I grew up out in Western Kansas. As in, west of Dodge City. West of Jetmore. West of Kalvesta. As in, far enough west to get incredible views and horizons that are miles away. Old barns and windmills. So it was a great day yesterday when I got the chance to drive out that direction to work with middle and high school teachers at @NessCityEagles.
The goal was to share ideas and work with technology integration tools that can be used on their student Chromebooks. Much of our conversation and work time centered around a few of my favorite story telling push / pull digital storytelling tools and what they can look like in the classroom.
What’s a push / pull tool? These are tools that you as the teacher can use to push your instructional content out to kids. But kids can use the same tool to create their own content which you pull back from them. One teacher yesterday used the phrase:
“kids can use this to both consume and create content.”
And the cool thing is that because these tools are designed to work on the Chromebook’s Chrome browser, they work just as well on your Mac or PC Chrome browser. So in no particular order, five awesome digital storytelling tools: Read more
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, 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 the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!
Okay. I know that movies about teachers rarely tell the whole story. You know the ones I’m talking about – movies like:
- Stand and Deliver
- Freedom Writers
- Dangerous Minds
- Mr. Holland’s Opus
- Lean On Me
They rarely show the hours of grading, the phone calls from parents, IEP meetings, kids throwing up on your shoes, music program practice, endless committees, extra duties, coaching – though there does always seem to be some sort of happy ending.
But ya know . . . I still enjoy ’em. My favorite? Read more
National Geographic has always been the go-to for geography goodies. You get lesson plans, teaching resources, maps, and even more maps.
And they always have had great map making tools. But they just got better. Their MapMaker has been updated with new features, the biggest one for many of you is the ability to use the tool on mobile devices.
But they’ve also added some new interactive tools:
- Country Facts and Flags – Explore and discover information about countries and territories around the world. Customize the fill and border colors to make this map layer your own.
- Latitude and Longitude – See the coordinates of any place on earth.
- Custom Text, Photos, Videos – Use markers, lines, or shapes to tell your story on MapMaker by adding in text, photos, and videos with the rich editing tool.
Start with a blank world map that allows Read more
I’ve been a fan of Adobe digital tools ever since I started playing with Voice several years ago. And have continued to fall in love as they added Slate and Post. All three provide incredibly powerful and easy to use tools for creating digital stories.
Post is designed to quickly create professional graphics. Slate focused on creating magazine style web-based stories letting you and students mix text and images in a highly visual way. Voice let you create animated videos by combining text, images, icons and themes on slides and then laid your own voice over the slides as a narrative for the finished video product.
I like that they provide both push and pull options – teachers can use them to create resources that they push out to students. Kids can use them to create products that teachers can pull in. All three tools are connected with the Adobe Creative Cloud, making it easy for users to find copyright free images to use in their projects. While not as powerful as Adobe’s pro tools such as Photoshop and InDesign, all three have some pretty amazing features making them accessible to teachers and students just by tapping buttons.
I also loved the fact that all three tools are free.
The problem was that all three were iOS only – available for iPhone and iPad users only. Eventually a web-based version of Slate did become available. But many were still locked out of the other tools.
Until this week. Read more
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