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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

Tip of the Week: 15 resources for using comics in the social studies

It was part three of the four part 2017-2018 ESSDACK social studies PLC. We get together throughout the year to share ideas, ask questions, discover new resources, and eat some awesome food.

Last Wednesday it was more of the same. Valentine’s Day cupcakes. 3-D glasses. And comics. Lots and lots of comics.

I’ve always loved comics. I lean a bit more to things like Calvin & Hobbes and Doonesbury rather than the Marvel and DC universes that my kids love. But no matter what I was reading – growing up or now – I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of visual storytelling.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve also intrigued with the idea of using comics and graphic novels as part of social studies instructional design. And Wednesday, the group nerded out with some great conversation about what that can look like.

We started by doing Read more

It’s Black History Month: 5 suggestions from the National Museum of African American History (and a list of resources)

It’s February. Black History Month.

And I gotta be honest. I’m always a bit conflicted about the idea. The concept of a month specifically set aside for the study of Black History started back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month of February as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The hope was that Black History Month would provide a very intentional time for all of us to remember together the struggles of African Americans to obtain the basic civil rights afforded to others, the challenges African Americans have faced for centuries, and the contributions of African Americans to who we are. But . . . the real hope was that the story of essential people, events, and places, routinely ignored, would be incorporated throughout the school year.

Recent movies such as Selma and Marshall and books such as Hidden Figures do a great job of creating a sense of a specific time period, of overt racism and violence, the need for supporting the right to vote, the courage of everyday individuals, and of the thought process behind events. The message of Black History Month remains – that the quest for equality and dignity in the United States was difficult and dangerous. And that the extraordinary work of ordinary folks such as John Lewis, Jimmie Lee Jackson, and Amelia Boynton Robinson still isn’t finished.

But I’m still a bit conflicted.

Jose Vilson, teacher and activist,  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

It’s Kansas Day! It’s Kansas Day!

Tonight, in the Sunflower Showdown, the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the Kansas State University Wildcats play each other in basketball for the 288th time. And today is Kansas Day. How cool is that?

The state of Kansas is an unbelievably interesting place. And is much more than just basketball.

She was once called the Great American Desert, a title mistakenly given her by temporary passers-through. She’s always been home to huge herds of North American bison, vast expanses of seven foot tall Big Bluestem prairie grass, forested hills, hawks, bobcats, coyotes, the Arkansas and Big Blue rivers, Cottonwood trees, a ton of deer and antelope a-playing, and not just a few amazing people.

Indians. Cowboys. Explorers and Pony Express riders. Politicians. Artists. Aviators, scientists and writers. Reformers. Populists. Pizza makers. Farmers. Lots and lots of farmers.

Kansas turns 157 today. And it’s her people that make her who she is. Read more