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National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive just got better

National Geographic has always been the go-to for geography goodies. You get lesson plans, teaching resources, maps, and even more maps.

And they always have had great map making tools. But they just got better. Their MapMaker has been updated with new features, the biggest one for many of you is the ability to use the tool on mobile devices.

But they’ve also added some new interactive tools:

  • Country Facts and Flags – Explore and discover information about countries and territories around the world. Customize the fill and border colors to make this map layer your own.
  • Latitude and Longitude – See the coordinates of any place on earth.
  • Custom Text, Photos, Videos – Use markers, lines, or shapes to tell your story on MapMaker by adding in text, photos, and videos with the rich editing tool.

Start with a blank world map that allows Read more

“I, too, sing America.” Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed –

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes

The National Museum of African American History and Culture officially opened on Saturday, adding one more amazing piece to the Smithsonian collection. Through its collection of artifacts and narrative, the NMAAHC makes clear that the African American story is an American one and that understanding black history and culture is critical to understanding American history and culture.

In his dedication speech, President Obama said that the NMAAHC Read more

Tip of the week: 3 reasons why your kids should be Sketchnoting

Yesterday I spent a few minutes on a quick rant blaming laptops and mobile devices for being the reason for the terrible KC Royals pitching, destroying the rainforest, causing the downfall of the Roman Empire, and ruining your students’ educational experience.

Okay. Mostly just the student educational experience thing.

A brief recap. Research is suggesting that when college students use technology to capture lecture notes, both short and long term learning declines when compared to students who captured lecture notes using the old fashioned paper and pencil method. Tech tools seem to encourage verbatim note-taking that focuses on capturing every word rather than on capturing only information that is important – on copy and pasting rather than evaluating and summarizing. Paper and pencil force the student to make decisions about what’s important and then to transform that information into a personal version of the lecture or video.

It’s this personalizing feature of paper and pencil that improves retention and learning.

And, yes, it’s college kids not K-12. And, no, you don’t lecture all of the time. But I’m gonna suggest that the experiences of middle and high school students would not be that much different from the college kids cited in the research.

So using tech to take notes is bad. Now what? Read more

Ed tech is good for kids. Except when it isn’t.

Some things just don’t make sense when we first try wrapping our heads around them. The balloon should move backwards like everything else in the car. Working together to solve a problem makes sense. Chilling water at 150 degrees to 32 degrees should be harder to do than chilling water that starts at 75 degrees.

Only it’s not.

How about this one?

  • Ed tech is good for kids. Except when it’s not.

The whole point of History Tech is focused on finding ways to integrate technology into social studies best practices. Ed tech is a good thing. Ed tech can be used to support data collection and analysis, critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, communication. It’s a good thing.

Except when it’s not.

Recent research seems to suggest that there are times when using technology Read more

I’m smarter now.

No real theme here today at all. Other than I’ve been reading this stuff. And, yup, I’m smarter now than I was before.

 

A History Teaching Toolbox: Your next must read

Part of what I get to do is spend time browsing the Interwebs finding tools and resources that would be useful for history and social studies teachers. Sometimes I find new stuff like the very cool Smithsonian Learning Labs and sometimes I just keep going back to the classics.

Russel Tarr is one of the classics. His Active History site (along with his ClassTools and Tarr’s Toolbox) always has some new strategy or tool that I haven’t seen and it’s always something useful. I’m really not sure how he finds time to actually teach but he’s been doing this for almost twenty years.

He has a degree in Modern World History from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University and is currently Head of History at the International School of Toulouse, France. On his free time, he delivers training courses to history teachers in the UK and Europe, writes regularly for the national and international press on historical and educational issues, and is a prominent figure in the educational community on Twitter – where he is one the most followed history teachers in the world.

All of this to say that he knows what he’s talking about. And it just got better. Tarr recently published a book titled A History Teaching Toolbox: Practical Classroom Strategies.

It’s the perfect resource for busy classroom teachers looking for some new strategies with their students. You’re going to find more than 60 tried and tested activities and approaches organized into helpful categories and explained with step-by-step instructions and topic-specific examples to illustrate how they can be used immediately. A History Teaching Toolbox is written for both new and experienced teachers who want to engage their students in high level thinking and problem-based learning activities.

I ordered a copy last week and I’ve been browsing through it this afternoon. It truly is the type of resource that provides activities and suggestions that any 6-12 social studies teacher could implement tomorrow. It would also be a great book for PLCs and history departments – go through a chapter together, try out a few of the ideas, and come back together to tweak and adapt. I’ve posted a few table of content pics below to give you an idea of the scope Tarr covers in A History Teaching Toolbox.

tarr-toc1

tarr-toc2

So you’re gonna want to spend some time at his websites but then head over to Amazon for the old school print. Both totally worth your time.