I usually wouldn’t write an entry about just one tech tool but this one has been so great I couldn’t resist sharing how much it can help in an AP History class. The item is the Ipevo iZiggi-HD Wireless Document Camera, but before I rave about it let me explain the issue I was having in my AP class and how this camera helped solve it.
The issue I was having was that students, even this late in the year, were finding it difficult to finish the DBQ essay in an hour. This was in part because they were not sufficiently annotating the documents. As a result, they spent far too much time rereading them when they began writing the essay. This has always been an issue in DBQ-writing, but given the new DBQ requirements (contextualization, synthesis, sourcing 4 documents) the skill of annotating is even more important. It is imperative that students analyze the documents as quickly as possible and end up with succinct annotations that link the docs directly to the prompt. In fact, the DBQ Project has a lesson in which students annotate the documents on separate pieces of paper and then write the essay using only these annotations. I think that’s a great idea to get student to see how crucial the annotations are.
So, this little document camera has been great in teaching the skills of making annotations. The process is simple: I give the students a DBQ and give them exactly 2 minutes to read and annotate a single document. Then I randomly have a student project her annotations using the iZiggi Document camera. The student must explain her annotations to the class. I might even call on a student to annotate a document while the rest of us watch and then have him explain the annotations. There are many possibilities, but the camera’s portability and ability to project student’s work has led to great improvements in the skill of annotations.
This class activity really drove home to students how important the prewriting phase is when taking on the DBQ. It also revealed how weak their annotations had been thus far. The point I tried to strive to them was that the annotations should indicate not only a little summary content but also how the document helps to answer the prompt. For example, the DBQ in the pictures above asked students to analyze changes in the role of belief systems in societies between 1600 and 1900. Thus every annotation should indicate what the document conveys about the role of a belief system in society. If every annotation contains summary content and how the document serves the prompt, writing the DBQ will come much easier.