Stop the Presses: Final Project Redirect and Elevator Pitch

I would still love to develop a project based on the Slave Trade and primary sources; however, the plan has evolved significantly since my last update. In fact, it changed so much that I’ve redesigned entirely. In part, this is because I’ve had two important meetings this week with teachers with whom I am collaborating. Although the project has gone in a different direction, it is perhaps even better and certainly more tightly focused. The new topic, title, and digital project page?

Power of Persuasion: The Language and Legacy of Elizabeth I

Below find a description of the project’s different digital components. It’s a great mix of sources, learning styles, assessments, I believe it also fosters interdisciplinary learning and “uncoverage” as Dr. Calder would say. There is still much to be figured and fleshed out, but I think the foundation and framework is solid, and I feel more grounded as well. Project components will be completed throughout the year, one per quarter. I will enter and upload primary sources with Dublin Core data, instructions, and other miscellaneous items by the end of this summer term.

Short Description

This project seeks to explore primary sources related to Elizabeth I. The types of sources are divided into three spheres that consider audience, scope, purpose, and meaning.

Private (letters)
Public  (speeches)
Image  (portraits/photography)


1.  Transcription: Read primary sources and transcribe. Then, compare student transcription to published transcription. Harkness discussion on process and discrepancies. Student write blog reflection, which will form the basis of an Omeka collection and/or exhibit.

2.  Rhetorical analysis: Read letters/speeches and analyze the use of logos/ethos/pathos, and the Ciceronian order of arguments. The final product will be an essay, which will form the basis of an Omeka collection and exhibit. Student will input Dublin Core data for proper citation and scholarship.

3.  Image analysis: Make a podcast of a detailed “text” analysis of a painting of Elizabeth. Four portraits, students make podcasts in groups of four, each group discusses a different portrait. Podcasts will be represented as a collection and exhibit in Omeka.

4.  Modern Female Politician: Pick a 20th or 21st century woman in politics and read a private source, a public source, and analyze an image. Present findings of analysis via oral presentation with Google Slides. Presentation files will form the basis of an exhibit in Omeka.

Primary Sources

Private (letters):

Public (Speeches):

Image (portraits): Below find links four portraits completed during Elizabeth I’s life. At the bottom of the page you can navigate between three pages of portraits.

  • Pelican portrait
  • Ermine Portrait
  • Armada Portrait
  • Rainbow Portrait

My audience will still be high school students, as stated earlier — but the A.P. Language will tie in with more World History courses rather than U.S. history. However, there is still a U.S. component as part of the final assignment.

I’ve started an Omeka site with one small problem. I love the theme, but when I started adding items — a large “hero image” appeared on the homepage and I see no option to disable it. It throws off the formatting of the rest of the page. Perhaps Dr. Kelly can help, and I’ve also emailed Omeka.


Using Images and Film

I’d like to frame this blog post based on the questions I answered for my entry titled “Teaching History Today.” In answering these questions again, I will apply the use of images/film to lead students to deeper historical inquiry and discovery.

1. How do I make history relevant to students?

I believe that images and films are vital components of teaching history. Never should they drive the content; however, they can be used to spark intellectual inquiry and to analyze and provide sub-text, text, and context. Images and film can also be used to make history relevant to students in ways that lectures and readings cannot. Aside from the fact that many students are visual learners, images and film can also complement content and inspire critical thinking when compared, contrasted, and discussed. It is for these reasons that I use many images in my courses — and see media as valuable on multiple fronts as primary sources, as case studies, and as part of a more comprehensive presentation of content.

2. How do I make teaching history interdisciplinary?

While I cannot assess my effectiveness as a history teacher who approaches teaching from an interdisciplinary perspective, I can confirm that I strive to teach history this way. At some point in each U.S. history unit the class has a lesson on the era or period’s art, music, science/technology, and primary video clips (when applicable). For example, when I begin teaching Manifest Destiny our first lesson involves analyzing paintings related to the theme including Gast’s American Progress among six others. I use the lesson as a jumping off point for the unit. In terms of film, when studying the Cold War I use video clips of “Duck and Cover,” “Red Menace,” and 1964 campaign ads as part of our content. For our unit on the Civil War I do a lesson called “God is on our side,” and the classes analyzes and listens to several Civil War era songs. We begin with the lyrics and then move to performances of the songs by various artists and groups. Songs include “Bonnie Blue Flag,” and “Lincoln and Liberty” among others. One final example of interdisciplinary teaching is during our study of the Gilded/Progressive Era where students, in groups, each choose a discipline-based theme and create a historic newspaper with articles written by the students that reflect issues relevant to that time period. So in many ways, the use of images and film in my class are what makes my teaching history more interdisciplinary.

3. Why do I teach history, and should the method matter?

I will repeat the first part of my answer from the original post and then apply the use of images/film to the second part of the question.

“The first part is easy. I love it. The most consistent feedback I get on evaluations, going back 15 years, is that I am passionate about what I teach.”

Absolutely the method matters. Perhaps more important — effective and varied methods matter.  It doesn’t matter if you use primary sources if you don’t use them in a way that influences and increases student learning. Dr. Caldor, in his theory of “uncoverage” mentions that in trying to redesign his course he taught one semester with primary sources, hoping that this approach would transform his classes and lead to greater historical thinking. He admits it was a failure, painful, and was in some ways more dry than just lecturing. Varying pedagogical methods and using them effectively lead to student engagement and it is only when students are engaged that deep and critical learning can take place. Films and videos are keys to creating a pedagogical “tool bag” that can enhance such student engagement.