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Hstry: Free 21st century timelines that are awesome

December was a busy month. I had stuff going on. You know . . . college basketball season had kicked in, those pesky Christmas lights, the Star Wars VII trailer was out. Normal December stuff.

So I missed it. Back on December 4, I missed a post by Richard Bryne over at Free Technology for Teachers highlighting a very cool new timeline tool that I think you need to try out. If you’ve already read Richard’s post, feel free to just re-watch the trailer. Or you could make yourself useful – use the new tool to create a timeline and share it in the comments.

But if you’re like me and didn’t get the chance to browse through the December 4 post, hang around a bit. I’ve had the chance to hear from others who’ve used it and tried it myself – and I’m convinced you need to check it out.

Hstry is a digital learning tool where both teachers and students are able to create their own interactive timelines that encourage collaboration and the use of multimedia elements.

Hstry seems perfect for the “show me what you know” styles of assessment in standards-based classrooms.  Hstry is designed for historical timelines, but there are infinite possibilities for creating projects. Once you’ve created your account, check out the option of sharing resources, assignments, and student portfolios integrating images, video, audio and reflections.  This teacher’s personal visual resume demonstrates how both adult and students can use Hstry to create a different sort of electronic portfolio.

The process is pretty simple:

Go to Hstry and create an account as a “teacher.” The site will take you to a quick hands-on tutorial that walks you through the steps of using the sites and creating your first timeline.

Create your classes. Click the Classes tab on the left hand side of the site. Hit the plus sign. Easy peasy.

Create your first timeline. Things are pretty simple with lots of drag and drop. You can add seven different types of timeline elements. You start with examples of each type and can add / delete them as you construct your timeline.

hstry elements

I especially like the ability to create different sections in the timeline by selecting “Heading.”

Add the timeline to one or more of your classes. Then head over to the Timeline tab and search for Timelines pre-created by Hstry and other teachers in the Community. Add the ones you like to your classes.

hstry timelines

Add students to your classes by sharing the unique code for each of your classes with your kids. They head to the Hstry website and create an account using the code.

hstry classes

The super cool thing about all of this is that site is push / pull. You can create timelines and push them out to students. They can create timelines that you pull in. They could create first-person accounts of events acting as historical characters. Students might use the tool to showcase their own videos, podcasts, and stories. You can ask students to use Hstry to document their analysis of primary and secondary evidence ending with their solution to a specific historical problem. Students could use Hstry to respond to current events. Or maybe have students comment on different elements of timelines that you make available, creating a collaborative learning space.

The app lives online making for an easy to use paperless creation tool. Hstry is supported on laptops and mobile devices so your kids can access your timelines and create their own just about anywhere.

All of this gives you the ability to align Hstry timelines with C4 Framework elements, state standards, and Common Core Literacy Standards for History / Government.


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