Class 1: Teachers and Students

Changing roles students and teachers

This is our first class of the fall ’17 term. We’re going to use a number of activities to get to know one another. Our focus will be exploring the changing roles of student and teacher. As a subtext, we will use some “old school” and cutting edge tools.

pappas-rookieI’ll share a copy of my 1971 student teaching evaluation (2 page pdf) Quite a relic – Why did I save it?  We’ll examine it as an historic document with a critical eye for answering a number of questions: Who created it and why? Historic context? Point-of-view? What could we learn from it? What other sources might we need to collaborate?

We will explore what it tells us about NYS teacher preparation programs in 1971.

We’ll read and discuss – Snapshot of a Modern Learner by Mike Fisher. We are going to use Prism – a tool for “crowdsourcing interpretation” to collaboratively mark up the reading. Here’s a link to that Prism markup tool. Below – some instructions for using Prism.

We’ll explore FlipGrid – “a video discussion community for your classroom” and I will email you a link to our first video discussion. I’ve posed a very simple task: “in 90 seconds describe yourself as a learner. Don’t use pedagogical terms. Keep it real.” This will be our change to try out FlipGrid. I’d like us to discuss how we might use it during the course to support each other in our lesson designs.

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