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Posts from the ‘21st century skills’ Category

Creating both great producers and consumers of information

I’m in snowy and snowing Minnesota at its annual Council for the Social Studies conference. We’re sheltered inside the state History Center – what better place for a bunch of social studies teachers?

First session is right up my alley. Strengthening democracy by training kids to be better users of social media and online tools. Jennifer Bloom from the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation is helping us create socially responsible and informed citizens. The Foundation hosts the Teaching Civics website – a cool place with over 800 lesson plans. They also have some handy ed resources.

As we get better at training kids to be engaged and informed citizens, she says Read more

Google Search. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

I’m probably showing my age. But the old orange juice commercial still comes to mind every once in a while. You know the one. Everyday folks drinking orange juice all day long cause . . . you know, it’s not just for breakfast anymore. (You’re welcome, Florida Orange Growers Association.)

And it came to mind again yesterday while I was working with a small group of educators as they explored all of the different tools available in Google’s G Suite for Education. I had stopped to talk a bit about Google Search and a teacher shared what I’m guessing was the overall mood of the group:

Search isn’t really a tool, is it? Not like Docs or Slides. And don’t most kids already know how to search on Google?

Yes, it is a tool. And after a few minutes of gentle conversation and examples, mmm . . . it was clear that maybe we don’t all know as much about the power of Google Search as we think we do. (Yesterday I overheard one particular user mention that she starts all of her searches by clicking the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google search page.) And while we’re all pretty good at putting some keywords into the Google search box and hoping for the best, I think we can do better.

Google Search isn’t just for breakfast anymore – we need to realize that finding and organizing information is a vital digital literacy skill that we and our students can’t ignore. And it’s becoming even more critical as more and more of the documents, sources, and tools that our students need are being pushed online. So . . . Read more

Revisit Google Tour Builder: The forgotten little brother of all the map tools

It’s no secret that History Tech loves the maps. I still get a bit giddy whenever a new National Geographic mag shows up with a historical map insert. Cause . . . maps are cool.

So it’s not a surprise that I’m also in love with all things Google map related. There’s the basic Google Maps and Maps app. You’ve got both the original, downloadable – and by far the best – version of Google Earth and the new version of Google Earth they created so it would play nice with Chromebooks. You’ve got the relatively new Google My Maps. You’ve got the Street View and Expeditions apps. And there’s hundreds of third party tools using Google Map API code that do all sorts of fun things.

And then there’s the often forgotten little brother of the Google Map world – Google Tour Builder. Tour Builder came out about  Read more

5 New Year’s resolutions every social studies teacher should make

Yes. I am aware that most New Year’s resolutions are made a bit closer to New Year’s Day. But it’s still January, so I figure I’m good.

The good news is that a 2009 study found that 46% of participants who made New Year’s resolutions were likely to succeed – over ten times as much as those who decided to make similar decisions during other times of the year.

So . . . it’s not too late to make a few 2018 social studies resolutions. And I’m a big believer in constant self-evaluation. As in asking myself questions about my current practice: What’s working? What’s not? What should I change? What do my students need? What resource needs to be phased out? The middle of the school is a perfect time for those sorts of questions.

In that spirit, here are five New Year’s resolutions every social studies teacher should make: Read more

Best posts 2017: Fake news is why you exist. 12 tools that can help

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much Chex Mix, and enjoying the occasional nap.

But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read seven of the most popular History Tech posts from 2017. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!

Okay. Basic question.

“If I asked you to describe what you do every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Let me rephrase that a bit.

“If I asked you to describe what you should be doing every day as a social studies teacher, what would I hear?”

Here’s my point. I think that we can get so caught up in the everyday that we sometimes forget why we exist. Grading papers. Taking roll. Going to meetings. Calling parents. Trying to keep middle school kids from setting things on fire. That’s a typical day in your life. I get that.

But I’m going to suggest today that we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

What’s the prize? Why do we exist? Read more