“Father or Fanatic?” Digital Propaganda Unit Project

Pro Lenin from ISSH on Vimeo.

Pro Lenin from ISSH on Vimeo.

I have been fortunate to work with the ISSH Grade 10 English teacher on a unit project which combined the learning goals of both the Pre-AP Grade 10 Russian Revolution Unit and his unit based on  Animal Farm . This project has evolved from one that Adam Seldis, Adam Clark and I collaborated on in 2012. I first tried this project in Theory of Knowledge and blogged about the results. However, after redesigning the project based on my first experience, I found this version of the project much more useful and the results were much better.

The Russian Revolution Unit Project assignment sheet and rubric are included here.

The assignment was introduced by showing two short sample videos in which opposing sides were shown of the same historical topic. All of the information was based on historically accurate materials. In English class, the teacher taught students propaganda techniques that they would then use in the videos. Students were given one double period each week for three weeks to work. Their projects were presented on the final Thursday. We divided the students randomly.

We offered several topics related to the Russian Revolution Unit from which they could choose. Each team chose a topic, like Lenin or Stalin. They then partnered with one other group and then took a positon, Pro-Lenin or Anti-Lenin, for example.

This project went well.

We wanted the students to think critically about how to use digital media to create a piece of propaganda based on historical research. We instructed the students that they should use either a Google Doc, Diigo, or another resource where they could compile and store images and articles. We believed that the strongest propaganda pieces could use the same images as the opposition but slant the interpretation of the images using music, voiceover, text, and placing the image within a swquence of other images. To support this, one class period was designated as time for collaboration between two groups with the same topic. There were healthy, ongoing discussions as to which images the two groups would agree to use. It was stipulated that the images could not be photoshopped. However, students could use almost any other editorial method to shape the meaning of an image. The two Lenin videos included above show how students made the most of these tools.

Based on their editing, selection of images, music, text, graphics and pacing, Grade 10 students are aware of the methods used by advertisers and entertainers to communicate with consumers. These projects demonstrated that students can selectively and cleverly adapt what they have seen and heard for their own purposes. This project should help students to take the next step and be able to cognitively organize what they know by using the terminology of propaganda.

We wanted students to see these historical actors and events from the point of view of a Soviet citizen or leader who would want positive representations. On the other hand, the same historical actors and events could also be seen from the point of view of a Western government or a Soviet dissident. Further, both points of view could be in play at the same time but to different audiences.

I liked this project as part of a Pre-Advanced Placement (AP) or IB course. This further prepares students to look for additional layers layers of meaning when they are evaluating primary and secondary evidence.

In AP History courses, historical analysis questions like this are common and the best students can see each piece of evidence from more than one point of view. In AP United States History (APUSH), historians frequently spar over the contributions of figures like Andrew Jackson, Robber Barons and Richard Nixon. While in AP European History, we must assess the legacies of Martin Luther, Klemens von Metternich and Mikhail Gorbachev, among others.

We also wanted the students to review Fair Use and Public Domain from the first semester.

From the student surveys, we are learning how to make this project better for next year.

One area that I would especially like to work on is how to effectively include the bibliography and Fair Use credits in the project. Students have tried including this information in the credit roll at the end, but it is hard to read. Some groups have inserted this information in the summary box that goes with each Vimeo video, but that takes too much space away from the thumbnails for other videos. I will need to ask colleagues who assign similar work for advice.

The second area for reflection is which images and film clips are appropriate. One or two groups used a few images which might have been from Germany instead of the Soviet Union. I think that, in the future, students should be required to use images that they are reasonably certain represent the topic and time period.

If you have suggestions, feel free to pass them along.

Garry Leroy Baker


Digital Project Rubric

I have created the rubric for the Family Digital History Project that my Grade 10 students. My goal is to include more authentic opportunities for them to work as historians.

With this rubric I wanted to incorporate as many COETAIL elements as possible while confining expectations to the skills that were most essential to practicing scholarly research and digital publishing.

While I planned the project and the rubric, I took inspiration from other model teachers. One site that was valuable as I questioned my own assignment was from Stanford University School of Education. The Assessing Teacher Technology Projects rubric gave me ideas for questions to ask about the assignment that I created. I am saving the questions at the end of the rubric to use as part of my class survey when I ask for feedback. The SAMR model was also a useful guide in the design process. Andrea Hernandez and Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano created this very visual SAMR model that others might use.

Library of Congress Photograph

The most significant modification/redefinition that I wanted to include was Phase 3:  Working as a Historian. This is where I wanted to encourage students to find publishing outlets from which they could request, and respond to, feedback. This was a challenge because I wanted to suggest a variety of options that could work with students with a range of outside contacts. Some students are from academic families and they might have an easier time contacting experts in different fields. Other options included publishing on Vimeo and submitting to a museum or organization for inclusion in their archive. I thought that options like these would be available to everyone. For example, if a student’s topic was Japanese Internment in the United States, they might submit their final digital project to the Topaz Museum, the National Park Service which operates Manzanar, or Heart Mountain.

I would appreciate any suggestions that you would offer on either the rubric or overall assignment. There is a degree of experimentation with all projects like this. Fortunately, I have enthusiastic students, supportive colleagues, and committed administrators who agree that this is the best approach.

Garry Leroy Baker



Cold War Mashup Projects: The Results


This week my Grade 10 students completed their Cold War Mashup projects. I will include two of the 20 final projects here as samples. I learned a lot from the students by teaching this project.

I had planned for students to turn in their final project on blank DVDs so that I would have a reliable copy. That turned out to be time consuming. Not all of the file types (.mp4, .mov) would play on my Mac, so that slowed my ability to assess and report back to students. Next time I would give the students a window of two or three days in which to have the projects uploaded to the school’s Vimeo account. From there I could embed or save a copy to my own drive.

I also learned that I could use reliable DVD-ripping software. Students usually began with video files downloaded from Youtube or Quicktime screen capturing. The results were sometimes not as clear as they might have been if they could have started with their own video file. I have started to ask for software suggestions.

I will have project premiers in class this week. It will be valuable for students to have their videos screened for their peers and receive feedback. I would also encourage everyone to upload to Vimeo and generate traffic so that more people can respond to their work.

I will also want to continue to coach the selection of text font, subtitles when needed, colors, and including establishing shots. Most of these projects could be improved with some refinement in one or more of these areas.

Finally, when I assign this project again, I would include one lesson in which we watch a short movie. It might be Chaplin or Mickey Mouse. The purpose would be to note the ways in which directors use film to tell a story.

Overall, I was pleased with the results and the skills that students practiced while I coached in a flipped style. I look forward to doing more with this in the future.

Garry Leroy Baker

Play, Question, Learn

The final Grade 10 topic is the Cold War. I had thought before how play and experimentation could be guiding philosophies for this unit. I built upon an earlier post about creating mashups by assigning the students a unit project in which they create either  a mashup or remix to tell part of the Cold War story. I wrote the rubric and assignment sheet based in part on the work of Andrew Churches. I will post student samples when they are complete.
I made a sample mashup using Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl which I have embedded at the beginning of this post. So far it has gone well. Partners are exploring cartoon archives for public domain material while cross referencing what they find with what they know, and need to find out, about the Cold War topics they have chosen to illustrate. It is an opportunity for them to explore, experiment, and be creative with content and media in a new way. As a flipped assignment, I provide coaching or guidance when I am asked and, occasionally, when I see that a word of encouragement might be good. The students are playing constructively for these three weeks in a setting in which content is the vehicle for practicing questioning, self-directed understanding, and communicating effectively with video. As this New York Times article points out, trying can sometimes be more valuable than extensive planning and history teaching can sometimes be more valuable as a compass than a map.
 This American Revolution role-playing game is the type of activity that I enjoy running in my classes. With a flipped approach, students can use the activity to better understand what the factors were which may have changed an outcome in history. Sometimes I am divided on what I think of the flipped philosophy. I wonder; was assigning textbook readings a flipped approach we used in the past? It was. However, teachers always had to choose from four or five major textbooks and try to adapt our dynamic lessons, and students, to the static readings. Now, I can create resources with my students in mind.  I am familiar with what they have already learned this school year and in a previous year. I know some of their common references, and can refer to those. That I think is the real advancement.
A friend says that the best PD workshops do not teach you something new, but instead remind us of what we know we should be working toward. Like ESL in the Mainstream, planning instruction using a video game model fits that description. I will be trying to include their graphic structure to teaching and learning. One area that I would like to be teaching better is multiple choice for external exams, like Advanced Placement  (AP). The College Board advocates an open enrollment approach to AP classes; if a student wants to be in class and will work hard, he or she should be permitted to take the course. I agree with this approach. My AP European History and AP United States History courses should be designed to work with students for whom English might be a second or third language, this content is relatively new, and are balancing a busy schedule and class load. I found something I could use using video games as a structure.
Perhaps a student could take the first diagnostic MC test and that score out of 40 or 50 possible could be the “starting point” from which we track progress. Incremental goals could be set. For example, for Unit 2 we could agree on a 10% improvement over the Unit 1 score. Further, each student could agree with me on what would constitute an A, B, and C with this approach. With the way that I weigh the essay portion of AP tests, the writing could take a similar approach but would be more holistic and identifiable skills, rather than content, could be the focus.
One thing that I appreciate about teaching at ISSH is that the admin team supports experimentation by the teachers. I work with many teachers who are accomplished in their fields. The admin team encourages teachers to innovate and experiment. That can help make the school an exciting place to teach.
If you matched Flipped Classroom with New Culture of Learning, you would have video links or video lectures for homework with the class time dedicated to simulations, writing, or the creation of new research questions that students could then pursue with the teachers’ resources or online materials. In my Grade 10 class, the current unit is China:  Opium Wars to Cultural Revolution. I keep materials linked to my wikipage for students to explore and during class I answer questions or provide other support, if needed. Otherwise, students are teaching themselves and each other, the content. I have been short writing tasks to help them better understand important changes with Mao. Students do ask very good questions. Lately, these are a few of the questions I have been asked:
–Was it true that Chiang Kaishek’s Nationalist army was exhausted from fighting the Japanese Army (1939-1945), so that it was too weak to fight Mao’s Red Army when the civil war resumed in 1945?
–Why did Mao pick Hua Guafang as his successor if Hua was associated with the Liu Shiaxi’s anti-Mao moderates during the Cultural Revolution?
–Was Emperor Puyi the son of Emerpeor Guangxu?
These were all questions that I had not heard before and could only suggest answers. I keep two good China books on hand, Spence’s Search for Modern China and Chang and Halliday’s Mao: The unknown story.
It was summed up well by Thomas and Brown in their interview with Forbes:
Part of the point we try to make in the book is that inquiry is not about asking a “right” question, but it is a process of asking increasingly better questions. And I think we would say that the best questions are the one that ignites a student’s passion and cultivates their imagination. And it is very easy to tell when that is happening. When students have passion and enthusiasm, it is infectious and impossible to hide.
This is an approach worth developing.
Garry Leroy Baker

Napoleon and the Weather

I read Chie Mizukoshi’s post and it helped me to better understand how connectivism would work in the classroom.

It reminded me of the esteemed Chinese translator Arthur Waley. My favorite anecdote about Waley came from my Mandarin professor in university, who told us that Waley never travelled to China. It seemed unbelievable, and funny, at the time. I am starting to become convinced that Waley and other homebodies were correct and that their approach bodes well for global collaboration and connectivism as part of the digital classroom. We could stop viewing digital resources as substitutes for real textbooks and lectures. Instead, MOOCs, open resources, and online learning communities are the Waley experience writ large. We now have many resources available to us to learn about a country, for example, that we might be able to really grasp or understand many more nuances of a country, like China, because we can now learn about it and visualize many more of its facets. Using infographics and datasets, we can better conceive of economic growth, population factors, and migratory patterns. With Harvard’s GIS that I wrote about in an earlier post, we can see patterns that were invisible to scholars and experts just ten years ago.

Connectivism could be a way to organize history and humanities teaching with this outlook, though it requires rethinking the learning goals. Like using chaos theory for English teaching, history would be full of opportunities to seek connections both between historical events and human, documentary, and data sources. The goals would shift from acquiring content knowledge to asking good questions. Once good questions have been formed, further research can be pursued with the understanding that answers are dependent on the information available today.
I could model this approach when teaching the French Revolution. As a fan of history, I have always wondered why brutal winters appear to correspond with invasions of Russia, like 1707, 1812, and 1941-1942. Would it be possible that there is a link between a by-product of European warfare, like gunpowder smoke, and climactic swings? It would not seem reasonable. I would consult datasets, journals, climate and Russian history experts to try to find possible links. Students could then pursue their own research questions with the understanding that the learning would be in taking advantage of as many diverse and useful resources as possible.
Garry Leroy Baker



Project Based and Challenge Based Learning

I have been thinking about Project Based Learning and Challenge Based Learning for several months. It has been in the past two weeks that my understanding of how each can be applied well has improved. I began with sorting some real-world examples:

Project Based Learning examples would be Sarah Outen’s epic adventure, Model United Nations (MUN), and, a few years ago, when I wanted to learn how to use my South Korean driver’s license to acquire a Japanese license without taking the written test and the driving test. A person wants to learn something that will help them to do something else.

CBL: What can you do for someone else today?

Challenge Based Learning would include Jody Williams land mine campaign, ISKL’s work with the Turtle Conservation SocietyNepal Seeds, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Second Harvest Japan. These are individuals and groups who look for solutions that they can implement themselves.

Mayuka Thais visited our high school this week as part of Earth Day activities. She became active in helping to raise funds to move elephants from zoos to sanctuaries several years ago. This music video is one of several projects that she has worked on in addition to speaking to audiences in the US and Japan.  I appreciated the work that she is doing and it gave me an opportunity to speak to my Grade 10 students about a chance they have to step from Project Based to Challenge Based Learning in May.

This is the UbD Plan for the CBL extension activity. It has some general wording because each group will begin with research on a different topic and choose different goals.

Project Title:  CBL Action Plan

Standards Met: NETs

1. Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:
a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

2. Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:
a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.

d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

3. Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:

c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.

4. Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students:

b. plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.

c.collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

d. use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

Enduring Understanding:

Individuals can choose to make changes if they select issues they are interested in and take action that is within their abilities.

Essential Questions:

What can I do to make a positive change?


Goal: To make a positive change

Role: Plan, organize, implement

Audience: Will vary. Primarily students, family, and friends in Tokyo and Japan.

Situation: You have been invited to plan and implement an event or activity in which you can bring positive change.


1) Research and presentation on a topic of interest. Past student research topics have included:  clean water, teenage prostitution in developing nations, mangrove forests.

2) A viable plan which would bring about a positive change.

3) Culminating video

Standards or Criteria: Did the plan make the changes desired?

Six Facets of Understanding:

Explain: Draft plan which outlines the goals and methods each project group will use.

Interpret: Students look at other examples of Challenge Based Learning provided as general models for their own action plans.

Apply: Students design and implement a solution to a problem that they have identified from their research projects.

Have perspective: Students look at their own resources to see what they can do.

Empathize:  Students see the issue from the viewpoint of others and anticipate how to reach and mobilize others to meet the plan’s goal.

Have self-knowledge: Students reflect on how successful their projects were in combining the resources that they had available and their plan to make the change that they identified.

We have about five weeks left of this semester for the students to complete the CBL enhancement. I imagine that, of the nine groups, all will design actionable plans. Depending on the reach of each of the CBL plans, perhaps two to three may implement their plans. I will include samples of students’ action plans in a future post, and videos which may be finished. Primarily I see this as a chance to try this approach and learn along with the students.
Garry Leroy Baker

It Takes a Village: Full Tech Integration Plan

Jennifer Anderson’s blog post was a great overview. I liked the analogy she created between IT and the way sea life can use camouflage. In class, people should not notice whether a presentation was created in PowerPoint, Google Docs, or Prezi if learning takes place. If that is the goal, how is it attainable?

We have all come to agree that it is the responsibility of everyone in the school community, teachers, technology and media staff, administrators, and heads of department, to teach to NETs or other appropriate standards. We cannot rely on a technology or computer applications teacher to prepare students to use software or online applications. Just as appropriate moral values or academic standards are taught and modeled by everyone, teaching technology belongs to all of us. So the question is how to ensure that the standards are being met with cohesion? By cohesion, I mean that it becomes so integrated and unified with the original school structure as to appear camouflaged.

While everyone has a role, each position has a different role and is in a unique position to support student learning and classroom instruction. I am interested in how this would work in a school with 600 students (K-12) in which faculty and administrators have the advantage of innovating quickly but may already be serving in several roles. These are the ways in which I envision each person applying their potential strengths in order to fully integrate technology into learning.

Technology Integration Specialist (TIS)-based approach was novel and should be incorporated. Tom Johnson’s blog made a good case for why this person should be on staff and how they could both lead and support faculty and administrators in integrating technology. This was thought-provoking because I would have first thought of this person as being the Head of Media Technologies or belonging to that office. This model appears more flexible. This person, or persons, could be related to the office or, perhaps more appropriately, be a teacher who also fills this role. A teacher would maintain the daily experience of teaching and innovating with technologies available and might be easier meet with if the TIS were also part of a department, like Social Studies or Science.

A Head of Department (HOD) could might make a good candidate for ITS. They are experts in the content area, are familiar with the visions and values of the school community and would recognize when integration would clash with a school value, as Nick Bilton suggests, with time for reflection, prayer, and mediation. HODs also could coach teachers in how to rethink teaching methods and potential outcomes with 1:1, Project-Based or Challenge-Based Learning, and other innovations. Since HODs work daily with teachers in their departments, it could also be a person that teachers respect and are willing to share stories of successes and failures along the way.

Teachers, working within the school-based team, will be able to bring useful technologies into the classroom in several ways. For example, the Edutopia article came to the real value of technology integration, “…effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach.” This is where educators can serve. Lecturing has some benefits for some students, but those students will ask for explanations when they are ready. The myriad approaches to the Flipped Classroom philosophy supply examples of how teachers can teach effectively this way.

However, not all technologies fit the model. Too often, Smartboards and their cousins are used as a new kind of lecture tool, involving only the teacher or perhaps one student at a time. The Student Response Systems referred to in the Wikipedia article on technology integration also sound limited in how much decision making is in the hands of students. E-portfolios are a step closer, if the content and skills were student-driven. Teachers will need to work with the ITS, other teachers, HODs, and the IT department in order to evaluate technologies before and after adoption to see how they fit the SAMR model.

For teachers, the guiding philosophy is primarily to add resources previously unavailable to most classrooms. In my case, that might be access to archives, original documents as in the FSA project, or historians and scholars through Skype or email. The technology available becomes the way that teachers and students can access these resources, analyze the materials, and display and publish results.

Teachers will want to explore online content to possibly modify and adopt for their own students. I was impressed with Prof. Edward L. Ayers’ course The Rise and Fall of the Slave South  at the University of VirginiaLooking through his materials, it was clear to see how the SMAR + TPCK model could be applied to teaching a unit in high school history that would create an opportunity to do the work of historians using online and print primary and secondary resources. This was a good site for understanding sources both tools for students and teachers to use and the accompanying interviews with scholars, unique in history teacher resources.

I found the SAMR to be a useful guide to thinking about which projects begin to reach the event horizon of technology integration, after which you teach in a true student-centered, project-based learning environment without wanting to go back to teacher-centeredness. I will be using SMAR with this technology matrix as a guide for planning upcoming units. Like good Understanding by Design, it is helpful to ask yourself questions as you go along in the planning and revising stages of units.

Ultimately, it is not the technology that teaches. We teach by knowing what the grade-approprite content and skills are for our students. We read journals in order to remain current with the content of our courses. We should also be exposed to, and be experimenting with, new applications like infographics, CIS applications, and video, for instance, in order to better see how each can support student learning.

Students can offer their assessments of how technology integration is going. We often speak of the students, but may not speak often enough to the students for insightful feedback that informs planning and implementation.

Administrators and principals are visionaries and managers. They see the whole student as part of the whole school and his or her own family. With this position, they can liase with parents and faculty. Principals and heads of schools generally know a school community well and understand its values. They would be the ones to help ensure that the technologies and methodologies that are adapted continue to generally fit the spirit and values of the school. This is very important. These are the team members who support the school’s founding vision and values in the long term.

Vertical team building is an element that Jeff Utecht highlighted in Evaluating Technology Use in the Classroom, he offers clear guidelines that administrators and Heads of Department can use to critically evaluate how technologies are being used. This style of vertical team building is important step for success. There are activities which may appear cutting edge, which, when evaluated correctly, are old things in new ways. Teachers who create projects which are new things in new ways, the ultimate goal, might not be noticed because what they are presenting does not have something eye-catching, like a Vimeo link. This criteria guide would help administrators and Heads of Department see past surface appearances to recognize what is being accomplished and then evaluate on merits. It would also give feedback to teachers in order to better help them to see when their projects or activities are making the most of the resources available

Technology in the classroom should be like windows: we see past the media to the information and gain better understanding of the concepts. Just as children ask for books but what they want is a story. Lessons in class can be optimized by merging the right technologies and activities.

Garry Leroy Baker

Betty Boop will be playing the part of Richard Nixon

Mashup Mingus from ISSH on Vimeo.

What would you get if you combined a political address with great jazz and your target demographic was the Remix Generation? Mashup Mingus from ISSH on Vimeo.

Digital storytelling is an obvious partner to history teaching and learning. With the tools easily learned and widely available, digital publishing has quickly joined history’s pillars of books, photographs, and documentaries to convey what has happened and why. The challenge is how to use it well. Digital projects can be time consuming so the content and skills to be learned or practiced should be proportional.  Author Tanita S. Davis posted a good example of this kind of digital storytelling from Singapore American School on her blog.I think that I have found two projects which meet the criteria.

Inspired by the many tools, like Garage Band and iMovie, my Grade 10 students created Digital History Projects in which they told the story of someone in their family using an interview, background research, and, when available, family photos. The results were pretty good. It was an opportunity for students to do the work of historians while applying digital tools and techniques they were excited to learn. When I have developed more experience with this project, I would be interested in supporting students who wanted to submit their work to the National History Day Contest.

I learned about the Internet Archive this week. This has great video and audio resources which are searchable with Creative Commons.

My Grade 10 History students’ final topic this year is the Cold War. I am drafting a unit project in which students would mashup video to tell parts of the Cold War story. I like the Cold War as the basis because the topics are usually presented in segments with little linear narrative to string each to the others. We teach Yalta, Korean War, Hungary 1956, Berlin Wall, Marshall Plan, Cuban Missile Crisis and Prague Spring, for example. A mashup could tell the story of a decade like the 1960s or three interrelated events.

As I watched the Betty Boop cartoons, I recognized how a mashup could be created from three or four to illustrate many different stories. Using Betty Boop’s Snow White and Minnie the Moocher, a story could be crafted about post-1945 Germany. Germany, played by Betty Boop, could experience the struggles between USA-NATO and the USSR-Warsaw Pact. NATO could be played by the seven dwarfs. If you wanted to teach detente, it would be easy to cast Betty as Nixon and find two others to play Mao and Brezhnev.

Popeye stories would also work well. Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl reappear. Perhaps the three could play the US, USSR, and different strategic aims: Berlin, Korea, Vietnam. At the 3:40 point of the episode included, Popeye and Bluto compete to plow a field. That could be used to illustrate the Marshal Plan. Again, this project is in draft form. The important element is that the source material is available and licensed to create something humorous, creative, original and educational.

The final mashups would indicate how well a group understands the historical events.  The video, though, would be secondary to the process. I would build in steps that demonstrate, research, planning, storyboarding, and appropriate bibliographic citations. The media will change in the future, but these essential steps should remain constants of good scholarship.

I tried a mashup. My thought was what would you get if you combined a political address with great jazz and your target demographic was the Remix Generation?

I admit that I have things to learn about creating a sense of story and making my mashup more transformative of the original. I enjoyed combining the media and look forward to the next project.

The step that I am working on now is downloading and importing the source video to iMovie, where it can be edited to tell the story that I choose to model. Music and voice-over would follow. The Betty Boop Jump video below is an experiment. This is what I am learning to do so that I can coach others.

Betty Jump from ISSH on Vimeo.

Your advice is welcome.

Garry Leroy Baker

UN Secretary General Ad Campaign

The assignment that I gave to my students was to create a 60-second ad. The ad would support or disparage the candidacy of a current controversial world leader for the fictional election to the position of United Nations Secretary General in 2012. Student groups were given the assignment sheet, rubric, and shown an exemplar that I created with Adam Seldis and Adam Clark. I also referred students to two Mitt Romney ads. Students were required to use factual information only but present it to support their view of the candidate that they chose.

This is the assignment sheet that I gave to the students.This is the assignment summary for teachers that my group created and the rubric.

The group that created this ad spent some time viewing campaign ads for the 2012 Russian Presidential election. They borrowed some of the feel of those ads which targeted younger voters. Overall, I thought that their use of text, music, images, and wording were cohesive in creating the overall message. They have met the assignment’s challenge to make a leader, who can be seen as unpopular in the West, appear more viable.

When I use this assignment again, there are a few modifications that I would make. The first would be to specify, or ask the groups to specify, the target demographic. This ad appears targeted to 18-24 year old females. It might be a greater stretch if the assignment specified 60-75 retired men and women pensioners. There should be greater emphasis placed on citing the sources of the photos and music. That is a good digital habit that we all should practice. I had originally presented samples that used voice-over for narration. I think it would give the fictional ads more impact and substance, but I would like to think about that more before I make the decision for next time.

Garry Leroy Baker

Art, Mashup and Project-Based Learning

Mixup, Mashup, Remix. Pop did it with newspapers. Dadists did it with teacups. You could say that  Raphael did it with the Greek philosophy. What is promising today is that the amount of content is limitless and the possibilities boundless with a simple laptop and a goal or concept.

I have been looking for  a better way to teach art movements in AP European History and AP United States History this year. I think mashup and remix could be the way to go.

What I have found is that students can usually learn and remember the main characteristics of art movements. Italian Renaissance was realistic and more secular than Byzantine. Romanticism rejected the extremes of Enlightenment and industrialization. Surrealism attempted to incorporate Freudian psychology and Einsteinian physics. What I have been looking for is a way to teach the art movements that will help students retain and deepen their understanding beyond this academic year.

The assignment I am developing would be based on three steps. The first would be discovery in which they identify the main characteristics from a set of prints. The second would be a flipped-lecture on the artistic movement and its genealogy. The third would be a remix in which students apply the style and philosophy of the artistic movement create their own video or photographic work.

The successful project would take about a week to complete. In this, students would produce their own works using the philosophies and approaches that the artists of the specified movements followed. For example, I would like students to have a clearer understanding of the work of Cubists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque and the goals involved. They would need to be able to translate an understanding of Cubism’s characteristics and way of viewing the world to their own working piece.

For this project, students would use a combination of their own video/images and those taken from sites, supported by music and/or sounds, to replicate the Cubists goals of seeing a subject from multiple viewpoints simultaneously, flat colors to avoid emotional responses, overlapping planes, no perspective, and traditional African and Oceanic artistic inspirations. I have written before about how Man with a Movie Camera related Russian avant-garde art to film. I am sure that once a student completed this project they could confidently discuss Cubism alone or as it might be contrasted with another Western art movement.

Based on our project in which my group developed campaign ads for UN Secretary General candidates, students will need a good example that I create, a clear rubric, a review of Fair Use, and software suggestions.  I will be working on my sample over the next two weeks and anticipate having it ready to show to my AP class during the upcoming academic unit. I will link to it here when it is ready.

Garry Leroy Baker