Reflections on Creating a DBQ

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Designing a DBL was an intricate process. It spanned over several weeks and involved many steps. There were many struggles but also many rewarding moments that accompanied the process.

The first dilemma was in deciding on a topic. I cannot even remember the first topic that I selected because it was hardly intriguing. Then it was a working progress once my partner and I decided to create a lesson on abortion and birth control regulation throughout history.

The next issue was finding the documents. It was really a struggle to select the documents, advertisements, and laws that were appropriate for the topic and that would accomplish our goals. After that, sometimes we discovered the perfect document but then it was difficult to find the full document from a reliable source.

And finally there was the technological struggle. Once we found the documents and advertisements, deciding what we wanted students to accomplish was easy. However, ibooks author and tying it all together in a project was another story entirely. Adding a new page in the middle of my chapter was a huge hassle because it shifted all of the text out of order. It took a few hours to honestly even figure out how to work with the program and how to simply add documents, pictures, and texts.

However, in the end it looked really great and we were able to successfully get it done. It was a fun experience diving into one topic and asking potential students to find connections, make comparisons, and form arguments based on our selections. I mostly just hope that once I am a teacher it will be easier to find the primary documents I need.


Old Documents

Author: Pixagraphic

Date: April 5, 2009


Let’s All Flip

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on.

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. 

I think that the flipped lesson has a variety of benefits for teaching students. This concept is becoming more and more feasible as technology develops. The beauty of the flipped lesson is that it allows time in classrooms to achieve higher levels of learning with teacher scaffolding. In normal classrooms, teachers instruct in class and then homework is often students’ only opportunity to apply their knowledge and achieve higher learning. In this system, the teacher is not there to scaffold or assist with higher level learning, nor can students collaborate with their classmates. Nor is it guaranteed that students complete their homework, thus falling further and further behind in higher learning.

However, my concern with the flipped classroom is this same thing. What is to guarantee that students perform the task before they get to class? Those students who normally don’t complete their homework or don’t have time will most likely not watch the assigned video or do the assigned reading either. However, I am not sure if there is anyway to fix this problem. No matter what we assign as homework, there is no guarantee that students will complete the assignment.

On the other hand, teachers in the flipped classroom can become a greater source of knowledge and help in the classroom.There is a wide range of resources that teachers can use to instruct their students in their flipped lesson. They can find educational videos, visuals, and put readings online. Students can then come up with their questions and begin to think and reflect about the instruction before they come to class.

I made a flipped lesson using TEDEd. Check it out!  Election of 1964 

Mr. Conservative

Photo: Cecil Stoughton, White House Press Office (WHPO)

July 2, 1964

The Trends of Technology


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

This week in class we discussed digital history. We have been focusing a lot on how we can use modern technology within the classroom in order to teach history. This particular week, we looked into resources that reveal historical trends. Technological tools can be a powerful source in teaching history to our students. Not only do they provide an alternative visual, but they are also often times hands-on, allowing students to interact with the tool and discover trends on their own agenda. I think that there are many benefits in allowing students to use different technological tools. First of all, provided with the proper resources, students can use these tools individually, instead of one visual up on the board. These days there are excellent hands-on tools that students can interact with on their own. Therefore, instead of the teacher showing students what they want their students to get out of the graph or visual, students can come to their own conclusions and create their own ideas about what they see. In the GapMinder for teachers page, we watched a video about students exploring a GapMinder graph called “Wealth & Health of Nations.” These students reflect on their own conclusions and conjunctions about what the graph is revealing to them.

I am a firm supporter in emphasizing trends throughout history when we teach history. It is a crucial aspect of looking at stories of the world. It helps students to make connections and to see the bigger picture. History doesn’t only need to be viewed and taught by time periods. It can also be taught by specific topics and factors that we can explore throughout time. Sources like gapminder, Google nGram Viewer, and New York Times’ “Chronicle” allow students to explore trends throughout time. Chronicle is an excellent source that shows how often a specific word was mentioned in New York Times newspapers throughout American history. For example, the frequency of which the word feminism was mentioned spiked during the1910’s and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and then was barely mentioned again until the 1970’s. This can help students to infer a lot about feminism in American history. However, I think that this is a limited source because it only refers to the frequency of words in this one newspaper, therefore Ngram Viewer is a good alternative, featuring all written literature.

All of these tools provide teachers with alternative sources. Teachers nowadays are no longer limited to their own sources and ideas, as these tools are created and shared online. Furthermore, technology also opens up the doors for professional collaboration. The internet is now an ever-updating source of useful tools shared by fellow teachers. The possibilities for teachers now seem to be endless as they share and benefit from each other’s sources and ideas.

Photo: January 15, 2012

Alan Levine. It’s Cool Here

The Costs of Technology

green guy

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?

I think that there are some really great positives about the 1:1 system. I have seen it at work within my student teaching classroom. It truly is an excellent method to connect students to the teacher and encourage interactions. It is an extremely easy and practical way for a teacher to view the progress of a student’s work and even give feedback. For example, as students work on a writing piece, the teacher can make comments that the student will see right then and they can make appropriate changes or what not. This could even happen when the student is at home, thus connecting student to teacher even away from school. However, I wouldn’t consider this to be “real-time” interaction, as I have seen 1:1 described. This style could seriously diminish the face to face interactions that are so important between student and teacher. Now, teachers have an accessible excuse to sit in the back of the classroom as and never actually walk around to answer questions or work with students.

Furthermore, in terms of actual costs, technology is extremely expensive. More and more now, schools are encouraging google classroom classes with chromebooks or apple products. I have heard that it is extremely easy these days to get a grant for iPads or chromebooks. However, I can’t help but wonder what a difference we could make if we channeled that money to somewhere else in our education system. We could hire more teachers so that classroom sizes are smaller. Or this money could fund other materials and sources. I volunteered in a classroom where they had brand new macbook airs but there were thirty kids in the class, one teacher, dysfunctional desks, and no other supplies. Furthermore, my biggest qualm with using this 1:1 style is that not all children have computers at home that they can use. If they come from a poor household, their family may not own a computer. Even if the student comes from a higher income household, they may have one computer to share with the rest of their family. They may never get the time one night to do the necessary homework or to finish something that they didn’t have time to finish in class. This can alienate children and cause them to fall behind.

One other giant cost that I see in the 1:1 style is the constant distraction of technology. As I have been teaching in my classroom, I have wrestled with the constant threat of students being led off task by the computer in front of them. If I want students to follow along with an online article as I teach, I have no real way to tell if they are listening to me. Today, for example, I noticed many kids fervently typing away and staring at their screens. Of the screens that I could see, I saw that these kids were taking notes, which I didn’t ask them to do, so I was rather surprised. However, what about those kids that are in the back, with screens that are not visible to me? This could be breaking down the student to teacher interactions. In addition, when I ask students to do workshop time on their computers, I often notice students messaging each other and looking at other websites. I even have one student that I have found hacking the system! I think this a serious cost in terms of not only interactions within the classroom but also in terms of the productivity that students could have if they were simply using pen and paper. At the same time, as I mentioned above, the drawback to pen and paper is that the teacher cannot follow along in a student’s process or progress as well.

If I were a new teacher asked to launch this 1:1 project at a school, I would be apprehensive of these particular costs.

August 30, 2011