Podcast: Students Make A Difference with PBL

This is cross post from UP TechTalk Podcast S05E01: Connecting Student Learning to Real-World Outcomes with Project Based Learning by Maria Erb

Peter Pappas designs learning experiences that provoke reflection.  The UP School of Education adjunct instructor is known for pairing tech tools with creative assignments that lead to students having an external audience for their work, working as professionals do in a more public environment.

Utilizing the concepts of Project Based Learning, Pappas’s students have developed multi-touch books with iBooks Author on historical topics that have been downloaded 16,000 times from iTunes.  The blog Pappas uses for his course is public on the web and gets comments from beyond the classroom.  Students are startled to find out that someone besides a teacher cares about the work they do in class.

“Students really want to make a difference,” Pappas said.  This year, his students will be developing curriculum for the Oregon Jewish Museum And Center for Holocaust Education that can be used by middle and high school teachers when they bring students to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park.

At a time when we’re revisiting questions about history and people’s perspective on history, I think it will be somewhat cathartic for my students to feel they could make a statement and speak on behalf of people who perhaps can’t speak for themselves.

In this podcast, Pappas talks about project based learning and some of the other ideas that have helped to shape his current style of education.  Listen to this intriguing discussion about student engagement and more. Full Episode Transcript PDF


UP TechTalk App Picks of the Week
  • Peter picked Apple Clips, a new social video app from Apple.
  • Ben recommends Overcast as the best podcast catcher/listening app on iPhones and iPads.

Continue the conversation at the Teaching & Learning Community Blog: https://sites.up.edu/tl

UP TechTalk is a bi-monthly podcast with cohosts Ben Kahn and Maria Erb of Academic Technology Services that explores the use of technology in the classroom, one conversation at a time. Visit the UP TechTalk archives for a plethora of excellent content from our UP faculty guests. Get a sneak peak at the future with our UP Tech Talk special 5 part series The Future of Learning.

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.



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.

Teaching Politics, Controversy, Engagement – #sschat 11/3/14

sschat-promoMy @EdMethods students and I [@edteck] are proud to be guest hosts for Twitter #sschat on Monday November 3, 2014 from 7-8 PM (eastern). That night is election eve ’14 and our topic will be very timely –  “Teaching Politics, Controversy and Civic Engagement.” Here’s our questions:

Q1: What are student attitudes about politics and government – engagement, distain or indifference?
Q2: How do you create a safe classroom climate to address hot-button political and social issues?
Q3: How should teachers deal with their personal opinions when teaching politics and controversial issues – teach, preach, abstain?
Q4: How can we help students be critical consumers of political news and opinion?
Q5: What resources / ideas can you recommend for teaching politics and fostering civic engagement?
Q6: (Channel your inner Nate Silver) Do you have a prediction to make about a hot 2014 election or ballot initiative?

My co-hosts are pre-service social studies teachers in the School of Education, University of Portland (Ore). We take social media seriously in EdMethods. It’s an essential element of the course. Our students include: 

Kari Vankommer  @MissKVK
Christy Thomas  @crthomas478
Emily Strocher  @emilystrocher
Andy Saxton  @MrAndySaxton
Erik Nelson @ENelsonEdu
Michelle Murphy  @michelleqmurphy
Kristi McKenzi  @tiannemckenzie
Sam Kimerling  @kimerlin171
Scott Deal  @SLDeal15
Jenna Bunnell  @jennamarie0927
Ceci Brunning  @csquared93

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