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Tip of the Week: 5 ways to start the year

I hate to be the one to bring this up but . . . mmm . . . school starts soon. I know many of you are going back to classrooms next week with kids making their appearance soon after. And it’s always nice to have a few tips and tricks in your backpack to start off the school year. What discipline-specific activities work best for kicking off the year?

So today? The fifth annual Five Ways to Start the School Year in a Social Studies Classroom post. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Add your own ideas in the comments. Read more

Breaking News: All the news that’s fit to put on social media

I’ve been on a Google Maps Mania kick lately and have been putting tons of stuff on my Pocket account – intending to read and share them later. The goal is to spread all of that great stuff out over the next few weeks. The problem, of course, is that there’s gonna be new stuff.

Sigh. So many cool things. So little time. First cool thing? Read more

iTunes U update: It’s now push AND pull

Okay.

It’s a Monday, it’s summer, and my brain is still working to wake up. So much of what you’ll read below is from an official Apple press release concerning the recent update to the mobile iTunes U app.

My own words on the subject?

If you have Apple devices in your building, you need to be using iTunes U as an instructional and learning tool. It’s a great way to push content out to students and, now with the recent update, pul content in from kids.

iTunes U – together with the free iTunes U Course Manager – helps you create courses including lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and more for your face-to-face students as well as students outside your classroom. With over 750,000 individual learning materials available on the iTunes U app, iTunes U is the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content from top schools and prominent organizations. You can access the work from thousands of educational institutions hosting over 7,500 public courses.

The new in-app updates Read more

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

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