Growth Through Methodology

When I first entered this class at the end of the summer, I can say that one thing I was fearful of was how much I would have to use technology in this course. I did not consider my self a very technologically literate person, and worried that this deficit in skill would hinder my performance in the class. However, now that I have conquered the mountain and am looking at my work from the other side – excuse the horrible analogy – I am extremely happy with how far my skills with technology have grown. Through my time in this course, I have gained familiarity with multiple online tools, including: Google Tours, Google Sites, Google Forms, NGram Viewer, Padlet, and Adobe Spark to name a few. The incorporation of these tools that were used in this course have already had a positive impact on my teaching. For example, I have already incorporated exit slips through Google Forms that ask students to reflect on what they’ve learned in the day’s lesson as well as ask any burning questions they may have. My students definitely love working through their Chromebooks, and putting my exit slips on Google Forms was a simple way to make this activity more engaging to my class. This is something I may not have incorporated into my lessons before this class due to my slight avoidance of technology, but now I even get a kick out of making surveys for my students to answer through Google Forms. Also, I have learned the value of using sites like Google Forms for collecting data, since Forms records student responses for me to reflect on after the lesson I’ve taught, which is extremely useful for monitoring my students.

I have also used Google Sites and Padlet to make enhance my teaching at my placement school. I have learned that these sites can be great for incorporating historical thinking in a way that connects with students. For example, my eighth grade students took on the role of a key historical figure in President Clinton’s impeachment and composed a blog post from that perspective that they then posted on Padlet. This created a mock social media site for my students, which is something almost all of them are very familiar with. They were also exercising their ability to contextualize the information they had learned in lessons prior about Clinton’s impeachment to accurately depict their role. I believe these aspects of the activity were fun for my students, since I saw them get involved with composing their posts and responding to their classmates thoughtfully. I believe this format for this lesson made the activity much more engaging to my students, rather than if I were to have done this lesson through a handwritten blog post in students’ notebooks. Therefore, the tools incorporated into this class have allowed me to make my material more engaging for my students, as well as greatly improve my level of comfortability with using technology. This is something I believe has made me not only a stronger but a more confident educator, and I will most definitely be continuing to use the tools I’ve encountered in this class – such as the Library of Congress – to enhance the lessons I teach in the classroom this spring and beyond. This class has allowed me to practice using digital tools in an approachable way, and now I genuinely enjoy using technology to enhance my lessons to engage my students.

America’s History of Rebellion

Essential Question(s): What are some examples of rebellion in American history? What were the motivations behind these instances and what were the results? What are the similarities or differences between historical examples and modern ones? What about these instances of rebellion have stood the test of time and remained relevant in our society?


Throughout America’s history, there have been countless cases where a group of people have caused unrest in order to send a message. Often times, these cases of unrest can insight violence. In this unit, we will be observing three instances where people rose to rebel: two that take place further back in history, as well as one modern example. In each of these cases, we will learning about the factors that contributed to the rebellion as well as the immediate and long term effects. In order to think critically about what we are learning, we will be analyzing various sources to help us gather information to better understand the factors that contributed to each of these events. This will encourage us to think like historians and use sources to deepen our knowledge and help us build connections. At the end of the unit, we will be comparing and contrasting the motivations, circumstances, and impacts of the Stono Rebellion, the Tulsa Riots, and the Ferguson Unrest to try and make connections between events in history and the present.

Historical Context

Although the Stono Rebellion took place before the official founding of America, it still is very much a part of American history. In 1739, a group of 20 slaves planned their escape and robbed a convenience store – killing the two storekeepers in the process – on Stono’s bridge in South Carolina. As this group of escaped slaves continued south, more continued to join them. When slave owners caught up to the group of nearly 100 escaped slaves, violence was incited. The result was that over 20 white and nearly 40 Black South Carolinians were killed. Because of this, lawmakers in the Colonies at the time began creating and enforcing harsher slave rules. As part of this, slaves were no longer permitted to have their own money or learn how to read. Although Stono’s Rebellion is only one of over 200 documented slave revolts in the history of the U.S. Colonies and the south, it is the largest slave revolt in the Colonies prior to the American Revolution.

The Tulsa race riot, happening almost 200 years later, had some different motivations behind it. In 1921, white residents in Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked Black owned businesses as well as the workers in the Greenwood district. The Greenwood District was significant in the fact that it was the wealthiest Black community in the United States at the time, sometimes being called “Black Wall Street.” These attacks were supposedly started because it was rumored that one of the Black workers in one of the businesses in Greenwood assaulted a white elevator attendant. As news of the event spread, mob violence ensued and Black Wall Street was attacked. Black owned businesses in Tulsa were bombed from the land and by private airplane; workers inside the buildings were beaten and shot. The result was that over the course of that Memorial Day weekend, an estimated 100-300 Black residents of the area were killed and thousands more were injured.

The Ferguson unrest is different from our other two examples of rebellion in America’s history in the way that it is still recent to memory, happening in 2014. This event was incited by the death of Michael Brown, a Black teenager who was shot by a Ferguson police officer. When this case went to court, the Officer responsible for Michael Brown’s death was not indicted. Many people interpreted this ruling as an injustice to Black people and claimed that the event was evidence of systematic racism in America. Those who shared these views took to the streets of Ferguson to express their feelings of injustice, and violence and vandalism ensued along with forms of peaceful protest. To try and combat the riots, Ferguson police officers began enforcing curfews on citizens and riot squads began monitoring the streets. This caused even more unrest in Ferguson, and a divided line between citizens and police was formed. Police officers fired tear gas at rioters and rioters charged at police barricades to express their feelings of injustice. Although this historic event did not involve any deaths other than that of Michael Brown, over 300 citizens were arrested. This event as largely seen as creating a domino effect that contributed to the feelings of distrust towards the police amongst American citizens.

Historical Thinking Skills

Close Reading: throughout this unit, students will be evaluating sources that cover the instances of rebellion in this unit. Part of this source evaluation will involve students gathering evidence from the text that support the author’s point of view, including key words, quotes, etc.

Contextualization: in addition to close reading of sources, students will also be participating in contextualization. Once students have found the author’s point of view as well as supported evidence from the source, they will be asked questions that will encourage them to analyze why the author may have that point of view.

Google Site

Teaching with Data Visualizations

One of the tools I plan on using with my 8th grade social studies students would be Google Trends. I feel like this tool is great for connecting student to the “relevance” of a certain word based on internet searches that were completed. For example, my students are just finishing up a unit that connected historical examples to the current event happening with Donald Trump. I could easily show my students when the subject of impeachment became a hot topic as far as internet searches. Similarly, I could show students the relationship between searches about impeachment and searches about Donald Trump. Students may find it interesting how at times spikes in searches for both of these topics happen at the same time.

Another tool I can see myself using with my students come springtime is Freedom on the Move database of runaway slaves. This is because students typically end the year with talking about the Civil War, and I think this database would absolutely be helpful in showing students how slaves were viewed and the place they had in American society in the time leading up to the Civil War. I personally found the advertisements to be enlightening in the way that they show how these people were treated like property since slave owners were offering rewards for the return of the slave they were looking for. Having students search for advertisements on their own using this site would hopefully give them more of a lens on the issue of slavery in America during mid-1800s. Furthermore, this site could definitely be useful in helping students understand causes of the Civil War in a more meaningful way because it incorporates historical artifacts of the time. I could see myself having students complete a Quick Write about their reflections after using this database and put it into context with what they are learning about the events leading up to the war.

Generally, I love the idea of using data visualizations to give students more of a connection to what they are learning and definitely want to incorporate most of the tools covered in class with my students. This is because I think many middle schoolers feel disconnected to historical events and because of that not have a grasp on their impact. However, having a visual to accompany a topic can show students its historical relevance and put it into perspective. Therefore, using data visualizations to supplement lessons is absolutely something I will be doing in my future teaching.

Classroom Discussion Methods

Thinking back to my past few months student teaching, I can both identify ways that classroom discussion strategies have already been implemented in my classroom, as well as some new ones I may want to try. Concerning what I’ve already seen of these discussion methods, I know my students have played philosophical chairs in the lesson they are currently learning on impeachment. Students were posed the question of whether or not they thought Bill Clinton was deserving of impeachment and had students with opposing views stand on opposite sides of the room. Then, myself and my CT acted as moderators in the middle of the room and had students take turns defending their point of view. They were strongly encouraged to use evidence to support their view from articles we had read on the topic throughout the week. I thought this was a successful method for discussion and really gave my students who enjoy having their voice heard an appropriate setting for that. However, with such a large class, I did notice some of my more timid students try to fade into the background and try to offer as little to the conversation as possible. This is something my CT and I have discussed and will work on in further implementations of this strategy in class.

As far as implementing a new discussion strategy in my classroom, I actually really enjoyed participating in the fish bowl activity this past week in class. I think this discussion method may offer a possible solution to the issue that was present during philosophical chairs: not everyone getting the chance to speak. In a future lesson, I can easily see myself trying the fish bowl strategy and have students “tap in/tap out” with another student in the class to make sure that all of my students participate in the activity. Furthermore, this activity allows everyone in the class to take part in the activity with the presence of students that are taking notes on what the speaker is saying. This will give my students who have a tendency to be off task (especially with something like a classroom discussion) something to do that proves that they are paying attention to what is being said by their classmates. Although I haven’t implemented this strategy in my classroom just yet, I am very hopeful that my students will enjoy it.