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OHASSTA Nov 2014 final

Rapport 2014 TechKnowledge Mike Clare, UOIT Worth Questioning: A Pedagogical Blog Over the years I have been thinking about school reform and assessment, what is driving it? How much is research driven and what percent has other motivations? Peter Pappas, adjunct faculty at School of Education, University of Portland, has done a lot of work on the impact of digital resources on the teaching of history. Pappas' blog looks at the American version of Historical Thinking: Thinking Like An Historian, and how to utilize various media to develop digital resources for students. As digital technology has given greater efficiencies to business practice, there has been a hue and cry to bring standardization and business discipline to education. We have seen in the U.S. a movement to standardized tests, the tests seem to drive everything. The American model creeps over the border. Are we really improving education for students by high stakes testing? Peter Pappas' blog is an interesting take on standardized testing. As history teachers, are we "lucky" there is no standardized tests in our mandatory credit or is this just a conspiracy theory? Pedagogical Perspectives John Myers Selecting Important Content: What Knowledge is of most worth? The introduction to this series defined content as many different things “facts”, “concepts” “generalizations” “skills.” Even declarative knowledge, i.e. knowing “how” (skills, and habits of mind) could be considered important to know. There are tensions in selecting content for any subject. While such tension go back millennia, the modern debate is articulated well by philosopher Herbert Spencer more than a century and a half ago through the title of his essay "What Knowledge is of Most Worth" (1859). As a number of history educators have noted (Seixas, 1993, Myers, 1990) there are tensions when selecting content in history. In our current set of guidelines we do speak of significance in history and the various subject disciplines. (Seixas and Morton 2013). The quick way to select significant events is to start with the curriculum overall expectations. These represent to official/intended curriculum and what the province considers significant. These are also mandated for teachers to teach. Yet we know that the official curriculum may not match what is actually taught. (Myers, 2003). I have done an experiment to demonstrate that with the way our curriculum is framed, “covering” content is not an issue (Myers, 2004). It is more a matter of what to do with it and how to use the extra time to make such content both meaningful and memorable. In a previous issue of Rapport (Myers, 2009), I suggested a number of approaches working with the tensions between depth and breadth. Beginning in the late 1990s with several hundred teachers taking the AQ Honour Specialist history course and repeating with my 90+ teacher candidates this year taking the Intermediate/Senior history curriculum and instruction course, our first assignment for both courses was as follows: “Make a list of the top ten things students should learn as a result of taking Canadian history. By “things” they could be dates, people, events, themes, concepts, skills, habits of the mind, attitudes and feelings, etc. These things are so important that students should remember them throughout their adult lives … make a similar list for world history…. Justify the selections on both lists.” While the 2014 responses included a few references to “detecting bias”, “analyzing primary sources”, “critical thinking”, and “recognizing change and continuity” more than 90% of these responses and virtually all of the teacher responses from the AQ course fell under content. The content ranged from themes to specific people, events, and ideas. The choices were based on guidelines, teacher academic background, available resources, and student interest though not of equal measure. 12 RAPPORT FALL 2014