Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blog Post #12

I don't want to do this assignment. Is that honest enough?  Let me rephrase. I don't want to do this assignment by saying, "Watch this video and comment on your response" or "Read this blog post and post your response."  An assignment like that would be a little redundant (aka boring).  However, upon looking for something I could do of worth for this assignment or something I would actually be interested in, I stumbled upon a very useful site.  The site is called Teaching History with Technology (THWT), and it  a Continuing Education site for History teachers.  The best part of the site is the Lessons & Activities section which offers numerous lesson plans in everything from U.S. History to Civics and Geography. It also provides so many multimedia resources for History teachers to use including podcasts, comics, maps and other visuals, ebooks, digital storytelling, etc. It not only gives you tutorials on using these technologies, it also gives sampel lessons and tips on incorporating these tools into your classroom. This site is definitely going on my PLN!

So, here's my assignment: 
Choose a Lesson or Activity from the THWT site.  Create a blog post summarizing the lesson and how you would change/adapt/use it in your classroom. Be sure to explain how technology is incorporated in this lesson or activity. 

I chose the lesson entitled Links to the Past.  This assignment takes you to a Library of Congress page describing an overview of what the students will be doing: 
Students use documents from California As I Saw It: First Person Narratives, 1849-1900, inAmerican Memory to create a script depicting the motivations, expectations, fears, and realizations of immigrants who settled California between 1849 and 1900. The finished product will be a script containing links to illustrative written materials, images, and sound files from the Library of Congress online collections.
map of california

Basically, students will be making what they call a hyperscript, which is not only made of character descriptions, lines, and setting.  This hyperscript will contain images and sounds to make the play a multimedia experience.  All of the sources students use will be multimedia and be primary sources from the Library of Congress catalogue.  The site also offers sample scripts for the students to get an idea of how the final product should look.
First, we will read first-hand narratives of immigrants to California during this time period. Students will pick four narratives that they feel expressed the feelings of the immigrants. Then you will have students research different images, maps, sound bites, recordings etc on the American Memory portion of the Library of Congress site they think will enhance these narratives for their script.  Then students create a script depicting a scene using these "characters" with the appropriate links to maps, sounds, images, etc put throughout the script. All of this will be posted online for other students to enjoy.  Also, if the students choose, they can perform their script for the class using the SmartBoard to link to the multimedia materials as they perform.
I like this project because it reminds me of Richard E. Miller's idea of multimedia writing.  Instead of assigning an essay or 5 page paper on "Immigration in California at the Turn of the Century" or asking them to read narratives and answer questions, I am actually getting them to create a project that enhances their writing skills with images, sounds, and acting it out.  It's the epitome of creativity and visual History.


  1. Jessica,
    This blog post is simply amazing! You are so honest and dead on with how students view assignments. I think your example and ideas on how to "spruce-up" the boring and mundane History assignments are amazing. Excellent job! I keep re-reading your post and I just think your blog is a great example blog for Dr. Strange's class. Good job!

  2. Jessica,

    Another great post. I'm impressed with this assignment and your honesty. :) Have a great summer!