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HBO, The March of Time, and free historical videos

It’s never easy finding short video clips that you can use in a history or geography class. Thanks to HBO’s YouTube channel, it’s gotten just a little easier.

HBO has created a series of playlists that includes a variety of old and new video clips. And they seem like a perfect fit for talking about human geography and regions or for using as introductory activities to different history topics.

My favorite? Read more

Who in government is editing Wikipedia?

(I just re-read the title to this post. It’s sounds like I’ve been watching too many conspiracy movies. But I’m gonna stick with it. It seems to fit. Feel free to rewrite it after you’re done here. Just know that we’ll know that you rewrote it. Cause we have those kind of interweb skills.)

I’ve talked quite a bit about Wikipedia and how I think it’s a good option for kids and teachers.

Some argue that because different people can edit Wikipedia entries, that those entries can’t be trusted. I would argue just the opposite . . . that because so many people can edit entries and so many people monitor changes to the entries, that the entries become more trustworthy.

I called it open source history.

Do you really know who writes your textbook? What credentials do they have? What bias do they bring to the process? What sources do they use to write their books? Who fact checks them? How do you know what influence the Texas State Board of Education played in “editing” their “entries?”

When a single person and a single group becomes the one responsible for controlling information and knowledge, we should all be concerned.

Having said that, it is important that we monitor and fact check Wikipedia entries. And that happens constantly. The good news is that we now have the option of using social media tools to do some of that monitoring for us.

Every Wikipedia article, and any revisions to that article, is tracked and monitored. If a change in an entry is made, the IP address of the computer that made the change is tracked and recorded. And for most major articles, there are Wikipedia editors that constantly update and edit entries – working to make each article as accurate and error free as possible.

So even if a change is made anonymously, that change can be tracked back to the source and if needed, that edit can be corrected.

Okay. A lot of tech nerd talk but what’s the basic idea here? Read more

Tip of the Week: USGS historical topo maps

Maps are so cool. Historical maps are way more cooler. And online historical maps are even way more cooler. (I like saying way more cooler cause it makes me feel like a rebel.)

A couple of weeks ago on the helpful GoogleMapsMania site, I ran across a way cool tool created by the United States Geological Survey. This is the group that, among other things, is responsible for creating topographic maps.

The cool tool that the USGS has created is called USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer.

Basically, you do a map search with a Google Maps-like interface, click on a specific place on the resulting map, and the Historical Topographic Map Explorer will provide a timeline with topo maps from the past. Read more

Cool College, Career, and Civic Life website for teachers

Last fall, the National Council for the Social Studies published the Social Studies for the Next Generation: Purposes, Practices, and Implications of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. It’s a mouthful.

The goal was always to create a sort of model for states as they wrote their own state standards -  a guiding document that provides a clear structure for the type of social studies instruction that we all know is good for kids.

. . . the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

Capt Barbossa
Pirates of the Caribbean

And I’ve talked about this a ton – we were writing our state standards at about the same time that the NCSS was finishing up its work. The good news? We’re a lot alike. The focus is on the process of social studies rather than the specific content of social studies.

We want kids to be historical thinkers, solvers of problems, users of evidence  . . . people who can address an un-Googleable question and make sense of it.

I really like them.

But many social studies teachers are still not aware that they exist. And the teachers who are aware of them are quite sure what to do with them. More good news. Read more

The Vault: Super awesome primary source blog and resources

Finding online primary sources is never easy. While there are many online archives and tons of primary sources, we don’t always know where those archives live. Even if you can find a helpful archive online somewhere, it can be difficult tracking down exactly what you’re looking for. (This page might help a little.)

And I’m not sure today’s find is gonna help. But it is a very cool place to find primary sources that are incredibly interesting. Created and maintained by Salon, the site is called The Vault. You gotta love the site’s tagline:

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights

So definitely continue to use to sites such as the Library of Congress, National Archives, and World History Documents but be sure to fav The Vault as well. Because you are going to run across stuff that is perfect for hooking your kids into a specific topic and for building content knowledge.

Some recent examples? Read more

iPad App Task Challenges – Alpha versions

It’s Podstock week. I’m sure you’re all coming, right? I mean, it’s Podstock. Nobody wants to miss that. Part of what I’m doing for the conference is to present a quick three-hour iPad 101 workshop during the pre-con and then host a digital make-it, take-it session.

The idea is that we review the basics of the iPad – the settings, buttons, multi-finger gestures, App Store, default apps, etc – in the morning and then facilitate a fun, supportive sandbox where participants can work together to actually use their iPads to create stuff. Stuff they can use at a personal level and in their classrooms.

We’re calling the afternoon sessions iPad Learning Labs and decided that we would provide a series of challenges as a starting point for participants. By working with a bit of structure and with others, teachers can practice hands on learning in a safe environment.

The cool thing? Read more

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