HSTRY now with real time collaboration
In Kansas, one of our state standards focuses on the idea that choices have consequences. Our document encourages teachers to use strategies that help kids to “identify and defend a variety of possible causes of events, and the resulting consequences, encourages appropriate decision-making and helps students understand the complexity of the various disciplines.”
And one of the tools I urge teachers to use as part of the learning process is the simple timeline. They might seem like super basic things but timelines truly are powerful strategies for helping kids understand cause and effect and context. They’re also great for building the ability to evaluate and analyze choices.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with the old fashioned paper and pencil timeline.
But . . . I have been a big fan of the HSTRY timeline tool ever since it came out several years ago.
HSTRY may be one of the best digital learning tools you’ll run across. It is just that cool. Simple description? HSTRY is a web-based service that encourages both teachers and students to create their own interactive timelines that support collaboration and the use of multimedia elements.
HSTRY is perfect for the “show me what you know” styles of assessment in standards-based classrooms. I created a simple D-Day timeline that can give you an idea of what this might look like. And while HSTRY is designed for historical timelines, there are infinite possibilities for different types of projects.
The process is pretty simple:
1. Go to HSTRY, click the Sign Up button, and select “I’m an educator.” 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.
Once you’ve created your account, check out the different ways HSTRY can share resources, create assignments, and develop 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.
2. Create your classes. Yup. Part of the beauty that is HSTRY is that you can create classes that students join – your timelines appear in their accounts and their projects show up in yours. So everything happens online and seamlessly.
Click the Teach tab on the left hand corner of the site. Hit the Add a Class box. Easy peasy.
3. Create your first timeline. Things are pretty simple with lots of drag and drop. You can add a variety of different types of timeline elements. You start with examples of each type and can add / delete them as you construct your timeline.
I especially like the ability to create different sections in the timeline by selecting “Heading.”
4. Add the timeline to one or more of your classes. Add students to your classes by sharing the unique code for each of your classes with your kids. They head to the HSTRY website, create their own account, and join the class using that code.
The super cool thing about all of this is that HSTRY supports the idea of push / pull technology. You can create timelines and push them out to students. They can create timelines that you pull in.
But here’s the new cool updated piece of HSTRY that I’m loving:
There is also the ability to have kids collaborate together on the same timeline. This feature encourages not just group work within your classroom but also allows students to work with other classes outside your building.
What could this look like? Kids 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. And using the multiple choice element, you could even use HSTRY to create a timeline that encourages students to self-assess.
The push / pull idea also works beyond your classroom. Because HSTRY is a community-based tool, you have access to a database of tons of timelines that others have created and shared. Hit the Explore button at the top left and browse or do a keyword search. Your free access gets you into the Community database that includes timelines from groups such groups as Facing History and Ourselves.
Paid access gets you additional timelines created by the HSTRY experts. Paid access for teachers is $49 a year and there are also school / district versions. Some of the main differences between free and paid? Free limits the number of student timelines to 200, limits collaboration to just two users, and there is no access to the HSTRY created timelines. Paid allows unlimited student timelines and unlimited collaboration.
My opinion? Worth it.