Exploring History Vol IV: Eight Document Based Lessons

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

Interactive iBook version free at iTunes.
Static pdf version (5 MB)

It features eight 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.

All of my student’s wrote for a public audience on our class blog and persued 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 IV 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. Exploring History: Vol III created by my fall 2016 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. Mysterious Bronze Age Collapse by Sam Hicks
  2. From Revolution to Government by Valerie Schiller
  3. Imagination, Innovation & Space Exploration by Molly Pettit
  4. The Real Romanovs by Kelly Marx
  5. World War I: The Human Cost of Total War by Anna Harrington
  6. Collectivization and Propaganda in Stalin’s Soviet Union by Clarice Terry
  7. Holy Propaganda Batman! by Karina Ramirez Velazquez
  8. The Nicaraguan Literacy Crusade by Scott Hearron

Free Multicultural Alaska History Series

Alaska SeriesI just finished teaching Alaskan Studies at University of Alaska Southeast’s MAT program in Juneau. My course was teamed with a Multicultural Ed class in the first three weeks of the on-campus session. We took a PBL approach and our cohort of 37 MAT students did a terrific job researching and designing six regional iBooks as models of culturally responsive teaching. More on their assignment here.

I’m proud to announce that the Multicultural Alaska series is now available free at iTunes. 
Alaska’s West Coast- Thriving on the Tundra 
Arctic Alaska Life at the Top of the World
An Outsider View of Interior Alaska 
Southwest Alaska- Where the Sea Breaks its Back 
From Silt to Salt- Southcentral Alaska  
Southeast Alaska- Close to Nature’s Heart

Each iBook begins with a regional overview focussed on the intersection of three factors – natural environment, the human environment, and the cultural expressions unique to the indigenous people of the respective region. Six-member teams collaborated on each overview and then each student designed a culturally-responsive lesson in their content area focused on that region. The iBooks are filled with interactive elements and extensive source material from Juneau’s newly opened Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum (SLAM).  

Don’t have a Apple device? Download our books free as static PDF files.
Alaska’s West Coast- Thriving on the Tundra 2.5 MB
Arctic Alaska Life at the Top of the World 3.7 MB
An Outsider View of Interior Alaska 3.1 MB
Southwest Alaska- Where the Sea Breaks its Back 3.6M
From Silt to Salt- Southcentral Alaska 2.1 MB
Southeast Alaska- Close to Nature’s Heart 2.2 MB

Save Instructional Time with Screencasts

Here’s a “case study” in lesson design that demonstrates the efficiencies of offloading information transfer via screencasts.

Setting: I’m currently teaching Alaskan Studies at University of Alaska Southeast’s MAT program. My course is teamed with a Multicultural Ed class. We have a cohort of 37 students in the first three weeks of their on-campus summer session. Our face to face class time is critical and we want the students to get to know each other before being sent out across Alaska on their student teaching placements.

Goal: I wanted to open the course with a place-based activity that gave the students a creative way to share something about themselves. I decided to give them two PBL design options – creating a poetry-inspired Haiku Deck [ Lesson ] or a developing a geo tagged tour using Google MyMaps [ Lesson ]. During the same class, I wanted to get them introduced to WordPress and our course blog where they would be regularly posting.

All this was accomplished in a 3-hour class through use of short screencasts that explained each aspect of Haiku Deck, MyMaps and WordPress. Screencasts were made using Apple Quicktime Player and uploaded to a playlist on YouTube.

Bottom line: By investing about 45 mins to make screencasts (in advance), I freed up three hours of class time for student interaction and production.

You can view student products: Haiku Deck here and MyMaps here 

Here’s some student reactions to the workflow:

The “flipped” structure of this assignment was new to me, but eye-opening. Using YouTube and a course website to provide instruction without eating too much class time opens a number of possibilities for a teacher. Having that time instead for working on an assignment seems helpful for students, and it would free the teacher up to walk the room and help them individually with any problems they might be having. ~ Tim

This activity gave me a sense of fulfillment because I got to go at my own pace and actively create a project within a clear and manageable timeframe….The quick cadence of this activity was driven by Peter’s use of Youtube tutorials to deliver instructions and information about the project. This element all but cut out lecture time along with the inevitable (inferably painstaking) process of verbally answering repeated questions from students. In my experience as a student, verbal lectures and directions often cause me to get bored and then shut down, or to get lost and then shut down. The video clips smoothed over this issue and I anticipate utilizing this method in my future classroom. ~ Devin

It was fun, it has kept the entire class occupied for over two hours and I can see how this is an amazing learning opportunity and activity for the classroom. Allowing students a few different options to choose a way to creatively address a subject, giving them a set amount of time to accomplish the task and then providing a space to view their peers work in order to get ideas for the next activity. Brilliant. ~ Erin

Image credit: Flickr / eGuidry

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

PD Should Model What You Want To See in the Classroom

It’s August and that’s back to school time. All across America teachers are sitting is staff development workshops. Some sessions are valuable, others will leave teachers wishing they could be setting up their classrooms.

Recently I had the chance to work with Marta Turner / NWRESD to design and administer a staff development grant from the Library of Congress and the TPS Western Region. The goal of the project was to give participating teachers skills in designing historical thinking skills lessons utilizing primary source documents from the Library of Congress’ vast online collection.

I saw it as a chance to demonstrate my first law of staff development
PD should model what you want to see in the classroom. 

So in addition to mastering historical thinking skills utilizing LOC.gov, this workshop became a demonstration of the following:

How to flip your class:
Orientation to the LOC site was something better done on participants’ own time than in whole group. We utilized Versal (a free and stylish LMS) to offload that task to a flipped pre-course. Teachers arrived at the workshop with a working knowledge of LOC online resources , strategies for teaching historical thinking skills and ideas (and LOC documents) for their demonstration lesson.

Thanks for shepherding us through the process – a motivating demonstration of what’s possible with kids ~ Paul Monheimer, participant

Leveraging tech tools for design and collaboration:
Teachers collaborated in the pre-course using Google docs to design and curate examples of historical sourcing. I created YouTube tutorials to use throughout the pre-course and workshop session to blend the learning.

Teachers collected historical documents from the LOC into shared Google slides. This facilitated easy peer review and also served as an archive for materials in preparation for transfer to iBooks Author.

We used Google Hangouts to explore “how historians think” with Dr. Adam Franklin-Lyons – associate professor of history at Marlboro College.

Motivate with project-based learning:
Teachers were pleased that the workshop would produce lessons they could use. But right from the start they knew that they were not simply getting together to learn some strategies and create some lessons. They had an iBook to create and we only had two days onsite to do so. As educators, we talk about value of the authentic audience for our students but it applies to our teacher PD as well. (I held myself accountable to the same standard, since the major elements of the workshop were shared on my blog and via the Versal pre-course.)

Our participant teachers left the 2-day workshop energized knowing that their work was documented for our grant funders to replicate in other projects and proud that their lessons would be available as an iBook on iTunes in 51 countries around the world. Note: Time did not allow me to teach iBooks Author to the teachers, so I designed and edited the iBook later. For more on how I teach iBooks Author, see this iBA workflow post.

We are proud to share our iBook The Student As Historian ~ Teaching with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress. This ebook contains both the training materials and fourteen teacher-designed document-based questions for grades 4 through high school.

The lessons 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 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.

Download free at iTunes here. It’s viewable on Mac, iPad and iPhone 5 or newer. If those options don’t work for you, you can download it as a PDF The Student as Historian-PDF version 14 MB.  (Interactive widgets will not function in pdf version)

Note: This is not an official publication of the Library of Congress and does not represent official Library of Congress communications.

Image credit: stokpic / Pixabay
Creative Commons CC0 Source

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