We know that we need to incorporate more literacy into our instruction. And embedding geography is a no brainer. And we’re told that our kids need to be using a variety of media tools. But we often struggle to find ways to integrate all of this stuff into lessons and units.
I ran across a new tool this morning that I think might be able to help. Called StoryMap JS, the tool provides a quick and easy way for you and students to develop visually appealing geo-based narratives. StoryMap JS was developed by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University. And while I haven’t had a ton of time to play it, it looks like a powerful addition to your teaching tool kit. Read more
Several years ago, at the 2013 NCSS conference in St, Louis, I had the opportunity to sit in a session by Mark Hofer and Kathy Swan. Mark teaches at the College of William and Mary, Kathy at the University of Kentucky. During their 2013 session, they suggested that student created documentaries are a great way to engage learners, align instruction to standards, and build foundational knowledge.
But they also admitted that using documentaries as teaching and learning tools can be difficult. They warned about serving a green pancake. Eating a green pancake will get someone’s attention but the pancake doesn’t taste any different or provide any more nutrition. It’s just green. But we can get very excited about it because, well . . . it’s green. So it must be really good. Technology can be like this.
It’s the shiny object idea I’ve talked about before. Technology, while important, is not necessary in every step of the documentary creation process. Make sure that kids are focused on the gathering of social studies content, on answering big ideas and rich questions, and on creating original solutions. Then you can begin to incorporate technology.
They also talked about the very practical problem of how much time it can take to use this sort of learning tool in the classroom.
Mark shared his idea of using Evidence-Based Arguments as a starting point. Every historical investigation needs to begin with a great question. Then they asked kids to do research and create videos. But what they got was disappointing. What they got was basically text with pictures, a script with a background. It wasn’t a story, it wasn’t engaging, and it often didn’t really answer the question. They begin to realize that they needed to learn more about how to create high-quality documentaries, how to use images and video to actually tell a story.
Mark and Kathy have continued to develop their ideas of integrating digital documentaries into instruction. And I recently learned about their latest project. Read more
October 30, 2015
You might find this YouTube video useful as you and your kids conduct your interviews. Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, provides some specific interviewing tips. It’s a great resource!
I’ve been on the road quite a bit over the last few months and staying alert during long car rides was becoming a problem. Enter the technology. Both my kids suggested I check out the NPR RadioLab podcast, an incredibly interesting collection of incredibly eclectic topics. I listened to stories about the history of football with a focus on the Indian school in Carlisle PA to using forest fires as a way of increasing bird populations to POW camps holding captured Germans in the US to how Mel Blanc was brought out of a coma by an impression of Bugs Bunny.
Seriously. RadioLab is awesome stuff.
But that got me looking around for other things to listen to. Which led my to another excellent NPR audio program called StoryCorps. Read more
Back last May, I highlighted three iPad apps that I called the perfect trifecta – apps that focused on the creation of digital products using visuals, text, and audio. One of my favorites on that list is an app called Voice. Voice is a very easy to use tool that captures your voice and overlays that audio on top of images, background music, and transitions.
The end result is a web-based video that can be quickly shared with others. I really love it for end of unit student projects. Simple to use. Lots of copyright free images. Background music built in. A wide variety of transitions and themes. Very slick.
Adobe just released Slate. Read more
Over the next few weeks, I get the chance to spend a lot of time having conversations with teachers about integrating literacy into the social studies. Reading, writing, and communicating. ELA literacy standards. My C4 Framework. The NCSS Inquiry Arc.
I love these kinds of discussions. Teachers brainstorming and sharing ideas. Thinking and talking about effective strategies. Good times. So part of what I’ve been doing the last few days is exploring different tools that support literacy in the classroom. And today, one of my finds.
An online tool that encourages the creation of visual stories in seconds. It’s a simple idea that has attracted more than 5 million stories – making Storybird one of the world’s largest storytelling communities. Read more