I’m a huge Pocket user. I’m either saving to or reading from Pocket multiple times every day. It’s a tool I ran across several years ago and continue to love. It’s a read later / bookmarking app that lets me save online articles and sites for later access. I use it all. The. Time.
But I am also a huge lover of all things Google. So when I learned of a new Google Chrome extension called Save to Google, I had to give it a try. (Not familiar with Chrome extensions?) Save to Google lets you quickly save images and websites with a click of a button to a new Google tool called Google Save. You can then have access to these sites and images whenever or wherever you are.
And while Save to Google is unlikely to replace my Pocket crush anytime soon, it is something that might be very useful for you and your students right now. Especially if you’re working in a Google Apps for Education school, all of your kids already have Google accounts, and you’re all looking for an easy way to archive images and bookmark websites.
Think research and saving articles for later access. Think cross-device access to articles and photos. Think collecting and easily tagging images of Civil War battles or saving photos of the Dust Bowl for a group digital project. Think saving and sharing online primary sources and documents with students. Think simply a place for your kids to collect and organize all sorts of evidence for a research project.
So how does Google Save work? Read more
Gapminder is an organization promoting sustainable global development by encouraging the use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.
Basically it’s a tool you and kids can use to compare and contrast countries around the world. So . . . teaching geography, world history, economics, comparative government? GapMinder is a tool you and your kids need to be using.
At GapMinder, you can access a variety of tools, lesson plans, and videos that help students understand the world and can help you generate a wide range of problems for your kids to solve.
One example of a lesson plan that uses GapMinder data can help your kids to think about the gaps in the world today and challenge their preconceived ideas about how the contemporary world looks. The exercise can also be used to stimulate an interest in using statistics to understand the world.
How to use the activity: Read more
Several years ago, I had the chance to be part of a learning community facilitated by Bruce Lesh. At the time, Bruce was teaching high school in Maryland and traveled to Kansas for a week as part of our Century of Progress TAH grant.
He shared a ton of great stuff including his idea of History Labs and the process of historical thinking. Like many of us, part of his social studies world view included ideas from Sam Wineburg. Wineburg uses the semantics of sourcing, contextualizing, and corroborating. He also talks quite a bit about kids working to “read between the lines” as part of that analysis process.
Bruce altered that language a bit and used the words text, context, and subtext to describe student thinking skills. The basic idea is the same but I like the alliteration / re-use of the word “text” and how that can help kids remember what their task is when making sense of evidence. Since then, teachers in the group have continued to use his vocabulary.
Many of the TAH project participants continue to meet four times a year to share ideas and hone their skills. Yesterday was day four of the year and among other things, we celebrated the birthday of Thomas Jefferson and hosted a historical political campaign t-shirt design contest. Read more
Finding primary sources and evidence to use as part of the teaching and learning process can be a massive timesuck.
Back in the day, all we had was whatever showed up with the textbook supplementals. If we were lucky, we might have access to some semi-realistic jackdaw collections. And because the pool was so shallow, there were usually two outcomes. You found something you could use almost immediately or you didn’t find anything at all.
But now with so many digital options available, having too many resources can sometimes be just as bad as not having enough. It can be difficult knowing where to start and how to search for what you need. Which resources can help me find what I need?
Of course, there are the no-brainers. Read more
I’ve never tried it but people I know who have done the escape room thing say the experience is awesome. If you’re not familiar with the concept, head over and take a quick peek at one example from the TV show The Big Bank Theory.
The idea is that you are “locked” into a room with a time limit. There are clues scattered around that you must find and figure out. These clues eventually lead to a key or passcode that you can use to escape from the room and win the challenge.
Escape rooms are great examples of the research that suggests the brain loves solving problems and novelty. When we experience new and intriguing tasks, reward chemicals are released – cementing learning and retention.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that a couple of teachers adapted the escape room idea to their classrooms. James Sanders and Mark Hammons developed an activity that they titled BreakoutEDU. But instead of escaping from an actual room, BreakoutEDU players solve clues to open a series of locks and boxes with the ultimate goal of getting into the final Breakout box.
And the cool thing? Read more
Last summer, I spent a quick few minutes with Tom Barker from ESRI at the ISTE 2015 conference. ESRI is the group responsible for creating the ArcGIS mapping software that helps connect people with maps, data, and apps.
But the cool thing about ESRI is that they also provide some pretty nifty tools for K-12 teachers. And I wanted to find out a bit more about what ESRI might be able to offer social studies educators. Turns out, quite a bit.
First things first.
StoryMaps. Amazing free tools to help you and your students create very cool stories that use geography as the centerpiece to the narrative. This tool by itself should be enough to get you off the couch and onto the ESRI bandwagon.
But wait. There’s more. One of the things Tom shared with me last summer was something they were callingGeoInquiries. Unlike StoryMaps, which are more involved and in-depth, GeoInquiries are quick and easy to use activities that take 15-25 minutes.
The problem? Read more