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History Geek Week Day Four: iPads and the social studies classroom

Just so you know. Best NCSS conference in a long time. It’s been a great week – meeting new people, learning new things, talking about new ideas.

And the Sandra Day O’Connor & Gerda Weissman Klein panel / US naturalization ceremony on Saturday was simply amazing. That session made the trip.

So good luck, Tom Daccord of EdTechTeacher / Teaching History with Technology fame. You’ve got big shoes to fill early on a Sunday morning on the last day of the conference.

Though I’m not really that worried. Tom’s stuff is pretty amazing and this morning’s session is on iPads. So this is probably the best place to finish off what has already been a great four days.

Here’s the problem that Tom sees in education today:

Schools have bought a gazillion iPads and have no idea what to do with them.

It’s not about the apps, it’s about how we can use iPads to encourage social studies thinking skills and practices. I agree. Most social studies apps seem to be drill and kill sorts of things.

So your approach should not focus on subject specific apps but instead focus on using apps and strategies that support actual learning.

The idea supports what we’ve been telling teachers struggling with integrating the Common Core. Your instructional design should fit into a simple structure:


So the tools you use may change depending on whether you’re in a paperless classroom with iPads or a “traditional” classroom but the process remains the same.

Tom worked through a sample lesson using a variety of apps:

Notice that there are no social studies specific apps here. Of course, you could use a social studies app as part of the instructional flow but the focus is on the learning, not on what app you can find that is specific to your unit.

Get Tom’s presentation here. Go to his page that lists apps by what your kids need to do. And get fellow EdTechTeacher Greg Kulowiec‘s preso on a paperless classroom here.

A great way to end a great conference.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sharon #

    Oh, wow. I saw Mrs. Klein a few years ago at the Houston conference, I believe. It was the same year that her husband died. Poignant and beautiful. With Justice O’Connor and a naturalization ceremony, that must have been magnificent. Thanks for all your posts. As a 6th grade world cultures teacher with 1 to 1 iPads, this last presentation material will be most useful. It’s a challenge to get these youngsters to think in terms of learning rather than game-playing on their lil devices.

    November 18, 2012
  2. Sharon #

    Could you check your link on Tom’s presentation? Link isn’t working.

    November 18, 2012
  3. Sharon #

    Thanks so much! Great info!

    November 18, 2012
  4. Megan Klassen #

    Can you send me the link to Tom’s presentation? The one on your post is taking me to 404: Page not found

    Thanks for sharing this! It is very helpful to our department when we’re trying to figure out iPads for next year!!

    On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 12:47 PM, History Tech

    November 19, 2012
  5. Jan Wells #

    Glenn, sounds like your experience was incredible. Catching this post came at a good time for me. Thanks.

    November 20, 2012
    • glennw #


      Glad you found the post helpful!

      Have a great holiday break.


      November 21, 2012

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