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.

Class Discussions

I appreciated our topic in class this week about facilitating discussions in the classroom. My students love collaborating with each other! This enthusiasm lends itself well to incorporating discussions into my class periods. Between the three classes I am teaching right now, I have students from all grades in high school. It seems to be a common characteristic across my classes that students enjoy exploring course content best when they are given the opportunity to learn together.

My students have participated in Philosophical Chairs style discussions, Socratic Seminars on a variety of topics, countless think-pair-share activities with their “Squads” (table groups), and silent discussions (where instead of verbally stating their thoughts, students write their responses on posters around the classroom).

My favorite discussion so far this year was in my AP Human Geography class. After discussing the benefits and drawbacks of globalization on our world for one class period and watching a Crash Course World History video about globalization, students were instructed to fill out a t-chart with benefits on one side and complications on the other. At the bottom of their page they summarized their current stance on globalization: for or against. We conducted a Philosophical Chairs style discussion where students split and stand on the “for” or “against” side of the classroom. As students deliver compelling arguments (supported by evidence!) students who have had their opinion swayed are allowed to move freely from one side of the class to the other. My students were champs! This discussion was not only informative, but the class had fun.

Hearing my peers share how they lead discussions in their own classes helped me gain some new strategies, and new twists on discussion styles my students are already familiar with. I also liked many of the ideas listed in the toolkit. Some of these are quick and simple, and I hope to use them as we introduce new content at the beginning of a class or to help students recap and summarize their learning at the end of a class period. I am excited to bring these new ideas to my students – I hope to keep providing opportunities for them to collaborate and be creative!

For anyone looking to learn about globalization, here is the link to the John Green Crash Course World History video. 

Imagination & Innovation – Google Site

A total lunar eclipse begins as the full moon is shadowed by the Earth on the arrival of the winter solstice, Tuesday, December 21, 2010 in Arlington, VA. From beginning to end, the eclipse will last about three hours and twenty-eight minutes. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
A total lunar eclipse begins as the full moon is shadowed by the Earth on the arrival of the winter solstice, Tuesday, December 21, 2010 in Arlington, VA. From beginning to end, the eclipse will last about three hours and twenty-eight minutes. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

I am excited to introduce my new Google Site! I chose to focus on something that I find interesting and inspiring for this document based lesson, space travel.

Taking a step back from traditional education about space travel – the Space Race, the 1969 Moon landing, Apollo 13, and so on – I wanted to focus this project on some of the driving forces of space travel, and the enduring motivators of history: imagination and innovation.

The essential question for this lesson is: what is the relationship between imagination and innovation within the context of space travel? Students will use historical thinking skills such as contextualization and corroboration to examine text and media sources. Using these sources, I hope students will begin to unravel the relationship between innovation and imagination, and be inspired to analyze how both influenced one of the biggest dreams of the 20th century, and fueled ambitions for the future.

Fun with Film and Google Forms

I had fun using Google Forms to complete this assignment – but I also had a lot of fun getting to create an assignment around a short film starring Charlie Chaplin very early in his film career. I liked the SHEG method of teaching and the idea of challenging our views of what qualifies as a primary source. I believe this is a lesson that would be accessible to most 8th – 12th grade social studies classes.

I found Google Forms to be fairly intuitive to navigate. I saw the option to use a ranking system for questions two and four, and after a brief moment of confusion I was able to figure out how to build the “linear scale” as I wanted it to appear.

I was disappointed that it is not easier to view an embedded video from Youtube in the form. I would almost rather include a screenshot from the film accompanied by a link to the video, but I also like having the entire lesson right there on the form for students – so I’m torn.

In thinking about the classroom I am currently student teaching in, this is a type of technology I could incorporate. It is a fresh take on the typical worksheet that students are used to. I think it is also a great tool to use if you need to incorporate media into an activity either in the classroom or at home (as long as students have access in either location).

In case anyone was wondering what Sir Charles Chaplin actually looked like…

Image Credit: Strauss-Peyton Studio, bromide print, circa 1920.
Image Credit: Strauss-Peyton Studio, bromide print, circa 1920.

(Without the mustache)