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.
Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read some of the top posts of 2014. I may decide to jump in with something current but if I don’t, enjoy this Holiday Goodie rerun.
Several of us were talking a few days ago about different ways to design hook activities that would engage kids while also encourage writing skills.
My favorite is to use thought bubbles on paintings or photos. Thought Bubbles ask kids to imagine what the people in the image are thinking.
Start by finding a photo or painting depicting an event, idea or group of people that helps introduce your content. I used the famous Emmanuel Leutze painting of Washington crossing the Delaware as my starting point.
Using photos, videos, and other types of images is one of the most effective ways to hook kids into your content. Images can create emotion, explain events, generate questions, and help solve problems.
But sometimes it can be difficult integrating visuals into your instruction. What images to use? What activities work best? How can you align these activities with national and state standards?
Picturing United States History: An Interactive Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence can help. Created by the folks at the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York Graduate Center with funding support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the site is a digital project based on the belief that visual materials are vital to understanding the American past. Read more
We know how powerful the integration of images in our instruction can be for our students. Part of the problem is actually finding images to use. The Library of Congress and the National Archives have some great stuff. But where else can you go when you need photos?
I’ve written a ton about where to find photos and how to use them. And I recently ran across a handy site focusing on historical images. Called Old Pictures, the site organizes its collection by themes and has some nice stuff.
Need more? Try some of these:
Multimedia Presentation Resources for Teachers
Access to a wide range of copyright free resources
Digital Librarian: Images
Huge collection of resources
7,700 pictures from around the world
New York Public Library Photo Collection
30,000 digitized images from books, magazines & newspapers also original photographs, prints and postcards
NYPL’s Digital Gallery
Tons of historical documents!
Copyright-friendly images for educators
Easy to use digital library illustrating more than 200 years of history
Picsearch – The Search Engine for Pictures
Pictures of Places
A directory of links to websites providing pictures of geographical places and sights
Free educational use of tons of history related images
Yesterday was a good day.
Any time that I can spend with social studies teachers, talk history content, and share ideas about instructional best practices has got to be a good day. That was yesterday.
But I noticed something. A lot of what we were doing revolved around visual things, not just text. We always think about social studies being a text-based activity. Documents and text books handouts and lots of paper. But much of what we did yesterday involved images and maps, Google Earth and videos.
Part of it is that I truly am a visual learner and so my brain naturally tilts in that direction. But good instructional practice and brain research is telling us that using visuals is a great way for content to connect with kids.
A recent addition to the visual toolbox we have access to is the infographic. So what’s an infographic?
We need to be doing more document analysis with our kids, especially images. This could be photographs, maps, paintings, posters and cartoons. One of the problems with this is that kids often see just the big picture rather than the details. There are some nice techniques that you can use to help kids see the bits and pieces of visual documents:
But I ran across a cool (and useful) tool this last week that you and your students can use to easily view image details. Called Zoom.it, the site lets you enter the URL of any online image, map or painting and it will display a high resolution file. Zoom.it converts your image to the Deep Zoom format, which lets you smoothly and efficiently explore the whole image, no matter how large.
This allows you to zoom way in on specific stuff, move around, zoom back out and highlight specific items in the image. Try it from the front of the class or have kids use it in groups as they complete their document analysis.
Zoom also gives you a specific Zoom URL to your image as well as an embed code that lets you stick the Zoom image on your website. Because Zoom has clickable controls, the site also works on most mobile devices. So ask kids to access your link on their phones or iPads as a bell ringer or learning outside of class.
What document will you zoom in on first?
I often get questions from teachers who need a tool to quickly edit a photo themselves or whose students need fast photo editing tools.
You can always use the old standard Photoshop and its offshoots. Of course, you’ll need anywhere from $80 – $700 to purchase it. Or you can use any one of the great, free online tools out there. I’ve listed a few of the best below:
My favorite? Google Picasa. I really like the ease of use, the ability to upload and store tons of my own photographs, quick method of creating folders and the incredibly cool way of publishing online albums to share with others.
The good news? Because these tools are so quick and easy to use, you can try them all and decide for yourself.