Founding Fathers and Mothers: Comparing Declarations

Signing the declaration of their independenceMy 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. (Ninth of 13)

The Declaration of Independence by David Deis
Download as PDF 1MB

Generative Question: How does one document influence other documents written later?

The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the United States of America. This document has been a major influence on other events in American History. The Seneca Falls Convention was one of the founding events of the American Feminist movement. This event served to promote the early forms of feminism in America as well as give the movement a sense of legitimacy. In this lesson, students will compare the Declaration of Independence and the Seneca Falls Convention’s  ”Declaration of Sentiments.”

Reflection by David Deis

The creation of a DBL (Document Based Lesson) has been an interesting one. Originally, I looked at the task as if I was creating a DBQ (Document Based Question) such as one that would be found on the AP US History test. However, I soon realized that this is only one aspect of a DBL. For a DBL to work, the students must answer a general question through the use of very specific source material. This hindered my generation of ideas with which to create a DBL. I eventually did decide on a solid topic: The effects that a singular event can have on another event that occurs many decades later.

To answer this question, I am having students examine the Declaration of Independence as compared to the Declaration of Sentiments. For this I have having the students read sections of each work as well as images depicting the events in question. The compare and contrast elements of the assignment are meant to help he students come to a deeper understanding that little in history happens in a vacuum. Almost everything has had some sort of influence acted upon it.

I greatly enjoyed the creating of the Book because it allows for a degree of creativity. The use of the this digital medium allows for a more interactive version of a lesson. The use of scrolling texts widgets allows the writer/teacher to place large snippets of text in a condensed area. This allows for the reading to become less daunting than a solid block of static text and it allows the creator to add in additional material—such as images—onto the page. This makes it so the students don’t have to use only text but can use the text in context/conjunction with the images.

Image credit: Library of Congress
Signing the declaration of their independence / Ehrhart with acknowledgements.
Summary:Illustration shows a group of women at a convention presenting their declaration of independence, which states “When in the course of female events it becomes necessary for women to have the ballot they’re going to get it” for the signature of a woman, possibly meant to represent the late Susan B. Anthony, seated at a table in the foreground.
Contributor Names: Ehrhart, S. D. (Samuel D.), approximately 1862-1937, artist and Trumbull, John, 1756-1843, artist
Created / Published: N.Y. : J. Ottmann Lith. Co., Puck Bldg., 1911 June 28. 

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
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