Japantown History Awarded “Best Textbook” & “Best Widget”

Cover-Portlands Japantown RevealedI’m pleased to announce that my iBook Portland’s Japantown Revealed was just named “Best Textbook”  at the international iBooks Author Conference. “The iBAs“ are the only peer-nominated, peer-voted awards for best-in-class achievement with Apple’s iBooks Author. I was honored to be a finalist in six categories – #humblebrag.

More on the iBook | Download free at iTunes

The iBook is a collection of historic documents, photographs and video interviews with former Japantown residents that tell the story of Portland’s “Nihonmachi” (Japantown) – a once vibrant community that disappeared with the forced removal and incarceration of its citizens. It’s the fourth title in my Homefront USA series of iBooks. 

The “iBA’s Best Widget of the Year” award was given to my iBook’s “Portland Revealed” widgets that allow the reader to blend historic and contemporary photographs. I created them by seeking out locations of historic photographs where the architecture had been preserved and re-photographing the contemporary setting. The resulting overlay lets the user “paint” the historic figures into modern settings – it’s demonstrated in this video.

My iBook has a companion iOS app - Japantown PDX / Free at iTunes 
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. Watch historic Japantown street life reappear in “then and now” photographic dissolves. Share content with built in Facebook and Twitter buttons. 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.

Many thanks to Portland’s Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center and the Densho Digital Archive for project support and access to their archival collections. The iBook is an outgrowth of a project that teamed my University of Portland edMethods students with the Nikkei Legacy Center.

Teacher’s Guide to Ed Design

Devsigner conference logoI’m pleased to be presenting at the Devsigner Conference in Portland Ore June 27-28. As the organizers describe it

The Devsigner Conference features sessions and workshops focusing on front web design and development techniques, tips and tools. We also aim to inspire our technically inclined creative community with amazing session topics that bridge the gap between art and code. Join us June 27-28th in Portland, Oregon for our second annual celebration of Devsigners.

Devsigner guyConfession – I’m not a dev. But I have spent years designing learning experiences. So my session is titled the Teacher’s Guide to Ed Design. (Sat 11:45am-12:30pm).

My workshop session will offer perspectives on designing engaging learning experiences that motivate students, provoke their reflections and monitor their progress as learners. It should be useful for educational content providers or anyone interested in instructional design. This post provides an overview of my session and provide links for my workshop attendees.

My key takeaways for ed designers:

  1. Have the courage to be less helpful. Are students making choices, reflecting on decisions and sharing their thinking with an audience beyond the teacher?
  2. Teaching is not telling. Teaching is designing learning experiences that provoke 
learner reflection. This happens best when lessons have a social component and an authentic audience.
  3. Let the student be the historian.. . or scientist, mathematician, etc. Think of the art class. Would you expect to see the students passively watching the art teacher paint?

More on info on the my session’s themes and examples:

Classroom Tech: When Less is More

I recently was a guest on the UP Tech Talk Podcast produced by University of Portland’s Academic Technology Services and hosted by Maria Erb (Instructional Designer) and Sam Williams (Dir of Academic Tech Services). Kudos for the great ATS podcast studio!

We had a lively 18 minute discussion about my UP social studies methods class and technology’s role in instructional design – it opened like this …

What’s the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done?

Maria: Peter, so glad to have you on the podcast. We just had a great conversation … you managed to rattle off probably half a dozen Web 2.0 tools that you’re using just like you were a fish swimming in water; it just seems so easy and natural for you. I’m just wondering, how do you go about choosing which tools you’re going to use for these great projects that you’re working on? What piques your interest?

Peter: I think it really begins with seeing yourself as a designer of a learning experience. You work with the tools you have and with the setting you have. You’ve got X number of students; you’re meeting once a week; you’ve got three hours with them. You think about the instructional goals that you want to achieve, and then from there, you say, okay, so what kind of tools are out there. For example, there was a situation where I wanted them to collaborate and design some lessons. I wanted them to be able to share their work with one another and be able to comment on it. I also think it’s important that there always be a public product, because I think we find our students producing content for their instructor as opposed to … which is kind of a ritualized thing as opposed to real-world content.

And ended with this exchange …

Sam: Are there any words of wisdom around it’s not about the technology that you could leave us at the end of this podcast?

Peter: I would say the big question is what’s the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done. Taking something and making it prettier by putting it on a white board when you could have written it up on the chalk board really doesn’t get you anywhere. I think that the transformative part of technology is getting it in the hands of the students so that they can research and create and produce in ways you couldn’t do without it. For me, those are the essential elements that I’m looking at, not simply just something that’s a bright shiny object.

Text transcript (word file) | Show notes and links | Podcast at iTunes: #12

The University of Portland uses the SmartEval system to gather student feedback on courses and faculty. Here’s a few comments from my UP students that are relevant to this podcast:

  • Peter challenged us to think and be designers of curriculum, instead of just lecturers. We learned how to get students working and thinking critically in the classroom.
  • I liked that the focus of the class was on making a product.
  • He also showed us how to move from the lecture mode to engaging students as architects in their own learning process.
  • Very well connected with other educators on Twitter. He has promoted every student in the class using his connections to help us build professional connections and build a professional online presence.

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

#PDX Flipped Classroom Workshop Series

flipped classroom workshop logo

Coming February 2015 

In the digital age, sharing information is easy. Why waste classroom time simply transferring information to your students? It’s assimilating content and developing skills that are the challenge. Flip the content to the “homework” and you can free up more classroom time for student interaction, peer teaching, and reflection. 

Join us at NWRESD Hillsboro OR. (Portland) for 2 and a half days of engaging hands-on workshops that will give you the ideas, tools and support to flip your class. Open to K-12 teachers and administrators / Cascade Technology Alliance. All tech and flip experience levels welcome. We’ll be creating a more engaging classroom … one flipped lesson at a time. More info here

During our sessions we will share tech tools, design and delivery strategies. Between sessions participants will use the lessons we design and return to reflect on successes and challenges in a lesson study approach.

  • Dates: February 13, February 27, March 13
  • Times: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. 
  • Cost: $250 includes materials and lunches
  • Location: NWRESD 5825 NE Ray Circle, Hillsboro OR 97124 Map
  • Audience: K-12 Teachers and administrators / Cascade Technology Alliance

For more information and registration click here.
Seats are limited, so don’t delay.
Sign up deadline Jan 9, 2015.

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