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

Text to Text: A Strategy for Common Core Close Reading

The-Scarlet-Letter-1917The NY Times Learning Network has just launched a new series of lesson plans called “Text to Text.” It’s a simple approach that pairs two written texts that “speak to each other.” I think it’s a Common Core close reading strategy that could be easily replicated by teachers across the curriculum – great way to blend nonfiction with fiction and incorporate a variety of media with written text.

Each lesson includes a key question, extension activities and additional resources to expand the basic lesson. Here’s two graphic organizers to help student organize their “Text to Text” thinking. (free PFD downloads)
Comparing Two or More Texts
Double-Entry Chart for Close Reading

The NY TImes plans to continue the series at the Learning Network – tagged Text to Text
To date they have created three sample lessons:

“The Scarlet Letter” and “Sexism and the Single Murderess”
Key Question: To what extent is there still a sexual double standard, and how does that double standard play out in contemporary culture?
It pairs a passage from “The Scarlet Letter” with a recent Op-Ed article that, together, invite discussion on societal attitudes toward female sexuality.

“Where Do Your Genes Come From?” and “DNA Double Take”
Key Question: How are recent advances in science changing our understanding of the genome, and how might this affect fields like forensic science or genetic counseling?
It matches a Times article with often-taught scientific, historic, cultural or literary material. This edition is about new findings in genetics.

“Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg”
Key Question | Is Snowden a Hero, a Traitor or Something Else?
It pairs two Times articles that capture parallel moments in history: Daniel Ellsberg’s surrender to the police in 1971 after leaking the Pentagon Papers, and Edward Snowden’s public admission in June that he leaked classified documents about United States surveillance programs.

Image credit: 1917 Film version of ”The Scarlet Letter” – publicity still (cropped)
L. to R Stuart Holmes, Kittens Reichert & Mary Martin Date

Master Common Core Skills with Free DBQ iBook

Progress and poverty

My latest multi-touch iBook, Progress and Poverty in Industrial America, is available for your iPad - free / iTunes. It’s a great resource for use in the classroom, and serves as a model for teacher or student curation of historic content into interactive digital DBQ’s. (More of my posts on publishing with iBooks Author.)

This 18-page document-based question guides students through the historian’s process with an investigation of the essential question, “How do we evaluate the social costs 
and benefits of technological innovations?” To make the question relevant to students, it begins with a brief examination of the impact of 21st c technologies / global economy on progress and poverty in contemporary America.

superba

Next the iBook turns to historic content set in late 19th century America. “Stop and think” prompts encourage a deep reading of many notables of the “Gilded Age” – including Russell Conwell, Henry George, Andrew Carnegie and Stephen Crane. Visual source material includes posters, 1908 Sears Catalogue, a gallery of photographs by Lewis Hine and video of one of Edison’s early Vitascope films. Guiding questions help students think more deeply about each document:

What does the document tell you about America at the turn of the 20th century?

How do these historic themes of “progress and poverty” relate to issues in America today?

How do we evaluate the social costs 
and benefits of technological innovations?

Hine gallery

Students are guided through the historian’s process with a focus on the contrast between historic perspectives.

For example, students can compare how industrialization impacted children in different ways in the stark contrast of a young girl demonstrating the use of Sears Superba Washing Machine (“mother’s little helper finds it easy to swing the Superba to and fro…
”) and a gallery of Lewis Hine’s child labor photographs.

Can the cannery worker really take advantage of the new libraries that Carnegie has so generously donated to the city?

timecardfull

Another document is from records of the NYS Factory Investigating Commission- Time card dated June 26, 1911. “She was employed in a fruit cannery. She worked 166 hours for the two weeks, earning $16.60.” Student can contrast that with an excerpt from Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth  – “the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; entrusted [with wealth] … administering it for the community far better than it could have done for itself.”

Critical thinking questions based on Common Core skills are embedded throughout the text and help students “think like a historian.”

  • Who created the document?
  • What was the creator’s goal?
  • How does the document reflect its historic time period?
  • How do multiple documents support or contradict one 
another?
  • What historic “voices” are missing from this collection – women, immigrants, minorities, workers?

Finally student are invited to share what they’ve learned in writing and a variety of other products:

  • Compose an essay or blog post
  • Draw an illustration, create an infogram, post a video
  • Role-play a debate – Hine vs Carnegie? or 
Conwell vs a supporter of the Occupy Movement?
  • Start a discussion on Facebook, curate a photo gallery on Flickr, create a new Twitter hashtag
  • Research the world around you and leave a document for a future historian

How to Integrate Document-Based History with the Common Core

CCSS offers an incentive for teachers to use historic documents to build literacy skills in a content area while empowering students to be the historian in the classroom. But document-based (DBQ) instruction in this context requires four key elements to be successful:

  1. The right documents.
  2. Knowing how to look at them.
  3. Letting students discover their own patterns, then asking students to describe, compare and defend what they found.
  4. Basing the task on enduring questions, the kind that students might actually want to answer.

My just-published, second iBook – Workers Win the War: Toil and Sacrifice on the US Homefront – embodies that approach. Free at iTunes. It features:

Engaging source material that can be easily interpreted by students. Too often, DBQs use documents that require too much background knowledge to “interpret.” This collection offers over 60 pages of easy-to-intrepret media, much of it visual –  including 80 posters, 18 films, cartoons, radio broadcast, recording and sheet music and a dozen rarely-seen pamphlets.

Why should I work any harder

An interactive primary source analysis tool developed by the Library of Congress. Poster and film analysis is modeled in an multi-touch widget. Students can use an iPad-friendly historic document guide to analyze all the source material and share their observations with peers and teachers.

All across the curriculum, students are told to “analyze” material, but their thinking is constrained by the mandated Venn diagram or T-chart. Developing a comparative schema is messy work – but that’s where the learning takes place. To scaffold student analysis, “Workers Win the War” features CCSS-based prompts that ask students to stop and think more deeply about the content.

any-bonds-today

Essential questions that make an examination of the US homefront in WWII relevant to students’ lives today. Students experience first-hand how the government mobilized public support for the war through higher taxes, hard work and sacrifice.

Contrast that era with our “homefront” experience today, when only our troops and their families have been asked to make sacrifices for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today many see “big government” as an intrusion in their lives. In contrast, during WWII Washington played a very active role shaping American behavior and attitudes in support of hard work and sacrifice in support of the war effort.

Workers Win the War examines the themes of hard work and sacrifice through a variety of perspectives – increasing industrial production, food as weapon, worker health and safety, making do with less, scrap drives, rationing, price controls, and financing the war with higher taxes and bond drives.

Have you really tried

Students will enjoy the content: Cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck and Daffy. Films and posters that equated sick days and long work breaks as near treason. Long-forgotten pamphlets that coached volunteer bond salesmen or advised school principals on how to organize a paper scrap drive – “turn your students into Paper Troopers!” Posters that chided “foolish women” who ignored price ceilings – “Why Shouldn’t I Buy it? I’ve got the Money!”

My favorite is a short film that features two spunky young working women who set out to buy some steak in violation of rationing limits. It turns into a nightmare sequence that demonstrates “rationing means a fair share for all.”

Prices Unlimited

Rationing_means_a_fair_share

To deepen their understanding of the historic content and hone their Common Core skills, students need a chance to create a unique product to demonstrate their learning. With that goal in mind, Workers Win the War has been designed to leverage the content-production capacity of the iPad.

All of the historic content in the iBook is in the public domain. Each source document is hyperlinked back to archives that provide access to the digital content. Students can easily remix the historic documents into their own galleries and projects.

Why Do Teachers Ask Questions They Know the Answers To?

The Future will not be multiple choice
The Future will not be multiple choice

A while back I posed 13 Subversive Questions for the Classroom. Here’s the first five:

  1. If a question has a correct answer, is it worth asking?
  2. If something is “Googleable” why would we spend precious class time teaching it?
  3. When we ask students to summarize, do we actually want to know what’s important to them?
  4. What do you suppose students think they are supposed to be doing when we ask them to analyze?
  5. Do you ever ask your students questions you don’t know the answer to? Why not?

Here’s a TEDxCreativeCoast video – The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice – that answers those questions and showcases the power of a PBL / design-based approach to learning. Turn curricula into design challenges, classrooms into workshops and teach students to think like designers.

While you watch it, try to think of a meaningful career that looks like filling out a worksheet.

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