artifacts for. That really helps the kids connect the present to the past," Hileman said.

Using special desks that Hileman designed himself, students can embark on miniature archeological digs, hunting for actual historic artifacts buried there by students in other classes. In other words, they learn by digging.

This hands-on approach is one reason NBC is featuring his classroom in next week's "Education Nation" summit.

"This is a chance for some of the most powerful people in education to come visit and look and say, 'Ooh, what are you doing? How are you doing that'," Hileman said.

He wants the kids to discover that each site tells a story, but he hasn't yet told the kids what's buried. Let's just say it's very, very old. Touching history helps the students learn it.

"I show them pieces of history. We watch history. We touch history and talk about it. And then they build it," Hileman said.

The summit is a three-day series of events that will bring educators, parents, teachers and others together to look at the education landscape.

Organizers picked Hileman's classroom in part because of his passion for details, and you'll find plenty of details in his classroom. Nearly every inch of the walls and ceiling is covered with something of historical interest. From a vintage hand-operated dairy creamer to a 1914 Kansas state high school girls basketball trophy and an authentic World War I soldier's uniform, history permeates the room. You might even say it's like learning in an attic.

"If I can be one positive story that's out there about education, I'm honored to do that," Hileman said. "And I want to do it justice and I hope I do."

He brings the world to his students, and now they're taking it back to the world.

Hileman's classroom was featured in a Monday morning session from New York with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. The summit is being held from Sunday, September 25 through Tuesday, September 27. Most events will be webcast live.

You can learn more at the Education Nation website, .

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