I am conflicted about my thoughts on the Document Based Lesson project. On the one hand, I thought it was a very clever way for us to learn and work with many digital programs. More specifically, we learned how to build a Google site and create a chapter using a specific software. All of the assignments were scaffolded in such a way that prepared you for the ultimate goal of creating a chapter in an ebook. I thought it was clever to have us create a Google site as our rough draft of the information we wanted to have in our chapter. Learning how to use Google sites was valuable. Many teachers create their own webpage to house their assignments, calendars, and agendas to help students stay organized. It was helpful to learn how to make one, in case I want to use it in the future.
Although I thought that the overall goals and objectives of the assignment were valuable, it took up a good portion of our time at the end of the term. That time could have been spent learning additional methods that we could bring into classrooms that do not have access to digital platforms. Also, the majority of the schools in Oregon use Chrome books and do not have access to the particular resources we were using. Therefore, it would be difficult to replicate this project in our classrooms. Plus, many students do not have access outside programs at home either, so that would provide a massive barrier for students to complete the project even if they had access to an device at school.
As an alternative, I think it would be helpful to discuss more methods that do not require the use of technology. There is a digital divide in schools. Even if that does decrease in the future, it is important to also be equipped with tools that you can use in instances where technology is limited. I really enjoyed our lesson on group discussions. I think there could have been an additional day devoted to that topic because that is a large part of what we do as social studies teachers… lead discussions. I’m sure there are other areas that we didn’t cover this term that could also be beneficial to implement in our instruction. Therefore, I am conflicted about the necessity of the DBQ lesson.
I found our previous lesson on group discussions to be very helpful. It was fun to bounce ideas off of each other and learn how my peers frame group discussions in their classes. In my classroom, we frequently have students work together to solve problems and discuss. I’ve found that I mainly use a couple discussions techniques (think-pair-share, 4 corners, etc.). However, once these practices become routine, students sometimes disengaged because they already know what’s coming up next. It was helpful to learn new strategies to spark student-centered discussions.
I also really liked the structured academic controversy exercise. We often have students analyze primary source documents. Sometimes it is difficult for students to be interested in reading text. They often think it’s boring to read about the past. This exercise would provide them with a clear purpose for reading the text and an opportunity to apply what they learned in a meaningful way. It also allows them to consider texts from multiple perspectives. I think this activity would be excellent for my upcoming Treaty of Versailles lesson. I want to try it out!
This week I started working on my Google Site for my document based lesson on World War I. I am focusing my lesson on the human costs of war (death, injury, mental illness, etc.) My vision is to show students images, primary source documents (journal entries), poems, and excerpts from All Quiet on the Western Front. From these sources, they will uncover the human costs of World War I. They will see the physical and mental toll the war had on soldiers and the tragic loss of millions of lives.
To showcase their knowledge of the essential question (what are the human costs of total warfare?), students will take on the role of a soldier in WWI. As an assessment, they will write journal entries from the perspective of a soldier in the trenches during WWI. They should have 5-6 entries that reflect the information they learned through the document based lesson. (Amount of journal entries can be differentiated, if needed.)Creativity is encouraged! They will have an opportunity to peer edit in class.
This assignment showed me that there is more that can be done with Google Forms than quizzes and entry slips. It was really interesting seeing how each person in our class took a different approach to the assignment and chose topics that were interesting them. I learned a lot from my peers, which is my goal for students in my classroom.
I particularly liked the idea of created a two part Google form. In my class, we read a lot of mystery text documents and students are supposed to glean as much information as they can about the time period from that document(s). It is exciting for students to read a mystery text, but they become frustrated when they don’t understand the context for the piece (why it was written and how it relates to the time period of study) or feel like the mystery is never solved. It would be nice to provide them with a mystery text, have them answer questions about it and then provide the context (solve the mystery). I think they would have fun being detectives and trying to crack the code, if they knew they would have a solution in the end.