The Selective and Strategic Use of Technology in the Era of Digital Learning

I believe technology is a vital tool that can unlock so many new possibilities, especially within the classroom. This is evident by the increasing omnipresence of technology in the student experience. This past year in distance learning has truly put technology to the test. While it is an incredible testament to the modern era that classes were able to continue virtually, learning based entirely in technology was not without its severe challenges. From Zoom fatigue, to blue-light induced headaches, to the endless distractions of the Internet during online classes, it is clear that technology in education has its limits. Too much of a good thing can, indeed, be a bad thing.

Therefore, it is vital that educators are intentional about the types and frequency of technological tools used in the classroom. My belief is that technology should not be used to simply replace traditional educational tools, but it ought to expand beyond previous capabilities to create new opportunities for student growth. With this philosophy in mind, the posts that make up my portfolio each use technological tools to extend beyond the restraints of traditional in-person tools in order to more effectively teach key Social Studies concepts.

First, my post “A Supply and Demand Story: Differentiated Google Form” allows students to choose their own adventure in setting up a shop, and the online format provides them with immediate feedback to their answers and corresponding resources. Google Forms allows me to automatically differentiate my content based on the interests and needs of each individual learner, which would be an otherwise very challenging task to do in real time.

Another of my posts, which is entitled “Visualizing A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey,” connects abstract names and ideas to specific places on a map through the use of Google MyMaps. When discussing history (especially World History) it is often difficult for student to connect abstract concepts or facts to the actual, concrete places they took place. Students follow the journey of Jakob Blakinsky, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, as he was moved to various concentration and labor camps. Discussion questions and additional resources accompany each location on the map, providing students with a clearer picture of important historical concepts.

Lastly, my post entitled “Unsung Stories of WWII” uses Google Sites as a central hub to encapsulate several different technological tools that expand learning. This technology allows students to engage with the content in real time, both individually and collaboratively. It provides them with links internet resources and multi-media videos to appeal to different types of learners, and it also includes a Google Form that elicits quick responses to gauge student understandings. In these ways, the online format of this lesson on Google Sites expands beyond the capabilities of a paper-and-pencil lesson.

Ms. Duncan’s Book of Classroom Management

Audience: Students in my class or their parents. I would intend to give this to the students and families in my class at the very beginning of the school year as an introduction to myself as a teacher, my teaching style, and our classroom guidelines.

Purpose of this Book: This book is intended to inform my students and their families of my classroom policies. It provides them with a clear and comprehensible idea of what my expectations are for students in my classroom. I might expand this in the future to also include my classroom syllabus for easy reference.

How to Graph a Supply Curve

Lesson Context: This video is intended to supplement instruction during my students’ asynchronous class period. It is in the middle of a unit on Supply and Demand, and we just learned about the Law of Supply in the previous synchronous lesson.

Audience: The audience for this video is students in my 10th grade Economics class or anyone else who wants help learning Economics.

Purpose: The purpose of this video is to aid my students in understanding how to take information from a supply schedule and graph it to create a supply curve. This is intended to help them with their asynchronous assignment, which asks them to graph supply curves.

Using A Screencast: Recording a screencast of this process helps my students’ understanding of their assignment because to illustrates the step by step process they should follow. This is especially helpful during asynchronous classes where I am not there to help them in person.

 Video: How to Graph a Supply Curve

Unsung Stories of WWII: A Google Sites Lesson

Lesson Title: Unsung Stories of WWII

Target Student Group: 9th Grade Modern World History class

Lesson Context: This lesson was taught in the middle of a unit about World War II in order to illustrate the key concepts they learned in the previous lessons, such as the alliances of the war, Pearl Harbor and Japanese internment.

Objectives for this Lesson:

  • Students will be able to describe the stories of underrepresented groups in WWII history and explain why they are significant.
  • Students will be able to read and summarize text relating to each story’s article.

Google Sites helps me to achieve these objectives because it provides one key place for the many different types of resources I need to give to my students. Especially because each group is working on a different story, it would be very confusing and difficult to send so many links in the chat function of our online classes. This site allows me to just send one link to my students for all the resources they need.

Click on the image below to view the lesson on my Google Site:

Visualizing A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey

Target Student Group:

This lesson is designed for a 9th Grade Modern World History classroom. Students have just finished a unit on international relations and politics in WWII and are starting a unit on Genocide and the Holocaust. This lesson would be taught in the middle of the unit so that students have some background knowledge on the Holocaust before examining this story.

Instructions for Students

  1. Individually follow Jakob Blankitny’s experience of the Holocaust by clicking through the locations that Jakob was sent to.
  2. Read the accompanying text in which Jakob describes his experiences. Then, examine the different images for each location.
  3. Lastly, answer these 5 question about Jakob’s experience and record your response in a Google Doc to turn in.
    • Summarize Jakob’s experience in the Holocaust. What happens to him? How does he remember these events?
    • What are some key words you would use to describe the emotions Jakob experienced? Support your answers by including at least 3 quotations from the text.
    • How does Jakob’s account connect to the wider historical context of WWII? (Aka what events does he mention have you heard about before?)
    • Examine all the locations on the map. What do you observe about the geographical locations Jakob is sent to?
    • Why is Jakob’s account significant? How does it relate to how we remember the Holocaust?
  4. I will provide feedback and comments to your answers after you turn in your Google Doc to Canvas.

Lesson Goal:

Jakob Blankitny was a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust, and his story was recorded by the United States Holocuast Memorial Museum. The USHMM’s project entitled Behind Every Name A Story is intended to “give voice to the experiences of survivors during the Holocaust.” Similarly, I believe that naming the victims and acknowledging each personal story provides real and emotional insight into a horrific instance in history. My goal for this lesson is as follows:

Students will be able to connect the personal story of Jakob Blankitny to its wider historical context to understand the overall inhumane imprisonment, abuse, and dislocation of Holocaust victims and survivors.

Google MyMaps helps me achieve this goal because it provides a visual demonstration of Jakob’s journey and all the places he was moved by the Germans. When discussing history (especially World History) it is often difficult for student to connect abstract concepts or facts to the actual, concrete places they took place. Additionally, this platform also shows students that these place and their dark histories still exist today. Google MyMaps grounds historical fact and primary sources in reality so students can make clear connections between the past and the present.

The Story of Jakob Blankitny

Direct link to Google MyMaps: The Story of Jakob Blankitny

A Supply and Demand Story: Differentiated Google Form

Target Student Group

This lesson is intended for a 10th Grade Economics Class. This activity would be used in the middle of the unit, after students have explored the definitions of both supply and demand.

Instructions for Students:

  1. Follow the link provided to open up the Supply and Demand Story Google Form
  2. Choose your own adventure! Follow the different options to decide what kind of business you will open. (Note: you do not have to do all 3! Just pick one of the options and follow the questions for that one)
  3. Answer each question by referring back to your knowledge of supply and demand. Think about what the best choice for your business would be based on supply and demand.
  4. If you make a wrong choice, no worries! You can go back to make some “business adjustments” and choose the correct answer.
  5. When you complete the form, submit it for grading.

Goal for this Lesson:

My goal for this lesson is that my students will be able to apply the laws of supply and demand to examine the process of several business decisions such as choosing a product, surveying a consumer base, and setting equilibrium prices.

A Supply and Demand Story Google Form

Direct link to Google Form

Photo Attributions:

Drawing Demand

Target Student Group

10th Grade Economics Class

Instructions for Students

  1. In small groups, you will practice graphing demand curves by using a demand schedule.
  2. Work together and discuss with your group, but everyone will be working on their own separate document.
  3. You will have 15 minutes to use the information from the graph to fill in the demand schedule on the first problem.
  4. Then, you will do the opposite: use the demand schedule on the second problem to graph a demand curve. You should drag and drop the points onto the graph and then connect them with the lines provided.
  5. After 15 minutes, we will come back together as a large group. Be prepared to explain how you drew your curve.

Goal for this Lesson:

My goal for this lesson is that my students will be able to see the relationship between demand schedules and curves by graphing demand information. Google Drawings will help me achieve this goal because my students can edit the text of the table and they can also drag and drop specific points onto a graph. In an in-person setting, it would be easy for my students to simply draw a graph with pen and paper, but in an online setting Google Drawings is vital to preserve those key graphing elements. In addition, I am able to easily add hyperlinks, images, and formatted text to the assignment, making it more suitable than Jamboard for this activity.

Drawing Demand Google Drawings Activity:

Make a copy of the activity here

Comparing Fascism vs. Communism Jamboard Activity

Activity Context:

This activity uses Jamboard as a graphic organizer. I created a venn diagram for students to fill in with various traits of fascism and communism.

Target Student Group:

9th grade Modern World History students who are beginning a unit on WWII. This lesson is also designed for a virtual classroom during Comprehensive Distance Learning.

Instructions for Students:

  1. You will be split into 3 groups in breakout rooms.
  2. Each group will work on a different page of the Jamboard to drag and sort the “clues”  in the venn diagram and figure out the key similarities of fascism and communism.
    1. You can use these sites for reference in addtion to our class slides:
    2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/fascism 
    3. https://www.britannica.com/topic/communism 
  3. You will have 10 minutes to work.
  4. Be prepared to have 1 member explain how you sorted your clues. We will discuss each group’s findings as a whole class.

Goal for this Lesson:

Students will be able to define fascism and communism. Then, students will be able to compare and contrast key traits of fascism and communism by completing the venn diagram accurately.

Jamboard will help my students achieve this goal because it provides an easier platform for them to drag and drop the key traits in an online setting. If we were in person, I would cut out pieces of paper for my students to arrange in their respective circles in the venn diagram, but the challenges of online learning make this task more difficult to adapt to a group setting. Jamboard allows multiple students in a group to work on each page of the Jamboard and collaboratively arrange the traits. They will do this by dragging the sticky notes on the page to the correct circle, indicating that it is a trait of fascism, communism, or both.

The Jamboard Activity

Link to this activity on Jamboard

Group 1’s Page:

Group 2’s Page:

Group 3’s Page:

No Power? Snow Problem

I like to consider myself an “old soul,” and I have tried my best to not become too dependent on technology. That being said, my whole perspective regarding my relationship with technology has shifted in the last few days.

As I write this post, I am snowed in by a record-breaking storm, and my power has been out for the last two days. Due to this power outage, I am noticing more and more simple technologies that I depend on in my daily life that are currently unavailable to me: a refrigerator to store food, my oven and stove to cook, my house’s heating system, a lamp to light up my dark room, wifi to connect to the internet, the ability to drive my car on unobstructed roads, food deliveries of any kind, and yes– power to charge my devices. As someone who considered themself “not dependent on technology,” the chaos and anxiety produced by this short lack of power has definitely proven this label incorrect.

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask, “just bundle up and read a book. You don’t need technology.” I would agree with you– if it were not for the litany of assignments and deadlines piling up that all require a functioning laptop and internet connection. During this season of distance learning, technology is the often the only link between myself and my duties as both a student and a teacher. I cannot do my job and teach my students if my laptop batteries dies or my wifi goes out. I cannot call my parents if my phone dies. I cannot email my students, supervisors, or professors to notify them without a device and internet connection.

It is clear that my profession, my studies, and my life cannot currently function without technology. But while technology can greatly hamper productivity when it is unavailable, its absence also produces adaptability and innovation. From my housemates and I putting our food outside in the snow to stay cool, to sitting in my car to get warm and charge my phone, to writing out lesson plans by candlelight, it is clear that technology is a huge part of our lives, but it is not everything. There was a world without technology not long ago, and if somehow the apocalypse hits and wipes out our modern comforts, I have faith that the world would adapt and overcome.

My power has since come back on (as you can probably tell by me posting this), but the recent outage has caused me to reexamine my dependence on technology and reaffirmed that it is not everything. I am thankful for the amenities and conveniences provided by technology, but life goes on without it. Now, time to get started on those assignments!

Picturing Economics

Featured Image: Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Learning Activity 1: Reviewing Economic Vocab Words

Lesson Context: This activity is designed for a 10th grade Economics course. It is a review of the previous lesson, which described several vocabulary words relating to the process of production, distribution, and consumption. During a discussion at the start of class, students will be show the images and asked to first explain which concept they believe it is describing and then why they believe it represents that term.

Key (from left to right):

  1. Production- Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
  2. Service- Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay
  3. Distribution- Image by Radoan Tanvir from Pixabay
  4. Goods- Image by Marta Simon from Pixabay
  5. Consumption- Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Learning Activity 2: Comparing and Contrasting States’ Population and Income

Lesson Context: This activity is also for a 10th grade Economics course. This activity is designed to show students the correlation between GDP and population. This would be shown in class as a discussion prompt. To aid their observations of the maps, students will answer questions such as:

  1. What are some factors that might affect a state’s GDP?
  2. Which states have high populations yet low GDP?
  3. What is the correlation between population and GDP?

Left Image: “File:Map of each state’s population as of 2013.svg” by Ali Zifan is marked with CC0 1.0

Right Image: “File:Map of U.S. states by GDP per capita in U.S. dollars (2012).svg” by Ali Zifan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Quarantine Got You Down? You Should *Safely* Get Out More

This past year has been a trying one for nearly everyone– from a global pandemic, an exhausting election, a climate in crisis, and a seemingly never-ending battle for systemic justice. It’s natural to wish for an escape to somewhere far away, taking in the beauty of uncorrupted nature and simply enjoying life. Unfortunately, travel during the pandemic is greatly limited, meaning that most folks rely on what’s nearby to fulfill their wanderlust fantasies. This post details some of the ways I have personally managed to get out and about during this quarantine.

1. Take a picnic to a local park

Going on a picnic is a nice way to get outside the house and maybe evening reconnect with friends and family– from a socially safe distance, of course. It’s also a great way to support local business by taking food to-go and eating elsewhere.

This video has some great ideas of what you should pack on your picnic:

2. Go take a hike (literally)

One unexpected perk of quarantine is that it actually forced me to leave my house and venture outdoors to maintain sanity. Hiking is a healthy and safe way to get some fresh air and see the world free from the fears of large crowds during a pandemic. No matter what type of hiker you are, it is definitely a good way to escape the world’s problems for a few hours.

I also started to follow a lot more hiking-oriented social media accounts such as Oregon Explored on Instagram:

3. Get a houseplant

When you feel like you are cooped up inside during quarantine, houseplants are great companions! They purify the air, give you something to take care of, and they won’t infect you with a deadly virus. My houseplant collection has definitely grown since the pandemic hit, and it makes me feel like there’s a bit of the outside world in my space when I am not able to go outside.

My favorite local nursery is Cornell Farms! They are located in Southwest Portland, and walking around the farm is a fun outing all on its own.

4. Find a hobby to get your eyes off the screen

I have found that most of my desire to get out and do something comes from the ever-present monotony of the online world. I am staring at a screen almost constantly throughout the day. From teaching to attending class to FaceTiming friends, my life revolves around my computer. But too much screen time can be bad for your mental and physical health, so I have tried to spend some time finding hobbies that I enjoy away from my laptop.

Some specific screen-free hobbies that I’ve personally dedicated time to are:

  • Baking
  • Embroidery
  • Crochet
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Doing jigsaw puzzles
  • Reading novels
  • Listening to podcasts

This article has some other very helpful hobby suggestions!

Sooner or later this all will end…

… so we might as well make the best of the time we have while we have it. While so many popular activities and pass times seem limited, there are still a whole host of different options to keep yourself mentally healthy and happy during quarantine. Take care of yourselves!