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Your students are not like you. Accept it. Teach differently.

I had the chance to chat with a high school history teacher yesterday and as teacher conversations often do, we veered into a discussion around instructional best practices. That discussion then veered off into a more specific conversation about Generation Z kids.

The takeaway for me?

Most of us don’t think enough about how different our students are from us.

I mean, we all want to do what’s best for kids. But I think we filter that desire to do what’s best through a Baby Boomer / Generation Y / Millennial teacher’s lens. That’s a nice way of saying we’re old and maybe don’t realize that we view the world very differently than our students do.

Viewing the world differently is not a bad thing. But failing to recognize that fact can be – especially when we fail to design our instruction to meet the needs of our Gen Z students. Holly Clark, over at the Infused Classroom, put together a handy post along with a powerful infographic that highlights a few characteristics of your Gen Z learners: Read more

Tip of the Week: Use KidCitizen to engage K-5 kids & build 6-12 activities

So. Much. Learning.

Getting the chance to be part of the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference can be both overwhelming and inspiring. There are so many people to meet, so many new ideas, so many new tools to explore.

I feel smarter just thinking about it.

Two of the things I noticed while I was immersed in the 2017 History Nerdfest? There is a common language and expectation around the idea of historical thinking – that using evidence and primary sources and sourcing and having kids solve problems is a good thing. Second? There is a commitment to using technology as one of the tools for helping kids make sense of the world around them.

It wasn’t always like that. NCSS and its members have come a long way in embracing the power of tech tools as part of social studies instruction and learning. That’s a good thing. A specific example that focuses on historical thinking and technology are the very cool things that the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program is doing with sims and gaming platforms.

One of the coolest? Read more

Tip of the Week: 7 great social studies ideas for back to school

August Fourth!? Seriously? August already?

I had noticed that it had warmed up and that summer was in full swing. But already the start of school?

I spent a few days in Georgia leading some conversations around literacy in the social studies and they started with kids last week. So for them, this post is ten days too late. But I’m hoping that for most of you, there are a few days before your first contact day.

And to help jumpstart your first awesome week, here are seven great ways to kick off the year. Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. And be sure to add your own ideas in the comments. Read more

History Nerdfest 2016 Day Three: Using Virtual Reality to Build Content & Empathy

Okay. Some serious History nerd overload going on. It’s Saturday afternoon and I need the Diet Pepsi to kick in. But some amazingly awesome stuff today – started with the #sschat Unconference and some of my favorite Twitter folks, and then three sessions on gaming, using primary sources, and integrating tech into social studies.

Plus I got to meet Stephanie Greenhut, the creative genius behind the powerful DocsTeach site. How cool is that?

There may be just enough caffeine left for this session before heading off the Smithsonian African American Museum later this evening. Paul Howard and Neil Soloman from the local DC schools are sharing how they use virtual reality tools as a way to build both content knowledge and create empathy in their students.

They started with a story of having kids use a VR viewer such as a Google Cardboard to look at a simple 360 Photosphere of the Taj Mahal. The kids went nuts. Read more

History Nerdfest 2016: Ten Tech Tools for Teaching Social Studies

I had the chance to drop in on a quick 30 minute Power session that focused on ten tech tools for teaching civics. Three minutes of overview for each tool and a bit of fast discussion on how it might be used.

NewsELA
A site that allows users to read current event articles at different Lexile levels/ They also have a new section that does the same thing for primary sources – perfect for modifying documents to make them more accessible.

Twitter
Presenters shared a series of hashtags that social studies teacher can follow:

  • tlap
  • sstlap
  • sschat
  • whapchat
  • hsgovchat
  • pyschat
  • worldgeochat

I would also suggest using a curating tool such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to help sort and organize the information that will come pouring in while following this hashtags. Read more

Tip of the Week: Seven Social Studies Strategies for Back to School

(When you’re done here, head over to the updated version of Back to School ideas. You’ll find some sweet Geo Goodness, memes, scavenger hunts, art as history, and a handy Bootcamp unit.)

Yup. It’s that time of year already. The annual Back to School Ideas in a Social Studies Classroom post. And I know some are already back in the classroom but most of you crank up this week or next.

So. Here ya go.

Use what you can. Adapt what you can’t. Add your own ideas in the comments.

What not to do

Before we get going with what we know works, it’s probably a good idea to think about what doesn’t. Read more