Category Archives: History

Free Literary Texts & Resources for Teachers & Students

I recently discovered CommonLit, a free curated repository of fiction and non-fiction works for teachers and students. This is a great resource for educators looking to infuse content into their course work. Educators can browse for content by grade level, grenre, theme, literary device, or standard.

As a history teacher, I especially liked that works included related texts and media. For example, I could access the Articles of Confederation, under paired texts I could then direct students to the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and Shay’s rebellion. They also couple it with related Media, such as a Crash Course video.

Teachers can also use CommonLit with their students as a portal to assign readings, assess work, and track progress. It is an all-in-one resource for English, Humanities, and History teachers!

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Interactive Maps out Life of Former Presidents

Today, President Obama and his family will leave the White House as the 45th President takes the oath of office. President Obama is the 44th person to embark on a post-Presidential journey. This Smithsonian Interactive maps out the lives of Former Presidents.

Google Arts & Culture for Android & iOS

google-arts-cultureI have long been a fan of Google Arts & Culture (previously Google Art Project). It allows individuals to explore museums, exhibits, and historical topics around the world. For example, you can tour the works of Vincent Vangogh, explore Ancient Kyoto, or wander around the Lincoln Home (to name a few).

Previously, the robust features of Google Arts & Culture was reserved for computers. Now, however, you can download the free pap for your iOS or Android device. This is a great way to let students explore the different tools and features available via Google Arts & Culture on your classroom tablets or even on student smartphones!

View & Access over 6,000 Photochrom Prints from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has published its collection of more than 6,000 photochrom pictures from the turn of the 20th century. The collection includes images from Europe, Asia, and North America from the 1890’s-1910.

You can view and access the collection here.

chicago-river-elevators

Detroit Photographic Co. Chicago River elevators. ca. 1900. Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2008679501/. (Accessed November 15, 2016.)

Teaching the Presidential Debates

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Carter-Ford debate via Wikimedia Commons

This is the first election cycle where my students are voluntarily and eagerly tuning in for the Presidential Debates. This offers many of us a unique opportunity to further educate them about Presidential Politics.

This week’s Backstory podcast explores the history and impact of Presidential Debates in American History. You can access it here: Fighting Words – A History of Debate in America. Not only is this a wonderful educational podcast, but it’s interesting and engaging.

Interactive Presidential Debate Resource

Our amazing librarian informed me of  a great tool launched by PBS and Microsoft watchingthedebates.org. It allows you to “watch and interact with every debate since 1960.” This is a great resource to help students (and adults) learn how Presidential debates are structured and impact the electorate during an election year.

You can filter debates based on theme, year, or other interests. You can watch the videos sand give feedback! This is a fantastic tool for analyzing political discourse.

Podcasts to help Students think Creatively about Traditional Content

One of the great privileges in my position at Ransom Everglades is that I still get to work directly with students in the classroom. I teach two sections of United States History. This work not only “keeps me honest” when it comes to technology, but it encourages to hone my skills as an educator and learner. Teaching a “traditional” subject using “non-traditional” tools can be a challenge. I want my students to think outside the box, explore things from new angles, and challenge accepted interpretations of historical events. This can be difficult not only for them, but to me. After all, history has been taught a specific way (focusing on names and dates and the expertise of Ph.D.’s) for generations.

One way I have found to disrupt this tradition is to bring podcasts into my classroom. Podcasting is an amazing medium that has disrupted terrestrial radio in unimaginable ways. As a result, there is a wealth of information out there to bring into the educational environment. By using engaging and well-researched material to provide students alternative perspectives and media. Here are a few of my favorite Podcasts (I’ve highlighted a couple of episodes). I hope that you will share your favorites below as well.

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect: More Perfect explores the role of the Supreme Court throughout history and in the modern era. I never thought that someone could make court cases engaging, but I was happily proven wrong. One of my favorite episodes is “Kittens Kick the Giggly Blue Robot.” This episode explores the history of the court and how it became one of the most powerful entities in the land. Every episode includes citation of sources and case law. They also provide this handy song to help you remember who is currently on the Supreme Court:

Footnote: A Show about Overlooked History: Historians often state the worst fate of a figure is to be condemned as a footnote to history. Footnote explores those often overlooked figures and the impact they had.For example, in the Day of Two Noons they explore how we developed time zones and the financial (and sometimes fatal) results.

Revisionist History: Malcolm Gladwell’s new series explores and reinterprets historical narratives. Check out “The Lady Vanishes,” which explores the impact of tokenism in the art and political worlds.

NPR Code Switch: With the rise of Social Justice in the news and the prevalence of multi-racial communities, Code Switch does an amazing job of tackling uncomfortable conversations about race in an effective and safe medium. One topic I found especially informative was “Say my name say my name (Correctly Please),” where contributors discussed the challenges that arise from “difficult” names in the broader community.

History Chicks: This podcast focuses on women throughout history. Women often take second fiddle to their male counterparts. History Chicks delves into these figures in great detail. For example, explore the history of Katharine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s set-aside first wife). She is more than a footnote to the Tudors.

These are just a few examples of podcasts that I enjoy with my students. I hope you will explore and find some topics to share in the notes below or in your own classrooms.