Archive | August, 2013

Conveying America’s immediate response to the events of 9/11

20 Aug

I am still on the lookout for interesting resources on 9/11 that will help students to understand how America responded to the attacks.

The front pages of newspapers vividly frame key images with headlines which speak to national fear, anger and also a desire for revenge.  George W. Bush’s speech also touches on these themes.

I have also stumbled upon some poetry written in the aftermath of the attacks.  Depending on the nature of the class, reading one of the poems and getting students to identify perspectives and meaning might be an appropriate way in to the topic.  Poems that are on the shortlist include:  ‘If Only’ by Adam Quin and ‘Tomorrow’ by Michael Brett.

Perhaps, I could divide students into groups, giving each a different type of stimulus (one group could get a poem, another a US newspaper front page, another a UK newspaper front page etc).  The task would be to identify the key ideas raised in your source and explain why these are to be considered the most significant.  Students would then discover points of commonality and difference, using these as sparks to stimulate debate.

Something is plaguing Europe!

19 Aug

Another approach to the Black Death would be to have students map the spread of plague.

EDSITEment offers an interactive map and some helpful worksheets to guide students through this process.

If students do not all have access to computers, you could provide them with slips of paper with the names of cities and estimated arrival dates of the plague.  The students could then order these dates, and the interactive component could be completed as a class.  A further alternative would be to have students annotate a paper map.


Dying to play an educational game?

19 Aug

I am currently on the look out for some interesting ICT activities for my upcoming lessons on the Black Death.  One interesting resource I have found is this quiz.   I think I would use it as an end of lesson revision activity.  While it is not sufficiently detailed to use as a means of revising that entire section of the syllabus, it is sufficient for testing student understanding of attitudes and responses to the plague.

One of the things I really like about this particular resource is that you cannot actually get an answer wrong.  By this I mean that a screen informing a student that s/he is incorrect will simply not appear.  If you click on the incorrect response, that response simply turns red thus informing you that you should try again.  Once you hit on the correct answer, a screen informing you that you are correct will appear.  This screen is accompanied by additional explanation.

This quiz could be completed individually or in small groups (if the class happens to be in a computer room), or as a whole class activity (if there are insufficient computers).


The power of ONE

19 Aug

The power or ONE

Today I observed a series of classes at a school which is keen to enhance student literacy. My favourite strategy for improving student literacy was the one word, one phrase, one sentence approach. A student reads several paragraphs of text to the class. In doing so, that student gets to practice his/her speaking skills. Each student then rereads those paragraphs to themselves, highlighting one word, one phrase and one sentence per paragraph that sums up the key ideas in the paragraph. Students then share the sections they highlighted, explaining why they deemed those sections to be important.

First Australians

17 Aug

I am currently on the lookout for great resources that will assist year 10 students to understand the Australian Freedom Rides, the 1967 Referendum and the Mabo decision.  My aim is to create lessons that draw on a variety of different resources so that there is an accessible entry point for all students.

One resource that I think I will be drawing on is the SBS documentary First Australians. The documentary provides a fantastic overview of the Aboriginal experience from before colonisation to almost the present day.  As the documentary moves through time, the timeline that runs along the bottom of the screen is coloured in, allowing the viewer to easily situate him/herself.   While I strongly recommend watching the entire documentary, doing so may not be appropriate for all classes.  I doubt it will be for mine.  Instead, I plan to show the students the sections particular to our unit focus.  These extracts, represented as roads running off the main timeline, present short, simple, clear snippets of information.  Of particular benefit to History classes, these snippets include historical sources and often commentary by historians.

Given the length of these snippets, I am not sure that creating a worksheet is particularly appropriate.  Perhaps I will simply task each student with 2 or 3 pieces of information that they deem interesting and/or pertinent, using these as stimulus for a class discussion.

Some lines about timelines

16 Aug

A few days ago I blogged about a possible pre-test activity which required students to think about the events that pre-dated and flowed from September 11.  While researching to see if there is any commentary on the likely success (or failure) of such an activity, I came across a number of interesting 9/11 timelines.  Examples include: a September 11 Attack Timeline, a timeline created by the BBC depicting just the events that occurred on 9/11, extracts from Jacobson and Colon’s 9/11 comic book, and 9/11 +ME, a fascinating rendition of a timeline produced for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Making digital links

16 Aug

Today I discovered ThingLink.  In a nutshell, ThingLink allows you to pin digital hyperlinked buttons to an image  Thus, when you click the button  you are transported to an external source that offers new information.

I am currently playing around with Thinglink to create an interactive map of the route taken by the Australian Freedom Riders in 1965.  The plan is to populate a map with links to sound, visual and written sources thus providing a sampling of historical sources that allow students to better understand the aims, experiences and successes of the Freedom Riders.

I will also be colour coding the buttons: yellow for images, red for news clippings etc.  This way, students can explore based on the ways they learn best.  It will also provide me with a short hand for explaining the different types of sources that are represented on the interactive map.

If I end up using this when I teach year 10 History, I think I would create an accompanying worksheet that provides students with a series of facts to find or verify.  This way, I could frame it as a virtual scavenger hunt.  Perhaps students could even compete in teams with some prize offered for successful and meaningful completion.

Picturing history

16 Aug

Often, in our classrooms, we have students with vastly different abilities and interests.   One of the challenges is finding accessible entry points for all those students.

One approach that appeals to me is a group deconstruction of a picture book.  The reason why this appeals is that picture books offer something for the visual learner, the auditory learner, the low literacy student and their very nature means that information is simplified and thus perfect for introductory/building the field type lessons.

If I were teaching about the sit-in movement in the context of American Civil Rights, I would be really tempted to begin the unit by reading Freedom on the Menu, a picture book written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue.

Narrated by a young girl named Connie, the text covers key concepts like segregation and discrimination.  It also flags the differences between the North and South, noting that Connnie’s great-aunt from New York refuses to abide by the signs that dictate which water fountain she, as an African American, can drink from.  Importantly too, Dr King is included in the text, providing a platform for discussion about how his philosophy of non-violence influenced the sit-in movement.  This background information is essential for students, allowing them to place the sit-in movement in the context of the general push in favour of equality.

Connie’s older brother is involved in the movement; it is his friends that will later become known as the Greensboro four.  That family connection functions as a literary device that allows Connie to ask the questions that students will want to ask: “Why’d your friends so that?” and “Think it’ll work?”  It also ensures that Connie is included in family discussion about the sit-in.

The other fantastic thing about this text is that that author includes historical detail at the conclusion of the text, opening the door to a discussion about ways in which everyday people take on the role of quasi-historians in a bid to explore the past.

A little birdie told me about an awesome storyboard creation app

15 Aug

I blogged yesterday about creative listing as a way to kick start narrative writing with reluctant writers.  Another cool way to get students engaged with creative writing is through the free Storybird app.  Storybird provides a range of images which students can use to inform the direction of their stories.  What is particularly awesome about this is that the technology is so simple to use – if you can drag and drop then you can Storybird!  Here is one I created earlier, so you can see how it works.

As you can see from my example story, the picture book format plus limited writing space mean that you students are unlikely to be writing the next Man Booker Prize winner on Storybird.  However, if you treat this as an exercise in storyboard creating or plot mapping, it is a pretty awesome tool!

ThINKing about texts to supplement learning?

15 Aug

If you are looking for related texts, don’t forget to check out the category on the right hand side entitled ‘Relate Texts’.  It is there that you can find archived copies of all my reviews.