I very much loved the concept of document based lessons. It aligns with the high school history standards very well as most of them are related to primary and secondary sources. I also liked creating the flow to a unit where the students eyes would be opened progressively throughout the unit. It is generally the way that I like to teach. Creating the PowerPoint and the Google Site were useful ways to get to know the technology. Both Google Sites and Google Slides are very useful in the classroom and if I had not already known how to use both of them I would have thought that it was worth the time to be able to fiddle around with them. I did find it very redundant to be doing it on the same topic over and over again, especially with the time that each took from our work on our unit plans and our thesis. Ibooks on the other hand was a different story. The technology is so cool and does have so many options that are functional, interactive, and engaging. This was weighted however with the fact that it can only be used on Macs and the whole process essentially felt like the struggle we deal with in our classrooms of the students who have access to technology and those who do not. I was very grateful for the flexibility to be given the chance to work more on the books for a second class period as it definitely helped to mediate that have/have-not mentality.
Overall it was a good projects that would be helpful in the future that utilized cool technological assets. It was a lot of work to be doing during everything else but by it’s self was worth it.
Classroom discussions are one of my favorite activities for students. I went to high school in a discussion and project based program and I feel as if it significantly impacted the way that I will teach as well as the way I think critically. Discussions are incredibly difficult to pull off completely successfully however. There are so many variables that can come into play that no two discussions are ever exactly alike. There will always be something to tweak or change for the next class which may or may not work for them.
I just completed a large discussion project in my classroom. After studying WWI, I set up a simulation of a war panel that was inspecting the causes of the war and how they could stop those causes from causing another war. They only had enough funding to attempt to stop 3 of the 5 designated causes. The students could self select into two groups, either the war panel or a sub-group that would defend their cause as important to be funded to be stopped as well as give ideas as to how to stop it. We had never done anything like this in class before so the research faze where the groups were organizing themselves was clunky at times and they needed much more time than I expected but with individual guidance they were able to reach a place to be ready for the panel.
Each group did a wonderful job presenting why they thought their cause was important and the ways that they could attempt to prevent it. The trouble at first came from the war panel not being able to think of questions for the groups. I went to people who had not talked yet and quietly brainstormed with them until they felt they needed clarification from the group or had a question the group had to answer. After the first cause group the questioning became much smoother. The biggest difficulty I experienced was how to get everyone to participate. I had two members of the war panel who would not ask questions and it was often one or two people in the groups who did most of the talking. I think I would like to add a writing portion throughout the simulation so that students who are too nervous to talk could participate.
Overall it went wonderfully and I think the students were able to think about the ways that the people at this time could react to the war. After this the students will look at what actually happened after the war and how it was different than what they decided. I think that through the discussion the students were able to create an understanding for themselves as a class and were not relying on me which I think is so important. I don’t think the students could have gained the understanding and confidence that they did through this discussion through another activity. An added bonus was practicing their public speaking which I think is a skill poorly lacking for my class. I will continue to add discussion into my classroom for all of these reasons.
For my document based lesson I will be examining the differences between the movie “Anastasia” and what actually happened involving the Romanovs and the Tsarina.
This lesson is ideally for Freshman who are having their first exposure to how media can affect their beliefs of what is true or false. It could be included in any World History course such as the Global Perspectives course that is offered at my school to Sophomores.
Generative Question: How does media affect people’s perception of events?
The students will begin by watching the movie “Anastasia” (1997). They will document what they “learned” from the movie. We will then examine a documentary showing what happened according to the latest historical record as well as primary sources in the form of Anastasia’s diaries and pictures of the royal family. Next they will compare what they know with that extra information to what they got out of the movie. In addition and to add an individual element, the students will follow the same model while researching Rasputin. We will end the unit by having a discussion about our generative question.
In this assignment I very much enjoyed the peer review process and it solidified my views that having others review your lessons only makes them stronger. I also love the SHEG model when it comes to teaching history. Something that I have seen that has been severely lacking in my classrooms so far has been the ideas of contextualizing, sourcing, and corroborating. This model is very helpful for how to teach these ideas to your students. I also very much love Google Forms. They are so easy to use for so many different things. I like Google Docs as well but not for things that would be worked on simultaneously. I have used it previously for group projects to great effect but it is much easier in that way when you are all not going to be online and editing at the same time as we were in class.