it’s the first morning of the Presidential Timeline’s Ford Institute and I am pumped! There are 20 of us here in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library. Our task for the next four days? Working to share ideas and strategies to improve the teaching of social studies.
A few goals during the institute:
- gaining historical content knowledge
- strengthening our pedagogical skills
- getting better at the use of technology
And we started with a couple of basic overarching questions:
- How is knowledge constructed in social studies?
- What strategies work?
So . . . as I’m working to create curriculum and learning more about how to use it, I’ll also try and share what us history geeks come up with.
Head over to the institute’s resource page. We’ll be adding to this as we go along. So be sure to refresh the page often. Let the fun begin!
We started with a simple knowledge activation exercise using Prezi. Ryan Crowley, part of the Presidential Timeline team, created a shared Prezi and asked us to add content to it. His guiding questions? Read more
It’s always a great day when I get to spend time with people who love talking history. That was my day yesterday. Strategies, resources, what works, what doesn’t.
Part of the time involved what I call “play time.” Most teachers have a limited time during a typical day to just play around – browse for resources, chat about scope and sequence, argue about Kennedy’s response to Soviet missiles in Cuba.
You know. The part of the day when real professional learning happens.
It was during this period of sharing and browsing that a teacher found an awesome site that she passed on to me.
I know that some research is suggesting that there really aren’t such things as visual or auditory learners. Well . . . that research is wrong. Cause I’m a visual learner. No question.
I don’t listen well. I can’t pay attention to audio books. I have trouble staying focused during long lectures and speeches. Just the way it is. And I think I’m a lot like most of your kids – someone who feels more comfortable using visual stuff like graphic organizers, infographics, photos, and videos as part of my learning process.
So I’ve always love tools like Glogster and Wallwisher and Prezi. They help me “see” what I need to understand. They help me organize information in ways that make sense to me.
And I can hear you thinking way over here:
Glogster does have an “educational” version but it’s not the same since they started charging money. Wallwisher is now Padlet and Prezi makes me dizzy.
So . . . I need something else. And today, thanks to Kelly over at iLearn Technology, I’ve got a new toy to play with.
I love maps.
Seriously. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love maps.
I spent countless hours during my growing up summers in the cool basement, browsing through boxes of old National Geographic magazines – searching for and studying their wonderful maps. And even today, the monthly arrival of the National Geo mag means nothing gets done until I flip through all the pages checking for those very cool inserted maps. We have more than a few old geography textbooks in my house. Atlases. Gazetteers. Boxes of state maps collected during trips. Folded city maps.
When I left one particular school district, I even took the pull-down maps with me because I knew they were being replaced over the summer and would get thrown out. (That’s just between you and me, of course.)
So today when I ran across the book titled A Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers, my to-do list got pushed to the back burner. It’s a very cool book that captures a wide variety of map styles and tells a powerful story about how people view the world.
Drawing a map means understanding our world a bit better. For centuries, we have used the tools of cartography to represent both our immediate surroundings and the world at large–and to convey them to others. In our age of satellite navigation systems and Google Maps, personal interpretations of the world around us are becoming more relevant. Publications, the tourism industry, and other commercial parties are using these contemporary, personal maps to showcase specific regions, to characterize local scenes, to generate moods, and to tell stories beyond sheer navigation. A new generation of designers, illustrators, and mapmakers are currently discovering their passion for various forms of illustrative cartography.
We all remember the assignment. The dreaded book report.
Depending on the grade level, the report was to be either a simple one pager or up to ten pages of in-depth analysis. And the book? In my experience, teachers gave us the chance to pick our own books to read without any sense of content focus.
And I was never really sure why we had to read books and write reports on them. All I can remember is
Read a book and write a report describing it.
I enjoyed reading books and would willingly spend hours at the local library. I knew exactly where the best books were in the school library. But reading a book just so that I could write a report took all of the fun out of it. There was a point, I’m sure. I just never figured out what it was.
Find a book with a really good dust jacket that contained a detailed description of the book’s contents. Boom. A simple task of 5th grade copy and pasting. Done. Of course, I never actually read the book. That wasn’t the point. The point was creating a book report.
So should kids still do book reports?
I’ll be honest. I’ve never given an Ignite presentation. But I am very intrigued.
You may have heard about the recent Ignite sensation that is banging around the country. The idea is simple – a presenter gets five minutes to sell an idea using a slide-type presentation tool such as PowerPoint or KeyNote.
The kicker is that the presenter has to use exactly 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds.
Ignite was inspired by Pecha Kucha Nights and first took place in Seattle in 2006. Since then the event has become an international phenomenon, with gatherings in Helsinki, Finland; Paris, France; New York, New York; and many other locations.
Fast-paced, fun, thought-provoking, social, local, global—Ignite is all of these and more. It’s a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd.
A great example is one by Matt from Where the Hell is Matt fame.
It got me thinking about how teachers always seem to asking for new types of student presentations. This just seems perfect to me. Most kids have a difficult time staying on topic and having a clear beginning and end. An Ignite presentation is a tailor-made structure to provide clear guidance on length and process. It also seems like a great way to teach kids about good presentation skills.
No cheesy animations. No sound effects. Short, focused and to the point.
You can share some tips and other examples with your students and then turn them loose for your own Ignite event.
Let me know how it works out!