Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Early Cold-War StoryMap assignment

It's always hard to find the right balance between what I expect students to do on their own outside of class with what I hope to accomplish with them in class.  Recently I've been focusing on developing skills (reading, writing, and critical thinking) in class, and shifting the responsibility of mastering content to the students.  (Of course in practice it's never that simple.  The skills we practice in class always are driven by the content we are studying, so the two always mesh.)
Here's my workflow for our unit on Cold War origins: The bulk of our lessons this week are focused on an extended whole-class activity with a set of primary source documents.  The activity involves reading a series of 2-3 documents, ascertaining their meaning, then writing a paragraph comparing the two while answering a question.  We then move to the next series of documents, do the same activity, then compare that second series with the first.  Finally, to tie everything together, we do the same thing one last time, then write an essay incorporating and synthesizing all nine documents.

At home, students keep up with their textbook reading (there will be a reading quiz), and complete a small project.  For the assignment, I gave the students eight Cold War events to discuss and describe.
  1. Yalta Conference
  2. Potsdam
  3. Formation of the United Nations
  4. Truman Doctrine
  5. Marshall Plan
  6. Berlin Airlift
  7. Formation of NATO
  8. Korean War
To learn about these eight events, I pointed the students to the extraordinary materials from the U.S. State Department's Office of the Historian for background information.
The students are to present their findings in a StoryMap.  StoryMapJS is a form a presentation software, and a StoryMap lets you tell stories visually on a map.  I've used StoryMapJS earlier this year and loved it.

You can see a link to the project here.

1 comment:

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