A Different Perspective of The Harlem Renaissance


For this assignment I chose to focus on the Harlem Renaissance and have my students explore the work of various African American musicians, artists, and writers, in order to identify the purpose of their work, and what it represented. This past semester I did a similar lesson to this DBL with my 11th grade history class for a 1920s unit. For that lesson I introduced similar sources to the ones in this assignment in order to guide my students to a deeper understanding of the Harlem Renaissance, and open a small discussion of race within America. The DBL I have created here will accomplish a similar goal.

For this lesson I wanted to introduce a more serious side of the Harlem Renaissance, and expose my students to these sources in order to guide them to understand a different perspective of America during this time period. Despite the Harlem Renaissance being a time and place full of spirit, opportunity, and pop-culture, it was also a time of opportunity to captivate audiences, black and white, and explore issues of race in America. For myself, the issues and concerns that are expressed in the documents provided by these artists, are still issues seen today. Following this DBL students can be asked to make connections to more modern day issues, compare and contrast, and reflect on American society today. As an educator I want to create a place where such discussions can be held with respect, because I do believe discussing situations and concerns such as this should be held in a classroom in order to help our students be more open minded, respectful, and well rounded to the world around them.

Artwork by:

Aaron DouglasAspects of Negro Life: Song of the Towers. Oil on canvas, 1934.
The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division.

Link: http://exhibitions.nypl.org/treasures/items/show/170#

Digitizing History

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

The idea of using digital tools such as Twitter, NY Times Chronicle, or GapMinder have just as many pros as they do cons. From experiencing using tools such as Twitter in the classroom I believe it can be a great leverage for teachers who are engaging with a very technology literate generation. During a recent ED class, my peers and I used Twitter as a device to hold discussions not only with each other, but with other Social Studies teachers across the nation. Due to the limited character count I was forced to paraphrase my thoughts,  which I think is a fun and novel way to get students to really grapple with understanding their own ideas, and how they can convey it in a concise explanation. After experiencing a lesson such as this myself, i witnessed just how focused students could be if guided to use this tool correctly. The cons of using Twitter in a high school or even middle school, in comparison to a college class, is the fact it is a social media, and can easily distract students.

Other tools such as NY Times Chronicle or NGram though are fascinating. Although there is still that fear that students will get distracted and use these tools for whimisical pleasure, it allows students to have a visual and chronological  understanding of a word of phrase, and give rise to new curiosity as why it is displayed on the graphs as so. How I would use these digital tools in my own class I  for a lesson I am still not sure of, but I’m sure something will come to mind later in the future.

Drawing Out History

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 this Flipped lesson I wanted to combine the use of Screencast and TedEd. In a previous ED class I designed a short video using screencast, featuring me drawing out a social studies lesson, which was accompanied by a narrative as to what was being shown. I got this idea after watching a popular youtube video called, “Draw My Life.” However, rather than drawing out the personal details of my own life, I wanted to apply this strategy of telling a story to a history lesson. This I believed would be a fun way of engaging with my students as they will hear my voice, be exposed to my own drawings and explanations, and have fun watching a story being drawn out to them.

However, for this previous ED class assignment I was not asked to have any questions or reflection to accompany the video. At the time I thought it would be sufficient to just have a novel and fun new way for my students to learn. But, after many hours of experience, and gaining new knowledge as to how student learn and retain information, I now know I need to have some sort of formal or informal assignment to accompany such video lessons, in order for students to really understand the information being fed to them. This is where the TedEd becomes a wonderful tool for teachers.

By combining my screencast lessons with TedEd I am now able to have the needed assessment to gauge whether my students understood the lesson, and if they are able to apply the information they just learned by answering questions, and participating in discussions via online.

Click image to view lesson
Click image to view lesson

TedEd Lesson: http://ed.ted.com/on/V9NYCjmk

“Just Google It”


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?

Like many others, I believe that technology in the classroom can be a huge asset to teachers and students. A few pros of 1:1 technology is that it gives students who may not have access to technology at home to now have a personal device to complete work at home. It also allows students to easily share information through apps such as Google Docs, Padlet, or Haiku Deck. It also gives students the capability to presenting their learning through difference mediums, such as: videos, voice recordings, power point presentations, and even animations. However, from personal experience of participating in a school that enforced the use of 1:1 laptops, I can also see the cons of incorporating it in the classroom.

As an individual pursuing a career in teaching, I see the use of 1:1 Ipads or laptops as an opportunity for students to connect with a learning style that best suits their digital generation. 20 years ago, teachers had set time aside in class to go to a computer lab, and instruct students how to use a computer. Now, Ipads, tablets, and laptops are within arms reach in the classroom, and sometimes students are more technology literate than their teachers. It amazes me as to how easy it is for students to resolve their problems, questions, or confusion by pressing a few buttons. Finding an answer for almost anything can be done with a simple, “Google.”

Although the incorporation of a 1:1 device can easily help students advance in their research, create presentations or videos, and even participate in communities through blog posts such as this, it can also be easily abused. With technology students are capable in completing work at much faster speeds, and with that extra free time students then have the leisure of browsing the Internet, and going off subject within the classroom. Even if the Wi-Fi of a school is able to block content and sites such as Facebook or YouTube, students can be so tech savvy and find proxies to get around it. I mean, I have witnessed teachers ask students how they can get around a system in order to show a YouTube video multiple times. For me it is a fear that even if I do have the power to monitor and check what my students are doing on their computer or tablet, I do not have the time to monitor 15-25 screens constantly to ensure students are not deviating from the class agenda.

Lastly, I strongly believe that handwritten notes and penmanship is a necessary skill in life. Although I understand that having a 1:1 device does not necessarily mean using it for everything in the classroom, I do not want my students constantly relying on a keyboard, online power points, or snapping a picture of class notes to gather information. I want my students to retain information by physically feeling and expressing their thoughts onto a piece of paper. There have been multiple studies done that have concluded that by physically writing individuals are able to retain information better, improve their writing, and remain focused, and I believe that it is because students are able to physically create something, and organize their thoughts in a way that best represents the way they think.

If I were to be put in charge of a 1:1 program, I would want to emphasize that the device is a tool to support learning within in a classroom, rather than attempt to revolve a class agenda to incorporate the technology.

Image from: http://www.glasbergen.com/search/technology+cartoons/?count=12