How to Read Documentary Films

» 26 August 2014 » In History / DBQ's, How To, Strategies » No Comments

Child waiting to be taken to Manzanar April 1942 LC-DIG-fsa-8a31173

While many are aware that the US government forcibly removed and incarcerated more than 120,000 U.S. residents of Japanese ancestry during WWII. Few people know that the government recruited some of these same people to work at farm labor camps across the west to harvest crops essential to the war effort.

Uprooted from Uprooted Exhibit

Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II is a traveling photography exhibit (and website) that tells this story and provides a treasure trove of resources for historians, teachers and students. Uprooted draws from images of Japanese American farm labor camps taken by Russell Lee in the summer of 1942. Lee worked as a staff photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), a federal agency that between 1935 and 1944 produced approximately 175,000 black-and-white film negatives and 1,600 color photographs.

I worked with the Uprooted team and developed a lesson How reliable are documentary films as a historic source? The lesson begins with the teacher telling students that they are about to watch two short videos about the experience of some Japanese Americans during World War II. The first video was made in 1943 by the US government as an informational service to the US public. It features video shot in 1941 and 1942 and narration by a government official. The second video was made in 2014 by documentary filmmakers to accompany the Uprooted Exhibit. It features historic video from World War II as well as oral history interviews with Japanese Americans that the filmmakers shot in 2013 and 2014. The narration is taken from the interviews. Before the videos are shown, the teacher asks the students which video they think will be a more reliable historical source. (Be sure to have them justify their thinking to their peers). Prompts include: 

  • A video made in the era being studied or a video made over seventy years later?
  • A video made by the United States government or a video made by documentary filmmakers?
  • A video narrative by a government official or a video narrated by people who participated in the event?

The lesson then guides students through comparisons of both videos based on close reading strategies - what does the video say? how does it say it? what does it mean to me?

A complete lesson plan, collection of images and historic documents is available at Uprooted. A second lesson plan considers the question:  How reliable are documentary photographs as a historic source? The site even includes a kit for students to curate their own Uprooted museum mini-exhibit.

You can find Uprooted on Twitter | Facebook | Flickr | Instagram

The museum exhibit open at The Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, OR on September 12, 2014 and runs through December 12, 2014. It then travels to Minidoka County (ID) Historical Society and the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland Ore. More exhibit info and updates

I'd like to close this post by crediting the talented team behind Uprooted. Curator - Morgen Young, Web and Graphics Designer -Melissa Delzio, Videographers - Courtney Hermann and Kerribeth Elliott. Uprooted is a project of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.

Image credit:  Child waiting to be taken to Manzanar, April 1942, Los Angeles, California. Photographer Russell Lee. Library of Congress (Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF33-013290-M4)

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How to Read Documentary Photographs

» 12 August 2014 » In History / DBQ's, How To, Strategies » No Comments

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Lesson on using photographs as documents to develop historical thinking skills in sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating and close reading. Features material from “Uprooted” a museum exhibit and website that showcases the photography of Russell Lee, staff photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and his work at the Japanese American farm labor camps of WWII.

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How To Use Social Media to Network Your PLN

» 23 July 2014 » In Ed Tech, How To, PD, Social Web » 1 Comment

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Here’s ideas I’ll be using for training my university students on how to use social media for networking and professional growth. As a proof of concept, I crowdsourced via social media for some ideas that I might incorporate into my grad / undergrad social studies methods course. I used Storify to collect all the great suggestions that came in.

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A Satiric Lesson in Media Literacy

» 27 March 2014 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies, Visualizations » No Comments

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Kendra Eash’s essay becomes a satiric video skewering the clichéd corporate message ad as a meaningless montage of grandiloquent pablum. Used as a prompt for a lesson in visual literacy.

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Free: How To Get Started with iBooks Author

» 02 March 2014 » In How To, Publishing » No Comments

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Here’s my free multi-touch iBook that will get you started using iBooks Author. Includes an interactive tour of the app, widget sampler with settings, and tips and tricks for designing your iBook and managing your work flow.

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iPDX14 Session Preview: Getting Started with iBooks Author

» 24 February 2014 » In How To, Presentations, Publishing » 3 Comments

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Here’s your chance to learn how easy it is for students and teachers to create multi-touch iBooks using iBA. We’ll demonstrate the key steps in designing an iBook that can be published to iTunes or shared as iBooks files. Download my free 20-page “Quick Start: iBooks Author.” Links to more how to’s and free content resources for your iBook project – interactive widgets, images, videos, audio and more.

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Tips for Motivating Student Writers with iBooks Author

» 05 January 2014 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Publishing, Students » 9 Comments

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My preservice teachers just published an iBook collection of document-based questions in US and World History. It’s now available free at iTunes. Here’s some tips on how to turn your students into published authors.

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iBooks Author Widgets on Mavericks Desktop

» 24 October 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Publishing » 6 Comments

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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.

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Student Consultants Design Museum Curriculum and Mobile App

» 17 October 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Projects, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments

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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.

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Text to Text: A Strategy for Common Core Close Reading

» 26 September 2013 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies » 5 Comments

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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.

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