Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

Teachers: Find the Courage to Be Less Helpful

I just finished teaching my undergraduate edtech methods class at University of Portland. I had a dozen students  – sophomores through seniors. Most had limited tech backgrounds.

Rather than teaching apps, I taught adaptability. That began with having the courage to be less helpful. At our first class I gave them a simple assignment – create “Tech-Savvy Teacher’s Meme” using Adobe Spark Post and then write a blog post elaborating on your meme in our WordPress site. No one in the class had used either Adobe Spark nor WordPress. No direct instruction from me – I had a created some YouTube video explainers. They had to figure it out themselves. The result – everyone was able to make a cool meme and write their first post on WordPress. They didn’t simply learn a few apps – they learned “I can do this!”

Over the next 14 weeks, we progressed PBL-style through a variety of skills and perspectives. Each class added new tools and perspectives to prior experience – curating public domain content, screencasting, digital storytelling, video production. By the time we got to the end of the course, I had them testing and critiquing apps with no support from me. I would give them three apps designed to perform similar tasks, ask them to work in teams to figure out how to use them, report back to class the pros and cons. And then everyone in the class would choose one app for completing the next assignment – For example – turn a video into a lesson using EdPuzzle, Video Ant, or TEDed.

As a final assignment I asked them to create a demonstration of their favorite app as a chapter in our collaborative iBook – Tech Tips for Teachers. Available free at iTunes or as a static pdf download. (14 mb)

So how did it go – here’s some comments from their final reflections

Laura: I learned that I really need to push myself when it comes to trying new things, because I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for. …  a lot of these new tools intimidated me and I was afraid to try them, but once I did, I found it pretty easy to use.

Margaret: I’ve really enjoyed my time in this class this semester. It was definitely one to look forward to in the week, a break from the typical lecture style of other classes. Something I learned about myself during this class is that despite not liking the amount of freedom given to me, I have found ways to create guidelines for myself. … I think with all the things that I have learned during this short amount of time, and the simple pride I got from figuring out how a piece of tech works on my own – I think I will be able to “keep up with the times” with relative ease.

Kiana: Prior to this class I was, admittedly,  worried and mildly fearful about utilizing technology so frequently in the classroom. I had very limited knowledge and experience with these types of tools and felt that I would be unable to create products worth sharing with the online world. Although my posts this semester may not be TPT (Teacher Pay Teacher) ready, I was pleasantly surprised with how much content I have created in such a short period of time…. I have already begun to share my knowledge of these “tech tools” with family and friends who are also impressed with how many accessible (free), resources there are.

Dylan: Unlike most classes that follow a specific rubric or have step-by-step instructions, this class and Prof. Pappas, gave us an incredible opportunity to explore new technology, but figure out all the tips and tricks on our own. .. one of the most exciting parts of this class were all the ideas I generated when thinking about what tech tools I now have in my toolbox and ones which I can easily use in lesson and unit plans, as well as on a daily basis with my students. I hope to encourage my students to use technology wisely and to most importantly…be creative with it!v

Nick: Our instructor gave us students just enough background information so that we could wrestle with discovering the technology ourselves. ..He pushed us students to learn for ourselves as he gently guided us alongside. I felt this was a perfect approach to teaching this class as I now feel more prepared to be adaptable and curious to continue learning.

Jordyn: There were also times where I would be using a new app and I just had to figure it out through trial and error. Once I had worked through it for a little while I felt very comfortable using it. Being willing to fail is one of the only ways that we truly learn anything in my opinion.

Melissa: Looking back on that first day of ed tech methods, I felt I was afraid to take that risk and get outside of my comfort zone. I  was an advocate for technology, but only ones that were safe,  such as SmartBoards or Elmos which are simply advanced versions of projectors and white boards. … While there were many programs I was nervous to use,  I was also able to learn new tools which I found my new strengths in.

Bri: I never particularly saw myself as a “tech person” and was a little fearful of whether I would be able to navigate my way around all this new technology. … I am proud of the amount of work I have produced in the short amount of time we have had together and I am proud to say I am not so fearful of exploring new technology that comes my way and I could also potentially see myself implementing these technology tools into my own classroom in the future.

Madison: I learned that stretching myself to learn different things is important in order to become more confident. I learned that although technology is a difficult subject for me, it is good for me to learn new things in order to grow as a person. I am definitely on my way to becoming a “tech-savvy” teacher!

Michael: Overall, it is my opinion that this course was a great success. One of the foundations listed on the class’s website states that the course “leverages a project/problem-based approach,” while another one says that it “…develops critical evaluation skills for assessing what works.” These were both met spectacularly: the course ran using an effective weekly project-based approach that promoted individual critical thinking concerning a wide variety of useful – and sometimes not useful – educational technologies for classroom use.

Lauren: I also learned a few things about myself as a learner too. I learned that I about how much fun teaching can be. All these tech tools take a lot of creativity and flexibility and these were both aspects of myself I needed to work on. Using the Apps we learned about caused me to challenge myself as a more hands on student and future teacher.

Hanna: I saw myself doing things with technology that I had never done before and pushing myself to try new things. I learned that technology is a lot more fun to include in every aspect of the classroom when you are comfortable with it!

Digital Storytelling with TimelineJS

My University of Portland students recently completed a PBL project, designing curriculum for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. More here.

Students designed resources to enhance the visitor experience to the Memorial. Here we showcase the work of James Bayless and Kelly Sutton. They used KnightLab’s TimelineJS to support lessons plans to contextualize events surrounding the Holocaust. All events were placed into two categories: the rise and fall of Hitler and the escalation of Nazi repression and murder. See the timeline in context here.

TimelineJS is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines. Beginners can create a timeline using nothing more than a Google spreadsheet. This opens up the opportunity for groups of students collaborating on a single Google spreadsheet the produces a common timeline.

Here’s more on how to use Timeline JS. 

How to Use TimelineJS from Northwestern U. Knight Lab on Vimeo.


Image credit: pixel2013 / pixabay

Storytelling with Maps: StoryMapJS and ArcGIS

My University of Portland students recently completed a PBL project, designing curriculum for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. More here.

We designed resources to enhance the visitor experience to the Memorial. Two of my students used different online StoryMap tools that invite a comparison. Both are easy to use and do a good job of pairing content with location. The added feature of KnightLab’s StoryMapJS is that it has a built in timeline.

KnightLabs StoryMapJS

David Grabin used KnightLab’s StoryMapJS to tell the story of Menachem “Manny” Taiblum a Holocaust survivor who escaped the Warsaw ghetto, fought alongside the Polish resistance, resettled to Palestine, moved to Brazil, then to New York City and eventually settled in Portland, Oregon.

David writesI downloaded pictures from websites like Wikicommons and Flickr. These sites have photos that are within the public domain and have usage rights that permit them being re-published. Even though they are public domain, I made sure to cite them if the author requested it. I picked points on a world map that approximated stops on Manny’s journey, and in each location I added an image and blurb containing excerpts and paraphrased info from his interview. After editing the final product, the project was ready to be added to the website. Direct link to map

ArcGIS StoryMap

Nancy Guidry choose ArcGIS Story Map. It’s built into ArcGIS, a leading mapping and GIS platform. It’s available to anyone with a ArcGIS account, but you can also sign up for a free non-commercial ArcGIS public account or sign in with your Facebook or Google credentials. The site provides a variety of templates to showcase different types of stories. Once you have an account, you will get a “My Stories” page to manage your maps.

Nancy writes:  I used ArcGIS Story Maps to create this map of concentration camps throughout Europe. I used data provided by the Oregon Jewish Museum to input location and death data for each camp, and found photos from each camp online. The embedded version does not look as nice as the original; click here for a direct link.


Image source: Couleur / Pixabay

Audio Storytelling with SoundCite

My University of Portland students recently completed a PBL project, designing curriculum for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. More here. We used a variety of free online storytelling tools to contextualize the Holocaust for memorial visitors.

I like to collaborate with my students in our projects, so I created a web section called Voices. It features inline audio oral history clips of survivors talking about family members murdered in the Holocaust. Working with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) I  extracted the clips from their rich oral history archives.

I used a free tool called SoundCite.  KnightLabs describes it this way: Audio is a powerful device that can add emotion or context to a story. Unfortunately audio clips force uncomfortable choices: read or listen, but not both. Until now. SoundCite is a simple-to-use tool that lets you add inline audio to your story. The audio is not isolated; it plays right under the text.


Here’s a demonstration of SoundCite using a portion of an interview with Anneke Bloomfield. She was born on April 19, 1935, in The Hague in the Netherlands. Anneke’s father worked for Shell Oil, while her mother (a retired schoolteacher) stayed at home with Anneke and her three brothers. Anneke also had a younger sister who was born right at the end of the war.

Tap on highlighted area to hear interview

“Well there was another incident before this. My dad was in the underground and he had me send messages to certain people a couple times. And one time on my way home, I had to be home before 8:00 because they would shoot – Germans always changed rules, every time – no more light at this time, no more heat, no more this, no more that. And this time anybody who was on the street after 8:00 would be shot. And this was about the third time I did this message thing for my dad. And as I got to the underpass there were two German soldiers and they had picked up two Jews or whatever; it looked like men from a distance for me. And they thought it would be a good place to break loose. And instead they didn’t get away with it so they was pushed up against the wall and they were killed. And now I have to go underneath there. And I am like eight and a half going on nine, and I was so afraid to go, so I thought, “Well I am going to turn around a take the long way home.” So I ran and ran and ran and I thought, “Oh I hope I am going to make it before 8:00.”

 


 

 


Image credit: neil godding / Unsplash

Tour Japantown PDX with StoryMapJS and JuxtaposeJS

Northwestern University Knight Lab has produced some great free storytelling tools. I’ve previously posted about comparing images using JuxtaposeJS. It's great for telling then and now stories when you have a good balance of continuity and change. Here’s a example of frame comparison I made using the tool. Use your mouse to grab the slider and move it up and down.

It shows one of Portland's Japanese owned/managed hotels back in the heyday of Portland's Japantown before the forceable removal and incarceration of its citizens during WWII. More on how to create with JuxtaposeJS

Another KnightLab tool is StoryMapJS, a free tool to help you tell stories on the web that highlight locational content. I've been playing around with StoryMap and thought it might be fun to see if I could embed JuxtaposeJS sliders into a StoryMap. I think the integration worked well - though it is better viewed from this direct link on your desktop / mobile device than in the embed below. (This embed messes a bit with the size of the feature photos.) As you go though the tour you'll see I used a mix of static photographs and image blends I made with JuxtaposeJS.

I had lots of great content from my multi-touch book Portland's Japantown Revealed. It featured engaging then / now photo widgets that allow the user to "paint" history into contemporary photos with a wipe of their finger. So I reused the then / now photo comparisons using the a different tool - JuxtaposeJS and then used them for image content in the StoryMap. Note: Historic images are supplied by Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. I took the contemporary photos.

Backstory:  I was scheduled to visit Marisa Hirata's 3rd graders at Portland's Alameda Elementary School. Students had been researching Portland's Japantown and had already designed a "shoebox" replica of the community. For my visit, I created this StoryMapJS "tour" and the students used each stop as writing prompts.  This StoryMap was great for helping students to visualize how people's lives were lived in Portland's thriving pre-WWII "Nihonmachi."

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