10 Minute Tryouts!

When we were in our middle school social studies classrooms, much of what Jason Kathman and I did with students was project-based assessment.  Whether it was travel brochures for the 13 colonies, scrapbooks for the Great Depression, or board games for building the transcontinental railroad, our kids were always busy creating, problem-solving, and building.  When our district, Jamestown (NY) Public Schools, decided to put devices in the hands of each student, those projects became so much more vibrant and robust, not to mention devoid of dog hair buried in glue.  Kids could now use Keynote to create animations, Pages to create professional-looking newspapers, and iMovie to generate advertisements for products we were studying.

As we moved into our current roles as tech integrators, we sought to share our love for project-based learning across the district.  In Jamestown, our middle schools got iPads first, followed by the elementary schools.  These grade levels were a natural fit for what we had in mind - multi-day tasks with plenty of student choice.  Jason and I were really busy working with teachers who saw the potential for iPads in their classes.  

However, when students at our high school received their devices, we found the teachers more reluctant to jump on board the PBL train.  Gently patting us middle schoolers on the head, they explained to us that a multi-day project just doesn’t fit most courses due to the fact that courses only run a semester in length.  One social studies teacher crystallized the urgency in a high school setting by telling me they had about 90 class days to cover 250 years of US history.  We are not that good at math, but that sounded like a big hurdle.

It was obvious that we needed to try to find ways for teachers to give students the chance to personalize their learning in a much quicker window of time.  We turned to Apple’s 30 Creative Tasks and the inventively-named 30 More Creative Tasks looking for inspiration.  We then hit upon the idea of creating small projects that students could complete in ten minutes of class time that would display mastery of the content being covered.  We sought out projects that allowed for student personalization and choice along the way to a finished product.  It was also important to us that the project ideas could be used at most grade levels and subject areas.

Once we had a few ideas, we created video tutorials on how to complete the product so that the teachers could just share the video links rather than have to teach the steps themselves.  We then hit upon the idea to put all of the projects and videos on one website so that teachers looking for some quick inspiration could find a one-stop shop.  Here is that website.  It is our intention to continue to build on this site over time, creating an ever-expanding library of quick ways to help students create and problem-solve in any class setting.

If anyone in your district is looking to try a few new ideas during a class setting but doesn’t want to take the time to teach the steps to complete the project, give 10 Minute Tryouts a look.  And, if you have any ideas that we simply must add, please let us know at jason.d.kathman@jpsny.org and jeffrey.a.kresge@jpsny.org.

All Replies

Posted on August 29, 2022

I really enjoyed reading your post! What you said about High School history curriculum and trying to infuse creative technology based activities rings true. Your 10 minute Tryouts are brilliant!

I also love the 30 Creative Tasks series and ported it over to some history and social studies class ideas which I called “30 History/Social Studies Learning Creatives”, each wrapped around a history standard. I’ll attach the pdf. I also have it in a Keynote. However I have not added any tutorials or examples which you so nicely did. I’d love to have some collaborative support on creating an example for each of the 30. So if anyone wants to take me up on it let me know (with a comment here).


Cover Page of 30 History/Social Studies Learning Creatives
Cover Page of 30 History/Social Studies Learning Creatives



Posted on August 29, 2022

This is awesome, Cheryl!

Posted on August 30, 2022

Hey Cheryl!

Thanks for the feedback. We have an awesome group of teachers working on personalized learning using iPad who would be great at helping to create some examples. I'll throw it out to them and get back to you.

It would be wonderful to start collaborating again, Cheryl! #joyofpl

Posted on August 30, 2022

That would be super Jason! I’m attaching the Keynote deck here.

And I also played around with #1 (that’s only as far as I’ve gotten!). The #1 History Creative is to Personify an Artifact. Find the oldest object in your home, research its history, snap a photo with Camera, Edit in Photos and use Markup to sketch a personification that might be used in an ad.


Animated dial telephone dialing
Animated and personified dial telephone gif

I think I’m the oldest thing in my house 😊 but we still have this rotary dial phone. In my TPS (Teaching with Primary Sources) Teachers Network we were discussing primary source images of old phones and wondering how many students have actually seen one that dials - especially younger students. So I personified our phone by adding some shapes in Keynote, taking a video of dialing and then exported the Keynote as an animated gif. Someone will come up with something that can easily outdo this!

I think the fun and engagement of students finding an “old” object in their home, doing some research on why and how that object has changed and then animating it for an ad is a great way to introduce history as interesting, personalized and all around them. And/or for economics students to analyze at how they might create an advertisement for an object using today’s ad techniques.

Send what your teachers come up with on any of the 30 History Creatives or additional 10 Minute Tryouts.

I’m also going to post this challenge over in the Social Studies area in Teaching and Learning to see if anyone in this Community can add an example to of one of the 30.



Posted on August 29, 2022

Jason, I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

Posted on August 30, 2022

Thanks, Matt!

Posted on August 30, 2022

I totally agree, as a History teacher we often can get so bogged down in the content and feeling we need to teach everything, but we forget the value of creativity in learning. Thanks for getting me thinking.

Posted on August 31, 2022

I love this idea! Thank you for sharing.

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