Students Design Lessons for Holocaust Memorial

This fall my social studies methods class at the University of Portland will work with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) to design curriculum for the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park here in Portland Ore. With historical memorials in the news and neo-Nazis on the march, this community-based challenge will allow my students to use a PBL approach to explore instructional design with purpose. The lessons learned will serve them well in their careers as secondary social studies teachers.

“Why do we build memorials? Why/ what do we need to remember?
~ Nancy Guidry, student.

My students will team with OJMCHE Holocaust Educator, April Slabosheski to create lessons to support middle and high school visits to the Memorial. I invite readers to follow our progress here and at our class blog. We welcome your advice, suggestions and encouragement.

After our first visit to the memorial I invited students to share their reactions:

  • Imagine a primary source account for each of the lost belongings - baby’s shoe, broken violin, abandoned suitcase, baby doll telling the story of a childhood ripped away. ~ James Bayless
  • What is truly amazing is how a carefully architected combination of stone and aluminum can evoke such strong emotions (i.e. sadness, fear, anger, etc.). I didn't know any of those names engraved upon the dark grey stone wall, but I shared part of their suffering and pain by merely reading their names and imagining their circumstances. It became evident to me that we humans are truly all connected-- this connection stretching across time, place, ethnicity and circumstance. Amazing. ~ Paxton Deuel
  • What struck me the most was probably the simplicity of it. No amount of elaboration would do justice to the horror remembered there, so it seemed appropriate, in a way. ~ Taran Schwartz
  • One train of thought that really stuck with me was the idea of reflection. We don’t necessarily always stop and reflect on the buildup of extremely catastrophic events. We tend to merely focus on the event itself. Very excited for this project. ~ Kelly Sutton
  • What an exciting opportunity! Should keep the Oregon survivor central- these are people within our community; how far reaching these events were, how connected we are to history. The town square design was particularly powerful; idea that that was where holocaust really started- othering Jews and people let it happen. Idea that the town square is also a place where future things like this can be prevented- people taking to the streets in solidarity, people gathering to talk across differences. ~ Nancy Guidry

More on the Oregon Holocaust Memorial:

The Oregon Holocaust Memorial was dedicated on August 29, 2004. The memorial features a stone bench adorned with wrought-iron gating, screened from the street by rhododendron bushes. The bench sits behind a circular, cobblestoned area - simulating a town square. During the Holocaust, many Jewish families were gathered in town squares before being loaded onto trains and taken to concentration camps. The square contains scattered bronzes of shoes, glasses, a suitcase, and other items to represent everyday objects that were left behind. A European-style, cobblestone walkway with inlaid granite bars, simulating railroad tracks, leads to a wall of history panels - giant, stone placards that offer a brief history of the Holocaust and quotes from Holocaust survivors. At the end of the wall is the soil vault panel. Buried below the panel are interred soil and ash from six killing-center camps of the Holocaust - Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The back of the wall is engraved with the names of people who died in the camps, followed by the names of their surviving relatives in Oregon and SW Washington. Source

Image credits: Peter Pappas

 

PD Should Model What You Want To See in the Classroom

It’s August and that’s back to school time. All across America teachers are sitting is staff development workshops. Some sessions are valuable, others will leave teachers wishing they could be setting up their classrooms.

Recently I had the chance to work with Marta Turner / NWRESD to design and administer a staff development grant from the Library of Congress and the TPS Western Region. The goal of the project was to give participating teachers skills in designing historical thinking skills lessons utilizing primary source documents from the Library of Congress’ vast online collection.

I saw it as a chance to demonstrate my first law of staff development
PD should model what you want to see in the classroom. 

So in addition to mastering historical thinking skills utilizing LOC.gov, this workshop became a demonstration of the following:

How to flip your class:
Orientation to the LOC site was something better done on participants’ own time than in whole group. We utilized Versal (a free and stylish LMS) to offload that task to a flipped pre-course. Teachers arrived at the workshop with a working knowledge of LOC online resources , strategies for teaching historical thinking skills and ideas (and LOC documents) for their demonstration lesson.

Thanks for shepherding us through the process – a motivating demonstration of what’s possible with kids ~ Paul Monheimer, participant

Leveraging tech tools for design and collaboration:
Teachers collaborated in the pre-course using Google docs to design and curate examples of historical sourcing. I created YouTube tutorials to use throughout the pre-course and workshop session to blend the learning.

Teachers collected historical documents from the LOC into shared Google slides. This facilitated easy peer review and also served as an archive for materials in preparation for transfer to iBooks Author.

We used Google Hangouts to explore “how historians think” with Dr. Adam Franklin-Lyons – associate professor of history at Marlboro College.

Motivate with project-based learning:
Teachers were pleased that the workshop would produce lessons they could use. But right from the start they knew that they were not simply getting together to learn some strategies and create some lessons. They had an iBook to create and we only had two days onsite to do so. As educators, we talk about value of the authentic audience for our students but it applies to our teacher PD as well. (I held myself accountable to the same standard, since the major elements of the workshop were shared on my blog and via the Versal pre-course.)

Our participant teachers left the 2-day workshop energized knowing that their work was documented for our grant funders to replicate in other projects and proud that their lessons would be available as an iBook on iTunes in 51 countries around the world. Note: Time did not allow me to teach iBooks Author to the teachers, so I designed and edited the iBook later. For more on how I teach iBooks Author, see this iBA workflow post.

We are proud to share our iBook The Student As Historian ~ Teaching with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress. This ebook contains both the training materials and fourteen teacher-designed document-based questions for grades 4 through high school.

The lessons draw from a fascinating collection of text and multimedia content – documents, posters, photographs, audio, video, letter and other ephemera. “Stop-and-think” prompts based on CCSS skills guide students through analysis of the primary sources. Essential questions foster critical thinking. All documents include links back to the original source material so readers can remix the content into their own curated collections.

Download free at iTunes here. It’s viewable on Mac, iPad and iPhone 5 or newer. If those options don’t work for you, you can download it as a PDF The Student as Historian-PDF version 14 MB.  (Interactive widgets will not function in pdf version)

Note: This is not an official publication of the Library of Congress and does not represent official Library of Congress communications.

Image credit: stokpic / Pixabay
Creative Commons CC0 Source

Incarceration of Portland’s Japanese Americans in WWII

Two children in camp c 1943 Minidoka concentration camp Idaho Two children in camp c. 1943 Minidoka concentration camp Idaho

What was the impact of President Roosevelt’s 1942 Executive Order 9066 on Portland Oregon’s Japanese-American community? The following presentation uses video interviews of camp internees, archived photographs, and historic documents to answer that question.

It was created by Kyle Stephens and Peter Gallagher in conjunction with the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. Their thoughtful curation of historic content guides the reader through the experience of Japanese-Americans incarcerated during the War and the government’s justification for doing so. Engaging questions and points for discussion are placed throughout the presentation.

The lesson features reaction to Executive Order 9066, temporary incarceration at Portland Assembly Center (built on the grounds of a former stockyard on the banks of the Columbia River), and the final destination for most of Portland’s Japanese-American community – the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.

Kyle and Peter were student in my social studies methods class at the University of Portland working on curriculum development for Portland’s Nikkei Legacy Center. Special thanks to the Densho Digital Archive for providing video and still images. 

Nikkei Classroom Presentation from Peter Gallagher

Image credit / Densho Encyclopedia: denshopd-i39-00044

iPhone Walking Tour of Historic Japantown Portland

japantownpdx

I’m pleased to introduce you to Japantown PDX, a free iPhone app that I designed with the assistance of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, GammaPoint LLC, and my students at the University of Portland. Explore Portland Oregon’s historic Japantown with this user-friendly walking tour. The city’s vibrant pre WWII Japanese American community is archived in over 125 photographs and audio clips. This GPS-enabled app guides you through Portland’s eight block Japantown, a bustling community in the early decades of the twentieth century – better known today as the colorful Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood. Map

Japantown PDX Judo Obukan

The free iOS app documents the vitality of this once thriving “Nihonmachi” and its sudden disappearance in the spring of 1942 when all persons of Japanese ancestry were removed from the West Coast and placed in America’s concentration camps during WWII. In addition to telling Portland’s Japantown story, the app explores the remarkably diverse Old Town neighborhood in tour stops that honor its African American, Chinese and LGBT roots.

Todd Mayberry, the Director of Collections and Exhibits at Nikkei Legacy Center speaks to the role this app can play in promoting the historic importance of Portland’s Nihonmachi and the need to preserve it from the ever-present threat of historically inappropriate over development.

“This innovative app will guide users beyond the walls of our museum and into the heart of Portland’s historic Japanese American community. Explore our streets and buildings guided by our narrator and mapped collections of photographs. We can’t wait to welcome you back to our home.”

App Features
Our goal was to design a user-friendly app suitable for all technical “abilities.” We began by surveying the Nikkei Center’s rich collection of historic photos for location-specific images. The most notable and well-documented became our tour stops. When we had historic exterior shots we photographed the contemporary scene replicating the view. Thus users can watch historic Japantown street life reappear in “then and now” dynamic photographic dissolves. Each stop has multiple historic and contemporary images, text and an audio narration. We had many historic photos that told the story of a vibrant community, but they lacked location. We decided to include them in the app as a “Gallery Section.” The app also allows users to share image content with built in Facebook and Twitter buttons.

Then and Now Photo Japantown PDX

We also wanted to weave in an underlying narrative – the story of WWII’s Executive Order 9066, the forced incarceration of the neighborhood’s Japanese Americans first at the “temporary” Portland Assembly Center and eventually at the Minidoka concentration camp located in southern Idaho. While the app is location based, we elected to give it an narrative arc that begins with an opening audio greeting voiced by Jean Matsumoto who grew up in the pre-WWII Japantown. Jean and her family were among over 110,000 Japanese Americans that were removed from the West Coast and incarcerated without trial. The app details other stories of forced relocation and re-population of the the neighborhood after the war and invites users to learn more by exploring the exhibits at the Nikkei Legacy Center in the heart of historic Japantown. Map

UP Students Explore Nikkei Center Exhibits

UP Students Explore Nikkei Center Concentration Camp Exhibit

About the Project Team
This app grew out of a collaboration between my Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland and the Nikkei Legacy Center. It was one of three curriculum design projects undertaken by students in support of the museum’s educational outreach. For more see my post Student Consultants Design Museum Curriculum and Mobile App. 

Japantown PDX Map view

My class served two roles in the app development – the entire class became our focus group – discussing what they thought needed to be in the app – both from the perspective of user experience and their growing knowledge of the history of Portland’s Japantown. Three student’s worked more directly – narration (Aram Glick), audio recording (Collin Soderberg-Chase) and logo (Samuel TS Kelly). I worked closely with Todd Mayberry to select content and images.

The other key team member was GammaPoint LLC a Portland-based mobile app developer and designers of my favorite workout app - WeatherRun. GammaPoint was interested in designing a user-friendly platform that would allow organizations to develop their own tour apps with a minimum amount of assistance. Our project served as their beta. We worked with GammaPoint on developing the tour design, generating prototypes which were then evaluated by my students and Nikkei Center. For example, we discovered that while we had a wealth of video interviews of former Japantown residents, their file size bloated the app. We used plist files to upload data to GammaPoint and tested their new web-based upload tool. It has now evolved into GammaPoint’s App4Tour which promises to be an affordable way for users to create their own multi-media rich tours with minimum of technical assistance.

Music and the Vietnam Anti-War Movement

photographs of nick dewolf photographs of nick dewolf

This concludes a series of guest posts from my preservice teachers at University of Portland. They had the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is The Vietnam War designed by Samuel TS Kelley. His DBQ explores the relationship between the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war as reflected in the music videos of the era.

You can find Samuel on Twitter and see his posts on our class blog.

See Samuel’s chapter in our class-designed iBook – free at iTunes.

Samuel TS Kelley reflects on what he learned from the experience:

Using a famous or popular document doesn’t really help the student to begin answering questions on their own. It is much more important to use a document that allows the student to be the historian and reach logical conclusions about the time period.

This DBQ does a good job of using the documents and songs to generate questions that the students can answer using only the given sources. Despite this, I had trouble coming up with overall questions about the unit. I kept refining the topic until I had a good theme to work with. I was already using some music as evidence, and I added a couple songs to make the music of the time central to the DBQ. This also changed the main idea of the DBQ, which shifted from a focus on the civil rights movement to the general anti-war movement (although civil rights were still very important to the DBQ).

Overall, I learned a lot from this assignment, especially about using documents that are most conducive to the student’s knowledge level. Using a famous or popular document doesn’t really help the student to begin answering questions on their own. It is much more important to use a document that allows the student to be the historian and reach logical conclusions about the time period. I am excited to continue to use DBQ’s to teach students to examine, analyze, and interpret the documents in ways that will engage their critical thinking skills, and let the students do the work of a historian when trying to establish facts and conclusions about the time period.

Image credit: Flickr / nick dewolf photo archive 
101970 07 04 ~ Boston Common,October 1970. 
Part of an archival project, featuring the photographs of Nick Dewolf

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