Learning from Sea Monsters

I’m fascinated by old maps, so it’s been especially fun to follow the #MapMonsterMonday hashtag started by the Boston Public Library on Twitter and Instagram. Both have become hashtags for others to upload imaginative creatures.

Here’s a 5-minute PRI interview with Dory Klein, education assistant at the library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. She started #MapMonsterMonday because “I wanted to connect people with our collections and make these maps a little more accessible and a little more fun. … They’re beautiful and fascinating and the stories behind them can turn into just a wonderful rabbit hole of research.”

If you’re looking for a great Map Monster lesson, I  recommend Medieval Maps and Monsters by the education team at the Osher Map LibraryIt’s a fascinating lesson for grades 3-5, but also  filled with resources for older students. It includes an editable PowerPoint presentation 16MB ppt, Sea Monsters Handbook 4MB pdf and even materials to make a Dangers of Sea Exploration Board Game. You also find links at Osher Map Library to other great map-based lessons on medieval maps, Renaissance, colonialism, thematic maps and more.

ortelius-handbook-sea-monsters

 

Feature image from (Ortellius, 1573) Instagram post by American Geographical Society Library

Save Instructional Time with Screencasts

Here’s a “case study” in lesson design that demonstrates the efficiencies of offloading information transfer via screencasts.

Setting: I’m currently teaching Alaskan Studies at University of Alaska Southeast’s MAT program. My course is teamed with a Multicultural Ed class. We have a cohort of 37 students in the first three weeks of their on-campus summer session. Our face to face class time is critical and we want the students to get to know each other before being sent out across Alaska on their student teaching placements.

Goal: I wanted to open the course with a place-based activity that gave the students a creative way to share something about themselves. I decided to give them two PBL design options – creating a poetry-inspired Haiku Deck [ Lesson ] or a developing a geo tagged tour using Google MyMaps [ Lesson ]. During the same class, I wanted to get them introduced to WordPress and our course blog where they would be regularly posting.

All this was accomplished in a 3-hour class through use of short screencasts that explained each aspect of Haiku Deck, MyMaps and WordPress. Screencasts were made using Apple Quicktime Player and uploaded to a playlist on YouTube.

Bottom line: By investing about 45 mins to make screencasts (in advance), I freed up three hours of class time for student interaction and production.

You can view student products: Haiku Deck here and MyMaps here 

Here’s some student reactions to the workflow:

The “flipped” structure of this assignment was new to me, but eye-opening. Using YouTube and a course website to provide instruction without eating too much class time opens a number of possibilities for a teacher. Having that time instead for working on an assignment seems helpful for students, and it would free the teacher up to walk the room and help them individually with any problems they might be having. ~ Tim

This activity gave me a sense of fulfillment because I got to go at my own pace and actively create a project within a clear and manageable timeframe….The quick cadence of this activity was driven by Peter’s use of Youtube tutorials to deliver instructions and information about the project. This element all but cut out lecture time along with the inevitable (inferably painstaking) process of verbally answering repeated questions from students. In my experience as a student, verbal lectures and directions often cause me to get bored and then shut down, or to get lost and then shut down. The video clips smoothed over this issue and I anticipate utilizing this method in my future classroom. ~ Devin

It was fun, it has kept the entire class occupied for over two hours and I can see how this is an amazing learning opportunity and activity for the classroom. Allowing students a few different options to choose a way to creatively address a subject, giving them a set amount of time to accomplish the task and then providing a space to view their peers work in order to get ideas for the next activity. Brilliant. ~ Erin

Image credit: Flickr / eGuidry

America Divided: Teaching Media Literacy and Political Polarization

pew political polarization

The Pew Research Center has just released an update to its research series on political polarization in the American public. It provides engaging data visualizations and survey tools that are ideal for teachers and students of American government and politics. It’s also a great opportunity to explore news media literacy and critical thinking skills. 

For more ideas on teaching politics join #sschat on Twitter on Monday Nov 3 at 7 PM (Eastern) for “Election ’14: Teaching Politics, Controversy and Civic Engagement”

I will be guest hosting #sschat with my social studies methods students @EdMethods.

The Pew political polarization research is based on a national survey of over 10,000 U.S. adults conducted by the Pew Research Center. There is an online version of that survey Where Do You Fit in the Political Typology? Teachers can create a “community group” and have their students sign in when taking the survey. You will be sent a link to your quiz page, which you should use when sharing the quiz with your community or group. After at least five members of the group have taken your quiz, you will be able to view the aggregate results on the group results page, which compares your group’s overall results with the general public’s.

Next, I would recommend reviewing the interactive graphs that demonstrate political polarization between 1994 and 2014. The new survey finds that as ideological consistency has become more common, it has become increasingly aligned with partisanship. Looking at 10 political values questions tracked since 1994, more Democrats now give uniformly liberal responses, and more Republicans give uniformly conservative responses than at any point in the last 20 years

I would asks student to explore Political Polarization & Media Habits. When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Students will enjoy exploring the sortable tables: Audience Profiles & Media Habits. There they can compare the audience profiles from diverse sources such as Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Colbert Report and the Glenn Beck Program.

Fox news

colbert report

Trust Levels of News Sources by Ideological Group

Get the Word Out: A Social Media Case Study

Police Dog Tess I teach future teachers – secondary social studies teachers. The course has three goals:

  1. Learn to think like a historian. 
  2. Become a skillful instructional designer.
  3. Develop skills for reflection, growth and professional networking.

They begin the course by doing self-audits of their social media use for professional networking – a good starting point to reflect on their expanding professional learning networks. Along the way we use load of tech tools to achieve our course goals. Every activity results in a public product for their growing professional portfolio.

Rather than tell them what to do, I prefer to model it. Here’s a brief Storify that illustrates how to fuse our three course goals and produce content to share with the world. Here’s our first set of student posts. Take a look and leave a comment.

Image credit: Police Dog Tess, 29/1/35 by Sam Hood
State Library of New South Wales

Students at the Center of the Learning

Thomas Hawk - Hub and SpokesIn the early part of my high school social studies teaching career, I saw myself at the center of the classroom. I was the focal point of the learning. I played resident historian – reading, crafting lectures and dispensing history to my students. They were on the periphery of the learning – waiting for my instructions, checking back with me for approval, giving me back my lecture on the unit test. Even the whole class discussions “flowed through” the teacher. Students directed their responses to me. I commented after each student with my approval or directing another student to give it a try. Without realizing it, I taught my students the only thing worth knowing was something coming from their teacher.

With time I learned to stop working so hard at being the smartest person in the room. With practice, I honed the skills of an instructional designer – an architect of learning environments – “spaces” where the thinking was done by my students.

I try to model that “architectural approach” in my social studies methods class. Take a look at today’s class, (University of Portland) you’ll see that I’m not the focal point of the lesson. By “flipping” a few instructional components and providing a student-driven evaluation, my students will be at the heart of the lesson. I’ll be floating at the periphery. Here’s a summary:

The students have written drafts for their first authored posts on EdMethods, our class WordPress blog. While I assigned the format of their post – they have selected the content. Before posting they will go through two peer reviews in today’s class and then make revisions based on the feedback. Instead of writing for their teacher they are writing for the web. Rather than being graded by the teacher, the quality of their work will be assessed by their peers before they “turn it in” for publication on the web.

Most of my students are new to WordPress. Rather than force the whole class to sit through my “How to use WordPress” lecture, I used the QuickTime Player to prepare ten brief (under 2 mins) video micro-lessons on posting to WordPress. Students can use that “just-in-time instruction” for exactly what they need to complete the posting process. That frees me to work with students who might want to make major revisions to their posts or need extra help with WordPress.

Next week, our class will focus on historic thinking skills. I want to use our class time to actually dohistorical thinking tasks, so I wanted to flip the content delivery. I used TEDEd’s great lesson builder to annotate an existing YouTube video with questions, student reflections and further readings. See Who is the historian in your classroom?

Interesting in flipping a lesson? Here’s info on my Flipped Classroom Workshop

Who is the historian in your classroom
Image Credit:
Flickr: Thomas Hawk – Hub and Spokes

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