Take a Closer Look – Close Reading Historical Images

Teachers are looking for resources for online instruction. So I am reposting lessons from my Social Studies Methods Course at the University of Portland’s School of Education. See original post here.

Today’s class will focus on finding and curating historical content – in this case images. Our focus will be on sourcing material that is in public domain using our historical archive resources.

Most materials are in the public domain if they were produced before 1923. I see this as roughly equivalent to everything that happened in the world up to and including World War I! If you’re looking for newspaper articles in Chronicling America, for example, you will note that coverage ends in 1922. 

Primary sources produced by the federal government are normally in the public domain both before and after the magic copyright date of 1923. That explains why we as teachers can use the fabulous oral history interviews of former slaves collected between 1936 and 1938 by workers from the Federal Writers’ Project.

Class Session

Class will open with a discussion on strategies for supporting remote learning – both in our course and our student placements. 

Next, Peter will share some information on public domain and Creative Commons. He will also share strategies for searching using a selection of historical archives

Students will then practice:

  1. find a historical image
  2. download it
  3. get citation information and source URL
  4. adding image to practice post
  5. include citation with active hyperlink back to source in image caption 

Lastly, Peter will introduce this week’s assignment and some strategies for working with WordPress to create learning activities base on close readings of historical images. 

Assignment 2 

IMAGE DETECTIVE CHOICE 1: (INSPIRED BY CROP IT LESSON)

Being able to find and curate historical source material is a foundation of historical thinking. This activity merges three Instuctional goals: finding / curating historical sources, looking closely at historical sources and using WordPress tools to add images and hyperlinks. It will help students learn how to find material for future lesson design activities. 

Here’s some sample student work from Fall 2019. 

  1. find 3 historical images
  2. for each image: provide full image with citation in hyperlink back to source
  3. then add a of crop area of each image to show one of the following clues (add clue in the image caption) Tips on how to crop an image
  4. Put all content into a post. Give it a clever title. Include a featured image.
Possible questions:
  1. who or what this image is about.
  2. where this takes place.
  3. when this happened or was created.
  4. what is the creator’s point of view or purpose.
  5. something I have a question about

Example: Image with two crops

African American Soldiers in an Automobile Source
When? It’s an upside down 1919 NYS license plate. I think they are returning Black WWI soldiers in a parade.
These Black soldiers are being honored in a parade. Knowing 1919 is in the Jim Crow / KKK era, I wonder what else faced them back in America?

IMAGE DETECTIVE CHOICE 2: CREATE AN IMAGE COMPARE

WordPress now has a built in “Image Compare” block. Find a two suitable images to compare and use the compare to explore continuity and change. 

Do the image compare for two sets of images. So you will have two separate “image compares” with guiding questions for each.

Possible questions exploring continuity and change:
  1. what is the same?
  2. what is different? 
  3. what do the similarities and differences tell us?
  4. how are they explained by historical events / trends?
1897 topographic map of Portland, OR compared to Google Maps
Possible questions raised by comparison:
  1. How has geography shaped the development of Portland?
  2. Why is PDX airport likely in its current location? How is that location both and asset and a liability?
  3. What’s the history of Vanport? How did geography intersect with race and history to cause its demise?

Resources

Note that this post uses JuxtaposeJS to create the same image compare (it was before it came to WordPress). So ignore that aspect and focus on examples of comparative images and my technique for getting best image alignment. I used Google slides in video. But same technique would work in Apple Keynote. 

Here’s a video where I demonstrate how to align the images and export as image files using Google slides. Ignore the fact I was using JuxtaposeJS. I start it about a minute in.
Here’s how to get Keynote into a portrait shaped size for comparing portrait images. Set custom size to 768 width by 1024 height
In Keynote change document format to a vertical portrait shape
In Keynote change document format to a vertical portrait shape
Here’s how to align images. 

Click on image. Then open Format window. Click on Style. Then adjust the opacity slider to where you want it. Once you have images aligned, remove all opacity. Duplicate the slide with one image on each.

Click on image. Format:style: opacity
Click on image. Format:style: adjust opacity
Then export the two slides as images to use in your image compare
Export slides as images
Export slides as images

Feature image uses photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

How to Run an EdCamp via Zoom

How to Run an EdCamp via Zoom

I recently ran a edcamp style morning session for our incoming MATs at the University of Portland’s School of Education. Our session goals:

  • Provide a framework for students to explore ed tech in small project-based learning teams
  • Model a student centered learning space that takes the instructor out of center stage.
  • Reinforce that ed tech tools are more than bright shiny objects – they are a tools to inspire your student to investigate, collaborate, create, drive change and take action.

In advance, I created a Google site – “Pandemic Teachers’ Toolkit” that profiled ten free (or freemium) edtech apps. Each app page included a brief overview, how to log in, samples of the app in action, a how-to video on using the app, and instruction on how to get a sample project from the app to a Padlet showcase. The apps were numbered 1-10.

On the morning of the session, I logged in 42 students and I opened with a brief intro and an overview of the morning’s activities. I did a short presentation on the apps using Keynote with some screen shots that highlighted each app and what it could do. I then used Zoom’s built-in breakout group tool to create random groups of four students each. Each breakout group was assigned to explore their corresponding numbered app. The suggestion was for each student in the breakout group to explore the assigned app in parallel fashion and offer help to each other as needed. When they completed a product with the app they posted it to the corresponding Padlet along with comments on working with the app.

As Zoom host I was able to drop in and out of breakout groups offering support as needed. If anyone had a question they could message me via Zoom. After about 30 minutes of work time we all got back together and shared observations. For example – you can’t be in Zoom and Flipgrid simultaneously – the are both fighting over your camera. (Why didn’t I think of that?)

Then we repeated the process and I created 10 new random teams. Some student found themselves back at the same app. So they did not agree to join that group. I was quickly able to see that and assign them to a new group. Students spent about another half hour exploring the second app. They again posted their work and observation to the corresponding Padlet.

I should note that their app-posts were very clever and creative. And their comments were spot on. As a closer, I provided a Google Form exit ticket. Their responses demonstrated that they saw the experience as very valuable and that it achieved it’s goals.

Here’s a two of the exit questions and student responses.

What’s one thing you learned about yourself today?
  • I learned that I enjoy exploring new technology when it is explained well enough.
  • I love working on my own! It is my first choice when it comes to work options. However, I did need my partners at times so I’m glad they were there to help me!
  • I really enjoy meeting new folks outside my cohort! And I’ve become much more comfortable with online teaching over the summer term.
  • I am better at navigating new apps than I thought I would be.
  • I need to try something before I understand it, so I appreciated the time to do so.
  • I enjoy playing around with the different tools within an app to help me understand the best use of my creativity and instruction.
  • I learned that I’m actually a pretty quick learner with these different platforms, which makes me feel better going forward into the school year next year!
  • I liked being able to figure out to use the tools. I always find it more engaging to learn by doing instead of being told how to do things.
What’s one thing you learned about edtech today?
  • These things are free! And a lot of it is integrated with programs I already use. Great stuff!
  • I have a lot more free, realistic options available to me than I knew about before this morning.
  • I had heard of some of these online resources before but hadn’t used most of them – this was a cool opportunity to learn how to use these resources, I’ll definitely be incorporating some into my class.
  • How user-friendly most of the apps are….I was pleasantly surprised.
  • There are far more resources than I would’ve thought. They were all a lot easier to use than I would’ve thought, too! For someone who struggles with technology, they were surprisingly user friendly.
  • So many other options for distance learning! I’ll be spending some time just playing around with these apps/sites.
  • There are a variety of accessible edtech tools that I was previously unaware of that could make remote teaching more engaging.

Socratic Seminar for the Covid Classroom

Socratic Seminar for the Covid Classroom

As teachers struggle to navigate the new landscape of the Covid classroom, I’m reminded of a Socratic seminar model I used years ago while teaching AP history and government. It blended instruction in both full class and smaller seminars in way that could be a useful model to decrease the density of today’s classroom.

What drove my seminar model was PBL approach with weekly research tasks – though I had yet to hear the term “project-based learning.” My experience using this approach back in the 1980-90’s convinced me that advanced placement can be much more productive than the traditional AP model of lecture, read, memorize and test.

While this seminar approach produced great results on AP exams, its prime outcome was fostering students’ responsibility for themselves as learners. Covid-19 is upending our traditional classroom models. Instead of simply trying to find news ways to deliver the same stuff, we should leverage this disruption to refocus teaching and learning in ways that engage and motivate both students and teachers.


The Socratic Seminar Model

As we look for ways to blend virtual learning and meet live in smaller classes – this model could be modified by substituting an online session for the full class large group. Seminar size and frequency are adaptable to the setting.

Class size typically ran between 24 – 36 students. All students in the class would meet one day a week in a large group session. This might be used for unit testing, or to introduce or conclude a seminar cycle with a lecture or full group discussion. The large group was also divided into 4 seminar groups of 6-9 students. Each seminar would meet with me one day per week. Thus each student met one day per week in seminar and another day in large group. During the remainder of their week, students worked independently or with their seminar group in preparation for the upcoming assignment. Today, we would call that “flipping the classroom.”

Seminar assignments built off the large group session and were project driven. Students in the seminar were required to present and defend their finding to their peers. I sat “outside the circle” as an observer – occasionally tossing probing questions into the group.

Of course, there were many weeks that were modified because of holidays and other interruptions – but you get the idea. Our high school was on traditional 8 period schedule. These AP classes were taught in a double period configuration of about 95 minutes for both the seminar classes or large group sessions.

My first experience was teaching one semester of AP US History while one of my colleagues was on leave. I focused on essential questions that fostered greater depth and relevance. So when we studied the Founding Fathers we didn’t focus on “Should the Constitution be ratified?” Our seminar revolved around a more enduring question – “How powerful should the national government be?” For more on that approach, see my post “Essential Questions in American History: The Great Debates.” 

After my semester of APUSH, I settled into my primary AP assignment – one semester of AP American Government / Politics and one semester of AP Comparative Government. There I used the seminar approach to give students guided experience in research, critical thinking, collaboration and presentation. 


Visualize the typical American government lesson. Teacher standing up front asking students to follow along as they go over the diagram of “how a bill becomes a law.”

Contrast that with one of my AP US Government seminars on the same topic.

Congress and the Lobbyists
This extended seminar will investigate the relationships between Congress and the lobbyists. You will develop an investigative report which will ultimately answer the question “Does Congress represent the needs of its public constituency (the electorate) or its financial constituency (its contributors)? Weekly seminar abstracts will be used to prepare Tabloid TV-style PowerPoint report in support of your investigation. To see the full seminar assignment click here.  

Students were assigned a member of Congress who sat on one of the major committees. Their task over the next few weeks included researching and developing the following:

  • Demographic / political profile of their legislator’s elective constituency.
  • Profile of their financial contributors.
  • Committee jurisdiction and major lobbyists.
  • Voting record on legislation of interest to their elective constituency and financial contributors.
  • Their answer to the seminar question with supportive reasoning.  
  • Presentation and reflection