Monday, January 28, 2013

What Do Cartoons have to do with DBQ - Document Based Questions?

Today I was looking online for lessons dealing with Document Based Questions.  There are some great sites and terrific lessons.  I looked at an example for  2nd graders.  I was over whelmed at the caliber of writing that was expected.  I know it is a worthy goal, but I didn't find lessons developed for these young minds.

Everyone's plate is so full of what has to be taught.  How do you teach kids to analyze documents and then write an essay about it?  So many of the lessons are geared more towards middle and high school students. The question I kept asking myself is how can I break down these steps so my younger kids can analyze documents.  How could I make quick mini-lessons for my kids?

I got to thinking about a recent cartoon that I had torn out of our local paper.   As an adult this strip really connected to me.   It makes reference to a piece of literature I experienced as a youngster.  I don't think many of my students would make the literature connection alluded to in this Wizard of Id strip.  Nor would they get the satire.

I have always been a fan of cartoons. They are a very sophisticated and complex form of reading.  Their success is the background knowledge the reader brings to the table.

My aha moment arrived!  My books on Calvin and Hobbs,  Garfield and other graphic novels are constantly checked out. This is where the scaffolding comes into play. Why not start with some kid friendly "funnies"?

I've decided to start with this Family Circus strip to teach the initial steps in analyzing a cartoon.

I will adapt the National Archives graphic organizer   The original worksheet has three levels.  I will start by working with the first level.  As students become comfortable examining the cartoons and expressing their observations we will move on.

Mini-Lesson of the Day 
5-10 minutes - classroom observations, evidence, examples, discussion. 

Observations -  


What people and objects do you see in this cartoon?
  • Billy
  • Dolly
  • PJ
  • Grandma
  • portable telephone* (land line based)

Locate words or phrases that the cartoonist used to identify things or people?
  • Grandma's phone
  • old fashioned

For Further Reflection  Comics & Literacy  *Good place to start  Interpreting Political Cartoons In the History Classroom -  This is one of my favorites and is a good starting spot for your next tier of scaffolding.

Richard Byrne wrote a great post in Free Technology for Teachers

Library of Congress Teacher's Guide for Analyzing Political Cartoons  Teaching With Cartoons. a post from Kim's Korner Teacher Talk  The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists - Cartoons for the Classroom - Cartoons for the Classroom Analysis Worksheet* This is another good worksheet   Post on Political Cartoons from the blog Teaching with Comics  This is a great resource.    This week in Political Cartoons  Graphic Novels and State Standards

Monday, January 21, 2013

Can You Solve the Mystery?

This lesson is built around a Best Practices Strategy I learned from Tammy Elser and Julie Cajune.  I hope you enjoy solving the mystery.  This mystery has been laid out as a lesson plan you could use with students 4th-12th.  You will need 2 class periods

I.  Essential Ideas - Write Your Way In

Take 2 minutes and study one of the pictures.  Ask yourself what you see?  What people, objects and activities do you see? Do you know who is in the picture?  What is it?  When was it made?  Who made it? How was it made?  What can you infer from your examination?

2 Minutes:  Draw your picture don't worry about artistic skill.   You are welcome to use caricature and stick people.  Try to capture details and mood.  This is a great connection to your brain and the observations you have made.

3 Minutes Quick Write #1:  What is this?  What do the pictures tell us?  What do you wonder?  Write what you know or think you know.  This quick writing helps the writer activate schema and allows for reflection.

2 Minutes: (In class I have students share with a partner what they think they know.)  

II.  Build More Background Knowledge

Looking at this painting by Terpning use one of the two graphic organizer/worksheet to examine the picture.  (I put the students in a small group to do this section.)

Primary Source Thinking Triangle adapted from Dr. Berie Kingore's Thinking Triangle Strategy

Read the following articles/posts

The West

As you read you may find words that are unfamiliar to you.  Write them here and your “hunch” definition of the word based on context and your own background understanding.  Look for key words - ideas.  Write your working definition or best guess.  Compare your list to others after reading, then craft a revised definition.

WordI think it means ... “Guess-finition”Now I think ... Definition

Quick Write #2 (5 Minutes):  What is this about:  Summarize your passage here.

Second Class Period
III.  Landscape of History Video ( show in 5 minute segments this video is 20 minutes long). Video from Nez Perce National Trail

1st Segment 0- 5:08
 Pose question - Why did the US government want the Nez Perce moved from their homeland in Oregon's Wallowa Valley?

2nd Segment 5:08 - 9:00 minutes  Question:  What events contributed to the Nez Perce flight?

3rd Segment 9:00 - 13:00 minutes Question:  Describe what happened at Big Hole Montana.  Why were they trying to reach the Crow Tribe?

4th Segment 13:00 - 20:00 Minutes  Question:  What made Chief Joseph surrender?

Pause between each segment for a thinking review.  (5-7 min Repeated)
1.  Students in groups discuss what they heard.
2.  Student task is to draw conclusions, make inferences, pose additional questions and sometimes argue ambiguous points.
3.  Teacher listens, poses guiding questions (drill down method) clarifies confusion and checks for understanding.
4.  Repeat cycle 3 to 4 times as time allows.
5.  Students may develop a graphic organizer of anchor chart during these segments to capture their thinking.

IV.  Report out and final debrief. (10-15 min)
1.  Students in groups report out. They share their conclusions with the class.
2.  Teacher looks for development of understanding of the topic.
3.  Teacher continues to expand and clarify in response to student reports.

V.  Write your way out.  (3-5 min)

1.  Individual reflection.
2.  Now what do you know?
3.  Students write what they now understand.

VI.  Final Clues -  What is the connection to the first three pictures?  (Hand out these three articles for each group to read)

Seattle Star Sept 09, 1904 -Wa-win-te-pe-koet Laments the Mamaloose of the Great Indian


Terpning Painting

Monday, January 14, 2013

Power of Pictures - part 2

Information on this photo can be found at the bottom of the post.

Looking at the historic photo and using the Photo Analysis Guide I would make these notes under 

Observations / What I see
  • Eleven men sitting on a steel beam high above the skyline
  • They are not wearing safety gear or rope 
  • Most are wearing soft caps
  • I see skyscrapers below them
  • Some men are reading newspapers
  • Some men are eating
  • There is a wire cable on the right side of the picture
  • It looks like a candid shot
  • Three men are wearing coveralls
  • One man is shirtless
  • One man is wearing just an undershirt
  • Old fashioned clothing
  • Probably taken during the summer - based on the clothing the men are wearing (one is shirtless)
  • I see men sitting on a steel beam (girder) and it makes me think of Mohawk ironworkers who helped build many New York  skyscrapers.

Interpretation/ What I Infer
1.  Why was this photograph taken?  Documenting the building of a new skyscraper.
2.  What is interesting or surprising about the photograph?  How casually the men are treating the great height.  They are sitting on steal beam taking a lunch break.
3.  What is unique about this image that the photographer wanted to capture.  How relaxed and comfortable the men were.  The photographer must also be up high to get this shot.
4.  Why did this photograph survive?  Looks like part of a collection of a professional photographer.
5.  Do you think this photograph is a legitimate historical document?  Yes
6.  Does the photograph accurately reflect anything about a way of life during this historical period?  Worker Safety was not a high priority at this time.  What do you know about this time period?  Mohawk Indians were well respected ironworkers.
7.  What uses might have been made of this photograph during its initial existence?  Documenting the building of this skyscraper.
8.  What can you conclude from what you see?  These men did not have a fear of heights!  They must have been very agile and strong.

Research / What I want to Investigate

1.  Compose research questions that need further investigation based on your observation of this photograph.

Who was the photographer?  
What other pictures did he take?
What building was he documenting?
Who were the men on the steel beam?
When did safety laws get passed?

The analysis of this photograph in class makes a great hook for further research.  It also helps build anchor points to hang new information on.

There are two picture books that I use as connections:  Sky Boys:  How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson. (Many of Lewis Hines photos can be seen on the end papers of the book.)  The second book is Sky Dancers by Connie Ann Kirk, Christy Hale.

Photo Caption: Construction Workers building the Empire State Building/Lewis Hines photographer


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Capturing a Moment in Time

Doesn't everybody observe?  I always thought I was pretty observant.  Today we were driving home from Miles City.  Yesterday we caught the tail end of a snowstorm and got around 6 inches of snow.  When we traveled yesterday the temperature in the pickup ranged between 6 and 12 degrees not counting windchill.

Today the sun was bright if not overly warm but at least the wind was not out and about.  I watched many hawks and eagles and even crows out scouting for dinner.   I have always thought of Crows (the bird species) as carrion eaters.  I never thought of them as hunters.

From my window I watched a crow sitting on a fence post.  As we got closer I noticed that he had a mouse in his talons.  Ah the camera was not ready as we sped by.

Thursday afternoon as I got into my car and drove to the corner.  I looked up and saw a bald eagle flying about 10 or 15 feet above the ground.  I watched in awe.  I wanted to ask him what he was doing in town.

In the two years since I started taking  pictures; I find myself looking for more opportunities.  I find I have become a better observer.

Tonight the dogs are upstairs with us.  Sammi laid her head on my knee and her big whiskey colored eyes seemed to say, "I missed you mom."  Baby lay at Dan's feet.  The other two lay near by.  To know the love of a companion animal is to know unconditional love at its finest.

The magic of observing for me is capturing that small moment in my mind and heart.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Have You Heard of Wheat Belly?

In December when I thought about my one little word, I kept sensing the word healing.  My thyroid prescription was just about expired.  I needed an appointment to get a new one.  When I talked to the   appointment desk in early December they told me since I hadn't seen my doctor for several years (I had seen his PAs).  They would have to treat me as a new patient and the first available appointment was in May of 2013.  I then asked if a different doctor could see me.  One was available on Jan 2, 2013.  The last of my pills would run out Jan 3, 2013.

I was impressed with how thorough this new doctor is.  His office even returned my phone calls!  He read my earlier lab report and was concerned with my elevated liver enzymes.  So he ordered another test.

As I drove home I reviewed all the tests I had agreed to take (mammogram etc).  I then thought about my one little word and laughed.  Of course I would need a baseline to judge healing.    Thursday the lab reports came back.  I needed to go in to have more blood drawn for further tests.

Friday when I called about the results I was told he was running late and hadn't been able to review the labs.  So over the weekend I started researching beginning with the Mayo Clinic website.  I ruled out many possibilities.  As I searched further I  started reading first about Celiac Disease (gluten sensitivity).  Eventually I came across the words "Wheat Belly"  I remembered seeing a headline about that in connection with Dr Oz.

Dr William Davis believes that eating wheat can cause many of the symptoms and diseases listed below.  When I looked at the long list I realized I was experiencing many symptoms on the list.  As I continued to look at the symptoms I realize I need to become proactive.  I need to change what I eat and see if that makes a difference in how I feel.

  • joint pain
  • difficulty walking
  • obesity
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • skin problems
  • inflammation
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • problems with balance
  • neurological problems
  • foggy thinking
  • dementia
  • fatigue
The other part is how many products have wheat or wheat flour as one of the ingredients.  Wheat and wheat flour are ingredients in most of our daily food.  I read the label on a package of red licorice, you guessed it "wheat flour" was clearly written as one of the ingredients.

Today the doctor's office called me my test came back negative.  The doctor is going to run a new set  of tests.  I asked if gluten sensitivity could cause an elevated reading.  They told me they didn't think so.  I think I need to test this theory myself.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Before the Road Closes

Gathering clouds
Hovering Around Spires of Rock,

Earth's Projectiles
Shades of Gray
Paint the Sky

Glimpses of nature's marvels
Trumpeter swans
Big Horn Sheep

Land Sculpted With
Earth's Fire
Heaven's Wind.

For Another Year
The Road
We Drive On.