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First ever Tip of the Week contest!

It’s early in the week. You’re fresh and excited to be alive. School’s going great and you’ve got some great ideas about how to engage your kids.

You’d like to share those ideas with others. But how to do that?

The answer? History Tech’s first ever Tip of the Week contest!

I want to hear what works best for you. It could be an awesome web site, an effective strategy, a graphic organizer, a super lesson, a classroom management idea – really just about anything that helps kids learn more or makes your life easier.

The winner’s Tip will go out this Friday to thousands of your fellow teachers via my weekly Social Studies Central Tip of the Week. And will also receive . . . wait for it . . . a free copy of Sam Wineburg’s excellent book Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past.

Share your idea via the comments below. Include all necessary instructions, materials and suggestions for implementation as well as a working email address. I will contact the winner on Thursday and ship their awesome prize on Friday.

May the best idea win!

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Josh Head #

    I have found that “primary source stations” work really well for my classes. This is where a question is posed that has divergent opinions or viewpoints, like “Was America hostile towards immigrants at the turn of the century?” and then several primary sources (pictures, speeches, songs, political cartoons, etc.) are placed around the room that give different points of view. Students then get in groups and go around to each station, writing down what they see, and what inferences they can make about the document. Afterwards we place each document on a value line that answers the question. (So documents that show America was very hostile will go on one side and documents that show America wasnt go on the other side). Eventually students will write a short response to the question, using the sources as evidence for their arguments. It teaches them to use sources to back up their opinions. Thanks for the site!

    September 27, 2010
    • glennw #


      Sounds great! Thanks for being the first!


      September 27, 2010
  2. glennw #

    Hello Glenn,

    This isn’t really a tip but I thought you might be interested in this list of LOC resources related to Hispanic Heritage month from the Barat Teaching with Primary Sources Program.

    All the best,

    Julie Schaul
    Project Development Director
    Barat Education Foundation
    Teaching with Primary Sources Program

    September 27, 2010
  3. I have found that the awesome software from Ignite! Learning is one of the most useful tools for learning. The software is loaded with videos, interactive maps, graphic orgnanizers and much more. The company designs software for middle school students in the subject areas of Social Studies, Science, and Math. The company’s software is not cheap but well with the price. They do offer a free 14 day trial download so that you can become familar with the program before seeking financial assistance to pay for the program. It is my new favorite thing to use in the classroom and the students really love it too!

    September 27, 2010
    • Also love all the cool teaching tools from Kagan. I have a set of CD’s with great classroom management tools such as: Timer Tools, Team Tools (great for making leveled groups), Selector Tools (think of a more technology friendly way of calling on students), Decision Tools (like the polling the audience), and my favorite Numbered Heads Together “The Quiz Show Review Game.”

      If you have not used or seen Kagan they are online at:

      Awesome stuff!

      September 28, 2010
      • One more cool review tip!

        Our school purchased the program called Bellwork, which is a standards based review activity to be done at the start of each class period, thus the name of the program.

        It is a great tool for review and test prep as well as a great classroom management tool. Students know that when they enter the classroom they will begin working on one of the Bellwork Sheets, that normally has three or four multiple choice questions that review the subject standards.

        September 28, 2010
  4. I use an idea I read about called “cascading answers”. It works great when discussing historical novels. It involves groups of 3-4 students answering a series of questions each with more than one answer. The total number of groups needs to be a multiple of 3 (6 or 9 groups work best) because you need to have three groups working together as a pod. Each of the three groups in a pod get a question sheet with 2 different questions (original idea called for 3 questions). The questions need to allow for multiple answers. Each group gets 8 minutes to provide one answer to each of the questions on their sheet. After the 8 minutes they must exchange papers with one of the groups in their pod. They then have 10 minutes to come up with an answer for each question on that sheet. It becomes more difficult now because the first group as already given one set of answers. The second group has to provide different answers. After 10 minutes the process is repeated. The groups now have 12 minutes to answer the last set of questions. (Side note: to keep everyone involved the duty of writing the group’s answers must be rotated each time). At the end of the 12 minutes the sheets are returned to the first group who answered them. From the three answers provided for each question they must select the best. Then we do whole class discussion in which I have each group provide their top answer and explain why that is the best answer.

    September 27, 2010
  5. Something that is really working for me this year is using the social network For those unfamiliar with it, it is a Twitter-like network set up for education without the character limit. Teachers can set up different classes and have their students join them (which I had mine do during class time– they don’t need an email to sign up). I have my students post on Edmodo weekly to share current event articles, discuss opinions about what we are doing in class, and review the information we are going over in class.

    Ways Edmodo is really working for my history classes:
    -Students are bringing in issues that we didn’t get to or have time to go over in class; they are also continuing class discussions.
    -Students can message either their class or just me, which gives them another line of communication with me (they utilize this far more than email).
    -It gives me a great way to monitor student progress and understanding. My students post what they have learned during the week, and if their comment is confused or not quite correct, I can message them individually to try and clarify their misunderstandings.
    -Students can sign up for text updates from Edmodo for when I remind them about quizzes/tests/upcoming due dates. My students were really into this, and I don’t have access to their phone numbers this way, which is good.

    Here are some really great resources that offer tips for signing up and using Edmodo with your classes:



    September 29, 2010

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  1. Tip of the Week – Primary Source Stations « History Tech

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