Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

Hollywood History: What really happened to Anastasia?

My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol IV. It features eight engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of a pdf or multi-touch iBook version click here.

To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. See more in the series here

The Real Romanovs: How media affects people’s perception of events by Kelly Marx

Kelly introduces her lesson with a generative question:How does media affect people’s perception of events?

Anastasia Nikolaevna was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia. After the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, the Tzar and his family were murdered. Persistent rumors of her possible escape circulated the globe and provoked many books and films. This lesson will examine the differences between the movie “Anastasia” (1997) and what actually happened to the Romanovs and the Tsarina.

Image credit: “Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia”
Library of Congress LC-DIG-ggbain-05700

What do Historians do when the Written Record is Missing?

My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol IV. It features eight engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of a pdf or multi-touch iBook version click here.

To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. See more in the series here

Mysterious Bronze Age Collapse by Sam Hick-Savage

Sam introduces his lesson this way:

Over the course of a century many of the great civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean vanished. Literacy nearly vanished. Even today, many textbooks shift their focus away from the Mediterranean and never mention this cataclysm that shows that civilization is fragile. The lack of a written record should not be seen as a reason to skip over this event, but rather as an opportunity. This is an invitation to you as a student to be a historian. Review the records. Theorize about what may have happened. Free from the constraints of a clear narrative and neatly arranged facts, your goal is not to memorize each fact, but to use the evidence to form your own opinion.


Image credit: By Kerstiaen de Keuninck (Coninck) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

WWI and the Human Costs of Total War

My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol IV. It features eight engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. For more info on our project and free download of a pdf or multi-touch iBook version click here.

To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post.

WWI: The Human Cost of Total War by Anna Harrington
Find Anna at LinkedIn

Image credit: Gas Mask WWI by Paul

Create Cool 3D Cartoons with Toontastic 3D

Google just launched a complete overhaul of the popular Toontastic app – meet Toontastic 3D – a 3D cartoon storytelling tool. It really hits a sweet spot between ease of use and just enough customization to unleash your inner Pixar.

While it’s being promoted for elementary and middle school students, I think people of all ages could have fun with it. It’s a free download and runs on iOS or Android phones, tablets and “some” Chromebooks.

You begin the process by picking a story organizer. Choices include “Short Story” with 3 scenes, “Classic Story” with 5 scenes and Science Report. (Much cooler than Powerpoint and shown below). Or you can create your own story structure.

The app provides a step-by-step guide for organizing your cartoon. For example the “Classic Story” includes – set up, conflict, challenges, climax and resolution (with helpful thinking prompts). Then select and customize your characters. You can even use an in-app tool to add your face to a character. (Yes, that’s me below.) Next you’re guided through the design of each scene. You move your characters in the scene by tapping on the screen and adding your voice tracks for each. You can also activate their special actions (in this video, my character can break dance). Many of the background objects are interactive and can be activated with a tap. Finally you can add mood music from the app library with some simple controls to customize the soundtrack. Scenes can be reorganized before saving your final project.

Your finished cartoons can be save locally in-app or on the device. You can export them to your device’s photos app or library. The finished high-resolution video is saved as an mp4 and easy to share – you can import it into projects or upload to YouTube or other sharing services. Once it’s on YouTube it’s easy to embed into a blog or other Google tool.

Best of all, it’s designed to be school friendly – no ads or in-app purchases, no email or login required and you can even use it off line. Google states that they do not store your finished content nor any user info.

I plan to use this app with my EdTech Methods class. I’ll share some of their work when I do. Till then, here’s a finished video by DeeDee I found for you to enjoy.

Exploring History Vol IV: Eight Document Based Lessons

I’m very pleased to share a new iBook just published by my Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland.

Interactive iBook version free at iTunes.
Static pdf version (5 MB)

It features eight engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. The units 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 and secondary 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.

All of my student’s wrote for a public audience on our class blog and persued three class goals:

  • Learn to think like a historian.
  • Become a skillful instructional designer
  • Develop technical skills for production, reflection, growth and professional networking.

The lesson design process began early in the semester when students designed lessons in historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). They focussed on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. Then students identified essential questions worth answering and gathered documents to explore the question in an extended lesson design process.

Exploring History: Vol IV was our PBL capstone and is available on iTunes in 51 countries around the world. Here’s a post (from fall ’13 class) that describes our project workflow (including how we utilized iBooks Author). Here’s Exploring History: Vol I created by my fall 2013 class. And Exploring History: Vol II designed by my fall 2014 class. Exploring History: Vol III created by my fall 2016 class

I’ll be doing a future blog post that features each student’s DBQ, but for now here’s the US and World History lessons in chronological order:

  1. Mysterious Bronze Age Collapse by Sam Hicks
  2. From Revolution to Government by Valerie Schiller
  3. Imagination, Innovation & Space Exploration by Molly Pettit
  4. The Real Romanovs by Kelly Marx
  5. World War I: The Human Cost of Total War by Anna Harrington
  6. Collectivization and Propaganda in Stalin’s Soviet Union by Clarice Terry
  7. Holy Propaganda Batman! by Karina Ramirez Velazquez
  8. The Nicaraguan Literacy Crusade by Scott Hearron

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