I assigned my preservice teachers at University of Portland the task of using Learnist to design a document based question that would eventually become part of a class-produced DBQ iBook collection. DBQ assignment here. More samples of student-designed DBQs here.
I’ve asked them to reflect on the assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is Visions of Freedom: The American Revolution - a DBQ designed by Collin Soderberg-Chase. This DBQ presents multiple "views of freedom" viewed through the "lenses" of differing perspectives held during American revolutionary era. The essential question examines what factors influence one's vision of freedom.
You can find Collin's posts on our class blog.
By the end of the DBQ, readers would have investigated views of freedom between the colonists and the British government, military officers and laymen, and slaves and freemen.
This DBQ explored slavery and the American Revolutionary War through various visions of freedom that existed during the mid- to late-1700s. The idea for this project came from the understanding that oftentimes only one voice is heard in history. That approach, however, does not take into account the full narrative of the time and provides a false reality of important historical events. As a result, the purpose of this project was to provide readers an opportunity to look at central documents in a different light, while at the same time offering a chance to explore documents that may not take a dominant role in many studies of the American Revolution. By the end of the DBQ, readers would have investigated views of freedom between the colonists and the British government, military officers and laymen, and slaves and freemen, building content depth and providing the means to explore many unfamiliar corners of this important event in American history.
Even though the main essential question revolved around what influences visions of freedom, there were many other generative questions that were incorporated into my project.
- How does individual identity change during times of revolution?
- How does the political atmosphere of a time change social understandings?
- What are the motivating factors that lead one to revolt against authority?
- How do people express their distrust and discontent towards authority?
Because these questions permit the reader to investigate multiple horizons of possibilities, this project fits perfectly into many course and state standard requirements.
In the end, I feel like this DBQ completed my goals to introduce different visions of freedom to the American Revolution story. What I really enjoyed about this process is that it forced me to think deeply about every document that I wanted to add to the project. In order for readers to successfully complete the DBQ, the documents and order needed to be coherent and accessible. This thinking exercise now can be easily translated into the classroom, which I foresee as a priceless skill when I begin to introduce students to primary documents.
Image credit: Illustration for Phillis Wheatley Poems on Various Subjects Wikipedia
Two of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcase their online DBQ “Propaganda of the American Suffrage Movement, c. 1910-1920.” This DBQ is designed to encourage students to think critically about the American suffrage movement propaganda. The generative questions are: “How do images express biases?” and “How are political, social, and economic factors presented?” Heather Treanor and Cory Cassanova also reflects on the experience of designing DBQs.
One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ “Image and Emotion – WWII Propaganda Posters.” Five propaganda themes are explored through parallel sets of posters from US and Axis power. Aram Glick also reflects on the experience of designing DBQs.
Two of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases their online DBQ “1950s Red Scare.” Videos, posters and documents use a media lens to consider “How does a nation develop such an intense fear and enemy, creating mass hysteria?” Christina Steiner and Kristi Convissor also reflect on the experience of designing DBQs.
I was looking for an online content creation tool – an education-friendly, social network that would allow my pre-service history teachers to post a variety of content, annotate it and provide tools to comment on each other’s work. I tried Learnist – a free web tool. Here’s my sample Learnist – Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII. Plus a product review (with students comments).
I’ve been anxiously awaiting the chance to see if iBooks Author widgets would make it to the desktop in the new Mavericks version of iBooks. I’m pleased to report that all the iBA – created widgets run perfectly. Plus, viewing an iBook on 27” Thunderbolt display is awesome.
While planning my history methods course, I approached the museum with a simple question – “What could you do with a dozen unpaid curriculum consultants?” And so our partnership began – my pre-service history teachers working with professionals at the museum to develop educational material to support their collection. I wanted my student so experience project-based learning from the perspective of the learner in the hopes that they would someday incorporate that approach into their teaching.
xkcd’s brilliant mockery of the explosion of “info-junk” should remind us that the best infographics should efficiently combine quantitative data, prompt pattern recognition and cogent visual storytelling. Perhaps aspiring infographic designers would do well to revisit the work of the Edward Tufte, the guru of the art form. His five rules of “Graphical Excellence” are detailed and illustrated with an example he considers “best narrative graphic of space and time.”
The NY Times Learning Network has just launched a new series of lesson plans called “Text to Text.” It’s a simple approach that pairs two written texts that “speak to each other.” I think it’s a Common Core close reading strategy that could be easily replicated by teachers across the curriculum – great way to blend nonfiction with fiction and incorporate a variety of media with written text.
Each lesson includes a key question, extension activities and additional resources to expand the basic lesson. Here’s two graphic organizers to help student organize their “Text to Text” thinking.
Common Core offers an incentive for teachers to use historic documents to build literacy skills in a content area while empowering students to be the historian in the classroom. But document-based (DBQ) instruction in this context requires four key elements to be successful: The first is finding the right documents.
Here’s links and descriptions of a dozen great websites for finding interesting historic documents in World history. Sample images for each site are included.