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.
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
Mark Hofer and Kathy Swan suggest that students are great consumers of information but aren’t necessarily great producers of information.
And the Common Core and new NCSS standards are asking our kids to do more creating. What does that look like? Mark and Kathy see great possibilities with new technologies that support student-created documentaries.
They’re very convincing. Video creation can align to reading and writing and communicating skills required in the Common Core literacy standards. Video can align to historical content. Video can be engaging.
But, they warn, beware the green pancake. Eating a green pancake will get someone’s attention but the pancake doesn’t taste any different or provide any more nutrition. It’s just green. But we can get very excited about it because, well . . . it’s green. So it must be really good.
It’s the shiny object idea I’ve talked about before. Technology, while important, is not necessary in every step of the documentary creation process. Make sure that kids are focused on the gathering of social studies content, on answering big ideas and rich questions, and on creating original solutions. Then you can begin to incorporate technology.
Mark talked about the idea of using Evidence-Based Arguments as a starting point. Every historical investigation needs to begin with a great question. Then they asked kids to do research and create videos. But what they got was disappointing. What they got was basically text with pictures, a script with a background. It wasn’t a story, it wasn’t engaging, and it often didn’t really answer the question. They begin to realize that they needed to learn more about how to create high-quality documentaries, how to use images and video to actually tell a story.
And eventually they came up with a Four Step Process that students work through to create high-quality documentaries: Read more
Yup. I’m a history geek. I’m a member of the History Book Club, I love maps, I stop and read every historical marker before driving past, I spent most of a morning three weeks ago quizzing the docent in the Northfield, Minnesota history museum on the 1876 raid by the James Gang, and I have the Band of Brothers DVD series memorized.
So where do I go when I need a good YouTube video?
Here are five very sweet YouTube channels that are great places for you and your kids.
Every year, Google publishes its annual Zeitgeist:
What mattered in 2011? Zeitgeist sorted billions of Google searches to capture the year’s 10 fastest-rising global queries and the rest of the spirit of 2011.
From that report, the Google folks created a short video highlighting the events of 2011 as seen through the lens of Google searches. It’s a different way and a different perspective to view the past year. It’s also a nice way for you and your kids to start a conversation about a whole range of things:
- Current events
- Bias & perspective
- Cause and effect
- Why are some events more “important” than others?
- Why did some events and people make the video and others didn’t?
- What would the video look like if it focused on just one country? On just the United States? On just your state or city?
- What would your video look like?
The cool thing is that your kids can create their own video. Using the very awesome Google Search Story Video Creator, your students can use the Google Search tool to fashion a ZeitGeist of their own.
(View the 2010 version here.)