Monday, November 30, 2009

ECI 525 Meaning.

Preface: Why is this meaningful.

In this course I have gained tremendous insight into how a teacher can effectively present social studies ideas in a meaningful way. With tightening budgets and more restrictive school guidelines, teachers must become more creative in what they do to engage students. Teachers are seemingly competing with technology instead of incorporating it into their regular classes. Now we have many tools for incorporating different ideas into the classroom. Many of these ideas do not even require each of the students to have a laptop, but can usually be accomplished by an afternoon session in the computer lab.

21st century Video 8/24:
Diane Ratvich critiques the idea of 21st Century skills stating that this set of skills has no content associated with it. Skills by definition do not have content, but must none-the-less be taught. Note taking, for example, is nothing but a learned skill. It has no content, and can be used in any content. Some skills require content knowledge, such as being a skilled historian or skilled mathematician. Because a skill does or does not have an associated content does not make said skill important or not. I might even attempt to argue that skills without a content association are more important than skills directly associated with a content. You can see here that utilizing technology, as a skill, can increase the utility of a given lesson. Students can read material, given specific instructions on how to interact with the information, only to utilize technology to report their findings.
This type of activity requires that students know how to interact with technology, and allows the teacher to float around the classroom, checking for understanding. If one student is having difficulty with the text, he or she will be able to gain further assistance from the teacher without disrupting the entirety of the class.

Historical Soundscape 8/31
Many times teachers look at social studies from the point of view of one type of learner. The visual, intrapersonal or linquistic learner will find that the social studies lessons are easy to follow, while many of the other students have great difficulty learning the concepts. An activity that allows students to engage in material in a new way can be of great benefit to different types of learners. Creating a soundscape takes history out of the textbooks and puts it into a context of reality. If you ask students to recreate an event using only sound, what would it sound like? Would the students be able to record a variety of different sounds to simulate the original event? What would happen if you asked your students to explore an idea of local history through sound?
I examined the events surrounding hurricane Floyd in Tarboro, NC, 1999. You can hear the audio here. The exercise allowed me to look at the event of this flood in an entirely new light. I was able to feel like I witnessed the flooding first-hand. I was almost a thousand miles removed from the actual flooding, but through this experience I felt very close. Could the same work with the signing of the Declaration of Independence?

Illustrated Lincoln 9/14
When students look at an image, then typically seem to take a surface view of the image and move on. Partially this is learned behavior, and partially it's non-learned behavior. The learned part of this behavior is that the students have been spoon-fed ideas about images, or have been given interpretations and alternative ideas have been squelched. The non-learned behavior is that the students have not been given opportunities to learn how to appropriately interpret images.
If a teacher is able to use Werner's 7 ways of reading an image in a classroom, he or she then has a very valuable tool to scaffold the understanding and interpretation of various kinds of images. Students will be able to identify what is an open or closed image, and what can be inferred from that image. If you visit here, you will see an example of interpreting a historical image using the Werner readings. Many people can look at this image and take a surface view of what it represents, but using a 7-fold method of reading an image really helps the viewer to extrapolate a lot of meaning.

Historical Painting 9/21

Wikipedia and epistemology 9/28
When students look at Wikipedia, they often see a monolith of modern knowledge. As such, many students do not know what to do with this information. Presented here is a short overview of what one can do in order to make sure that a Wikipedia article is valid and useful. You'll have to make your own decision about if any encyclopedia is a valid source for most research papers, but Wikipedia is undeniably useful.
New Literacies and digital history design 10/05
History is moving towards a digital age. Never before have students been able to access so much information. Many sites offer primary sources with only a little bit of interpretation. These sites allow students and historians alike to engage materials in a new and meaningful way. Never before could students access such vast tracks of information. The problem falls when students cannot meaningfully access this information because of the format.
Our class took letters from the plantation letters website, and pulled out all the references to slavery. This task was able to be accomplished because we were able to essentially crowd-source the information. It was not a necessarily difficult task, students from different levels could easily accomplish it, but there is definitely a feeling of legitimate history taking place through this process. You can see the results here
Stagville Interpretation 10/12
We didn't just leave those references to slavery on the website, but we worked with them as well. In this forum we examined the historical information through the eyes of the SCIM-C technique. We were able to pool our information and gain increased understanding about the impact of the historical analysis we had done.
Hollywood film 10/19
Teachers often use film in the classroom. For this section, we collected clips that would enable students to experience something from history that is difficult to grasp through written word alone. For example, what did the Soldiers of Blackhawk Down do right? What did they do wrong? For my piece, I examined the sort of reverse propaganda that occurred after World War II. Soldiers returning home suffered many of the same difficulties that later soldiers faced, but they did not admit suffering in the face of adversity. The blog post here explores some of those feelings of difficulty and displacement.
Stagville on History Engine 11/02
The final portion of our evaluation of Slavery through the plantation letters was a culminating episode from one of the letters. I looked at the idea of casual affection through the case of one of Duncan's distant relations, Frances. An exercise like this has the feel of creating original research, as well as allowing the student to create a piece of historical analysis that may be used by others in the future. You can read my final assignment here.
Google Street View 11/09
Social Studies is not purely a study of history. Many students struggle with understanding geographic concepts. How does one region impact another? How does the location of one city influence its cultural design? In this thread, you can find my response where I examine downtown Mexico City and infer some ideas about this capitol city of our neighbor to the south.
Adventures in Early America 11/16
Social Studies is not all new historical enterprise, but also synthesizing learning in a new and meaningful way. IN this exercise, we examined Tony Horwitz latest book, and used his point of view to understand the progression of historical understanding. By Juxtaposing Horwitz with two previous historians, we can see how history has adjusted itself as our understanding has increased. Look here for and examination of Columbus, and you can go from there to explore more histories.
Tangents 11/30
Finally, continuing the idea that Social Studies is more than just History, I present an idea for incorporating the GPLv3 into a Civics and Economics class. Students are often steeped in the idea that economics are best rooted in capitalism, and that a share-and-share-alike idea would not work. The GPLv3 shows an instance where this communistic ideal is in existence, and even thriving. This kind of tangential exploration of content material is beneficial to both students and teachers alike. Students benefit by getting to explore new areas of their content, while teachers get to work with content that they like.

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