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)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Read Documentary Photographs

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

Russell-Lee-Los-Angeles-featured

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Free iBook: History of Portland’s Japantown

» 10 June 2014 » In History / DBQ's, Publishing » 4 Comments

Japantown-Revealed-cover

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Learning to Think Like a Historian

» 03 June 2014 » In Commentary, History / DBQ's, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments

classroom-scene-featured

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

21st C Social Studies at edcampOCSS – Portland Ore

» 17 April 2014 » In Events, PD, Teachers » No Comments

edcamp-featured2

Calling all educators interested in Social Studies, History, Geography, Government, and Economics who live in the NW. Plus Humanities, Librarians, Technology and Administrators. K-12 plus college level. Here’s a great reason to head to Portland and connect with other educators!

The Oregon Council for the Social Studies is sponsoring a social studies themed edcampOCSS in Portland Oregon on May 17, 2014. (8:30 AM – 2:15 PM then go somewhere for beers)

Tags: , , , ,

Incarceration of Portland’s Japanese Americans in WWII

» 14 February 2014 » In History / DBQ's, Projects, Students » No Comments

Two-children-in-camp-featured

Using video interviews of camp internees, archived photographs, and historic documents; the lesson guides students through the experience of Japanese-Americans incarcerated during WWII. This multi-media lesson was designed by students working with the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

iPhone Walking Tour of Historic Japantown Portland

» 01 February 2014 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects, Students » No Comments

japantownpdx

I’m pleased to introduce you to Japantown PDX, a free iOS app that I designed with the assistance of the Nikkei Legacy Center, GammaPoint LLC, and my students at the University of Portland. Explore Portland Oregon’s historic Japantown with this user-friendly walking tour. The city’s vibrant pre WWII Japanese American community is archived in over 125 photographs and audio clips. This GPS-enabled app guides you through Portland’s eight block Japantown, a bustling community in the early decades of the twentieth century – better known today as the colorful Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tips for Motivating Student Writers with iBooks Author

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

Exploring-History-featured

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Music and the Vietnam Anti-War Movement

» 30 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects » No Comments

Boston-Common-Protest-October-1970-featured

One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ “The Vietnam War.” It explores the relationship between the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war as reflected in the music videos of the era.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Power of Propaganda: A Student-Designed DBQ

» 29 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects » No Comments

white-haired-girl-featured

One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ “The Power of Propaganda.” It documents WWII and Cold War-era films and posters from multiple perspectives.

Tags: , , , , , , ,