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

Where I’m From: Using Haiku Deck to Visualize Place

Where-Im-fromHere’s a lesson I designed for use in my University of Alaska Southeast summer course – ALST 600. I’ll be working with nearly 40 preservice teachers in the secondary MAT program teaching Alaska Studies using a place-based approach that integrates good instructional practice and free ed tech tools across the curriculum. For more on this lesson click here

This lesson features a poem as a prompt for a creative reflection. It also integrates two tools for presentation of the reflection.

  1. After reading Where I’m From, students will use Haiku Deck to design a brief presentation that uses text and images to depict “where they are from.” The presentation should include a a title slide plus 6 slides which explore the place you’re from. Follow this link for ideas on Where to Go with “Where I’m From”
  2. After completing the Haiku Deck presentation, students will create a blog post that includes an embedded version of the presentation and a written response to the question:

What have I learned from this activity and how might I use the learning strategies and / or technology in my teaching placement?

Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.



They Lived to Die: the Battle of the Somme

The_Battle_of_the_Somme_film_image1My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol III (free iTunes). It features thirteen 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 multi-touch iBook and pdf versions click here. To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. (last of 13)

Battle of the Somme by John Hunt
Download as PDF 768 KB

What are the different ways we can construct a narrative of this battle from the perspectives of these unique players?

The Battle of the Somme, or the Somme offensive, was the first major British offensive of WWI. It was also the most bloody, resulting in more than 57,000 British casualties in the first day. This outstripped the total number of casualties the British suffered during the Korean, Crimean, and Boer war combined. These staggering losses occurred, in part, due to a faulty strategy. The joint British-Franco force relied upon an artillery barrage that lasted several days in order to weaken the German line. However, due to the heavily entrenched position of the Germans, the artillery proved largely ineffective. When it came time to order the charge, the British command was so sure the Germans had been decimated, they ordered their men to walk – in orderly lines – across No Man’s Land. The result was pure devastation as the unscathed Germans opened up with the automatic fire of their machine guns and mowed down men line by line

Reflection by John Hunt
The creation of an iBook is fundamentally different from anything I have ever done before. It is a truly strange creature, halfway between the old publishing world and the new world of digital media. This is true in more ways than one. Not only does the power of publication, and dissemination, lie in one’s own hands, the inclusion of digital media upends the traditional book format. Videos, pictures, and interactive widgets replace text. The author becomes more than a writer. Rather, they take on the role of designer and publisher as well. It is truly a democratization of the publishing process, even more so than previous online publishing platforms.

More than all of this though, it is a unique way to present history. We all know that history is dry. Although we might imagine science or even math using interactives, history has a special place in the realm of books. It is something we have always read. Part of history’s mythos, its identity as a scholarly pursuit, is sitting down with a dusty tome and discovering facts line by line. That is no longer the case. There is nothing particularly more or less intellectual or factual about reading. People listen, people appreciate art, and people watch movies. These are all valid sources of information and deserve the place in history afforded by platforms such as the book.

Despite this, the actual creation of my chapter – a reflection on the different experiences during the Battle of Somme – was fraught with a return to tradition. I am very used to writing. In middle school, I made longer and more complex sentences just to get a higher Flesch-Kinkaid grading level. Although I have come a long way since then, it is still the medium I am most comfortable communicating with. The comments I received on the rough draft of my chapter reflected this. They all revolved around the same themes: less text, break things into chunks, make the questions easier, and more. Obviously, I will have some difficulty thinking of a book as more than just a medium for words.

Even so, I was very happy with the eventual outcome of my chapter. It is minimal. There are no fancy widgets, less pictures, and more text. Yet I believe I have struck a good balance. It is a balance between the old and the new, the traditional format and the possibilities of a digital one. However, it is also a balance between two more simple concepts. Words still have a fundamental ability to communicate the human experience like no other medium. To close, let me reflect on the quintessential saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Although the basic premise holds true, it is far from being the case in all instances. In today’s media saturated social spheres, the power of the image is incredibly diminished. We are used to images representing the shallow, crass demands of a consumer marketplace that demands our constant attention. In this new world, the power of words to speak to our innermost emotions, remains un-belied – and perhaps even more powerful.

Image credit: Scene of British troops advancing, staged for the film “”The Battle of the Somme” Wikipedia

Anti-Vietnam War Imagery: Visual Literacy

532px-Vietnam_War_protesters._1967._Wichita,_Kans_-_NARA_-_283627

My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol III (free iTunes). It features thirteen 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 multi-touch iBook and pdf versions click here. To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. (Twelfth of 13)

Anti-Vietnam War Imagery by Felicia Teba
Download as PDF 1.7 MB

How can images/language usage help us understand the goals of a movement or group?

The Sixties were a tumultuous time period in America. The Civil Rights Movement was taking place, various student movements were blossoming, and the Vietnam War was coming into full swing. The War would especially create divisions about US Cold War policies, and our military presence in Vietnam. This would be a contentious issue raised by various Student movements and Counterculture groups. These groups would push for the end of the war, through images and protests. In this DBL, students will answer a series of questions regarding the counterculture movements. When using this DBL, students should have some knowledge about the anti-war movement.

Reflection by Felicia Teba

For the past three weeks, we have been working on designing our own Document Based Lessons (DBLs) to be published as a collaborative book. This experience was interesting . This was my first time working on a project like this. I found that the process was a bit long and required having good knowledge about the topic. This is why I chose to cover anti-Vietnam War images in my DBL. I know a lot about the anti-war movement and it was a topic I felt would be interesting for high school students to examine.

When working on designing this DBL, I had first thought that I wanted to cover ’60s pop culture in relation to the counterculture movement. I then had a difficult time finding sources that were not copyrighted or would have such problems arise. This moved me to find images related to the anti-war movement. I found many images, including the one featured above,  that related to looking at anti-war protests and what those who were against the war were arguing.

Once I had these images, I arranged them around an essential question: How can images/language usage help us understand the goals of a movement or group? I chose to base my DBL around this question because it helps students to build skills around historical thinking skill such as Sourcing and Close Reading. Each of the images in my DBL  features the essential question as a reminder of what to be thinking about, and each image includes 4 questions specific to the image. This helps the student to make deeper connections to the images and what they are conveying.

When creating this DBL, I found the experience to be interesting, and a little scary. It was interesting because I was able to get creative when designing the layout for my image set. I used various colored shapes to help my essential question and each additional question stand out. I also used a couple of widgets that allow students to magnify the image, and another that allows you to click the image and receive additional info about it, almost like a caption box. I feel like these additions helped to make my DBL feel less dull.

If I were to get the chance to, I would definitely like to do another project like this. It makes you think about what questions are worth asking, and what you want students to look at as historians.

Image credit: Vietnam War protesters. 1967. Wichita, Kans Wikipedia

Examining the Ongoing Evolution of American Government

640px-Lyndon_Johnson_signing_Medicare_bill,_with_Harry_Truman,_July_30,_1965My Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland recently published a free multi-touch iBook – Exploring History: Vol III (free iTunes). It features thirteen 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 multi-touch iBook and pdf versions click here. To better publicize student work, I’m featuring each chapter in it’s own blog post. (Eleventh of 13)

Examining the Ongoing Evolution of American Government by Eric Cole 
Download as PDF 1.6MB

Charismatic young actor and future American president Ronald Reagan recorded these remarks in 1961. Listen closely to what Reagan has to say. While you listen, jot down answers to the following four questions and be ready to share your ideas:

  • What does Reagan mean by the phrase “socialized medicine”?
  • In 10 words or fewer: Why is Reagan so opposed to this idea?
  • Reagan produced this recording for the American Medical Association (AMA), a professional association of physicians. How does his relationship with the AMA affect the way you think about his comments?
  • How do you think the historical context of 1961 might have shaped or informed Reagan’s argument?

Reflection by Eric Cole

Inquiry skills are at the heart of social studies and lessons that provide students with the chance to engage with rich primary sources are unparalleled opportunities for growth. In the document-based lesson (DBL) I prepared for this course, I sought to familiarize high school-aged social studies students with the ways in which the US federal government has changed over time by asking them to engage with samples of popular discourse surrounding Social Security, Medicare, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) at various points in the programs’ respective histories. Students are presented with arguments made by high-profile figures and various forms of public opinion data. They are then asked to use this information as well as their knowledge of the historical contexts in which these debates take place to recognize connections between these debates and themes underlying the ways that US government and politics have shifted in the last century. Students demonstrate their ability to use the documents to arrive at such conclusions in both a class discussion and a written response to the lesson.
The experience of creating this DBL will inform my approach to the development of future lessons. In particular, I feel that incorporating sources that create opportunities for less proficient readers to engage in grade-level inquiry is important. In this case, I included videos, photographs, and a graph. The diverse character of the documents ensures that barriers to participation in the lesson are minimized.
If you have thoughts or feedback on this lesson, I can be found on LinkedIn.

Image credit: President Johnson signing the Medicare amendment. Wikipedia
 

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