The Power of Propaganda: A Student-Designed DBQ

white haired girl balletI assigned my preservice teachers at University of Portland the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is The Power of Propaganda designed by Kyle Stephens.

You can find Kyle’s posts on our class blog.

See Kyle’s chapter in our class-designed iBook – free at iTunes.

Kyle Stephens reflects on what he learned from the experience:

I wanted to somehow link the idea of propaganda to today’s society and challenge the students to think about how propaganda may be used today.

When I started my DBQ project I wanted to show how propaganda was used throughout history and see how propaganda evolved throughout the years. However, I decided to focus my attention at WWII and the Cold War Era. I was able to find some great documents showing the propaganda used during that time. I wanted to somehow link the idea of propaganda to today’s society and challenge the students to think about how propaganda may be used today. However, I didn’t come up with a great way to do that without making the project much larger in scope. I think I should have focused my attention to either WWII or the Cold War exclusively. I think I would have been able to dive in deeper with one of them, rather than trying to span over a long time and different conflicts. However, this DBQ could be used to try to connect the two events and show how propaganda played a part in both of these.

Image credit
The White-Haired Girl: Chinese film poster (1950)
British Library
 

Two Worlds Meet: Europeans in the New World

America / [by Theodor Galle after Jan van der Straet]I assigned my preservice teachers at University of Portland the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is Cross-Cultural Contact Between Native American and European Conquerors designed by Tom Malone.

You can find Tom’s posts on our class blog. See Tom’s chapter in our class-designed iBook – free at iTunes.

Tom Malone reflects on what he learned from the experience:

DBQ design is delicate business.

The learning goals of this DBQ enable students to formulate a viewpoint about a crucial point in world history through opposing perspectives. Students can interpret primary documents, architecture, and more modern images in order to obtain the European viewpoint as well as the equally important Native American resident perspective. Students will enhance their primary document interpretation skills and their ability to interpret source validity.

This DBQ project achieves these goals, though certain images could be enhanced and authenticated more precisely in order to give students enough information to critically analyze without giving too much information. Some prompts could include more information depending on the target audience and their prior contact with the subject matter

As a thinking process, the DBQ serves as a strong element to any social studies lesson. The difficultly between including too much or too little information can be tricky. Selecting the proper document to present to students for analysis is the keystone to this method. DBQ design is delicate business, but it allows for freedom to reach common goals.

Image Credit: NYPL Digital Library
America / [by Theodor Galle after Jan van der Straet].
Creator(s): Galle, Théodore, 1571-1633 — Engraver
Straet, Jan van der, 1523-1605 — Artist

The Easter Rising: Irish Rebellion 1916

ICA) men on a Dublin rooftop 1916I assigned my preservice teachers at University of Portland the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is The Irish Revolutionary Period designed by Peter Gallagher. It challenges students to think about the timing, participants, and significance of the Irish War of Independence, ensuing Civil War, and continued conflict over the country’s partition.

See Peter’s chapter in our class-designed iBookfree at iTunes.

You can find Peter’s posts on our class blog.

Peter Gallagher reflects on what he learned from the experience:

I learned that the process of putting together a DBQ can be especially difficult as a teacher, because it requires one to step back and allow the students to connect the dots, rather than doing the work for them.

When I set out to begin my DBQ assignment, the scope was wide and the learning rather shallow. I realized fairly early on that I was looking at a yearlong unit rather than an isolated DBQ assignment, and set out to narrow my focus. I settled on the Irish Revolution, often called the Anglo-Irish War, as the subject of my DBQ. The revolution encompassed many of the points I had hoped to make in the larger unit on revolution, so it seemed like a good platform from which to teach. I had wanted to teach students about the relatively transient elements to many revolutions, that they are progressions rather than moments, summations rather than beginnings. The primary skill taught within the lesson would be the reading of primary documents as a means of historical inquiry. Once I narrowed the focus of my DBQ, I found it much easier to teach said skill. Rather than picking and choosing from a vast array of primary documents that, in some way or another, represented a 20th century revolution, the selection of ten images, documents, and artistic renderings of the Irish Revolution allowed for a deeper understanding of revolutionary sentiment at the outset of the 1900’s.

The final project, entitled “Easter, 1916” explores the context, players, and legacy of Easter Week 1916. I tried as best I could to limit the contextual history and allow the documents to speak for themselves, though it could be difficult at times. The topic is one I’m very familiar with, so it took a bit of effort to exclude my editorial inclinations. I feel the project is fairly well-rounded, though I would like a chance to supplement the DBQ with some background lessons. I learned that the process of putting together a DBQ can be especially difficult as a teacher, because it requires one to step back and allow the students to connect the dots, rather than doing the work for them. I’m happy with the product, and its one I’m bound to use in future lessons, wherever I end up teaching.

Image Credit: Camera Press Ireland – Irish Citizen Army (ICA) men on a Dublin rooftop during the Easter uprising

Media Manipulation: Vietnam War DBQ

peace rally 1970

I assigned my preservice teachers at University of Portland the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is Media and War: An Analysis of Vietnam War Propaganda designed by Damian Wierzbicki. It provides a selection of media from opposing perspectives and asks students to answer the following question: How does media impact our perception of war?

See Damian’s chapter in our class-designed iBook – free at iTunes.

You can find Damian’s posts on our class blog.

It provides a selection of media from opposing perspectives and asks students to answer the following question: How does media impact our perception of war?

Damian Wierzbicki reflects on what he learned from the experience:

The goal of my DBQ project was for students to gain an appreciation for how one’s perceptions of an event can be manipulated through media. The idea was for students to examine a variety of items, identify the techniques employed in conveying the message, and evaluate whether or not the techniques were effective. After investigating the media content within the lesson, students would apply what they learned by curating a series of media items that depict a certain perspective in a contemporary conflict.

Reading my original proposal for the project, I feel the final product achieves the goals I initially set forth. The lesson contains a variety of media types (print, posters, photos) and each example is accompanied by a set of questions that challenge students to do more than just identify what they see. I’m pleased with what I created because it approaches the study of history from a different perspective and medium. I can see this being more enjoyable than reading a history text or listening to lecture on a more traditional topic.

Though I am pleased with what I created, reservations do exist. This product has yet to be used. I don’t know how students or educators will react. Will they learn or appreciate the material I put forth? Will they find it engaging? It’s hard to say, especially since this was the first DBQ project I created. Teachers must always reflect and adapt. The project I created feels like a solid first step, but I want it to be used so I know how to make it better.

Once I decided upon a topic, the project was straightforward. However, I did run into one hurdle: curating the media. Selecting relevant pieces was challenging and time consuming. There is so much iconic media from the Vietnam era, but not all was applicable to my objective. Using the wrong piece could have lead to confusion and undermined what students were supposed to take away from the lesson.

Image Credit: LSU Public Relations, “Peace Rally,” 1970. LSU student Luana Henderson participated in a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War held in 1970 on the LSU campus. The poster behind her refers to the killing of four students by National Guardsmen during a protest that turned violent at Kent State University in Ohio. University Archives, Louisiana State University.

Anne Frank: A Primary Source DBQ

Anne Frank

I assigned my preservice teachers at University of Portland the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.

I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is Anne Frank: A Timeless Story designed by Erin Deatherage.

You can find Erin at LinkedIn and here’s her posts on our class blog.  See Erin’s chapter in our class-designed iBook – free at iTunes

Erin Deatherage reflects on what she learned from the experience:

I designed this DBQ for high school students and chose this topic of Anne Frank because I was curious to see how the diary could be used as a primary source material in place of a piece of literature. It became difficult to find corresponding images for her diary entries that made sense such as, “Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think I’m actually one of them!” However, adding a historical pillar such as the Kristallnacht helped round out the ideas I was trying to convey. The main reason that I thought Anne Frank would make a great resource for a document-based question series is that she is, decades after her death, relatable. Her story has its place in the legacy hall of fame and will forever stay relevant to children and adults in the world.

I was curious to see how the diary could be used as a primary source in place of a piece of literature.

One of things that I learned while creating this DBQ is making sure the purpose for students is clearly defined. There are times when we teach that bright light shines down from above to us teachers in the middle of a lesson and, suddenly, we get a marvelous idea. Then, there are times that we kick ourselves for not planning or reflecting more before the lesson takes place. Knowing your purpose ahead of time may lead to more marvelous ideas; therefore, more fun and excitement for students while learning.

I am intending for students to be able to use this set of images, concepts, and questions in addition to a Holocaust study or, perhaps, a The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank study. It should be used as a supplement resource to any social studies classroom.

Image credit: Wikipedia 

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