DBL Reflection: Cleopatra’s Needles

Egyptian_obelisk,_Central_Park,_from_Robert_N._Dennis_collection_of_stereoscopic_viewsThe process of designing a document based lesson was quite lengthy and involved. It required finding not only relevant documents and primary sources but ones that were both rich enough yet easily accessible for students to engage with on a deep level. In my case I found this objective fairly challenging as I was looking to create a lesson to fit within a unit about ancient Egypt.

Given that the subject for my lesson was from such antiquity I found it fairly difficult to find primary sources and other documents that would fit the aforementioned stipulations. However once I was able to identify my documents the actual designing of the lesson was pretty fun! Throughout this process I had to continually put myself in the shoes of my students and ask the question: what should students be doing and learning from each document? With this important question in mind I was able to critically think about how each document and primary source fit into the larger fabric of my lesson. Even though this type of lesson carries a fairly heavy workload in terms of planning I think that this would be a fantastic method to use in my instruction. Certainly not every lesson can be document based but I think that such lessons could be very powerful in terms of both increasing student content mastery as well as providing an opportunity for students to act as historians (which should always be our goal as teachers of social studies)!

Image credit:  Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. / United States. / States / New York / New York City / Stereoscopic views of structures in Central Park, New York City. (Approx. 72,000 stereoscopic views : 10 x 18 cm. or smaller.) Link

Haiku How To


Please watch the following amazing, insightful, and provocative Screencast to learn how to Haiku Deck like a pro:

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.

Beyond this being an incredibly fun assignment to complete, I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to create the Screencast itself. I would love to incorporate this sort of thing (and other means of flipping lessons) into my future instruction but I have the same reservations that I have discussed in previous blog posts. Namely, I worry about the accessibility piece (will all students have an equal opportunity to view and really engage with the Screencast or other digital tools that I design & assign?) and also whether or not my students will actually watch/complete what I assign for them to do at home. For example if my purpose is to have students come to class ready to participate in an engaging discussion but only a few of them actually watched the Screencast prior to then my instruction will be rendered pretty ineffective. I also worry about demanding too much of my students’ time outside of the classroom–a reservation I have about assigning homework in general. Maybe this is blasphemy but I don’t really want my students to be always thinking about social studies, I want them to have time to just be kids! Regardless, I think we could all use more haikus in our lives.

Image credit: haiku 4

Teachers: The New Technocrats


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

The world of technology is vast, ever-changing, and present in almost every aspect of our daily lives. As teachers we can take advantage of new technology in order to improve and enhance our instruction for our students.

Personally I am particularly interested in the opportunities for professional development that many current digital tools provide. Twitter, for example is a wonderful social media tool that teachers can use to both find articles or links to classroom resources as well as to foster and participate in discussions with other educators. I also enjoy using Storify which allows you to create “stories” about a particular topic and to find and add related media and content from across the web (including from different social media sites like Twitter and Instagram). This is a tool that can be used not only for the professional development of educators but also for their students as well. One obvious application would be for students to create “stories” as a jumping off point for doing research on a particular topic.

Overall I think that there are numerous really innovative and interesting digital tools out there that can have a real impact on a teacher’s classroom and instruction. The caveat there of course is that the sheer amount of tools available requires an equal amount of time on the part of educators to locate, learn about, and implement them in their practice. Teachers should obviously seek out their own professional development but it would be nice to have a curated, regularly updated list of the “”top ten best” digital education tools. Then again, the best way to stay current with technology is to use technology; looks like teachers will need to become the new technocrats after all.

Image credit: Technology Vs. Mother nature by purplestar321. Source: http://purplestar321.deviantart.com/art/Technology-Vs-Mother-nature-145878477


Digitize Me!

Created by the author from Haiku Deck -- an internet application that can be used in a 1 to 1 classroom.
Created by the author from Haiku Deck — an internet application that can be used in a 1 to 1 classroom.

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?

Technology is not only a fact of life for most Americans these days but rather an integral part of their everyday lives. This is especially true for today’s teens who often interact with multiple forms of technology on a regular basis. Enter “1 to 1 classrooms,” an amazing opportunity for educators to utilize technology in order to create an engaging and meaningful learning environment for their students. Personally, I can envision countless ways to take advantage of all that 1 to 1 classroom activities have to offer—not least of which being the possibility of encourage students’ willingness and drive to learn.

I am very interested in the idea of a “flipped” classroom, especially in the context of a social studies class. I feel this structure would lend itself very well to the subject for example, students could watch a pre-recorded video of a lecture and then come prepared to class to discuss and delve deeper into related primary sources. My concern with this set-up however would be in terms of access. I’ve worked in a number of high poverty schools and I know that this strategy would not have worked and indeed would have been a hardship for my students. The ideas, opportunities, and apps are all out there doing amazing things, I just think that we as educators need to always think very critically about how to implement 1 to 1 strategies to best serve our students’ unique needs and circumstances.