Cultural Imperialism: Who Stole Cleopatra’s Needles?

782px-Cleopatras.needle.from.thames.london.arpMy 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. (Fifth of 13)

Finding Egyptian Needles in Western Haystacks by Heidi Kershner 
Download as PDF 3.2MB

Essential Question: Who owns and has the right to cultural property?

Beginning with Roman rule in 31 BCE many of Egypt’s obelisks were transported throughout the empire to be set up in various cities. Because of this, the city of Rome now houses more obelisks than anywhere else in the world (including Egypt). Three such obelisks found their way to the metropolises of London, Paris, and New York in the nineteenth century. 

 

Reflection by Heidi Kershner

The process of designing a document based lesson was quite lengthy and involved. It required finding not only relevant documents and primary sources but ones that were both rich enough yet easily accessible for students to engage with on a deep level.

In my case I found this objective fairly challenging as I was looking to create a lesson to fit within a unit about ancient Egypt. Given that the subject for my lesson was from such antiquity I found it fairly difficult to find primary sources and other documents that would fit the aforementioned stipulations. However once I was able to identify my documents the actual designing of the lesson was pretty fun!

Throughout this process I had to continually put myself in the shoes of my students and ask the question: what should students be doing and learning from each document? With this important question in mind I was able to critically think about how each document and primary source fit into the larger fabric of my lesson.

Even though this type of lesson carries a fairly heavy workload in terms of planning I think that this would be a fantastic method to use in my instruction. Certainly not every lesson can be document based but I think that such lessons could be very powerful in terms of both increasing student content mastery as well as providing an opportunity for students to act as historians (which should always be our goal as teachers of social studies)!

Image credit: Wikipedia 

Cleopatra’s Needle in London seen from the River Thames. In the background the New Adelphi, a monumental Art Deco building designed by the firm of Collcutt & Hamp.in the 1930s. 
Photographed by Adrian Pingstone in June 2005 and released to the public domain.

Exploring History: 13 Document-Based Lessons

Exploring History IIII’m very pleased to share a new iBook just published by my Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland.

Interactive iBooks available free at iTunes.
Static pdf version Exploring History Vol III (29 MB)

It features thirteen engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. The units draw from a fascinating collection of text and multimedia content – documents, posters, photographs, audio, video, letter and other ephemera. “Stop-and-think” prompts based on CCSS skills guide students through analysis of the primary and secondary sources. Essential questions foster critical thinking. All documents include links back to the original source material so readers can remix the content into their own curated collections.

My students worked for a public audience on our class blog and and pursued our three class goals:

  • Learn to think like a historian.
  • Become a skillful Instructional designer
  • Develop technical skills for production, reflection, growth and professional networking.

The lesson design process began early in the semester when students designed lessons in historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). They focussed on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. Then students identified essential questions worth answering and gathered documents to explore the question in an extended lesson design process.

Exploring History: Vol III was our PBL capstone and is available on iTunes in 51 countries around the world. Here’s a post (from fall ’13 class) that describes our project workflow (including how we utilized iBooks Author). Here’s Exploring History: Vol I created by my fall 2013 class. And Exploring History: Vol II designed by my fall 2014 class.

I’ll be doing a future blog post that features each student’s DBQ, but for now here’s the US and World History lessons in chronological order:

  1. Finding Egyptian Needles in Western Haystacks 
by Heidi Kershner
  2. Pompeii by Caleb Wilson
  3. Samurai: Sources of Warrior Identity in Medieval Japan 
by Ben Heebner
  4. The Declaration of Independence by David Deis
  5. Reconstruction in Political Cartoons 
by EmmaLee Kuhlmann
  6. Regulation Through the Years 
by Chenoa Musillo Olson / Sarah Wieking
  7. Battle of the Somme by John Hunt
  8. The Lynching of Leo Frank by Jeff Smith
  9. The Waco Horror by Alekz Wray
  10. The Harlem Renaissance by Monica Portugal
  11. A Date of Infamy by Mollie Carter
  12. Anti-Vietnam War Imagery by Felicia Teba
  13. Examining the Ongoing Evolution of American Government by Eric Cole

How To Think Like a Historian

Richard_of_WallingfordLast week Marta Turner (NWRESD) and I had the privilege to work with a team of Oregon teachers in a workshop “The Student as Historian.” The session was jointly sponsored by the Library of Congress, the TPS Regional Program & NWRESD. More information and our “flipped” pre-course here.

One of our goals was to promote historical thinking, so we held a Google Hangout with Dr. Adam Franklin-Lyons – associate professor of history at Marlboro College. We queried him how historians think and discussed his insights into his approached to working  with primary sources.

Adam teaches European history and his research focuses on grain supply and famines in the Western Mediterranean. He also hosts a series of history podcasts at The History CafeI highly recommend Adam’s podcasts for their clever take on European history (plus a food theme). For more on Adam –  his research profile and his YouTube Channel

For a more detailed exploration of how a historian thinks watch Adam’s “Introduction to Primary Sources Part II.” (below) He looks at a single letter between merchants who were members of a powerful merchant company run by Francesco Datini at the end of the 14th Century.

Image credit: “Richard of Wallingford” Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336) was an English mathematician who made major contributions to astronomy/astrology and horology while serving as abbot of St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire.
 

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:

How to Read Documentary Films

Child waiting to be taken to Manzanar April 1942 LC-DIG-fsa-8a31173

While many are aware that the US government forcibly removed and incarcerated more than 120,000 U.S. residents of Japanese ancestry during WWII. Few people know that the government recruited some of these same people to work at farm labor camps across the west to harvest crops essential to the war effort.

Uprooted from Uprooted Exhibit

Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II is a traveling photography exhibit (and website) that tells this story and provides a treasure trove of resources for historians, teachers and students. Uprooted draws from images of Japanese American farm labor camps taken by Russell Lee in the summer of 1942. Lee worked as a staff photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), a federal agency that between 1935 and 1944 produced approximately 175,000 black-and-white film negatives and 1,600 color photographs.

I worked with the Uprooted team and developed a lesson How reliable are documentary films as a historic source? (Lesson Plan 2) The lesson begins with the teacher telling students that they are about to watch two short videos about the experience of some Japanese Americans during World War II. The first video was made in 1943 by the US government as an informational service to the US public. It features video shot in 1941 and 1942 and narration by a government official. The second video was made in 2014 by documentary filmmakers to accompany the Uprooted Exhibit. It features historic video from World War II as well as oral history interviews with Japanese Americans that the filmmakers shot in 2013 and 2014. The narration is taken from the interviews. Before the videos are shown, the teacher asks the students which video they think will be a more reliable historical source. (Be sure to have them justify their thinking to their peers). Prompts include: 

  • A video made in the era being studied or a video made over seventy years later?
  • A video made by the United States government or a video made by documentary filmmakers?
  • A video narrative by a government official or a video narrated by people who participated in the event?

The lesson then guides students through comparisons of both videos based on close reading strategies – what does the video say? how does it say it? what does it mean to me?

A complete lesson plan, collection of images and historic documents is available at Uprooted. A second lesson plan considers the question:  How reliable are documentary photographs as a historic source? (1.1, 1.2, 1.3) The site even includes a kit for students to curate their own Uprooted museum mini-exhibit.

You can find Uprooted on Twitter | Facebook | Flickr | Instagram

The museum exhibit open at The Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, OR on September 12, 2014 and runs through December 12, 2014. It then travels to Minidoka County (ID) Historical Society and the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland Ore. More exhibit info and updates

I’d like to close this post by crediting the talented team behind Uprooted. Curator – Morgen Young, Web and Graphics Designer –Melissa Delzio, Videographers – Courtney Hermann and Kerribeth Elliott. Uprooted is a project of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.

Image credit:  Child waiting to be taken to Manzanar, April 1942, Los Angeles, California. Photographer Russell Lee. Library of Congress (Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF33-013290-M4)

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