Imagination, Innovation, & Space Exploration

Ed White – First Spacewalker, 1965

I have had so much fun creating this textbook chapter! It is always exciting for learners – whether they are teachers or students – when you can learn about something you are passionate about. For me, one such topic is the history of space travel.

I used the Document Based Learning approach to build the flow of this lesson, and I was pleased with the outcome. The DBL style lends itself to using images and film, in addition to text, as primary source documents. I like using multiple sources of media to engage students in learning and opening up their interest to a new subject.

The most difficult part of this project was formulating the essential question. I wanted to create a question that could guide this lesson while sharing with students what I find so magical about space exploration – how far our collective imaginative and innovative power has taken us. I am so inspired thinking about the fact that people have walked on the moon, that since 1998 astronauts from various countries have lived together on the International Space Station.

I hope any readers out there have enjoyed looking through time and space with this lesson!

Photo Source: NASA on the Commons, Click here.

DBL Reflection – From Revolution to Government

Founders developing the Declaration of Independence, preceding the Constitution
Founders developing the Declaration of Independence, preceding the Constitution

Learning the document-based lesson “From Revolution to Government,” covering the debates leading up to the Constitution, has been both advantageous and disadvantageous to me as a teacher. As a teacher, it is valuable to be familiar with technology such as Google Slides and eBook, in case I have the opportunity to share it with students in a future classroom. As a historian, it is always helpful for me to see old content in a new way. Dealing with often complex software, it is important that I am able to guide my students toward an ease of access. At the same time, the classrooms I have taught in have little, if any, access to digital technology. The technology they do have access to is definitely not this kind. I do not anticipate a generous donation from the Steve Jobs foundation any time soon. Nor do I expect this type of technology to become cheap enough for our state and local government to suddenly invest. So, I am unsure of when as a teacher I will actually put this knowledge into practice. I do know as a teacher I will be teaching most lessons without much technology but with a lot of discussion. I wished we would have spent more time learning how to generate and hold in-class discussions. Even more valuable than the technology tools we have focused on in class are the communication tools we always have access to as human beings.

However, as an adventurer of technology, I believe this experience has been more advantageous. Gaining greater familiarity with foreign technology and learning more in general is always a plus. Nevertheless, I would have preferred focusing on a smaller quantity of programs in more depth. Even though I learned Google has a multitude of programs to offer that I have access to, I would have preferred more time to learn about their features. At the end of the class, I will have a basic understanding of many tools rather than a deeper understanding of a few tools. Perhaps this is where my adventurous spirit will have to come into play.

On Becoming a Document-Based Lesson Designer – A Reflection on “Collectivization and Propaganda in Stalin’s Soviet Union”

In doing this project I have be impacted as both an educator and a content creator.

As an educator, this project has helped me think about ways to better engage students and make them the historians. By providing students the tools, in this case the documents that inform a subject, and scaffolded questions that encourage historical thinking behaviors, students can take on that role of expert. I also began to think more about the verbs of student learning, about what students would actually do with the information they are gathering. Too often students are asked to take on heaps of content knowledge without being provided a purpose for it. This process, in the end, was a true testament to the power of project based learning–there is so much value in providing students the opportunity to create. In the process they build, as I myself did through this iBooks project, both deep content knowledge and skills.

As a content creator, I found the design process really enjoyable. From the proposal in Google Slides, to a Google Site, to the iBooks final format I really developed a lesson that was both educational and interactive. I began to think about how things would look to the person, the student, using them and how the format would either encourage or discourage users. I see myself creating more educational content, on iBooks (this is a maybe, as I am an avowed PC user), on Google Sites, or on other platforms that lend themselves to high quality design and functionality.

Image Source: link

Image from page 344 of “The boy travellers in the Russian empire: adventures of two youths in a journey in European and Asiatic Russia, with accounts of a tour across Siberia..” (1886)

Thomas Wallace Knox


Holy Propaganda Batman! Comic Book Covers and World War II

wonder-womenSensation Comics Jan. No. 13 (Source)

Overall I really enjoyed and found value in creating a document based lesson. This semester I’ve been reading, Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen and a quote that really stood out to me was, “What would we think of a course in poetry in which students never read a poem? (pg. 7).” I kept thinking about this quote throughout this lesson because that’s how high school social studies have been teaching history to students, and I feel document based lessons is an alternative that fixes that problem. It gives students a chance to work with primary resources and challenges them to be the historians in the process. The challenge for me was what primary resources to use, and what questions did I want my students to answer. I am glad I got to use a topic that I am super passionate about and be able to use it as my document based lesson project. The hard part was finding comic book covers that was available to share. Especially because Marvel and DC comics have heavy copyright laws that protect their work. My plan is to use this next year with my students at OPEN School.

What I gained most from this project was the skills of using google and Apple’s book author program. I am already thinking of creating another document based lesson on a different subject just so I can continue to grow my skills in using this program to be a better teacher. My only feed back I would give about this project that it’s a bit difficult for people that may not have a Apple device on hand.