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

Portrait of Seki Hiromura-Ace's mother and one of the Hiromura boys

If you follow my blog, you're well aware of my advocacy for project-based learning. So when I was asked to teach a social studies methods class at the University of Portland, I naturally looked for a way to integrate a community-based project that would give my graduate and undergraduate pre-service teachers experience in PBL, the chance to work along side professional historians and an opportunity to make a difference in the community. For more on our course approach, see our class blog.

I live in downtown Portland on the edge of what is known as Old Town / Chinatown. Its a very diverse and historic neighborhood and once the center of a thriving Nihonmachi or "Japantown." It's now the home of the Nikkei Legacy Center, a small museum dedicated to "Sharing and preserving Japanese-American history and culture in Portland's Old Town neighborhood, where Japantown once thrived."

I approached the museum with a simple question - "What could you do with a dozen unpaid curriculum consultants?"

While planning my 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. I also wanted them to recognize that effective teachers are entrepreneurs, actively fostering external partnerships to support learning in their classrooms.

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After a number of meetings we decided on three projects - an online lesson using curated videos detailing Japanese incarceration, a series of lessons to support an artifact-filled Museum in a Suitcase for circulation to Portland area schools and a iPhone app "Walking Tour of Japantown PDX." All three projects would extend the reach of the museum and celebrate a once vibrant community that had fallen victim to wartime hysteria.

The app was going to take some technical assistance, so I reached out the Portland's app community and was able to partner with GammaPoint LLC, PDX-based mobile app developer. We are worked with them to develop Japantown PDX, a native iPhone app walking tour of the historic Japantown in Portland. It features geo-fenced text, photos, audio and tools for sharing user reaction to the content via social media. We are also working with GammaPoint to make this project replicable in the k-20 space.

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More on PDX Japantown: During the 1890s Portland was a hub from which Japanese laborers were sent to work in the railroads, canneries, lumber companies and farms throughout the Pacific Northwest. By the 1920s, a steady stream of Japanese "picture brides" had transformed a rough and tumble twelve-block section north of W Burnside between 2nd and 6th Ave into a more respectable Nihonmachi with over 100 Japanese managed businesses and professional office. Portland's Japantown thrived until the WWII when Issei and Nisei were rounded up by federal officials and incarnated in inland camps. Portland's Japantown was decimated. After the war a few returned to the old neighborhood, but many took up new residence in Portland's postwar single family housing boom. The neighborhood had long been home to African-Americans and various immigrant groups. As Chinese-Americans began to predominate in the neighborhood, it gradually became known as Chinatown. Today, even most Portlanders are unaware of it's heritage as Japantown.

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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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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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How to Motivate Students: Researched-Based Strategies

» 22 May 2012 » In How To, Reflection, Strategies, Students » No Comments

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A new CEP report, “Student Motivation—An Overlooked Piece of School Reform” pulls together findings about student motivation from decades of major research. Four key elements of motivation are detailed – Competence, Control/autonomy, Interest/value, and Relatedness. Links to report, findings and suggestions that teachers, schools and parents can use to motivate students.

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Black Friday: Will Teachers Be Shopping or Working at the Mall?

» 25 November 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Policy, Events, Teachers » No Comments

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Statistics show that nearly half of all teachers leave within the first five years. Low salaries and high stress are among the top reasons teachers “burnout” and quit the profession. Sixty-two percent of our nation’s teachers have second jobs outside of the classroom. What’s your kid’s teacher doing tonight – home working on lesson plans, or selling cell phones at the mall?

American Teacher is a film that follows four teachers who struggle to make ends meet while trying to stay in the profession they love. With narration by Matt Damon, it tells their stories through a mixture of footage and interviews with students, families, and colleagues, as well as the teachers themselves. By following these teachers as they reach different milestones in their careers, it uncovers a deeper story of the teaching profession in America today. This post features a trailer and information about screenings in your area.

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Connecting Classrooms with Skype

» 28 August 2011 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, How To, Students » 2 Comments

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Here’s a complete “how-to” for creating a Skype classroom connection. The objective of this project was to open the classroom to the world by bringing children from Washington state and North Carolina together virtually to share insights on Native American cultures. Students used presentation and interactive conferencing technology, which allowed in-depth, real-time interaction on shared content. Students prepared short PowerPoint slide shows or posters, verbal presentations and question/answer sessions.

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Digital Storytelling in the Spanish Language Classroom

» 25 August 2011 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, How To, Literacy, Reflection, Students » No Comments

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Advanced and intermediate students of Spanish explore digital storytelling as a medium for self- expression using the Spanish version of Microsoft Photo Story 3 and Microsoft Movie Maker. Students begin by writing an autobiographical essay describing themselves and where they are in their lives right now, then they go on to talk about their hopes and aspirations for the future. Students then recorded these essays as a digital audio presentation.

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How To Make the Block Schedule Work

» 07 August 2011 » In Ed Tech, How To, Presentations, Strategies, Students » 2 Comments

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Transitioning to a longer class (block schedule) is not as simple as combining what was taught in a few shorter lessons plans and throwing in some homework time at the end of class. It requires looking at the key elements of a lesson (content, process, product and evaluation) and re-thinking how they can be leveraged in the context of more instructional time. Here’s your guide to succeeding in the block schedule – handouts, resources, videos, links. Students CAN take responsibility for their learning!

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SmartPhone – Dumb School

» 26 May 2011 » In Commentary, Social Web, Web 2.0 » 1 Comment

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The school workstation doesn’t “know” students as well as their smartphone does. Their mobile carries a wealth of information that’s important to them. And the school computer doesn’t do “place” at all. That’s a stark contrast to students’ mobiles, which geo-browse via the growing number of locational apps and geo-tagged information stream.

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The Future of Schools – Three Design Scenarios

» 16 May 2011 » In Commentary, Ed Tech, Leadership, Social Web » 3 Comments

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“What proportion of the activity called ‘learning’ will be located in the institution called ‘school’?” The availability of relatively cheap technologies offering direct access to knowledge of all types creates opportunities for students to experience a dramatic increase in the choice of what they learn, with whom they choose to learn, and how they choose to learn. How will the institution called “school” survive in this environment?

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