Tag Archives: History

Teaching the Presidential Debates


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.

Create Interactive Timelines with Tiki-Toki

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

Timelines are an excellent way for students to organize information for their own understanding or to demonstrate their learning. Tiki-Toki allows students to create free, interactive timelines on a topic of their choosing. In addition to free accounts, educational accounts are available at a heavily discounted price that allow for more advanced features. Timelines can be kept private, shared with a link, published publicly, or even embedded into websites or blogs. Students can also collaborate on a single timeline together with a classroom model.

You can easily add content such as text, dates, images, and video.  Each event on a timeline can include multiple media files. It’s easy to tweak the visual appearance of the timeline so that students can be as informative as possible!

By using Tiki-Toki to create timelines… [you can read the whole article on FreeTech4Teachers]

The Stanford University Spatial History Project – a new view of history

This is reblogged from my post at FreeTech4Teachers.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Stanford University’s Spatial History Project is a community that combines humanities research with “spatial, textual and visual analysis.” On their about page, they explain that as scholars, they realize the significance and importance of displaying information…

read the remainder of the story here:

The Stanford University Spatial History Project – a new view of history.

Have Students Make & Analyze Treaties via the National Archives

Docs Teach from the National Archives has a lot of great activities that incorporate primary sources and use great digital tools. A newly published activity helps students to analyze treaties through Treaty Making.

Students will read and analyze the text of six early treaties between the U.S. government and Great Britain, Russia, and several Native American tribes, and answer a few essential questions. Through close examination of the documents, students will expand their understanding of the original sovereign and separate nature of American Indian tribes, their legal status as independent governments, and the purposes of treaty-making between governments in general.

Students use the Mapping History tool to link primary sources spacialy on a map and incorporate existing treaties for analysis and discussion. Students then participate in a hands on activity that requires them to create a treaty of their own. The lesson plan is fully mapped out with Common Core alignment. Check out this great lesson here. You can explore additional lessons on Docs Teach website.

Kurz and Allison, Spanish-American Treaty of Peace, Paris 1898 Courtesy of WIkimedia Commons

Kurz and Allison, Spanish-American Treaty of Peace, Paris 1898
Courtesy of WIkimedia Commons