Students at the Center of the Learning

» 08 September 2014 » In Commentary, Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments

Thomas Hawk - Hub and SpokesIn the early part of my high school social studies teaching career, I saw myself at the center of the classroom. I was the focal point of the learning. I played resident historian - reading, crafting lectures and dispensing history to my students. They were on the periphery of the learning - waiting for my instructions, checking back with me for approval, giving me back my lecture on the unit test. Even the whole class discussions "flowed through” the teacher. Students directed their responses to me. I commented after each student with my approval or directing another student to give it a try. Without realizing it, I taught my students the only thing worth knowing was something coming from their teacher.

With time I learned to stop working so hard at being the smartest person in the room. With practice, I honed the skills of an instructional designer - an architect of learning environments - “spaces” where the thinking was done by my students.

I try to model that “architectural approach” in my social studies methods class. Take a look at today’s class, (University of Portland) you’ll see that I’m not the focal point of the lesson. By “flipping” a few instructional components and providing a student-driven evaluation, my students will be at the heart of the lesson. I’ll be floating at the periphery. Here’s a summary:

The students have written drafts for their first authored posts on EdMethods, our class WordPress blog. While I assigned the format of their post - they have selected the content. Before posting they will go through two peer reviews in today’s class and then make revisions based on the feedback. Instead of writing for their teacher they are writing for the web. Rather than being graded by the teacher, the quality of their work will be assessed by their peers before they “turn it in” for publication on the web.

Most of my students are new to WordPress. Rather than force the whole class to sit through my “How to use WordPress” lecture, I used the SnagIt Chrome extension to prepare ten brief (under 2 mins) video micro-lessons on posting to WordPress. Students can use that "just-in-time instruction" for exactly what they need to complete the posting process. That frees me to work with students who might want to make major revisions to their posts or need extra help with WordPress.

Next week, our class will focus on historic thinking skills. I want to use our class time to actually dohistorical thinking tasks, so I wanted to flip the content delivery. I used TEDEd’s great lesson builder to annotate an existing YouTube video with questions, student reflections and further readings. See Who is the historian in your classroom?

Interesting in flipping a lesson? Here's info on my Flipped Classroom Workshop

Who is the historian in your classroom


Image Credit:
Flickr: Thomas Hawk - Hub and Spokes

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#PDX Flipped Classroom Workshop Series

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Join us at NWRESD Hillsboro OR. (Portland) Feb 2015 (dates TBA) for 2 and a half days of engaging hands-on workshops that will give you the ideas, tools and support to flip your class. Open to K-12 teachers and administrators (All tech and flip experience levels welcome) / Cascade Technology Alliance

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How to Read Documentary Films

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Lesson on using films as documents to develop historical thinking skills in sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating and close reading. The lesson compares two documentary films detailing the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. The first film was made in 1943 by the US government to justify the action. The second film was made in 2014 and features interviews with Japanese American incarcerees.

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The Bots are Coming! Better Re-think My Lesson Plans

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The video’s thesis is simple – robots are coming for our jobs. That begs the question – what skills should we be teaching to students who will have to compete against the bots for employment?

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#edcampPDX Back2School Edition: Twitter Archive

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We just completed our 10th edcampPDX – a chance to get pumped up for the new school year, network and share new ideas with our colleagues. Here’s our Twitter Storify archive. Check back for updates as attendees have time to reflect and tweet on the awesomeness we shared. We have lots of great resources.

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How to Read Documentary Photographs

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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

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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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Calling PNW educators: edcampPDX Aug 16 – Portland Ore

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Calling all educators from the Pacific NW. Join us in Portland on August 16th for edcampPDX – free, democratic, participant-driven professional development. It’s an unconference built on collaboration and dialogue, not keynotes. As one participant from last August’s edcamp tweeted “#EdcampPDX what an incredible day! I’m ready for September.”

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Free iBook: History of Portland’s Japantown

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I’m pleased to introduce my latest multitouch iBook “Portland’s Japantown Revealed.” Free at iTunes. It’s filled with over a hundred archival photographs and dozens of video interviews with former Japantown residents that detail life from the 1890s through the incarcerations of WWII. It features two dozen interactive “Portland Revealed” widgets that allow the reader to blend historic and contemporary photographs.

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Learning to Think Like a Historian

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I’m joined by other educators who comment on “Teaching History By Encouraging Curiosity.” Ideas on how to create a more engaging history classroom that teaches students the foundations of historical thinking. With links to more resources and a podcast.

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