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Posts tagged ‘tip of the week’

Tip of the Week: Social Studies Web Site Showdown

I was working with some secondary teachers a few weeks ago and our conversation shifted into the topics of useful websites. What sites were the best and most useful? Where can teachers find primary sources slash lesson plans slash videos slash whatever. We were a bit off task but the discussion turned out to be very helpful.

(I flashed back a bit to my middle school teaching days when my kids would work very hard trying to shift the conversation over to current events rather than, say . . . causes of the Civil War. Shocker. It wasn’t that hard.)

The web site discussion has stayed with me. What are the best sites for social studies teachers? Are there ten or five or one site that is so good that everyone, everyone, should be using? I’ve got my favorites. You’ve got yours. But I’m curious what that sort of combined list might look like.

More importantly, cause I’m competitive like that, can we narrow this down to the top four, the top two, to the ultimate, best social studies web site of all time? I think we can.

So . . . welcome to the first annual Social Studies Web Site Showdown!

Between now and September 12, I will be collecting in the comments below, via email, and online via this Google Form your favorite social studies web sites. I will then seed the top 32 sites into a tournament bracket and we’ll play off the sites until we get to the Final Four and ultimately the best social studies web site of all time. So let me know – what are your favorite sites? Leave up to ten of your favs.

Let the Showdown begin!

Tip of the Week: Zaption and interactive videos

I’ll be honest. I heard from a teacher in Medicine Lodge a few weeks ago about a tool called Zaption, promised myself that I’d check it out later, and then completely forgot all about. Then this morning, I get a promo email from the company detailing the tool’s “high-quality, ready-made content, intuitive interface, and rich analytics” and urging me to go to their site to learn more.

So.

Am feeling a bit unsettled. I get a lot of emails and offers of free stuff from people who are pushing their products and web sites. And I usually blow them off. Unless, of course, the price is right. I had planned to share Zaption with you anyway but doing it on the same day that I get the official sales pitch seems a bit like a sellout to the Man.

But I do really like the tool and believe there’s some nice potential for social studies teachers, especially those who are already flipping or are thinking about flipping their classrooms. I’m gonna let you decide for yourself if and when you might use Zaption. If you have an opinion one way or the other, let us know in the comments. I’d love to hear what others think of the tool.

At its most basic level, Zaption is Read more

Google Classroom. No. I never received an invite. But I forgive you.

Curse you Google.

I have consistently pledged my allegiance. Starting with Search, jumping into Google Earth, then Drive, and continuing through Google Plus and Hangouts, I’ve been a fan. Even when you discontinued Notebook, Wave, and Reader, I stuck around. (Okay. I’m actually fine with your Wave decision. That was not the best use of your 20% creative time.)

So I’m was a bit dismayed that I hadn’t yet received my invite to Google Classroom. Seriously? Where’s the love?

Of all of the present and past Google Tools, Classroom seems like one that could be incredibly useful for teachers. And I’ve been waiting all summer for my beta invite. But all is forgiven. Starting this week, Google Classroom is open to all users of Google Apps for Education. Read more

Tip of the Week: Poly Sci Nerd Goodness

Yes. I am a poly sci nerd. Love elections. Love debates. Love the data. So meeting in DC this last week was . . . awesome.

And this morning, I ran across LegEx. A great way to close out a Poly Sci nerd week.

Short for Legislative Explorer and maintained by the University of Washington Center for American Politics and Public Policy, the site is a interactive visualization that allows you and your students to explore actual patterns of lawmaking in Congress. The graph provides a great way to get the big picture while providing opportunities to dig deeper. Compare the bills and resolutions introduced by Senators and Representatives and follow their progress from the beginning to the end of a two year Congress. Go back in time and compare / contrast different years, bi-partisan vs. partisan, parties, or House vs. Senate.

You can Read more

Tip of the Week: Presentation skills from the experts that translate to the classroom

I think we sometimes forget that every time we step in front of a room full of students, we are performers. I’ve heard some make the comment:

“I’m here to teach. Not to entertain.”

I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. But I’m not talking about entertainment here, simply trying to keep all the cats in a herd by doing a song and a dance without any real purpose. Think the last day of school around 1:30.

I’m talking about performing. The idea that I have information and knowledge and wisdom to transfer. And the way to get all of that stuff across is through a performance – the act of emotionally grabbing a group of people and sucking them into your world. There’s a difference. And there’s also tons of brain research out there that can help us make our performances as effective as possible. Find some of that research here, here, here, and here.

It’s not just educators who use this research to connect with others. A recent article over at Entrepreneur highlights what this can look like in the world outside of the classroom. The article describes the presentations of Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, and how he uses specific brain-based strategies to suck audiences into his world.

You need to head over to get the full details but I like how the article highlights five specific presentation techniques that Federighi does very effectively, techniques that you can — and should — use in your classroom: Read more

Tip of the Week: Second set of C4 Framework Cards is out

I started using the idea of the four C’s several years ago when we began work on revising the Kansas state social studies standards. I liked the idea that lessons and units could be structured around four basic teaching and learning concepts:

  • Collect
  • Collaborate
  • Create
  • Communicate

Ask kids to gather and organize information. Encourage them to work with others to make sense of information. Support students as they create new products and solutions. Validate student work by finding ways for them to share out what they know.

It wasn’t necessarily a new concept. But for most social studies teachers wrestling with the expectation that historical thinking skills (rather than basic historical knowledge) were the key to a successful classroom, the C4 Framework made sense. It helped them begin to organize the teaching and learning around the notion of doing of history rather than focusing on rote memorization. So I continued to work with teachers to integrate the C4 Framework idea into their classrooms, modified presentations, developed materials, and created a simple website.

Of course, last fall the National Council for the Social Studies released their national standards – the College, Career, and Civic Life Standards – and promptly dubbed them the C3 Framework.

Sigh. Read more

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