Monday, October 29, 2007

Takaki Chapter 9

First a couple of personal comments:

1. It is really hard to do your readings when your colleagues are off playing roulette (and winning big). (And to answer your questions: yes, I gambled; yes, I lost (a whole five dollars); and yes, I did a bit of reading...)

2. It is really hard to do your readings when you've just spent five hours working in an exhibit booth talking to people and doing demonstrations and all you want to do is watch the sun set (it was really very pretty) and put your feet up.

3. Reno is not quite the hot spot one would expect but Lake Tahoe is lovely.

More stories later...

Now for the homework...

In our Teacher Guide for the Primary Source set on Native American Assimilation the quote given at the top of the page is "Kill the Indian and Save the Man". I think I might start any lesson I did by asking the students what they thought that quote meant and if there are vestiges of that idea in some groups or activities that have taken place later in history and in the present day.

One of my favorite sets of images to use to discuss Native American Assimilation can be found in the Primary Source Set for our the Thematic Resource The People...Native Americans . There are two images that are side by side showing first Native Americans arriving at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania and then these same students a few months later. I would hand one image to half of the class and then the second image to the other half of the class and have them each do the KWL chart and then have each side present what they see in the image and then show the images together and have them compare the students in each image. Something one of my colleagues has done is put together a viewfinder made out of a note card pr small piece of paper so that the students can focus on one part of the image at a time perhaps identifying who is who in each image.

We do have one lesson plan that focuses on Native American Boarding Schools. I love the quotes to be used with the students' journal pages especially the one from Zitkala Sa who talks about what it was like to have her hair cut.

One of my favorite collections is the Curtis Collection of Photographs. We have a Collection Connection for the Curtis Collection that asks questions about Curtis and his images. I think it would be interesting to look at these images and what is also taking place at the time with the Native American Community. What is Curtis saying with these photographs? Why did he ask that they wear their traditional garb and pose in certain ways?

Other places to visit include the Indian Removal Act Primary Sources which includes internal and external sources relating to Indian Removal, our Immigration Feature on Native Americans the music, stories and oral interviews collected by the American Folklief Center from the Omaha Indians from the late 1800's and from the 1980's, the American Life Histories interviews done during the Depression which include some people's experiences with Native Americans and the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest collection which looks at the lives of the Indian tribes in the American Northwest. I've also found some really neat items on Calisphere from the University of California and on the Indian Country Diaries website from PBS.

I think that I would want to end any lesson relating to this topic with the question of what would we have lost if we had totally assimiliated the Native American Tribes? What knowledge would we not have? What experiences would have been lost? I think I would also want the students to think about what traditions they have that are passed down and how their lives would be different if those traditions had been lost.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Performance Assessment

Inquiry Question: How can students tell the difference between primary and secondary sources and determine if these sources are valid and/or biased?

Standards and Skills:

From DC Standards

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills: Historical Evidence, Research and Point of View Grades 9-12

1. Students distinguish valid arguments from fallacious arguments in historical interpretations (e.g., appeal to false authority, unconfirmed citations, ad hominem argument, appeal to popular opinion).
2. Students identify bias and prejudice in historical interpretations.
3. Students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors’ use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications.
4. Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations.

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills: Chronological and Historical Interpretation Grades 6-8

11. Students distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, essential from incidental information, and verifiable from unverifiable information in historical narratives and stories.
12. Students assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources, draw sound conclusions from them, and cite sources appropriately.
13. Students assess the credibility and reliability of Internet sources.
14. Students detect the different historical points of view on historical events and determine the context in which the historical statements were made (the questions asked, sources used, and author’s perspectives).

Observable Indicators:

Students will be able to state ways to identify primary and secondary sources and will provide examples of primary and secondary sources.
Students will be able to look at samples of resources they might use and identify it the item is a primary or secondary source.
Students will be able to provide examples of websites that normally provide high quality primary and secondary sources.
Students will be able to explain the ways to examine a website to determine if the website provides valid resources.
Students will be able to identify bogus websites or websites sharing spurious information.
Students will be able to list ways to identify bias in a document or on a web resource and will be able to show examples in a document.

Context for Task

Students will be doing research for a debate (the final assessment for the full unit) which will include providing an annotated bibliography including both primary and secondary sources. Students must learn how to identify resources that will help them complete their research or they will not be successful in locating resources that will help them to effectively debate an opponent or answer questions about their person presented by the panel of judges. They must understand that most resources have a bias and that not all material presented on the internet is valid.

Products and Performances for the Assessment Task

Students will need to provide a draft annotated bibliography at the end of this particular task indicating the resources they have found this far in preparation for the debate. This will allow the instructor to see if they have found appropriate resources and understand the concepts provided in this particular section of the unit. In addition their performance in the debate will provide an indicator of how much information they have found and if the information was valid or not.

Stimulus Questions

Compare/Contrast Primary and Secondary Sources.
Explain why one must use secondary sources when doing research.
Students will be given an example of a website. They must show whether or not the website is valid and explain their reasons for their decision.
Students will be given an example of a document with a specific bias. They must identify if they item is biased or not and defend their decision.

Criteria for Evaluating Student Performance and Student Products

An excellent student will be able to easily distinguish between primary and secondary sources. He or she will be able to explain how to determine if a website is biased and whether or not the website is valid or not. The student will consistently be able to identify valid websites and determine the bias found in documents or on website at least 90% of the time.

An average student will be able to tell the difference between primary and secondary sources at least 70% of the time. He or she may be able to explain how to determine if a website is valid or not but may not always be able to consistently determine the validity or bias found on a website or in a document.

A failing student will be unable to distinguish between primary and secondary sources. He or she will not be able to identify between valid or invalid web resources and unable to determine the bias of a document or website.

Scoring Rubric

Example of Exemplary Response or Product

Stress and the Study Method.. Sometimes Things Have to Change

I've heard some of my classmates talking about having to juggle work, class and other issues and how sometimes it gets in the way of studying. One thing college and graduate school taught me was how to make the use of little moments of free time to study and how to study when lots is going on. I can usually study while my husband is practicing his trumpet (and he's doing a lot more because his concert schedule is picking up). I can usually study on the metro unless someone has really loud thumping music where I can only hear the bass on their I-Pod or other personal listening device. Though my work and home offices normally are in a state of disarray (I'm a piler not a filer) I can find stuff in my piles fairly quickly and the moderate disorder doesn't bother me. I just clear a space and get started.

However over the last couple of weeks things have gotten a bit crazy. A number of things are calling for my attention while I'm also trying to prepare for my first work travel in nearly a year with three trips in four weeks and a number of presentations and other projects also coming due. When I start getting overwhelmed with things I need to do the piles start to bug me and I want to clean them NOW!!! I find I need silence for reading and assignments when normally background noise is not a real distraction for me. And unfortunately I start doing the one thing I shouldn't: I procrastinate. I let things that seem more pleasant (like watching the baseball playoffs or Grey's Anatomy or CSI or reading a trashy magazine) distract me from doing the things I need to do.

So what do I do? I make a space of quiet away from most of distractions. I become more focused on taking notes and making myself think about the assignments and how the readings will help me complete them. I start reading with a ruler to slow myself down (I tend to be a very fast reader but if I read too quickly I often won't retain what I've read). I try to get up earlier (I am a very early morning person so that I can read before the cat and the spouse are awake). And I talk a lot more to my colleagues about what I'm reading so I can better tie it to work and so I can remember it. I also try to keep lists so I can see what I have done, what I need to do and the deadlines to get it all done.

As I've been thinking about this post I've also been thinking about kids who live in homes where there are lots of disruptions or where they have to work multiple jobs while also maintaining a home and sometimes the family. I'm fortunate that I can find a quiet place to study. How many of them can find a quiet place or time to ready. I wonder how many of them are able to juggle a variety of tasks successfully and how many just give up and drop out. I wonder if we could find ways to help them more effectively balance homework/studying and home if we could provide tips on how to study when there are distractions that can deter study.

Takaki Chapter 8 and Group Work

I have never been a fan of working in groups. I find it much easier to work alone and have control of the results of a project. My experience with group projects has been pretty bad even if the final results were good.

If I had my druthers I would always let people work individually on a project or exercise. However my colleagues at work love group assignments and almost always encourage teachers to work together in groups. I go along because they I don't want to rock the boat and for the most part the teachers like to work in groups as well.

This week I will break the class into groups and have each group focus on a specific aspect of Chinese immigration. I will have one group create testimony that they would give to Congress in support of the Chinese Exclusion act. I would have another testify against the act. I would have one group represent a Chinese man living in the United States without his family and the benefits of staying in the United States vs returning to China. I would have a fourth group represent the family left behind in China and the impact of this person not being in China to support the family. The last group would represent a person who has lost a job due to Chinese immigration. I would have each group do research and then present their materials to the class showing the different aspects of the issues relating to Chinese immigration.

In addition to Takaki I would have students look at the material from the Chinese in California Collection especially the themes presented within the collection, the California as I saw It collection of first person narratives about life in early California (a good example is The Last of the Mill Creeks, and Early life in Northern California, by Sim Moak which has a chapter that focuses on discrimination of Chinese immigrants after the Railroad Strike of 1877 and the presentation on the Chinese within the Immigration feature and the section on Immigration within the American Memory Timeline .

Outside of LC I would refer students to the California Historical Society California History online which has a wonderful section on Chinese Immigration to the United States, NARA's Our Documents collection that has information and an image of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the main NARA site with a section on searching for information relating to Chinese exclusion , the Chinese Historical Society of America which has a presentation on the Exclusion Acts and the PBS series on Becoming American that focused on Chinese Immigration.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Learning Styles, the Pine School and Stitches East

This past week our team hosted a group of students from the Pine School, a private school in Florida. These students spent two days visiting several reading rooms, getting tours of the Library and meeting curators. Since I rarely work with people under the age of 18 it was an interesting experience trying to determine what materials to use with them and what parts of the website to show. It also ended up being interesting watching them use the website and some of the activities we use with teachers. Watching them get comfortable using the website was interesting. None of them took notes though some of them did follow along as I did searches on the computer. Several of them dove right in finding topics of interest and looking at the materials they found. Others needed more guidance and suggestions of ways to refine searches or more details on where to search for information. As I reflected on their computer use I wondered if the skills used to learn how to navigate a website are different than the ones used in reading a book or learning facts from a chapter.

It was also interesting watching them work with our Primary Source Investigation exercise. The students were from grades 8-12 and they had different levels of prior knowledge. Watching them trying to find the links between the materials in the exercise was fun. The 11th graders did direct some of the discussion based on their prior knowledge but watching the younger students interact with them was interesting. In one case the 11th grader was certain that the link between the items was woman's suffrage but the 8th grader put the items together and slowly started showing the older student why the focus of the materials was labor rights. I wonder how much the student know about the subject of labor and how that impacted his analysis and how much of his analysis was based on what was in front of him. It would also be interesting to see how the two of them tackle a homework assignment or a chapter in the book.

Instead of focusing on how I read chapters and pick up information (which hasn't changed much since the first class) I decided to focus on how I dealt with teachers and learning options at a knitting conference I attended over this past weekend.

Stitches East is a big knitting conference that took place this past week in Baltimore. They offer a number of classes covering everything from basic knitting to advanced lace work. As I was thinking about the blog on the way home I thought about how I reacted to the different teachers I worked with this weekend. I had a horrible time with one teacher who basically gave us a graphic documenting the pattern we were to work on and who quickly demoed a technique we were to use for fair isle knitting. I couldn't pick up the skill and instead of talking me threw it he took the knitting out of my hands and showed me the skill and then left me to master it. Another teacher supplied written out instructions and then also did demonstrations and then stood behind us to watch us to see any problems and correct them while the knitting was in our hands. A third instructor supplied both charts and written directions for her projects and was very excited when a student helped her to find another way to explain something that I was having trouble with.

I've never knitted well when supplied with just a graphic with the pattern listed. I need the words. I also have discovered that I need to have someone watch me do something and show me where the problem is instead of just doing a demonstration. Having a teacher that is friendly and patient is also a good thing for me. I also like teachers who can look at things in different directions and look for other ways to explain problem topics instead of just saying the same thing over and over again. I am also one that can't have music on when I am learning something new and if there must be music it has to be instrumental. The first teacher insisted on playing old 60's tunes with lots of vocals and I found myself getting more and more frustrated with him and the class.

Thanks to teachers two and three I knitted my first mobius scarf and my first cable pattern ever. I left teacher one's class part way through severely frustrated and wondering if I will ever learn what he was supposed to teach.

Takaki Chapter 7

Since Takaki doesn't really use the term Manifest Destiny in previous chapters I thought it might be interesting to focus on what Manifest Destiny was, tie it to some of the materials from the previous chapters and the beliefs brought to America by the British and then focus on how Manifest Destiny had an impact on the native peoples of the United States. I would start by showing the image American Progress by George Crofutt (originally painted by John Gast) and ask what the students see focusing on the details found in the image and what the image is supposed to represent. I might use some of the material found on the PBS website on Manifest Destiny to help inform me and to guide the conversation. I would also want to tie this discussion to the chapter and ask the students if they think the actions of the Bear Flag group and the Texas settlers were based on Manifest Destiny or something else.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mini Ethnography of Teaching and Learning

The Educational Outreach Team at the Library of Congress is one of several groups within the Library that provides professional development for teachers. Our primary goal is to introduce teachers to the primary sources available on Library of Congress website that are available for use in the classroom. Our secondary goal is to provide tips on how to incorporate these materials into lesson plans and other classroom activities. We do this through materials presented on the Teachers Page and through workshops and programming offered to teachers both in-house and away from the Library. In the past fiscal year the Educational Outreach team presented 63 in-house workshops for 1248 people. This included our four summer teacher institutes where we hosted 89 teachers in four sessions. We did 24 out of house presentations for 4275 people including workshops at the National Conference for Teachers of English, the National Council for the Social Studies conference, and the National Educational Computing Conference.

We do presentations at national and regional educational conferences and occasionally for state organizations. We have also participated in large scale programs such as the Song of America tour where our team developed a day-long teachers institute that was given at each tour stop.
Our in-house program has been quite active. We accept groups from all over the country for half and full day long workshops offered in-house at the Library. For those teachers who cannot travel we offer video-conferencing options. We have also worked to develop a presence in the DC Public Schools offering professional development workshops during the weeks designated for in-service programs. The Educational Outreach division has also offered summer teacher institutes where teachers from throughout the country can come to the Library for a two and one half day program where they meet and work with reading room curatorial staff, learn how to use our website, are given examples of how to incorporate primary sources in the classroom and are asked to create a classroom exercise they might use with their students.

The Educational Outreach team also coordinates the Teaching with Primary Sources program. This congressionally funded program allows our team to collaborate with colleges and universities to help them create programs and classes that help teachers learn how to incorporate primary sources in classroom activities with a focus on Library of Congress resources. We are also developing a virtual institute for those teachers who cannot participate in the Teaching With Primary Sources program so that they can access these experiences from their home districts.

Our workshops do focus on introducing our Library of Congress resources but we pride ourselves on being able to work with teachers from a variety of different disciplines. Besides working with American History teachers, we have done subject specific workshops on Geography, English/Literature/Writing, Music and the other Performing Arts, Foreign Languages and Science. Workshops can be as short as an hour (just a quick website overview) or can last all day. If we have a limited time for instruction we will tend to provide a lecture with handouts that the teacher can refer to after the presentation. If we have a longer time we will do hand-on activities or offer the teachers the opportunity to work in one of our computer classrooms to practice some of what they have learned. We also try to allow lots of time for sharing and discussing what the teachers have learned. For example we may ask the teachers to pick one item that they found while searching that excited them and ask them to put it on their screen and allow the other teachers to wander around and see what their colleagues have found during the day. We may also ask the teachers to talk about one thing they learned during the workshop and how they will use it in the classroom.

One major problem we have with our workshops is that there much information to present and we have a small amount of time to do our presentations. The participants can get frustrated and overwhelmed at all there is to learn and there is often little time during the sessions to reflect on what has been learned and to figure out if they have questions or if they missed a something they need to repeat a search or exercise presented during the workshop. However the teachers are very excited to see what we have to offer and the resources that they can use with students.

To deal with the overwhelming amount of information we have to offer we offer a variety of handouts including guides to the website and tips on using the resources. When possible we also offer links to the resources offered on the website. We also make sure to introduce teachers to the Ask A Librarian website within the first few minutes of the workshop so they know where they can ask questions when they are back home.

We do limited assessment with the teachers. We make sure to allow time for questions throughout each workshop so that we can see where participants need additional instruction. Summer Institute participants are given an exercise where they develop a lesson using the Library’s resources. This helps us to determine what they have learned and what they will take back to the classroom. We also provide summer institute participants with an evaluation to complete at the end of the institute and are working to develop an evaluation that we can use with workshops. We ask questions such as what provided the teacher with an “aha” moment or what didn’t work for them during the institute. Teachers are asked how they will use the resources when they return to the classroom and for information on topics they would like to see at future institutes. We also ask what they would tell the Librarian of Congress about the Library and its web resources if given the opportunity to talk to him. The summer institute evaluations have truly helped us determine future topics and to make modifications to how and what we teach during the institutes. We have also used the evaluations to help justify serving breakfast and lunch to institute participants, something that is quite expensive but provides the teachers with time to interact with each other, the instructional staff and also time to reflect on what they have learned in the morning session.

Most of our programs are offered in the National Digital Library Learning Center a large space in the Madison Building. The space includes two video-conference areas, once of which can also function as meeting room and a theater space that can host up to 45 people. Both the meeting room and theater area have large screen monitors with viewers and a computer area where teachers can show their presentations. When we do hands-on workshops we use computers classrooms located in rooms in the Adams Building. These classrooms have a teacher station in the front and depending on the classroom up to twenty computers available for students.

Student arrangement depends on the classroom setting. In the NDL Theater there are 45 seats placed in rows. Normally students will sit in chairs and will arrange chairs as needed if a group exercise is given or they will move into other parts of the Learning Center. The conference room/large video-conference area is arranged in a large square. This works well for smaller groups. The computer labs are arranged in rows with the teacher in front. As the staff has no control on the arrangement of the rooms there is no easy way to gage how the arrangement of the rooms may impact on education taking place during the workshops.

In-house workshops are offered on demand (excluding summer teacher institutes) for groups. Groups interested in programming contact the workshop coordinator. They are asked what they want to gain from a workshop. Is it hands-on experience with the website? Is it learning about primary sources? Is it a tour of some of the reading rooms with meetings with the curatorial staff? They are asked what subjects the teachers who will be participating teach, what grade levels the teachers work with, and how much time they have available to spend at the Library. Once we get that information and settle on a date and time for the visit, the workshop coordinator plans the activities and locates presenters and support staff for the workshop.

For summer institutes we mount the website announcing the institutes and the subjects to be covered in early January. There are links to an application form that applicants fill out. Applications include requests for standard information but also includes a requests that teachers write a statement indicating why they wish to attend the institute and how they will share the information with others. There are more that three times as many applicants as there are available slots for participants. Participants are selected on a first come first serve basis but we try to limit the number of participants from each state attending each institute session. We also read the statements and do some selection based on these statements. After accepting an initial 25 participants we do create a waiting list in case those selected cannot attend.

The large majority of people coming to our workshops are white and female. Most have been in the classroom for several years and are coming as part of a professional development experience. We have done workshops for DCPS teachers for a couple of years and many of the teachers in those workshops are non-white. We also do workshops for pre-service teachers and for those who teach pre-service teachers. As many of our resources are being directed toward our Teaching with Primary Sources program, we have done a lot of programming for the coordinators of the state programs and for their teachers when they come into town. We have done a number of workshops for the teachers participating in the Northern Virginia Teaching with Primary Sources program because of our proximity to these teachers and do see teachers from the Pennsylvania partner at least once a year. We do also get groups of teachers participating in the Department of Education Teaching American History grant program and the Library has partnered with a few of the groups that have received grants from this program.

The Educational Outreach staff consists of ten people, the large majority with extensive teaching or educational publishing experience. Seven of the staff members are white and three are African-American. One is male. Of the ten members of the Educational Outreach Staff four teach the large majority of the workshops. One is trained as an English teacher, one is trained as an elementary school librarian, one has coordinated library instruction programs on the college and university level and is trained as a reference archivist and one has taught Social Studies to students from grades k-8. Several of the other Educational Outreach Staff will teach workshops if needed but are tasked with coordinating other projects that keep them from being available to teach workshops.

As many of the teachers are interested in working with subject specialists, we will bring in curatorial staff from the various reading rooms to do presentations. As most of the curators and Library staff we work with tend to lecture and just show material from the collections, we will occasionally work with the curators to help them develop teacher friendly content which includes a hands-on component and an opportunity for the teachers to interact with the curator instead of just listening to a lecture. We also work closely with the Digital Reference Team, the reference unit that questions relating to our online collections and who have subject specialties that relate to the online collections. They will also provide instruction for workshops as needed. The Digital Reference Team also does a number of video-conferences for teachers and in-house programming for special guests visiting the Library.

Though we would like to offer more workshops, the importance of providing educational support for major initiatives such as the New Visitor Experience and the Literacy Initiative are diverting staff time and expertise from developing new workshops and activities. Though we are thrilled that Librarian of Congress and other senior level staff are excited supporting the K-12 educational community, we are concerned that more and more staff will be diverted to other projects and away from our current successful initiatives. Hopefully we will find ways to continue our successful initiatives while also building new programming to support the k-12 community.

Takaki Chapter 6 and Kinesthetic Instruction

It was interesting to read this chapter with an eye toward developing a Kinesthetic lesson for the group. I must admit to having a bunch of different ideas including having someone teach Irish Step Dancing or some other Irish dance, having the students make Irish Soda Bread or some other food that related to Ireland, working with some of the music collections to highlight some of the songs (many found on song sheets) that were anti-Irish workers such as the different versions of No Irish Need Apply, (here is another version), or the Irish Refugee or have the students develop a song, performance or other presentation relating to what they read in the chapter. I also considered having the students do a collage using images and documents from the American Memory collections that showed images of Irish, Chinese and African-Americans from the time in question.

As I continued to think about this I realized that the lesson should not only focus on the experience of the Irish but also relate in some way to the experience of the Chinese and to African-Americans as they dealt with employment and other issues in the late 19th and early 20th century. I decided that I would have the students do Found Poetry using the American Life History collection of oral histories done during the Depression. Many of these oral histories explore immigration stories of the participants or experiences living in the late 19th and early 20th century. Information on how to do Found Poetry can be found in this lesson on Enhancing the Study of American Memory by using poetry, the teacher primary source set on found poetry or from this lesson found in the Song of America Teachers Institute. Some of the possible life histories I might use include Mysterious Chinese Tunnels, Early Reminiscences- Chinese, Odd Jobs Man , Packinghouse Workers, Unions and Strikes, Jim Cole, Twenty Centuries , Canyon City Folkways, I Am a Negro and Something Better for My Boy .

As these items are often seven or eight pages in length I would choose a paragraph or two from each of these items to use for Found Poetry so that the students wouldn't be overwhelmed by a large number of words. I would again work with the English teacher to ask in the class period before if there could be a discussion of what poetry is and what makes a poem a poem. Found Poetry can be used to encourage students to look at the material in a different way and to find the meaning of a topic through a poem they create. It also allows them to work with glue, scissors and paper and to be as creative as they want to be. I have seen someone dance her poem, seen beautiful artwork created based on Found Poetry assignments and also seen students get a better understanding of a topic through creating Found Poetry out of a primary source item.