Sunday, August 13, 2017

Doing History on Day 1 of Class

By Jeff Burns

            I wanted to do something a little different than just going over the syllabus on the first day of my history classes this year, so I decided to have them do some history on day 1. Inspired by one of the dozens of initiatives being introduced at my school this year, making connections and building relationships with students, I scoured my house and classroom looking for knickknacks, mementos, any little objects that were part of my story.  I ended up with business cards, expired passports, class rings, favorite books and CDs, and all kinds of other things.

Next, I divided the “artifacts” into 6 small baskets. Each group got a basket, and I instructed them to examine and discuss the objects and write down any observations they make based on the artifacts.

After several minutes of discussion, each group shared some of their observations, and I let them know if they were correct or not.  Then, I asked questions like “As we examine primary sources and artifacts this year, what are some problems that might affect our effort to get to the truth?” and “Who curated this collection? How does that affect the story told by the artifacts?”  I then asked questions spiraling off their answers.  This led to a great discussion of context, perspectives, bias, and the interpretation of history. I then wrapped it up with a brief PowerPoint about me and my hobbies that filled in some of the holes left by the artifact handling.

            It was a fun activity, enjoyed by all.  The students interacted with each other and learned a little about me, and I learned about them.  It also introduced the idea of “doing history. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

American History Idol

American History Idol

(Personalized Learning Pilot)
By: Nina Kendall 

What is American History Idol?
  • It is a personalized learning approach focused on music inspired inquiry and performance assessment to promote student learning, understanding of periodization, and student agency.
  • Activities are designed to use lyrics, audio clips, or videos segments to enhance student understanding and promote student use of 21st century skills
  • Student mastery is demonstrated via traditional assessment and mastery tasks.
What is the goal of American History Idol?
The goal of is to promote the use of historical thinking skills including periodization. Students used primary and secondary sources to investigate the period and inspire their demonstration of understanding. Engaging students with a balance of knowledge development and analytical opportunities allowed more chances for collaboration and creativity in class while promoting higher order thinking.   

What is Personalized Learning?
Personalized learning is a student-centered, individualized, self-directed learning experience that promotes content mastery and creates 21st critical thinkers, independent problem solvers and lifelong learners.

What is a playlist?
A playlist is a collection of activities that a student can complete to develop an understanding of a topic These activities can be completed in any order the student wishes, at their own pace over a set period of time ending in a summative assessment.  The playlist is serves as a progress monitoring tool for the student who guided by the teacher through completion of the multiple activities.  

What is a Mastery Task?
A mastery task is an opportunity for students to create a product that reflects deep understanding of the standards.  Products that can be use as mastery task include songs, liner notes, album covers, and concert posters. 

Sample Mastery Task

Forgotten Man Blues

Task: Write a song that shares the blues of the forgotten man that is at least 3 verses in length and has a chorus. Your song should include a description of the hardship of this period and the recovery efforts of the New Deal.

Forgotten Man Blues Inspiration
 “It is said that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo because he forgot his infantry--he staked too much upon the more spectacular but less substantial cavalry. The present administration in Washington provides a close parallel. It has either forgotten or it does not want to remember the infantry of our economic army.
These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power, for plans like those of 1917 that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid. ”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Forgotten Man, April 7, 1932

Liner Notes

World War II Liner Notes
Task: Design Liner Notes for a World War II Swing album using photographs or art from the time period.
        Select 5 photographs or images and list the artist with each image.
        Place explanatory text in a chart adjacent to each image. Title each section with a “song title.”
        At least one image should be accompanied by text written in verse form.
        Write an explanation of how each image illustrates one of the following:
        the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the internment of Japanese- Americans, German-Americans, and Italian-Americans.
        major events; include the lend-lease program, the Battle of Midway, D-Day, and the fall of Berlin.
        war mobilization, as indicated by rationing, war-time conversion, and the role of women in war industries.

Concert Posters

Recommended Elements in a Mastery Task
        Task goal: What will the work communicate? What should be demonstrated?
        Key Terms
        Options for point-of-view
        Authentic guidance for production
        Opportunities for feedback

Who can use the American History Idol model?
This model was used with 11th grade US History students from all learning levels from co-taught- AP US History.  

It is a model that any level could use with some modification to reflect the grade level in regards to the number of assignments given in the playlist and the requirements for the completion of the mastery task to meet the achievement level of the individual learner.  

What styles of music are appropriate?
Many music style can be used as long as it is appropriate for classroom use.  Some examples:
 Blues, Jazz- 1920- 1930s                               Big Band, Swing- 1940s
 Blues, Rock, Doo-Wop- 1950s                     Rock, Motown, Folk-1960s
 Acid Rock, Punk, Disco- 1970s                    Rock, Country, Metals-1980s
 Rap, Grunge, Hip-Hop, Pop-1990s               Rock, Pop, Rap, Country-2000s

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sidewalk Chalk Art Review

By Jeff Burns

It’s the end of the year, and teachers are always searching for fun and meaningful ways to review material and prepare for those end of course tests, finals, and AP exams.  Why not take it outside and engage your students’ creativity in the process.

For a couple of years now, I have taken my AP US history classes outside to do sidewalk chalk review.  It’s simple and takes just a couple of periods.  First, I assigned each group one of the APUSH time periods. Their instructions were simple: design and create a sidewalk square that illustrates the most important themes, concepts, events, ideas, and people of the assigned period. They had one period to plan, and one period to draw. 

It doesn’t require much:  administrator’s permission and sidewalk chalk.  Dollar stores have cheap sidewalk chalk.  I got it for $1 a box at Dollar general.  Some students even brought their own.  Other useful tools that students brought included stiff dust brooms for erasing and spray water bottles. To get their best effort, I offered a replacement grade to the groups with the best squares, judged by the other US history teachers in my department.