Monday, December 15, 2008

"Teaching Literacy through Historical Children's Books"—Notes from the UNLV/CCSD Cohort Presentation

The below notes accompany the presentation delivered to participants in the UNLV/CCSD Cohort Program on December 12, 2008. Thank you to Sue Hendrix and Barbara Johnson for facilitating the presentation.

Click here for presentation slides (a video of the presentation appears below).

General notes of interest (from Courtney):
  • Always teach literacy.
  • Always use cross-curricular standards-based objectives.
  • Use PVC pipe to create telephone headsets so students can hear themselves reading.
  • As an alternative to whole class brainstorming, have students engage in small group brainstorming.
Resources mentioned during the presentation:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Petersen Professional Development School, October 10, 2008

Introduction to the Internet for English Language Learners
Recommendations by Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D.

      Click on “iTunes Store”
      Type into Search Bar
      Click on “Submit” when you find a podcast you like
      Go to “Podcasts” (left-hand navigation bar)
      Click the arrow so it faces down
      Possible Language-Learning Podcasts
        English A+—Finally Learn English (Por Fin Aprende Ingl├ęs)
        ESL Aloud
        Effortless English Podcast
        Tu Ingles

Monday, June 30, 2008

Innovative Project-Based Learning: From Kindergarten to College

Presented by Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D. and Heather B. Rampton, M.Ed.
at the National Educational Computing Conference, San Antonio 2008
and at the Computer Using Educators Annual Conference 2010

Click here to download the session slideshow (CUE)
Click here to download the session slideshow (NECC)
Click here to download an audio recording of the presentation

Session Outline and Notes
  1. View sample student-made project (“Mixed-Up Chameleon”)
  2. Introduction and PBL overview
  3. The Strategies
    1. Video Methods
      1. Adapting literature into first-person using video (“Mixed-Up Chameleon”)
      2. Research-based video reports (“St. Patrick’s Day” — Not available online)
    2. Audio (see "Audio Digital Storytelling")
      1. Mock interviews (“Tomorsky’s Simpson Book Review”)
      2. Process practice songs (“Gravity”)
      3. “Day in the Life”
        1. Man-on-the-street (“New York City Draft Riots")
        2. Journal memoirs (“Civil War Nurse”)
      4. Content-based podcasts (“Civil War Metaphors”)
    3. Blogs
      1. Journaling (“Harriet Tubman”)
      2. Daily homework (“Baula’s Logic…”)
      3. e-portfolios (“Dennison’s Pre-service Teacher Portfolio”)
    4. Digital Photography
      1. Scavenger hunts (“Geometry”)
    5. Page Layout Software
      1. Mock newspaper reports (“Saia’s 1930s Newspaper Book Review”)
      2. Tri-fold brochures (“Kuennen’s Book Review”)
      3. Comic Life ("Hatchet Book Report")
    6. Common Applications
      1. Virtual museums using slideshows (“Native Americans of the Colonial Era”)—see "Educational Virtual Museums"
      2. Slideshow-based games
  4. Goal Setting
  5. Closing
For more ideas, see "Elementary-Level PBL."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

PowerPoint to Podcasts

Eric Langhorst and I presented "A Whirlwind of Possibilities: Technology Integration for Social Studies Teachers" at the 2007 NCSS Conference and I presented the session again at the CUE Conference in 2008. The article on which this presentation is based was published in the Spring 2008 issue of Social Studies Research and Practice. We recommend teachers and administrators take special note to review the table at the end of the article. The table includes a multitude of methods teachers may choose to use to integrate technologies into their social studies lessons and the suggestions are organized by the needed technical skill to deliver the lesson.

An audio version of the CUE presentation is available here.
The presentation slides are available here (but note that the supporting files are not attached). Please direct any questions or comments regarding this presentation and article to me, Dr. Christy Keeler.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

CUE 2008: Hints for Using PhotoStory (by Hall Davidson)

Imtoo is an application that converts PhotoStory files from wmv's to m4v's for iPods.

Ideally, use fewer than 15 photos in PhotoStory projects.

Create projects in PhotoStory and then MovieMaker to bring movies (or more pictures) together.

CUE 2008: "My Hero Media Arts Curriculum and Short Film Festival" by Wendy Millette and Christopher Cain

The My Hero Project is now accepting entries into their short film festival ( and virtual gallery (

Suggestions for improving video interest:
  • Use a cut-away (show video of something else in the room)
  • Use a B-roll (a video of something off-site from the video)
  • Use alternative directionality of shots, a reversal (e.g., shoot the interviewee and interviewer simultaneously)
Suggestions for improving audio production:
  • Post-production, add voice-overs, music, sound effects
An opportunity for students to share their service learning and content videos is also available at

NCHE 2008: "America's Growing Pains" by Delise Sanders and Linda Flowers

This session was on teaching elementary-level students to engage in historical research. They began with a discussion of using pictures as primary sources.

When reviewing pictures with many people pictured, have each child choose one individual in the picture. Have children write about that individual by creating a story.

When reviewing pictures with much detail, cut the picture into sections and give groups of students one of the sections for analysis. Then, bring the groups together to share their sections and analyze the entire picture.

Have students prepare history reports over four week periods. Work students through the process of reading, researching, organizing, and writing. As students are reading, have them use highlighters to show different stages in an historical figure’s life. For example, use a yellow highlighter for young years, blue for middle years, and pink for older years. Research should take about two weeks and a good resource for helping students organize their research is:
Scholastic Teaching Resources. Grades 4-6 Graphic Organizer Booklets
The culminating projects can include a written report, a display board (including 5-8 primary sources), and a CD cover (including names of songs that relate to the individual’s life).

When choosing historical figures for students to research, choose atypical figures (not Lincoln). For example, choose women spies of the American Revolution or local heroes.

Recommended ideas and resources for teaching literacy through historical children's books:
  • Review Nancy Polette's books that include activities with picture books.
  • Make a commercial out of the front flap information.
  • Create reader’s theatre out of what is in the book.
  • Make a large picture of a person with the body of the person being the book report.
  • Use Dinah Zike foldables for reporting on character sketches and telling, the beginning/middle/end of texts.
  • Draw a mountain and show progression, climax, and resolution in a book. Practice with a picture book and have students do the activity with a chapter book.

Friday, April 4, 2008

NCHE 2008: "Teachers as Researchers" by Phil Nicolosi

This incredible presentation focused as much on using historical documents in the classroom as

History is an action verb and is messy. It is like a puzzle with some pieces missing. The historian's job is to place the pieces together so it can create a picture.

Fisher recommends students approach primary sources using the following acronym:
A - Author (include position and perspective)
D - Date (include context - what else is going on)
A - Audience (to whom is it written)
P - Purpose (why was it written)
T - Tone (words/phrases used to convey the purpose)

When students report on a historical event in Fisher's classes, they must:
  • Include as least one source that is an image;
  • Include as least one source that supports each point that could create a counter argument; and,
  • Include an analysis of each document.
In the history classroom, we often expect students to repeat what they read rather than constructing new knowledge or creating their own knowledge. In a science classroom, students do science in their lab coats doing experiments. In the math class, they work through problems, showing their method of moving from the problem to the answer. They are being mathematicians. In the history classroom, students are often no more than clerics -- writing down everything they hear. History teachers need to require their students to show their work and tell how they came to their answers. Students should reference primary sources and tell how they come to the conclusions they identify.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

SITE 2008: "Thinking Creatively: Teachers as Designers of Technology, Pedagogy, and Content (TPACK)"

Notes from Presentation by
Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler
Michigan State University

Their wiki is available at
They ask how the context of classrooms and our world

Teaching with technology is complex.
Learning: The act of learning to think in a disciplined manner.
"The book is a machine to think with." - Unknown

Standard approaches to teaching with technology are not working so there is a need for creative solutions. In a world characterized by change, it makes sense to provide lots of ideas o some creative examples arise. An example of a creative solution is using micro-loans to enhance third world economies. Creativity must be lead to something that is novel, effective (valuable, useful, logical), and whole (elegant, complex, understandable, well-crafted). It is a variation on a theme - you "tweak" an idea to improve it.

NEW = Novel, Effective, Whole

We live in a "new media ecology" where creativity is the only solution and the only way to be creative is be novel by "tweaking" old ideas.

TPACK = Total PACKage
The total package is considering content, pedagogy, and technology within a context.

TPACK works as well with high-end technologies as with older technologies (e.g., white boards). The key is that it is a new way to use or do something than was done in the past.

"The walls between art and engineering exist nly in our minds." -Theo Jansen
Mishra and Koehler states that the walls between "pedagogy, content, and technology exist only in our minds."

My question: How do we effectively share the knobs that we find?

The following notes are from the discussion with the authors following the keynote presentation.

Some activities they use to teach creativity:
Write a short story with a beginning, middle, and end in 55 words or less.
On the first day of class, give every students a 1, 2, 3, or 4. Students then move to a corner of the room with those with like numbers and are given an envelope with a creative task and tools. Students have one hour to complete their task (e.g., create an invitation; in the envelope is playdough or glue and paper or glue and scissors). At the end of class, ask students why they felt limited to use the tools in their possession or how they creatively worked around the limit of their tools.

They argue that is important to find the right blend of of pedagogy, technology, and content for the teacher. It doesn't have to be "glitzy." The most important thing in teacher education is changing the teacher's mindset to allow them to think creatively.

Constraints actually motivate creativity. Because teachers may not have access to technologies or environments conducive to TPACK, they need to feel empowered to think within their context to find creative solutions to do what they want.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Book: Isaac's Storm

Erik Larson, author of Isaac's Storm, uses a fast-paced non-fiction genre to deliver the story of the hurricane that destroyed Galveston in 1900. The text does an excellent job of merging drama with geography and history and provides a nice model for comparison to more recent hurricanes/cyclones.

This text would provide an excellent starting point for a physical geography course, allowing the instructor to teach about the history of weather reporting, the science of weather, and the social implications surrounding prediction of natural hazards, the realities of living and dying through natural disasters, and the role of public institutions and individuals in providing aid to destroyed regions. The book would serve as a wonderful case study for comparison to more recent hurricanes traveling through the Gulf of Mexico.

In typical fashion, Erik Larson does a fabulous job of linking the personal stories to the science while proving readers with "edge-of-their-seats" stories. It is difficult to believe Larson's texts are non-fiction because of the level of detail he provides his readers.

I highly recommend this book, along with his previous books: Thunderstruckand Devil in the White City.