Human Cost of War Reflection



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.

The One Thing You Should Know


Prompt: Students were asked to design a flipped lesson and then write a blog post that showcases their flipped lesson and reaction to designing it.

For my unit that I will teach in student teaching, I am covering World War One. As I was designing this unit I wanted to think of interesting ways to present the information to students. My cooperating teaching uses a loose flipped classroom model anyway; the students do the reading for homework (they have two days since we are on a block schedule) and then we have discussions, or activities, in class.

For this unit I have probably over done it on the readings; I wanted to give them a broad understanding of things that were happening during the war and a chance to read the primary sources to figure out their own opinion of what happened. This is how I started the unit, in the middle we are taking a look at various historians perspectives on the war to give the students a broad scope and help to shape their ideas.

I’m hoping that by giving them the primary sources first and allowing for deep analysis in class, they will better be able to judge the historical accounts and take what they need out of them for their final paper of the unit.

At the tail end of the unit, we will be discussing the consequences of the war and the lasting effects. That’s where a flipped lesson comes in The One Thing You Should Know About WWI.

one thing about wwi

I picked yet another historians perspective on the entirety of the war, but in video form with the use of other visual media to make their points. It’s from the History Channel and it’s entitled “The one thing you should know about WWI”, similar to this post. Following the video there is a short (and easy) quiz and a discussion. As far as their homework goes this is easy.

The next day in class we will be working on an in-class group presentation about preventing this history from repeating itself. I will preface the class with some modern examples of similar actions or conflicts; the students are supposed to be keeping up on current events. And then they will divide into groups to create a sticky-poster about what lessons from WWI modern politicians should keep in mind as they govern their nations.

As an aside, designing the lesson on TEDEd was incredibly easy and, as a peer pointed out, very supportive. There are lots of options as to what to include with the video lesson whether that is a quiz or a discussion or an area to include further links. You can add a lot of depth to the lesson, if one so chose.

Source: Library of Congress
Title: Will you have a part in victory?
Creator:James Montgomery Flagg
Year: 1918
(Picture is link to source)

Lessons from the DBQ


Thus far, the DBQ has been a very challenging, but educational, experience. I initially began this journey thinking that I would do my DBQ on Operation PB Success. However, I found that would not be feasible so I changed my topic to the Anzacs in Egypt during World War I and perceptions of the ‘other.’ Through this, I have learned how to conduct a successful history lesson without a lengthy lecture. The setup of my DBQ allows students to interact successfully with the material and make an argument without needing in-depth background on the topic beforehand. Students, therefore, practice thinking like historians and the classroom becomes more student-centered.

Another lesson I have learned from the DBQ is how to find primary sources. Finding primary sources is, clearly, very important to the DBQ process. The internet makes it possible to track down hundreds of primary sources from a range of websites whether they be from an academic institutions or a small blog. In order to ensure that my sources are reliable, I have found that government websites are really helpful in locating legitimate primary sources. While it is certainly tempting to just steal primary sources without worrying about their origin, I believe it is important to ensure that I am giving my students something that is quality and genuine.

I would really enjoy using this DBQ in a class that was exploring World War I. Race hate is a reoccurring theme in wars and this DBQ gives students another avenue in which to explore it. When we think of race hate we often think of groups such as the Nazis, but it is important to show students that there are many dimensions to history and while it is easy to villains only one group, it is not necessarily accurate. Racial prejudices come in many shapes and sizes and can be found in all eras. The Anzacs provide another perspective to historians. It is not my intent to belittle the bravery of the Anzacs in World War I. Rather, I want students to remember that history is not black and white. It is not simple and it is not static. It is fluid and gray. It is their job to sift through it and make a claim and support it with evidence as historians in training.

Blame the Loser


A DBQ design Process by Erik Nelson

The DBQ design process has already proved an enlightening process for me. I have been painfully learning to shift from a gatekeeper of information to an architect of a learning experience for students. At first approaching this project I wanted to pick an interesting topic for students to cover. My original topic did not lead to enough possible student questioning, so I needed to expand the question that would drive the DBQ (and consequently expand the topic being covered).

The essential question of this unit will be: How should the losing side of a war be treated? Though I don’t know if students will find this interesting, I certainly think it is an important question to deal with. This question will use the Treaty of Versailles and post-WWI Germany as the topic for this question. I wanted to choose content material that teachers would find probably want to include in a high school course, while also designing a process that would engage students in asking questions about the documents.

There are tons of documents available on the Treaty of Versailles, and more importantly how Germany was impacted in that process. There are letters, newspaper articles, political cartoons, even some video clips, though I am not totally sure how to access those in the public domain.

In talking with my classmate Sam Kimerling, we decided to parallel our DBQs to create easily accessible teaching materials for teachers. As we discussed our projects we were struck by how different the decisions made towards Germany were after WWI and WWII. Because those two topics are popular in history classes, we thought creating DBQs that teachers could use that connected both the Treaty of Versailles and the Marshall Plan, having students ask the same questions of both topics, and potentially drawing larger scale conclusions in the process.

Through this process it is likely that students will be challenged in their thinking about resolving international conflicts. Students will be asked to focus centrally on the impacts of the strict reparations Germany was forced to pay, as well as issues like the guilt clause while questioning ideas of guilt in international war. One thing I will want to address is how much background knowledge students bring into the DBQ as they work to create interpretations of the source material.

Questions for the project will be:

  • Do the victors in war have responsibility to the losers?
  • Can one side in war be blamed more than another side?
  • How does national debt hurt economic development?
  • Why might national pride influence national policy?

Moving forward from this point, I will need to narrow the documents I want to use, and also narrow the scope of some of my ideas. At this point I need to focus on what questions I want students to ask, and how to best guide them through a series of documents.