Class 7: Designing a Document Based Lesson

I is for India

I is for India,
Our land to the East
Where everyone goes
To shoot tigers, and feast

Common Core offers an incentive for teachers to use historic documents to build literacy skills in a content area while empowering students to be the historian in the classroom. But a document-based lesson (DBL) in this context requires four key elements to be successful:

  1. The right documents.
  2. Knowing how to look at them.
  3. Letting students discover their own patterns, then asking students to describe, compare and defend what they found. These historical thinking skills correlate with edTPA’s language functions.
  4. Basing the task on enduring questions, the kind that students might actually want to answer.

Class 7 offers strategies for assisting students to more closely read a document (in all their multimedia formats) by answering three Common Core questions.

  1. What did it say?
  2. How did it say it? See: SHEG – Sourcing, Contextualizing
  3. What’s it mean to me? See: SHEG – Corroborating

Here’s a handout of my slide deck 1.7MB pdf


Students will design their own literacy document based lesson.  See assignment here (note – various due dates)

For source material refer to our edMethods Toolkit – Be The Historian

Here’s some some sample DBLs that I have designed:

Page from: “An A B C, for baby patriots”
Creator: Ames, Mary Frances
Publisher: Dean & Son
Place of Publication: London (160a Fleet Street E.C.)
Publication Date: [1899]
Archive: University of Florida UF00086056:00001

Class 6: Sharing our Lesson

School Begins - 1899
School Begins – 1899

Students will present their historical thinking lesson to the class for feedback via large group discussion. Students will have class time to collaborate with peers and teacher to implement the suggestions.

Our goal will be to assist each other in designing a great lesson that supports student mastery in skills of  Sourcing, Contextualizing or Corroborating. Lessons will be modeled after History Assessments of Thinking developed by SHEG. For more on the assignment click here.

Assignment for Class 7

Students will write a post that introduces their lesson to the world. The lesson should be embedded into their blog post. More on how to embed Google Docs and Google Forms into WordPress

They should also write a reflection about what they learned from the development process – that reflection could include: working with SHEG model, insights from peer feedback, and/or the workflow used in this course to produce the lesson (how it was assigned, use of Google tools, peer feedback before final posting).

Image Credit: Library of Congress

  • Title: School begins / Dalrymple.
  • Creator(s): Dalrymple, Louis, 1866-1905, artist
  • Date Created/Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1899 January 25.
  • Summary: Print shows Uncle Sam as a teacher, standing behind a desk in front of his new students who are labeled “Cuba, Porto Rico, Hawaii, [and] Philippines”; they do not look happy to be there. At the rear of the classroom are students holding books labeled “California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, [and] Alaska”. At the far left, an African American boy cleans the windows, and in the background, a Native boy sits by himself, reading an upside-down book labeled “ABC”, an a Chinese boy stands just outside the door. A book on Uncle Sam’s desk is titled “U.S. First Lessons in Self-Government”.
  • Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-28668

Class 5: Historical Thinking

PhrenologyPixOur class begins with a review of the Sam Wineburg reading and TEDEd flipped lesson Who is the historian in your classroom? That will also provide a chance to discuss the efficacy of flipping content.  What are the challenges and opportunities for that approach?

Today we begin our study of historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). We will focus on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. See historical thinking chart (pdf at SHEG).

We will practice our historical thinking skills using a shared Google Doc – Japanese Incarceration and a shared Google Form – Zulu Chief Photograph.

It will give us a chance to compare both formats for delivering a lesson. (Note: While we could have done either as a hard copy worksheet, this activity gives us a chance to work with a two Google tools.)

Assignment for Class 5

You will each design a historical thinking mini-lesson based on the two sample lessons we did today. Both demonstrate Beyond the Bubble assessment model. All mini lessons should constructed as either a Google Doc or Google Form. (Note: a source video can only inserted into a Google Form).

See completed student work here SHEG-16

Students should be prepared to “teach” a brief lesson. (E.g. Introduce their lesson as they might to their class).

Video tutorials: Using Google Docs | Using Google Forms
  More on Google tools in our edMethods Toolkit

  1. Title
  2. One or more historic documents. Could be text, image, video.
  3. Source information and URLs for all documents used.
  4. Introduction and background as needed.
  5. Questions.
  6. Instructional goal that indicates one (or more) of the historic skills to be studied – Sourcing, Contextualization, Corroborating.
  7. How you would expect a proficient student might answer the question

Need some historical content for your lesson?
Check out our edMethods Toolkit-Finding Documents

Image credit: Phrenology diagram Wikipedia
Source From People’s Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (1883)

Our New iBook – Exploring History Vol III

Exploring-History-IIIHere’s our new iBook just published by our Fall ’15 class at the University of Portland. 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.

All of our students assignments had a public audience on this class blog and were designed to meet 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 our fall 2013 class. And Exploring History: Vol II designed by our fall 2014 class.

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