If you teach Social Studies or History and want to incorporate more technology into your curriculum, check out “Teaching History with Technology.” The site includes many free and paid resources. Every week, they highlight a tool in their “New Resource of the Week” section. It contains a variety of lesson plans on various subjects, US and World History, AP Subjects, Geography, and more. They even provide ways for educators to expand on a favorite of multimedia incorporation: the PowerPoint presentation in their “Presentations and Multimedia” section. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Visit “Teaching History with Technology” to explore further.
This quarter’s Gilder Lehrman’s “History Now” series features the historical role of first ladies in American politics. The issue, “First Ladies’ Contributions to Political Issues and the National Welfare” highlights the roles of the President’s spouse from Martha Washington all the way to Betty Ford. It explores their personalities, political temperament, social role, and even controversial status.
In addition to these fascinating articles, they include two lesson plans that help educators present the material in alliance with the common core as well as an interactive map of their birth places. Gilder Lehrman provides a plethora of resources for teachers of American History.
I first heard about The Southern Poverty Law Center from my aunt. She told me all the things they were doing to rid the world of hate and injustice. Civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. founded SPLC in 1971 and the organization is known globally for “tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups.” SPLC’s project, Teaching Tolerance, offers free magazine subscriptions to teachers, as well as free film kits, which include DVDs (and accompanying teacher’s guide) about bullying,…
My students are currently working on two projects: a digital story and a research essay. Both of these assignments require ample amounts of research using a variety of sources – books, academic journals, and yes, even websites. This time around, I took a moment to show my students Evernote, a handy little tool for organizing, well, everything. Better yet, it’s free! If you’re not familiar with Evernote, check out this introductory video below and be sure to visit their website.
I find Evernote especially useful to students who are trying to organize a variety of media for some type of presentation or research project. Its great search features and innate organizational tools help even the most disorganized student to “keep it together.”
For these particular assignments, I like to encourage my students to create a notebook for their project “Research Essay” or “Digital Story” will all work well. This is where they will store all of the material that they find for their topic.
Next, I make sure that they have downloaded and installed Evernote’s webclipper. This allows you to save anything that you pull up online – images, documents, videos, etc. It goes right into the folder that you select.
Now you may think “I don’t want them to just use the web.” However, remember, that many traditional resources are now digitized! Virtually all academic journals are hosted online via repositories like JSTOR. Many books are also hosted digitally via institutional databases or resources such as Google Books or Project Gutenberg. Even for those resources that are in traditional “paper” format, students can take pictures with their smart phones (preferably using a document scanner like Genius Scan that will enhance the images and store them as a grouped PDF) and then send those materials off to the same Evernote folder!
One of the best features of using the web clipper is that it includes the information students need to cite their sources. A struggle for many beginning scholars is that they are just learning about citation and copyright. Often, they do not realize they are missing key information until later, when they are formulating a bibliography or works cited page. This can be detrimental if the resource is no longer available or, worse yet, they don’t know where they found it! However, with Evernote and the Evernote clipper, it’s now all at their fingertips on any device (their computer, smart phone, or tablet). It’s phenomenal!
Perhaps the greatest feature of using Evernote and Evernote webclipper is that it truly does save time and energy. Instead of copy and pasting content and URL’s (hoping not to forget anything) into another document that you then email to yourself or put in the cloud, it’s all simply one click. Literally! Click it (perhaps add some notes and/or a few tags) and you’re done! Finito! Fertig! It’s all stored for you to go back and read over, think about, and organize into a final working piece.
I can tell you, I’ve never seen a piece of technology picked up as quickly as Evernote when my students begin their work on a new research project. Now… if I could just get them as eager about it when organizing their general course notes…. Perhaps a post for next time?
Kuddos to my student Matthew who sent me this website. We are on the Mesoamerican section right now in my history course. The ballgame was an integral and pervasive activity throughout Ancient Mesoamerica. It is in their history, religion, and art. It was one of the most socially and ritually important activities in the Ancient Americas.
The website “The Mesoamerican Ballgame” explores the history and significance of the ballgame throughout history. You can explore an interactive timeline, study its history among various cultures, and even see vide of the game being played today! It also includes lesson plans and activities for students of all grade levels.
A great, short video about how to investigate and analyze digital content
I don’t listen to a lot of live radio anymore. Instead, I tend to listen to a lot of podcasts. I can find content specific to my area and take it with me on the go. Here is a great list of podcasts for Educators (all for free and in no particular order):
Edutopia Webinars - Edutopia presents engaging webinars hosted exclusively for our audience of educators, parents, and administrators throughout the year. These interactive events are free and universally accessible thanks to support from foundations, advertisers, and donors. Each webinar is designed to connect our valued audience with thought leaders in the movement for educational reform, providing opportunities to learn about the latest research, tools, and ideas from experts in the field. Note: Most Edutopia Webinars are large files, approximately an hour long.
Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University - The Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning supports the effective communication of knowledge and the love of learning by faculty inside and outside the classroom, by graduate students in their roles as apprentice scholar/teachers, and by undergraduates as they take their place in the community of scholars.
Google Tools - Google is much more than a search engine. It is a suite of free software and services that can enhance learning, engage students, and make the work of teachers easier. This series of podcasts demonstrates the usefulness and applications for some of Google’s most innovative products including custom search engines, Google earth, iGoogle, Google Calendar and Google Docs. Each podcast will consist of a screencast demonstrating the product in action and suggesting applications for use in the classroom.
Department of Education Public Seminars at Oxford University - Public seminars from the Department of Education. Oxford has been making a major contribution to the field of education for over 100 years and today this Department has a world class reputation for research, for teacher education and for its Masters and doctoral programmes. Our aim is to provide an intellectually rich but supportive environment in which to study, to research and to teach and, through our work, to contribute to the improvement of all phases of public education, both in the UK and internationally.
Technology Integration by Edutopia - Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.
Harvard EdCast - The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast will serve as a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.
NPR Education - From NPR: perspectives on great teachers, the science of learning, classroom dynamics and more. The best of Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other award-winning NPR programs.
Every semester, I have my students do a Digital Story project. If you are unfamiliar with digital stories, think of them as small films with clear objectives and instructions. If you would like to read more about my journeys in Digital Storytelling, see my earlier articles: “My First Attempt at Digital Storytelling” and “Digital Storytelling in the Classroom.”
Every time that I assign this project, my students never cease to amaze me (and themselves). Their work is innovative, creative, and dynamic. They produce excellent pieces of work and, even when they struggle, often feel like they have produced something of merit.
If you would like some background on the project, here is the instruction hand-out:
You may also download a PDF version of the instructions here: Digital Story Instructions. I grant access to all educators to use and/or modify this content so long as they credit me.
I also distribute to students a copy of the rubric, so they know exactly how their work will be graded.
You may download a PDF version of this rubric here: Digital Storytelling Rubric
While all of the students produced amazing work, I only have the space to highlight a few examples.
This one is an edited live action! Very cool!!
This is one of my favorite student projects to assign. They get so creative and the product is so enjoyable. What I find most important is that it highlights many important skills that they need to learn:
- Adaption of new tools and technology
- Problem solving
- Time management
This is in addition to the traditional skills they must employ:
We will be doing this project again in the Spring. Now that they are “experienced,” I can’t wait to see what they produce!
There are so many options today for workshops and lectures to attend. I elected to go to the talk “ILessons (on the iPad) for Higher Order Thinking Skills” by Sue Gorman. Sue introduced herself as an Apple Distinguished Educator and set up our backchannel via Today’s Meet. Also, if you’re a lover of Pinterest (as I am), you can see her Ed Tech Pinterest Board.
While today’s talk is about using applications, she does emphasize that it’s not about the quantity of applications or even the app itself – rather, its about effectively using a tool. “It’s about how we are going to use the device and how we will get there.” She emphasized that students do not need to follow the same path as long as they get to the same place. The power should be in the students’ hands.
If you follow Bloom’s Taxonomy, then you should know “there’s an app for that.” Educators and students can find an application that will help them to learn, explore, evaluate, create, remember, and achieve!
A great free book, published by other educators, is the iBook “Hot Apps 4 Hots” which contains numerous lesson plans and pedagogical suggestions for employing the iPad in the classroom.
Sue also emphasized the need to do more than “add technology and stir.” It is not enough to simply add technology, we need to develop meaningful pedagogy.
She walked us through the SAMR model, which I have outlined below if you are unfamiliar with it.
S – Substitution; e.g. word processing
A – Augmentation, technology as as a direct tool substitute
M – Modification, technology allows for significant task redesign
R – Redefinition, technology allows for creation of new tasks previously inconceivable
While Substitution and Augmentation are not bad, they are not the end goal and objective. What we want, is innovation and creation that are achieved later on with technological integration. Many apps that can be used for substitution or augmentation can also be adapted for modification and redefinition. For example, “Explain Everything” can be a simple drawing or recording document, but can also be used to create powerful screen casts and digital stories. Again, the power lies in effective use of the tool rather than the tool itself.
There are thousands of amazing tools and applications available to students and educators, but what is key is applicable innovation. We, as educators, need to find creative and new ways to apply them. Collaborating with colleagues via blogs, twitter, pinterest, and other means of social media are a great way to do this.
Every semester, I assign my students a Digital Storytelling project. The first time around, the students always find it a challenge. This is often the first time they have put together a research project of this calibre using a creative medium. They push themselves, meet challenges, and ultimately find themselves with a brilliant product that they are proud to display. This year, we rolled them out once again. For your review, I am attaching the lesson plan as well as the grading rubric:
Download the instruction sheet in PDF form here: Digital Story Instructions (I grant permission for instructors to use this material for educational purposes so long as they cite me).
Digital Storytelling Rubric can be downloaded in PDF form here: Digital Storytelling Rubric
As always, the students wowed me with their productions. Here are a few samples:
A few key elements that I changed this year was a strong emphasis on Copyright Licenses, especially highlighting the use of Creative Commons Licensed Content. I highlighted this endeavor in a recent article: “How to Find License-Free Content for use in the Classroom.”
If you would like to compare this project with previous versions, see: “My First Attempt at Employing Digital Storytelling in the Classroom.”