Document Based Learning

Writing my chapter for the book has been an interesting exercise in finding sources and being selective in choosing sources accessible to my students. Collecting resources is every historians’ favorite pass time. Exposing students to primary documents is an exciting way to allow students to be historians. I also found that it is a skill that will need to be developed in students: to be able to read a document and discern the important parts. I would hope to use document based lessons as often as possible. I would also like to use primary documents as a means to learn how to analyze literature.

As far as turning it into a book, I found it to be a long, tedious process that ultimately produced a lesson that will be exciting to look back on.  The process of turning something into a book is a long process that requires a lot of time and tech savvy. I hope to use this as an assignment for my students in the future.

Flipping the Lesson



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. 

The flipped lesson is an interesting concept I hope to try with my future students. Currently, teaching in  a sixth grade classroom, it is highly impractical because most of my students are not allowed to have unsupervised time on a computer at home. There is also much to be considered in terms of socio-economic limitations and the need to consider access. Who can get on a computer at home and who cannot? Requiring students to access materials via a website means requiring students’ families to have a computer, and internet. That may unfairly disadvantage certain students. I chose to create a website similar to one I might have if I had my own class. I created a page on that website for students to access the content and the assignment.


On the web in the class

Technology in the classroom


Prompt: Write a blog post in response to our class on digital history.

As educators it is our responsibility to take advantage of every tool at our disposal that can benefit our students and their education. At this point in time we are able to access and demonstrate a lot of information using a variety of tools online. Although I see a much greater use for the internet in terms of professional development, there can be some advantages to the flipped classroom.

Professional development:

Twitter is an excellent tool for extending your community for professional development and advancement. It can be an opportunity to share ideas, concepts and lessons that can benefit students. It is also of great use for students preparing to become  teachers. It allows us to learn from more experienced educators. Additionally, it can be a great way to demonstrate your involvement and personal drive to better yourself and your classroom curriculum.

In the classroom:

I enjoyed playing with and using GapMinder as a visual aid to demonstrate changes over time. This would be of a lot of use to me in a class on Word History to narrow in on specific nations over time even when we have to bounce between nations in the same time period. Additionally, I think this is an excellent way to make thinking visual for students working to make connections over time and to help students make meaningful connections.

This leads me to nGram Viewer and NYTimes Chronicle. I would use this in my classroom to demonstrate trends, changes in diction and priorities over time. My first thought was to measure three words that mean the same thing but are more or less politically appropriate at any given time. It was incredibly interesting to play with and that may be the way I encourage my students to use it, as a tool for investigating their own interests and hunches about trends and connections between time and language. I may use it occasionally as a visual aid.

Ultimately, I think that the most important tool for learning history is discussion, dialogue and analysis. These tools are worthless without that. I am not fond of students spending more time in front of a screen but it can be an interesting beginning of a class discussion.

The 1:1 classroom good, bad or ugly?

The monkey selfie

The monkey selfie

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

The good:

Integrating technology into the curriculum is pivotal in the process of making the classroom an extension of the real world. Students need to know how to use technology for success in social, professional and personal situations. To remove technology from the classroom would be detrimental to the validity of the class as it is no longer applicable or relatable to student’s everyday life. Additionally, students will be utilizing technology to further their education at home and as they go on to study at the university level, teaching them how to use it and how to use it successfully.

The bad:

In this era students spend most of their life staring at a screen between television, cell phones, computers, tablets, ipads, ibooks and video games. Spending too much time on the screen has proven harmful in some studies. One such study suggests that too much screen time can cause brain damage while others have shown a relationship between excessive screen time and an inability to read other people’s emotions. (NPR) As an educator I have to ask myself if it is wise to add to their already excessive screen time.

The ugly:

While I believe that classroom management should never prevent an educator from teaching important content, providing students with their own electronic device to use during class can be a nightmare. Even the best students can get sucked into the never ending fun that is animal memes and celebrity gossip. Students can access inappropriate content, illegally download movies (including classic western films) in your classroom and on your watch. Ipads and laptops with cameras provide the perfect opportunity for class selfies. While these may seem like harmless distractions that can be handled by consistent classroom management, it can prevent students from getting to the heart of the lesson that could be delivered in a more productive manner.