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Tip of the Week: Top 10 Social Studies Stuffs of 2014

Over the holiday break, it’s tradition in my family to watch the movies Elf, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Home Alone. With hot cocoa. While yelling out our favorite lines.

Stuffs is a bit like that.

It’s become a History Tech tradition. For the last few years, I’ve been listing my personal Top Ten Social Studies Stuffs of the Year.

Yeah. I know. Not an actual word. Though I happen to think it should be. Cause I use the word stuff a lot.

The idea started out with a desire to list my ten favorite books of the year but I quickly realized that there were a lot of other things – websites, apps, movies – that I really liked as well.

So . . . stuffs. The plural of stuff.

I suppose you can call them whatever you want. But here, in no particular order, are the top ten things that I found useful, interesting, or just fun this past year.

Feel free to add your own stuff in the comments.

Zoom In
Perhaps my favorite of all the favorites. Just released, Zoom In is designed specifically to train secondary students to solve a historical problem by analyzing and collecting evidence, organizing research, and creating a rough draft communicating the solution. Perfectly aligned to my C4 Framework, to the NCSS national standards, our state standards, and the ELA Common Core Literacy Standards. And it’s free. What’s not to like? Get a sense of the tool at their YouTube channel.

The Roosevelts
I still have the series on my DVR. Loved the Teddy episodes. There just so much here and so many similarities between then and now. Be sure to check out the lessons with aligned video clips.

At its most basic level, Zaption is a way for you to take a YouTube or a Vimeo video clip and add interactive elements such as multiple choice questions, open response boxes, text, images, and drawings. Students respond to the elements you embed. You track their responses using Zaption’s analytics feature. Everybody’s happy.

Reading, Thinking, and Writing About History: Teaching Argument Writing to Diverse Learners in the Common Core Classroom, Grades 6-12
You need to grab a copy – perfect for PLC book studies, personal professional development, and helping to understand how the historical thinking process can look embedded in an extended lesson.

Every Book is a Social Studies Book: How to Meet Standards with Picture Books, K-6
First thing, it’s not just for K-6. There is stuff in here for middle school and even some high school folks. Second thing, it’s a book you need to track down. The authors have put together an amazing collection of discipline-specific strategies along with extensive collections of trade and picture books all aligned to the 10 national NCSS social studies themes.

Newsela / Listen Current
Both Newsela and Listen Current focus on current events. Both have free and paid versions. Both provide the chance to create specific classes and to track student progress. Newsela has leveled reading articles and Listen Current has awesome lesson plans. Both are no-brainers for every social studies teachers.

I’m not a huge user of Twitter. I think that there are a ton of classroom uses for it but much of what I use it for personally and professionally runs through this hashtag and website. Questions. Answers. Resources. Ideas. Moral support. Monday night live chat. Seriously. This is the place to be to start your digital PLN.

Adobe Voice
This iPad app fav focuses on the narrative of a story rather than video clips or text. It’s your voice that captures the attention. Simple overview? You create a slide-based story by inserting photos, graphics, and text. You record your own voice over the slides and Voice creates a high-quality video of your work. The video is hosted online by Adobe making for true 21st century digital storytelling. You can also share the finished product on the typical social media pages or you can create a private link.

Google Classroom
The tool allows educators to assign and collect work, view who has and has not tackled an assignment, make announcements, and create separate Drive folders for each student. In addition, in a similar way to Google+, students can post to a “stream” of content to connect with other classmates. The part I like? It’s ad-free. It also seems to work well on mobile devices.

Writing Navigator
A free, online suite of tools with mobile versions that provides guidance and support throughout the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, and publishing. The suite includes four products that guide students through the writing process. Each stage in the process has tons of guiding questions and prompts that support the creation of quality writing products, large and small. It’s available for a variety of platforms: including the web, iPad, and Chromebook.

One bonus stuff?

Tampering with the Past
This article, written by Sam Wineburg and Daisy Martin, is a great way to jump start a conversation about the use of evidence in the classroom. Is it okay to modify documents that students use to solve problems?

Have fun!


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