Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Power of PLN

It is always flattering when other people recognize the contributions that you make to whatever organization you are a part of.  But when posts that you make are recognized by people beyond your four little walls, you realize the power of your PLN.  Really the only reason that I had made the post in the first place was in response to a tweet by @ about her recommendation for people to use as a mind map tool for students.  I realized that I had something to contribute and thought that I owed it to her and the others who might want to try to show an example of what my students had created that day in class.

But when my post made "The History Teacher's Daily" for today (April 28), I was more than a little surprised.  More often than not, I feel as I am posting for myself, which is perfect for me, because it helps me reflect on how well the day went.  But knowing that I may be helping people that have never met me, and may never meet me, is very empowering.  I am thrilled to be a part of Twitter and to blog even a little bit (if not as much as I should) because it allows me to help people and, more importantly, people to help me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Popplet Look at Westward Expansion

Why Go West

The Push-Pull Factors of why people went west in the years following the Civil War is a challenging topic.  As I have tried to come up with different strategies over the past few years, but none of them have worked particularly well.  So, today I tried something different.  After having my students analyze "The Veteran in New Field" by Winslow Homer for 10-15 minutes and listen to the last 10 minutes of a podcast featuring James McPherson and his interpretation of the piece (also available at iTunes), I had each class come up with reasons why people from the east would want to leave and what was in the west that those same people would want to be a part of.  As they came up with ideas, I made note of them on a popplet and had it displayed on the overhead projector for them to see while we worked on it.  It certainly wasn't an exact science and there were a number of fits and starts as the students tried to figure out why people would want to move.  I have included the copies of them below.  Many of them aren't ideal, but they are the authentic efforts my students to free think their way through the problem with little to no knowledge of the topic beforehand.






I am proud of what they were able to accomplish today, but certainly there is always room to make it better.