Archive for the ‘History’ Category
For the past five years, on the day before Thanksgiving break, the BCLUW senior class holds a Mock Trial as a culminating project at the end of a cross-curricular unit designed by myself (English) and Josh Ehn (Social Studies). This unit is designed to provide students an understanding of how our legal system works, as well as job prep skills. The government side of the project is taught by Mr. Ehn who also decides the roles each student will play and the court case to be tried. Students interview for positions from judge to jury members highlighting the skills and qualifications they have gained in high school that makes them the best candidate.
In English class, students create resumes based on real information, a necessity for graduating seniors. They also learn the fine art of writing a letter of application in hopes that their words and experience stands out in order to receive an interview. Finally, with the help of teachers and community members, each student is given a time and location for an interview.
This is a fantastic Project Based Learning example that helps blend learning from different departments. Students are challenged to express their skills on the resume, and the interview provides much needed experience with a bit of added pressure. We want to thank the following community members for donating their time to support BCLUW students: Shane Tiernan, Darla Ubben, Doug Benjamin, Denise Hoy, Mike Payne, and Jayne Katzer. It was another successful trial, the students had fun, and the defendant was found GUILTY… Next year we are looking for challengers, any school interested?
This year marked the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and while I distinctly remember the events that unfolded on that tragic day, my seniors were only in second grade and recall scattered fragments or nothing at all. During a group skype call between the teachers of the blogging community (5 schools where students blog/comment enhancing engagement and widening audience to promote writing) we decided to create a collaborative lesson plan to teach our students empathy, citizenship, and patriotism with the end product in the form of an imovie.
Building a foundation of the tragedy with resources found on the NYTimes Learning Network Blog; teachers @eolsonteacher, @shawnhyervm, @Bev-Berns, @toddvogts, and myself shared videos, pictures, and reflections with students. We then allowed students to explore the plethora of links found on the blog and report back to the large group their findings. What happened was an emotional connection to the day that most had a disconnect with because of age. Empathetic stories of victims, family members, and heroes were retold through the voice of our students. One student even stated, “I have not thought about or viewed footage from that day for so long, I can finally understand what happened and how horrible it was.” As teachers, this type of response is music to our ears. We want to help mold a future generation of insightful, empathetic citizens who will lead our world in the future.
The next day we used a strategy taught by @KirsteyEwald during an experience while taking the Iowa Writing Project (a division of the National Writing Project). Students wrote answers to prompts on sticky notes which were then complied and edited to form a poem. Each school had different questions ranging from “How do you define America?” to “How can one honor the lives lost during the attacks?” Each student spoke their line and placed an image of their hand into the project. Teachers shared the movies using dropbox culminating in one movie written, spoken, and illustrated by the students!
Students proudly shared their video with family and friends. It floated around facebook and was highlighted in local newspapers and on local news stations making the Anniversary of September 11th more meaningful.
A twitter connection has provided another opportunity for the students at BCLUW. I met Aaron Cretin on twitter a few years ago, and in person at the first Iowa 1:1 Conference in 2010. A few weeks ago I received a Direct Message from Aaron asking if I would be interested in discussing a possible connection between my students and his brother, Brian Cretin.
Brian and I met at Applebee’s where I listened to his college and career journey, his local connection, and his plan to travel the globe this upcoming year! As I sat and listened my mind raced with possibile learning experiences for my students, from having them consider ipod apps essential to travel, to Google Earth walks in Thailand. Brian spoke with excitement as he told me how he was introduced to International travel in college. By sharing this global journey with students, Brian hopes to inspire the students to consider possibilities and opportunities available to them.
Along with skype calls and blog discussions, Brian is also capturing his travel through photography. His web-site, View From A Cretin showcases images from past travels. Creative writing opportunities will flood the senses of the students as they start their journey in London and travel to Thailand. From there, Brian will decide where his travel takes him.
Organically, the connection will grow throughout the year. The students will guide the learning tailored to interests on the country, cultures, and travel.
Thank you Aaron for the connection! And thank you Brian for the opportunities you are providing to the students of small-town Iowa as they view the world with you!
Safe Travels and Skype you in a few weeks!
I met @MrHadleyHistory at the IACoPi meeting a few weeks ago. He is a passionate, history teacher at Pekin High School, a small school in Iowa. During our conversation he commented on the need to connect with other history teachers in 1:1 schools. I immediately thought of @Mr_Ehn, a innovative social sciences teacher at BCLUW. Since we were at a conference in Des Moines, their introduction happened via twitter.
A week later, we were both back at our own schools, the news of bin Laden’s death broke. I was skyping with my friend @eolsonteacher (my favorite person to gain inspiration and excitement about teaching from) and she shared that she was planning a lesson to co-teach with her social studies teacher the next day based off of the events that transpired. It was one of those teachable moments that is hard to pass up.
Inspired by Erin, I reached out to Mr. Ehn and Mr. Hadley about a project we could do cross-curricular and also involving both schools. Mr. Ehn thought of creating written reflections from interviews the students would conduct. Here is a simple break down of the project and examples of tools we used:
1. Google Docs – we created a list of a slice of the world’s population we wanted the kids to interview. The list contained all genders, races, ages, occupations, etc. Students signed up for a person they would seek out to interview. Students were not allowed to interview someone they spoke to regularly, they had to go out of their comfort zones and use resources to find someone to interview.
2. Google Docs – a document was created listing the requirements of the projects and a list of initial interview questions. We wanted the interview to be organic, inspired by the conversation taking place and so we spent a lot of time discussing this concept. Description (Google Docs. is an easy way to collaborate between students and schools)
3. Skype – During the introduction of the project to the students we listened in on each other’s classes and added to the discussion taking place in the classroom via skype. It is always inspiring to “watch” a colleague teach, skype allows this to take place easily and also in other classrooms outside of your own building. Skype also helps to provide a co-teaching aspect that we wanted for this project.
4. Fishbowl – Mock interviews were set up to model to students the interview process. Students used TodaysMeet to record important concepts to remember while the mock interview was taking place. This backchannel allowed students to take collective notes containing information they would use when conducting their own interviews. It was projected on screen so that I was able to see the real-time thinking taking place. It also allowed me an opportunity to break character and address, clarify, or add to information the students were recording. The students love this type of collaboration, plus it was an easy way for the two schools to share interview tips.
5. Potential Interview Candidates – Students used all different connections to line-up potential interviews. This was the most challenging aspect of the project for the students. Very rarely do we require students to talk to people they don’t know. Students used family, friends, teachers, twitter, facebook, skype, phonecalls, emails, etc. to connect with people around the world.
6. Reflections – 2 models were written by myself and Mr. Hadley showing the students how to take interview answers and transform them into a reflection, weaving in their own thoughts as well as direct quotes from their notes. Students used phone, skype, email, and face- to- face means to collet their information. One of Mr. Hadley’s students recoreded his interview on his laptop and shared it with the students. Video
7. Linoit – students skyped and used Linoit during the middle of the week to discuss progress, share concerns and contacts, and update each other on their reflections. At the end of the project, students will skype with each other sharing a few of the stories written.
8. Final Product – Students are publishing their work using bookemon. A compilation of their reflections are uploaded to this site creating an on-line book with an option to purchase.
Read our Book Here – Impressions on US