16 Replies Latest reply: Feb 28, 2014 7:58 PM by Lynne Hoffman RSS

If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?

NaomiAtAmericanHistory Novice
Currently Being Moderated

I was watching the PBS NewsHour on Friday and was struck by this story about a North Carolina school district that has gone to all digital learning—no textbooks, most tests taken online, and projects in a variety of digital media in lieu of many written assignments.  One of the questions the interviewer had was about making sure students went to appropriate websites for research and activities, and the teachers made clear that they vetted these sites (and of course many sites and searches are blocked).  There are a number of great conversations in here, but I thought first of the Virginia Textbook Controversy discussion, which included some conversation about open source textbooks, and had me wondering, if your school went all digital, what online social studies tools would you use?  What are your favorite online resources for teaching social studies?

 

I'm also hoping this will allow us to pull together a great list of online resources for social studies, along the lines of the favorite online tools collected in the Online Tools for Educators group (which I highly recommend joining if you haven’t already), too, to share ideas among the group and for reference by future group members.

 

So, tell us what you love and why! Is it DocsTeach? iCivics? What else? I'd love to post these, as a document or on the main page of our group, too!

 

Naomi

National Museum of American History

  • If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    I found a really neat website called If It Were My Home that provides a feature for comparing 10 key statistics about life in different countries.  To view the comparisons, you select two countries from a list and then click compare.  The site also shows you a size comparison of a selected country centered over your hometown.  It's an amazing way to learn facts about countries.

     

    In addition, the site offers visualizations of disasters such as the Pakistan Flood and BP Oil Spill to help you see how these tragedies would have impacted you if they had occurred in your home country.

     

    Lynne

    • If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
      Khorn Novice
      Currently Being Moderated

      I hesitate to reply to this post about "digital schools," but since I have been stating my preference for over 10 years, I thought it only appropriate for me to voice my preference here.  I think Naomi's suggestion of gathering the most used and effective digital tools that teachers need and use and listing them on a page in  American History Museum's Website is a fabulous idea.  Agreed, there are other good resources for teaching social studies, but  I find the best over-all resource to be Thinkfinity with all the cross-disciplinary emphasis that the Partners bring to the table.Every Partner in the Thinkfinity consortium brings a wealth of information, data, and strategies to the development of a curriculum for social studies.

       

      If I were in charge of the social studies curriculum, and I have had some exposure to this challenge, I would first begin by setting out what I expected to achieve by the time the 12th grade students walked across the stage.  This means, that a solid foundation would be laid for the K-4, extended for 5-7, and emphasized and embellished from 8-12. Using the best Lesson Plans available to any teacher through Thinkfinity allows the creation of whatever structure the school hopes to achieve.  Additionally, Thinkfinity provides resources for the interjection of the fine arts into the curriculum covering things like culture in Europe, Middle East, etc.  No need for me to attempt covering all the bases here on what Thinkfinity can do for a school that goes completely digital for social studies...The same argument holds true for developing a curriculum in Language Arts.  Suffice it to say, there is no topic, no lesson, no interactive, that would not be covered if a school used just one resource - Thinkfinity.... And, did anyone mention they school could improve their budget a bunch.... Did everyone get that word???? Thinkfinity is free!

      • If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
        NaomiAtAmericanHistory Novice
        Currently Being Moderated

        Thanks, Lynne, for that great resource! What a compelling way to help kids consider what life is like in other countries.  We always talk about making content relevant to students--that idea clearly lies at the heart of that resource.

         

        And, Karen, I agree, Thinkfinity is an immensely valuable resource!  I would certainly hope that Thinkfinity.org would be on any teacher's list.  I was wondering about individual resources, though I know one could always check the most popular favorite resources list here in the Community for suggestions--our Life in a Sodhouse and Artificial Anatomy: Body Parts interactives are both there!

         

        But, are there other specific resources on Thinkfinity that don't bubble up on a list of favorites that you think any teacher should use? Or, are there other resources out in the wide world of the web that you go to consistently with students? I know one of our group members really loves this resource on migration, from the National Archives:

        http://www.archives.gov/education/history-day/migration-history/

         

        Or, what is the response to the idea of a paperless classroom? Your comment about the budget was interesting, Karen, and supports what the NewsHour piece suggested.  The superintendent of the districit in North Carolina has noted that their move to a digital classroom hasn't really been more costly, that the equipment costs are largely balanced out by the savings in textbook costs, paper, etc. 

         

        And as a heads up, I was hoping to create a list of great resources that could live in this group (maybe in the documents section), but not on the Museum's website

         

        Naomi

  • If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
    Evildad New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    How about if I turn that question around:

     

    How does a resource get on your radar as a teacher?

     

    We launched the online West Virginia Encyclopedia last September, after publishing the text version in 2006. Obviously the online version is much updated and offers many added features, but while a lot of West Virginia teachers know about (and use) the book version, we're having a hard time letting the teachers know about the online version. Amazingly, it seems the best way is a face-to-face demo! Dealing with state education people runs us into a bureaucracy ("We're revamping all our lesson plans etc and we'll be done in about a year."), but when we've demo'd for groups, everyone gets really excited.

     

    When a teacher finds a great resource, does s/he share it with other teachers in the school? Outside the school? By what methods?

     

    Thanks. And by the way, I also check out the various links posted, looking for how other sites do things that might make ours better.

     

    Mike

  • Re: If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    According to Richard Byrne in a post on Free Technology for Teachers, "Scholastic has released a new interactive timeline of immigration to the United States. The timeline is divided into five eras:

    • A New Land
    • Expanding America
    • The American Dream
    • A Place of Refuge
    • Building a Modern America

    Within each era there are multiple sub-sections that students can explore. In each sub-section students will find captioned images and videos that explain the significance of each era in immigration."

     

    Byrne adds that "Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today looks like a great resource for elementary and middle school students. You might want to have students use the timeline in conjunction with the immigration data that Scholastic has published. Ask students if they can make correlations between the stories of immigration and the fluctuations in immigration statistics."

     

    The site includes a virtual field trip and interactive tour of Ellis Island.

     

    What do you think of this tool for for exploring the history of immigration and learning what it is like to be an immigrant today in America?

     

    Lynne

  • Re: If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
    missbarnette New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    Since I've been watching this conversation, I felt that I neded to share these two resources with you all. 

     

    Here in West Virginia, our social studies classrooms are getting rid of textbooks.  I have taught the entire year without them this year.  Two of the most used resources in my classroom are:    http://www.hippocampus.org  and http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/  . 

     

    Hippocampus has video, notes, and primary sources for just about every American History topic.  They also have an AP U.S. History section that AP teachers could use. 

     

    Spartacus has primary and secondary sources on American History topics and people. 

  • Re: If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    A blog post in Tech & Learning published 13 Good Resources for Social Studies Teachers (January 17, 2013) that I thought might offer some additional good suggestions for digital learning.  To get more details about the following resources, check out the blog mentioned here.

    1. Museum Box - a tool for creating virtual displays of artifacts that you find online
    2. Mission U.S. - two interactive journeys through important eras in U.S. History:  Boston in 1770 after the Boston Massacre and Kentucky and Ohio in 1850 during the time of slavery
    3. Hip Hughes History - a YouTube channel that provides a series of short, upbeat lectures on topics in US History and World History
    4. Meograph - a digital storytelling tool for creating map-based and timeline-based narrated stories
    5. 42 new online historical exhibitions (interactive slideshows) - The Google Cultural Institute offers exhibitions featuring images, documents, and artifacts from some of the most significant cultural events of the last one hundred years
    6. European Exploration: The Age of Discovery - a free iPad app that gives students the chance to explore the "New World"
    7. GE Teach - a resource built around the Google Earth browser plug-in to help teachers develop lessons for  students to explore spatial distributions
    8. History Engine - an educational project developed by The University of Richmond to give students a place to explore stories of American life and publish their own stories based upon their research
    9. History Animated - animated online tours of notable battles and strategies and the outcomes of each battle in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, and WWII including maps that show troop movements throughout the wars
    10. Go Social Studies Go - a series of multimedia books (containing text, pictures, videos, and links to additional resources) about common social studies topics divided into four sections:  World History, US. History, Geography, and World Religions
    11. Gooru - a service providing teachers and students with an extensive collection of videos, interactive displays, documents, diagrams, and quizzes for learning about topics in math, social studies, and science
    12. Dipity - a timeline creation tool that allows users to incorporate text, images, and videos into each entry on their timeline
    13. iCivics - seventeen educational games for students (each game has a curriculum unit for teachers to use with their students)

     

    Please share your experiences using any of these digital resources or others that you recommend.

  • Re: If your school went all digital, what online social studies resources would you use?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    Common Sense Media posted a blog listing 13 best websites and games for U.S. history and civics to celebrate President's Day 2014.  The author mentioned that these websites and games let students "explore tricky topics from different perspectives and walk a mile in the shoes of important decision makers."  These resources can be used by teachers to help students look back in time -- or at current events -- in a whole new way. 

     

    Check out 13 Best Websites and Games for U.S. History and Civics | graphite Blog

     

    Please share your thoughts about these online teaching resources.

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