DBQ Lesson Plan: Shopping with Historic Documents

» 31 July 2013 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, History / DBQ's, How To, Strategies, Students, Web 2.0 » No Comments

Upchurch Family 1896While exploring my Twitter feed I came across a very inventive 8th grade history lesson created by John Fladd ~ twitter@woodenmask

At the core of this lesson are some rich historic source material - the 1900 federal census, 1897 Sears Catalogue historic portraits and biographies.  John agreed to this cross post from his his blog Teacher Toys: Christmas Shopping Without a Flux Capacitor. I urge to visit his blog - he's a great writer with many ideas to share. Readers should access his site to see additional resources for this lesson and correlation with standards. Note: John gathers student feedback via his GoogleVoice account, though students could submit their choices using other means.

1897 Christmas Shopping Project

  1. Each student chooses a photograph of an American taken in (or around) 1897 and reads a small secondary source statement about him or her.
  2. The student transcribes information from that person's 1900 Federal Census form.
  3. The student chooses three Christmas presents from the 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalog - one for $1.00, one for $3.00 and one for $5.00.
  4. The student takes a picture of each of his or her choices, then calls my voicemail and records a message, describing one of his or her items.

 

Tom Tate,

Step 1 - The Photos

After trying several different approaches, I discovered that the easiest way to find photographs of Americans in 1897, was to type "1897" in Google Images and Flicker. As it turns out, there are a lot of people out there who like to share their antique photographs.

Almost every antique photo I found included some background information - "This is my Great Uncle Cyrus, who lived in Possum Flats, Arizona, who later went on to invent the electric pogo-stick..."

It is this secondary source information that allowed me to find census data for some of these people. I included a copy of this information to students in their document packets.

1900 United States Federal Census

Step 2 - Census Information

As it turns out, finding photos of people in 1897 isn't as hard as finding information about them. I was able to find a 1900 Census form for about one picture in three using Ancestry.com. I downloaded the highest quality image of each that I could.

I had students transcribe the original forms onto a blank census form, provided by Ancestry. The idea behind this was to get students used to dealing with primary source information - reading the handwriting, thinking historically, etc... Having them copy the information also made it more likely that they would actually read it.

I discovered that the best way for them to read the original census forms was on a computer screen, so they could magnify sections as necessary. (As students chose their people, I downloaded all relevant documents onto their individual USB drives, for use at school or home.) We did the transcriptions in the Computer Lab.

One interesting lesson for the students was that bigger magnification doesn't necessarily mean more legibility. Students invariably magnified difficult-to-read sections as much as possible, which tended to pixilate the writing and actually make it harder to read. I had to remind them several times to back off on their magnification to read entries better. They were deeply suspicious at first - this seems counter-intuitive - but eventually MOST of them decided I might know what I was talking about.

sears bikes 1897

Step 3 - Shopping

This step was probably the most fun for my students. By the time they had read primary and secondary source material about their particular person, they knew enough about them to do some thoughtful shopping.

In most cases. (Fourteen year-old boys, though, given a choice, will buy anybody a gun, under any pretext whatsoever.) I had them fill out this worksheet, which kept them organized and gave them a script for when they needed to make their recording.

 

Step 4 - Photographing and Recording

On the advice of a much-smarter and experienced colleague, I bought several goose-neck lamps to provide enough light for students to take pictures of their entries. (The students complained about a burning-insulation smell. I later discovered that there was a plastic warning-label inside each lamp that needed to be removed.)

I tried to come up with a graceful and elegant way for students to submit their photographs electronically, but in the end, the easiest solution was to have students bring the camera to me as they finished taking their pictures and I downloaded the images directly from the memory card in the camera. I borrowed digital cameras from two other classrooms and set up three stations. This worked pretty well.

At this point, my students had turned in two other projects via messages on my GoogleVoice account, so they had the mechanics of that down pretty well.

The End Product:

Christmas Shopping for 1897 from John Fladd on Vimeo.

Image Credits:
Upchurch Family 1896 flickr/Pioneer Library System

1900 Federal Census showing Harry Truman as 16 year old Ancestry.com

Tom Tate, son of Captain Tate's half-brother Daniel Tate, posing with a drum fish in front of 1900 Wright glider Library of Congress  LC-W851-86

Sears Bike 1897 flicker/Slowe

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Learn, Share and Win an Apple TV at edcampPDX

» 25 July 2013 » In Events, How To, PD, Teachers » No Comments

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Join us for EdCampPDX, the FREE, unconference-style, collaborative, educator-driven, customized professional development day. Enjoy a day of sharing ideas, networking, and collaborating with your peers – teachers, administrators, pre-service teachers and anyone interested in teaching and learning. Lunch is provided by an awesome sponsor. And yes, there are door prizes, including an Apple TV. Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at LaSalle Catholic College Prep | Portland, OR 97222

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Work, Duty, Glamour: How They Sold War Work To Housewives

» 16 July 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Publishing » 2 Comments

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Rosie the Riveter is an American icon that symbolizes the hardworking and self-sacrificing women who left the household and filled the war jobs that turned America into WWII’s “Arsenal of Democracy.” But it’s a much bigger story than Rosie. Explore the films, posters, pamphlets and cartoons that give us insights into the gender, race and class stereotypes of the period.

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How to Teach Structured Academic Controversy

» 26 June 2013 » In History / DBQ's, How To, Literacy, Reflection, Strategies, Students » No Comments

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Deliberating in a Democracy in the Americas (DDA), a valuable online resource for teachers interested in helping their students develop skills in discussing controversial topics. The DDA site has all the material teachers will need to support discussion in 15 interesting deliberation questions. It uses the Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) model to provide structure and focus to classroom discussions. Not all issues can be easily distilled to pro / con positions. SAC provides students with a framework for addressing complex issues in a productive manner that builds skills in reading, analyzing, listening, and discussion. And it’s ideal for supporting Common Core close reading skills.

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Digital History Workshop – Tech Meets Critical Thinking

» 24 March 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, PD, Presentations, Publishing, Web 2.0 » No Comments

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Our goal was a practical hands-on workshop that fused technology, critical thinking, and strategies for students to be the “historian in the classroom.” We were focused on ways to use iPads for content creation, feedback and reflection. Plus we showcased a variety of other critical thinking digital tools for the classroom – iBooks Author, Haiku Deck, Evernote, nGram Viewer and GapMinder.

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How to Integrate Document-Based History with the Common Core

» 12 February 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Literacy, Strategies » 2 Comments

Workers_Win-featured

CCSS 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:
1. The right documents.
2. Knowing how to look at them.
3. Letting students discover their own patterns, then ask students to describe, compare and defend what they found.
4. Basing the task on enduring questions, the kind that students might actually want to answer.

My new multi-touch iBook – “Workers Win the War: Toil and Sacrifice on the US Homefront” – embodies that approach. Here’s how.

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Why Do Teachers Ask Questions They Know the Answers To?

» 06 February 2013 » In Ed Tech, Strategies, Students, Teachers » 6 Comments

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Here’s a TEDx video – The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice – that showcases the power of a PBL / design-based approach to learning. While you watch it, try to think of a meaningful career that looks like filling out a worksheet.

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Self-Publishing: A How-To For Students and Teachers

» 10 January 2013 » In Guest post, How To, Literacy, Publishing » No Comments

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Publishing is an effective tool for getting students engaged and writing. The new book, Publishing with PowerPoint, walks the reader through a process of self-publishing that can be used in any classroom. PowerPoint is an effective book design software – it’s already on your computer and everyone know how to use it. Students find it easy to use PowerPoint templates and position a wide range of text and images on a PPT slide. Powerpoint slides can be quickly grouped and rearranged into book pages. Finally, converting PowerPoint slides into pdfs for publishing can be done with the “Save As” function. The teacher with a limited budget can print just one copy for the classroom. Parents can order their own copies online.

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Innovation Challenge – 22 PBL Mind Workouts for Teams

» 09 December 2012 » In Events, How To, Strategies » No Comments

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There’s a great new free iBook that I highly recommend as a source for project based learning and team building activities for middle school students through adults. “Innovation Challenges – Mind Workouts for Teams” is available – free at iTunes.

It tells the story of a great program at Saint Louis University, designed to promote creativity, innovation, and the entrepreneurial mindset through novel challenges. The book is a detailed how to for 22 challenges – team supplies, facilitator supplies, tips, learning outcomes and variations. It’s a treasure trove lavishly illustrated with photos and videos. Challenges run the gamut from STEM to marketing and sustainability. The iBook also details how to replicate the competition at your institution.

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Animated Guide to 8 Essentials For Learning

» 28 November 2012 » In Commentary, PD, Strategies, Students, Visualizations » No Comments

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This clever and fast-paced 6-minute animation provides insights into how teenagers learn. An “insider’s guide” to the teenage brain, it answers the question – “If you were a teenage speaker brought in to address a crowd of teachers on the subject of how you and your peers learn best . . . what would you say?”

Done in hand-drawn whiteboard / voiceover format it sets out eight essentials for learning, including my favorite – reflection. Share it with your students and see if they concur or use it as a discussion starter for your next faculty meeting.

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