In some aspects I feel like I completed parts of my goals in this lesson on consumerism in the 1920’s. Going into the lesson, I wanted the students to be able to recognize how the common features and such of advertising that we still see and notice today started in the 1920’s after the first war. I wanted students to recognize how specific elements that commercials had that allowed us to remember them, such as the targeted audience, aspect of focus, and the overall message, still carry over today. I especially wanted them to also notice how the advertising game changed with the inclusion of both TV and radio. I felt like the students in the lesson were able to see that as they were able to connect to commercials from their childhoods that appealed because of these same characteristics.
I also feel like the goals weren’t met at the same time because I wasn’t able to be as focused on the specific aspects of consumerism and the specific examples of the characteristics. I also needed to be more organized and give proper preparation time and instructions to be able to get to everything in the lesson and to fully touch the important parts. This is the aspects that didn’t go as well.
What I learned that I could do is to be more specific and detailed on what I want to touch in order to better get to the main takeaway and message that I want to convey based on my lesson title. So, in the case of consumerism, my commercial example and what I asked the students to produce didn’t touch directly on specifically consumerism in the 1920’s. As a result, I can pick two or three themes from the era that you wanted to teach about later, maybe the role of women, the culture of youth, how the automobile was transforming America, and show, use, and teach/explain using these examples. I can also have given students the task of bringing in their videos of their commercials so we can be able to get the most out of that aspect of the lesson and to be able to get to the rest of the lesson to ensure its best effect.
In terms of my timing, it was kind of off and on, with parts being more on track than other parts. I feel like during the intro discussion of their commercials and their experiences, I was able to foster good discussion and the flow and timing was on track. The timing got a little off when I asked them to send in their own videos to my email, when I wasn’t prepared to do it and it showed when I scrambled to get my email and organize the gathering, opening, and playing of the videos. I feel like the timing and flow and delivery was awkward during the sharing and discussion of the videos. The timing and flow returned during showing the video on the 1920’s and having the discussion afterwards. Overall, even with the timing off, the workflow seemed pretty decent as student’s were on track and we got to the next thing. It just wasn’t great because we didn’t get to the last aspect of the lesson plan.
The postcard activity was pretty successful in my high school classroom, so I felt confident presenting it to our Methods class. Having examples of the finished product helped students visualize the project and imagine what their completed postcard might look like. Overall I think it’s a great way for students to explore primary texts, perform some analysis, while also giving them the freedom to express themselves.
It’s hit or miss getting students to cite their sources. I think providing a clear example of how and where to cite the source would be helpful. Perhaps doing the citation in class would give me the opportunity to monitor their progress. Giving students the ability to hand-draw their postcards was somewhat time consuming; perhaps doing a lesson on how to use adobe spark would be helpful in the future.
Overall, my goal was to get students to engage with a primary text, and see the importance of “individual perspective” in examining source material. Giving students the ability to express themselves seemed to make the lesson more engaging and personal. I was impressed by the variety of responses I received, not to mention the detail and care that went into the postcards themselves.
The virtual reality tour of Salem, Massachusetts I did for this mini-lesson seemed like a success and was a great experience to learn how I can better improve the use of this technology in my future virtual reality lessons. Fortunately, I had some experience using the headsets in a classroom before using them in the mini-lesson, but I learned how to feel more confident in teaching with the technology due to the improvised approach of not guiding participants through their tour from the central iPad (since I couldn’t get a stable connection). Of course the audience for my mini-lesson was a much more controlled and participatory group than almost any group of students I would eventually do this lesson with, but I was still impressed by the group’s ability to understand how material can be learned through relevant images in virtual reality.
One of the challenges in my mini-lesson, which has also been a challenge when using the VR in my classroom, is the timing and pacing required to get through everything important while accounting for technical difficulties that will detract from available instruction time. Although the mini-lesson did not go the full 25 minutes, I also left out nearly half the information planned for a full lesson and only got through ~2/3rds of the tour itself. Since the tour and accompanying information are planned for a 50-minute lesson, I would have expected to get through either much more of the tour in 25 minutes or at least go into a substantial amount more detail.
In general, I think I accomplished the goal I had with this mini-lesson, which was to get more experience teaching with the virtual reality and receive feedback on how I could improve my approach for when I do similar lessons in the future. Timing and pacing is what I learned to still be an area that needs attention, but perhaps this is a factor that will “work itself out” as I practice each tour over the course of time!
I did accomplish my goals in presenting the historical thinking skills Social Security lesson adopted from Historical Thinking Matters. We were able to explore two historical thinking skills: close reading and corroboration while exploring some of the history around the development and evolution of Social Security. Two positive outcomes were: (1) I was able to comfortably present the lesson in the allotted time, and (2) my peers were able to share with me, during closure, one or two things they learned from the lesson.
I received feedback that spending more time talking about the Social Security Board poster prior to asking students to sketch the poster would be helpful. In retrospect, I wish I had asked the students to come up to the front of the room to explore the poster as there was a lot of text that may not have been legible. I also received feedback regarding the flow and the variety of materials presented. I understood that the variety of materials (poster, video, congressional testimony excerpt) is appealing. I received a positive response regarding the flow of the lesson, as well.
I learned that there are a lot of very well-crafted materials available that can be adopted to one’s needs or to an allotted time frame and that it is okay to reshape materials in a way that works for you. I also learned that I was more capable than I thought in terms of presenting the lesson and that running ideas by peers is an excellent way to improve my future lessons.