Student as Historian: Library of Congress Summer Workshop

LOC grant promoI’m excited to be teaming up with LOC American Memory Fellow, Marta Turner of NWRESD to offer a workshop this summer for 20 Oregon teachers and librarians (grades 4-12). It’s jointly sponsored by the Library of Congress, the TPS Regional Program & NWRESD. Participating teachers will receive $500 stipend at conclusion of the program. We’ll even turn our work into an iBook to be published at iTunes.

Register here The deadline is 5 pm May 20, 2015 
Notifications will be sent out to participating teachers on May 21st.

The Library of Congress’s “Teaching with Primary Sources Program” offers instructional strategies to support the effective use of primary sources from the Library’s vast digital collections. This workshop will guide 4th -12th grade teachers through the LOC digital collections to blend historical thinking and literacy skills into an engaging student-centered classroom. Participants will receive a $500 stipend at conclusion of the program.

We’ll begin the process with some “flipped” learning – participants will explore the LOC collections in an on-line course via Versal. That way we can devote our on site workshop time to designing lessons. More info and our “flipped” pre-course here. Sessions will be held June 25 & 26 from 8:30 to 4:00 at NWRESD 5825 NE Ray Circle Hillsboro OR 97124 Map

This workshop is limited to 20 Oregon teachers (or librarians). Grade range 4th -12th. Open to public and private school educators.

On-line course and two day workshop will feature how to:

  1. Utilize the web resources of the LOC / TPS.
  2. Teach historical thinking skills.
  3. Integrate CCSS close reading strategies into history instruction.
  4. Foster critical thinking skills that support the “student as historian.”
  5. Guided practice in designing lessons utilizing the LOC collection.
  6. How to use Google tools and other tech resources to teach history in the digital era.
  7. Collaborative publication of participant-designed lessons in an online collection and an interactive iBook to be published on iTunes.

Participant commitment:

  1. To maximize workshop interaction, participants will be required to complete a brief preparatory online introduction to the LOC website prior to attending. They will also be asked to develop a preliminary lesson proposals aligned to CCSS ELA literacy standards prior to attending the on site workshop. This preparatory work will commence on June 10th and take an estimated 10 hours to complete. PSU Continuing Education graduate credit is available for this course work.
  2. Create a CCSS-aligned lesson using primary resources from the Library of Congress to be shared in workshop publications.
  3. Participate in on-line revision and peer review of lessons (as needed) to insure publication of iBook by September 2015
  4. Complete a pre/post survey from the Library of Congress
  5. Share your lesson with your staff or in another media form.

Image credit: Washington. West façade Library of Congress
Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-18034

If A Pig Wore A Wig And Other Tales of School Reform

if a pig wore a wig

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big. 
When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to do with matters of important public policy and the billionaire is willing to back it up with hard cash, public officials tend to reach for the money with one hand and their marching orders with the other. Gates backed his small-schools initiative with enormous amounts of cash. So, without a great deal of thought, one school district after another signed on to the notion that large public high schools should be broken up and new, smaller schools should be created.

With that lede, former NY Times columnist, Bob Herbert details The Plot Against Public Education: How millionaires and billionaires are ruining our schools POLITICO Magazine October, 6, 2014.

Herbert catalogues the failed hit-or-miss reforms driven by corporate America’s assault on public education. Smaller schools, charters, on-line schools, and big testing have yet to deliver significant improvements in student performance. What they have produced is a “testing-industrial” complex that has turned schools into test factories that harness the labor of students to toil at the “bubble-test” assembly line producing dubious “achievement” data. While I’m sure that corporate leaders, venture capitalists and foundation experts are nice people, I doubt their primary goal is student achievement. Not with the big profits to be made servicing the “K-12 space” and privatizing public education.

The piece profiles a cast of well-placed educational “reformers” – Bill Gates, Ronald Packard (former Goldman Sachs banker), Michael Milken (disgraced junk-bond king), Larry Ellison (billionaire co-founder of Oracle), Rupert Murdoch (king of the News Corp media empire), and Cathleen Black (longtime media executive and short-lived NYC school chancellor). What they lack in educational expertise is more than offset by their wealth and political influence. Herbert closes

Those who are genuinely interested in improving the quality of education for all American youngsters are faced with two fundamental questions: First, how long can school systems continue to pursue market-based reforms that have failed year after demoralizing year to improve the education of the nation’s most disadvantaged children? And second, why should a small group of America’s richest individuals, families, and foundations be allowed to exercise such overwhelming—and often such toxic—influence over the ways in which public school students are taught?

Image credit:
Taken from Page 255 “Illustrated Poems and Songs for Young People. Edited by Mrs. Sale Barker”
(1885) The British Library Identifier: 000201665

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.

The Bots are Coming! Better Re-think My Lesson Plans

S.H_Horikawa_–_Star_Strider_Robot_Close_Up

Here’s a suggestion for your back-to-school faculty meeting – take 15 minutes to watch Humans Need Not Apply by CGP Grey. Then have a discussion on it’s implications for your students and (your curriculum). Talking about robot invasions is way more fun than updates on new state tests.

The video’s thesis is simple – robots are coming for our jobs. Actually, they have already taken many of them. And it’s not just low-skilled labor they’re taking over.

… white-collar work is no safe haven either. If your job is sitting in front of a screen and typing and clicking — like maybe you’re supposed to be doing right now — the bots are coming for you too, buddy.

I’ll bet that accurately filling out a worksheet won’t be a valued bot-competitive skill.

Are the professions safe from bots? Not exactly. The video makes the case for bots replacing significant aspects of legal, medical and even creative work. (And I’d add teachers to that list.)

It begs the question – what skills should we be teaching to students who will have to compete against the bots for employment? I don’t think there are any easy answers to that question. But I’ll bet that accurately filling out a worksheet won’t be a valued bot-competitive skill.

As the video concludes:

We have been through economic revolutions before, but the robot revolution is different.

Horses aren’t unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they’re unemployable. There’s little work a horse can do that do that pays for its housing and hay.

And many bright, perfectly capable humans will find themselves the new horse: unemployable through no fault of their own. …

This video isn’t about how automation is bad — rather that automation is inevitable. It’s a tool to produce abundance for little effort. We need to start thinking now about what to do when large sections of the population are unemployable — through no fault of their own. What to do in a future where, for most jobs, humans need not apply.

For full text of the video click here.

Image credit: S.H Horikawa – Star Strider Robot
By D J Shin (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

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