Class 10: Digital Literacy


This week we have another split class. One component will be our Lesson Study II where students will have 5 mins to pitch a lesson idea for peer feedback. Unlike our first lesson study, no written write up is required. Visual aides are optional.

Then we will turn our attention to emerging ideas of digital literacy. We will revisit an earlier reading Snapshot of a Modern Learner and it’s implication for the classroom. I will offer a brief lecture detailing aspects of  the “new digital literacy.”

  • Find, decode and critically evaluate information.
  • Curate, store and responsibly share it.
  • Effectively filter information flow and stay focussed.

Students will have an opportunity to view GapMinder World – a website that exemplifies redefined learning in the digital era. Students will get to use two additional transformative web-based research tools – NGram Viewer and NY Times Chronicle – to develop and test hypotheses.

Books Ngram Viewer and NY Times Chronicle have many interesting applications in the classroom. For example, they can both be used to introduce the research method – form a hypothesis, gather and analyze data, revise hypothesis (as needed), draw conclusions, assess research methods. Working in teams students can easily pose research questions, run the data, revise and assess their research strategy. Students can quickly make and test predictions. They can then present and defend their conclusions to other classroom groups. All skills called for by the new Common Core standards. Ideas for classroom use Books Ngram Viewer and NY Times Chronicle. For more advanced searches using NGram Viewer click here.

Students will continue work on the their document-based lesson design. Students will begin to layout their document-based lesson using a Google Site. With one webpage to correspond to each page of the lesson.

This step has two goals – (1) to further clarify your lesson (2) to get some experience taking content from one medium – Google Slides to another  – Google sites. It will require you to have your images files for importing into Google site (same workflow as importing into iBooks Author)

For more information on using Google Site see our edMethods Toolkit

Due 11/7

  1. Google site start page that describes:
    Intro to the lesson –  Grade, course, etc and a broad description of “what are the kids going to do?” Essential question. One document as  illustration.
  2. Blog post on edMethods You should then take that content from the start page and use it as the basis of a blog post on our edMethods blog that shares the intent of your lesson. Please include a sample document (image) and a link from edMethods post to your Google site start page.

Due by 11/14

Finish your Google site version of document-based lesson with multiple pages, each page should be designed as one page of your final book with:

  • At least one suitable document (include links and info on source institution, collection number, creator, date).
  • Scaffolding questions for each document that guide students through historical thinking skills being taught.
  • Instructions for students / or teacher on using the lesson

Image Credit: Family watching television. Evert F. Baumgardner, ca. 1958 National Archives and Records Administration

Our New iBook – Exploring History Vol III

Exploring-History-IIIHere’s our new iBook just published by our Fall ’15 class at the University of Portland. Free at iTunes. Static pdf version Exploring History Vol III (29 MB)

It features thirteen engaging questions and historic documents that empower students to be the historian in the classroom. The units draw from a fascinating collection of text and multimedia content – documents, posters, photographs, audio, video, letter and other ephemera. “Stop-and-think” prompts based on CCSS skills guide students through analysis of the primary and secondary sources. Essential questions foster critical thinking. All documents include links back to the original source material so readers can remix the content into their own curated collections.

All of our students assignments had a public audience on this class blog and were designed to meet our three class goals:

  • Learn to think like a historian.
  • Become a skillful Instructional designer
  • Develop technical skills for production, reflection, growth and professional networking.

The lesson design process began early in the semester when students designed lessons in historical thinking skills based on the work of Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). They focussed on three key skills – Sourcing, Contextualizing and Corroborating. Then students identified essential questions worth answering and gathered documents to explore the question in an extended lesson design process.

Exploring History: Vol III was our PBL capstone and is available on iTunes in 51 countries around the world. Here’s a post (from fall 13 class) that describes our project workflow (including how we utilized iBooks Author).

Here’s Exploring History: Vol I created by our fall 2013 class. And Exploring History: Vol II designed by our fall 2014 class.

Here’s the US and World History lessons in chronological order:

  1. Finding Egyptian Needles in Western Haystacks 
by Heidi Kershner
  2. Pompeii by Caleb Wilson
  3. Samurai: Sources of Warrior Identity in Medieval Japan 
by Ben Heebner
  4. The Declaration of Independence by David Deis
  5. Reconstruction in Political Cartoons 
by EmmaLee Kuhlmann
  6. Regulation Through the Years 
by Chenoa Musillo Olson / Sarah Wieking
  7. Battle of the Somme by John Hunt
  8. The Lynching of Leo Frank by Jeff Smith
  9. The Waco Horror by Alekz Wray
  10. The Harlem Renaissance by Monica Portugal
  11. A Date of Infamy by Mollie Carter
  12. Anti-Vietnam War Imagery by Felicia Teba
  13. Examining the Ongoing Evolution of American Government by Eric Cole

A Very DBQ Experience

The people of Marietta, GA celebrate the lynching of Leo Frank.

As I began thinking of topics for our document-based lessons, my mind immediately went to a topic with a strong family connection.  My great-grandfather, William Smith, was one of the lawyers involved in the trial of Leo Frank.  However, this dark chapter in the history of Atlanta, Georgia and the Jim Crow South is heavy material, dealing with racism, bigotry, prejudice and lynching.  All are certainly important issues worthy of a lesson, but the incident is not the most light-hearted affair.  I thought I might prefer to investigate in-depth a more approachable topic, but my family ties made the subject too attractive to ignore.

I was indeed correct in the difficulty of the material, and, as I dug deeper, ugliness after ugliness bubbled to the surface.  The topic also began to touch on a broad range of issues in the South, and focusing my lesson on specific documents and skills became an problem.  I decided to focus on media coverage of the event, comparing the coverage of competing local papers and the unseemly journalism that was practiced.

The most frustrating part of my research experience stemmed from the controversial nature of the topic.  As I google-searched various people and incidents, I noticed odd websites popping up.  I learned a bit more about these websites, and apparently the lynching of Leo Frank continues to be a linchpin topic for hate groups to this day.  There are several phony educational sites, published by hate groups, detailing “evidence” of Frank’s guilt and the conspiracies working to have him pardoned.  Unfortunately, these sites seemed to have hi-definition copies of famous photographs from the case, and it proved difficult sifting through the fake sights to obtain quality documents from reputable sources.

Overall, I felt the iBooks DBQ project was the most meaningful piece of work I produced in the MAT program this semester.  Not only did I learn more about my own family’s history, but I also obtained a useful new tech skill.  In fact, in my spring placement I’ve decided to have my students use iBooks author to do a project of their own, presenting a story from a revolutionary period in the form of a children’s book.  The kids will create iBook chapters, assemble them into a collection, and present their stories to an elementary school class.  Their work will then be made available for the whole school to peruse, and for next year’s 7th graders to refer to when making their own book.


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