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Social Studies really is about stories. And iPads.

It’s a bit of a whirlwind week. A couple of meetings Monday and Tuesday in Kansas, fly to Washington for the National Social Studies Supervisors Association conference then quick jet out to Colorado for the Association of Educational Service Agencies conference this Friday and Saturday.

Not a big fan of the whole cattle car airplane ride, Homeland Security, tiny bag of peanuts traveling thing.

But I’m a huge fan of talking with teachers from all over. Especially social studies teachers from all over. So this is a great week!

Part of what I’ll be doing this week is sharing ways to integrate iPads (and other mobile devices) with the Common Core, 21st Century Skills and social studies. So it was awesome listening to the NSSSA keynote, Kathy Nordmeyer, talk about almost exactly the same thing. It was a little bit weird . . . I think she stole my notes.

Kathy started with a few questions:

How do we engage our kids in learning?

How do we help insure that our students use 21st century skills?

Are we using the same tools that our kids are using?

How do we shape a learning environment that provides for life-long skills?

She went on and shared how kids love stories – hearing them and telling them.  Social studies instruction should not be just about facts but all about finding, analyzing, synthesizing and communicating stories. I really haven’t thought about history and social studies quite like that.

I’ve always pushed the idea of mystery and solving problems and using raw materials and collaboration and strong narratives. But I like the idea of describing the social studies content area as one that is all about stories. What would a social studies lesson, or unit or scope and sequence look like if we started with the idea that it’s all about listening to and telling stories?

Mmm . . .

We would need to think more about teaching and using narrative structures. When students write in appropriate ways, the process helps them retain what we read – rather this is a textbook, primary sources or even multi-media. And when we have kids create digital stories and actually publish their work, we’re doing two things – engaging kids in content while also creating great assessment opportunities.

And this is not just engagement with social studies stuff but kids are also learning and practicing 21st century skills and common core stuff. Kathy said something at the end that caught my attention:

Digital storytelling encourages imagination in our students.

I like that too.

I’ll still do my own presentation but will be incorporating some of the cool things that Kathy shared about stories as a key part of instruction. And if you’re interested, I’ve embedded a short version of my mobile devices and social studies presentation below.

Much of what I’ll be sharing is a few examples of how teachers can use iBooks, Book Creator and ePUBs to push out their own content and Evernote to pull in the work of their students.  Let me know what you think.

View all of my presentations
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