Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reflections on EME 5432

This concept map lists out what I took away from EME5432, Integrating Technology in the Social Studies. Doing the concept map, I realized that I took away a lot of good information from the class, and learned a lot of habits and about resources that will help me in my future classroom. If nothing else, I got into the habit of keeping a blog, which I noticed that other teachers are not very good at doing for their own classrooms. I really understand the value of a class blog, if nothing else for just keeping a list of what my class is doing so that parents can follow along. Another habit I developed is checking Twitter. It's a valuable resource, as so many teachers are on Twitter constantly sharing resources and ideas. As far as resources, I don't know how I ever got along before using delicious, because I now use it during presentations and lessons constantly.

I was skeptical about using so many internet resources in my class, particularly the social networking sites, but now I realize they can be invaluable resources for communicating with my students is used correctly and responsibly. When creating my concept map, I realized that I already use a whole lot more "tech tools" than I did in August, and I plan to implement a lot more into my professional life.

Another lesson I'll take away from this class is that if I really want to get certain things in my class and increase student access to technology, there are ways to do it. I fully plan to implement my strategy to "bridge the digital divide."

I would have enjoyed having more focus on what can be done with a SMART Board, since they're kind of daunting. I was lucky enough to have had a practicum where my guiding teacher had one and let me play with it, but others didn't. Even with my limited experience, there's so much that can be done with a SMART Board that I have no idea about. I also would have liked perhaps creating a class website and learning what kinds of elements can and should be included in it, not just a blog. That's something that many teachers use and that I could have tried out to figure out what works before I actually get into the classroom, or had a prototype to work from pr add to in the future.

Even though there were things I would have liked to do in addition to what we did do, I'm less daunted by the idea of having to figure those things out on my own. I feel that I got plenty out of this class and am really happy with what I learned, the resources and concepts I was introduced to, and think that I'll be a better educator for having taken this class.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bridging the Digital Divide

I absolutely think it’s important to ensure that my students have digital access, and intend to do what I can to provide them with it. I can’t control what they have access to at home, but I can try to provide resources for them to use technology in my classroom and in school. I think it’s part of my job to ensure that they can successfully use technology, including computers, digital cameras, printers and scanners, and so on. The knowledge of how to use those items will help them not only in their school careers, but in any job they happen to get during or after they’re in school. Furthermore, the use of technology seems to engage students more than when it is not used, so having it would make me a more effective teacher (when used appropriately, of course). It's not just getting up in the front of the classroom and using a computer to give my lesson or show students a website, that engages them, either--it's letting students use technology themselves, having them play around and get comfortable with what they can do with it, that does it. And the goal is an engaged, actively learning student, isn't it?

I would personally love it if every classroom I taught (or will teach in) in was fully equipped with multiple computers, digital cameras, document readers, and had a SMART board, but I know that won’t be the case. Once I’m in a long-term teaching position, I fully intend to apply for a grant to get a SMART board in my classroom. The SMART website has an entire section on finding grants to fund a SMART board in the classroom. On a less expensive and more fundamental note, if my classroom doesn’t have a computer or other gadgets for students to use, I’d also try to find a grant to help me fund that, apply for it, and hope for the best. The internet is full of information on how teachers can get money to fund improvements in their schools and their own classrooms, such as this site. It’s actually a math, science, and technology company, but it has a long list of grants for teachers.

But I can reasonably expect that the school will have computers available for student use--perhaps not in each classroom, but at least in the media center. If that’s not the reality I’m encountered with, Computers for Learning is a government program that donates excess government computers to schools that need them. They give preference to high-need schools, but it seems to me that if a school needs to apply for this type of program because it doesn’t have computers for students to use, it’s a high-need school.

Additionally, to earn money for necessary technology in my classroom, Donors Choose is a great resource. Teachers put up what it is they need and how much it costs, and individual donors can pick what they want to contribute to. Digital Wish is another site similar to Donors Choose, however it is technology specific. I'd tell my students and their parents at the beginning of the year about my registration on these websites, emphasizing that everything generated goes to my classroom for student use. I would also try to find businesses that would be willing to donate to or sponsor my classroom through these sites--this way, they'd see exactly what's being purchased with their donations.

The idea for applying for a SMART board grant actually came form my first practicum teacher: she and other teachers from the middle school she works in applied as a team, got the grant, and now they all have SMART boards. She uses it constantly, and her students love it. It engages them.

Many teachers use Donors Choose for technology donations, as I found out while looking for ideas on the Educators PLN. Looking at that forum discussion, I read about other things teachers had done to obtain technology resources for their classrooms (specifically, SMART boards). It included proposing to their administrators that they pilot a SMART classroom, applying for grants, and looking into less expensive options like Eno and Mimio. One teacher even suggested MacGuyvering something like a SMART board, saying "However if you are really technically minded you can build an interactive whiteboard using a Wii remote and some supplies from your local radio shack. There are instructions on Google." However, it seems more likely that teachers will try Digital Wish, as evidenced by the many teachers who use the program.

Using all of these resources, hopefully when I have a classroom of my own I'll be able to use lots of technological gadgets to enhance student learning and help prepare them for whatever comes their way.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Teacher Leaders

Teacher leaders, based on the information I found, take their duties to their students beyond their own classroom but try to encourage improvement all around their school and community. They participate in school decisions as much as they can by working with colleagues and administrators, and they try to have a positive effect on the greater school community by working with the school board. They also work with parents and the rest of the community to make an environment outside of school that promotes learning and good citizenship. This isn't an official role, or something they're asked to do--they just do it.

The Teacher Leaders Network is a network of hundreds of teachers, and is a functioning professional learning environment aiming to connect like-minded teachers. This is a great resource, as being able to read about, share, and collaborate with teachers whose main purpose is to improve student learning will undoubtedly help me in my future teaching.

International Journal of Teacher Leadership is a good resource for keeping up with what teacher leaders around the world are doing. The current issues articles are written by mostly Americans, but also a Canadian and Swiss teacher. The articles are free for download, and as such are easily available for me to keep up with international teacher leadership issues in the future.

And, Leadership Teacher is an ongoing education program for teacher leaders meant to connect K-12 educators and empower teacher to be better leaders in their community. However, everything I read prior said that, essentially, this is something that teachers just are--you can't be taught to be a teacher leader. I think I agree, because some people are doers and some just aren't. Some put in that extra effort without thinking about it. Do you think that a teacher can be taught to put themselves in this position, or something they just do because they can't help but?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thoughts on networked learning...

The human network is, as far as I can tell, people connecting through the use of technology and all the ways that they can and do connect using technology. The networked student uses technology to connect to this human network for the purpose of education. I feel like this is a convoluted way to describe it, so I'll use an example: a connected student will, instead of going to the library and making a poster for a project using information they get there and through talking to classmates, use the internet to do research on a project topic, and use delicious or Zotero to organize pages they find. They might go to blogs of people who are specialists on the topic and use an RSS reader each day to glance over the latest information about the topic on all the various blogs on one page. They might email a blogger or other specialist and use Skype to interview them and use that as part of the project...and so on. It sounds like being a networked student is really involved, doesn't it?

Digital literacy is crucial to the networked student. You have to be able to use all of these websites and resources to be networked. Since the student is networked, they construct their own knowledge through various resources and from multiple perspectives. As such, the teacher of a networked student isn't the vessel through which knowledge is dispersed, but more of a guide for what to do with all of this information and how to actually build their network effectively.

Beth Still is a teacher in Nebraska I follow on Twitter, and every five minutes she tweets about some project she's doing with her class and what she's working on with other teachers all over the country. She often tweets asking members of her network to interact with her students in class. It's great, but she's a bit intimidating, to be honest! This is her website. I think she's a great example of networked teaching.

I think it's great that technology allows students to control so much of their learning. I am really encouraging of students building their own network and my helping them figure out how to get the information and what to do with all of it. I don't want students to look for me for all the answers, because I don't have them. No one does. But I'm more than happy to help my future students figure out how to find good answers. I feel like it takes a lot of pressure off of teachers and helps them be more like collaborators with their students. Do you all feel that sense of relief with being a "connected" teacher, or is it just me?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

For future reference

Service Learning Project Ideas compiled in my Integrating Technology class. Nifty.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bill of Rights Glogster

My Bill of Rights glogster!

My Glogster is (obviously) on the Bill of Rights. Honestly, I wanted to do the Glogster on either Rafael Trujillo or the Mirabal sisters, but I couldn't find audio for either or video for Trujillo (and, for the Mirabal sisters, it wasn't actually them on the video--just actors). I'll probably make another Glogster for them just because I enjoyed making this one so much.

(PS: If i were you, I'd skip the audio but definitely watch the video if you have two minutes!)

Does anyone know if Glogster posters can be printed out for actual classroom use? I mean, if they don't have video, that is.

Sources for photo/video:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Voting Matters! service learning lesson plan

Service Learning Project Title: Voting Matters!

Area of Service: Civic Responsibility

Grade Level: 11th-12th Grade

Subject Area: U.S. History/Government

Unit Description:

Students will do this service learning project as part of a unit on movements for voting rights. After their overview lessons on African American voting rights, the women's suffrage movement, and Native American voting rights they will choose a topic such as key figures in the women's suffrage movement, key figures in the African American voting rights movement, Supreme Court decisions' significance for each movement, the history of Amendments with regards to each movement, etc., or a topic of their choice that they are particularly interested in.

Students will work together in small groups of 3. They will then research that topic extensively and put together summaries, key points, photographs or other primary documents, and other interactive materials for an online voting rights museum that will be used by another class as a resource for learning about voting rights. They will also be encouraged to interview people in their community that have unique perspectives on their topic, such as former Civil Rights activists or people who lived through the time. The online museum will include each topic that students chose, and will include information on how to find your local leaders and contact them. In addition, the materials that each group gathers will be used to create short lessons that the students will present via Skype to a group of younger students (grades 5-8) in another school.

The goal is to, through this project, connect younger and older students by having the older students teach the importance of voting to the other student, showcasing that these rights are not to be taken for granted: they were fought for and won by individuals united to make change. As such, both groups of students will understand why participation of everyday individuals in political and civic spheres is important. The desired end result is a comprehensive website that can be used by students later on as a learning resource.
Standards met by the project:
Next Generation Sunshine State Standards
  • SS.912.C.2.5: Conduct a service project to further the public good.
  • SS.912.C.2.2: Evaluate the importance of political participation and civic participation.
  • SS.912.C.2.8: Analyze the impact of citizen participation as a means of achieving political and social change.
  • SS.912.C.2.16: Analyze trends in voter turnout.
U.S. History:
  • SS.912.A.1.4: Analyze how images, symbols, objects, cartoons, graphs, charts, maps, and artwork may be used to interpret the significance of time periods and events from the past.
  • SS.912.A.1.6: Use case studies to explore social, political, legal, and economic relationships in history.
  • SS.912.A.2.4: Distinguish the freedoms guaranteed to African Americans and other groups with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
  • SS.912.A.5.7: Examine the freedom movements that advocated civil rights for African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and women.
NETS for Students
  1. Creativity and Innovation
    • Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:
      -apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
      -create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
  2. Communication and Collaboration
    • Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:
      -interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
      -communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
      -contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.
  3. Research and Information Fluency
    • Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
      -plan strategies to guide inquiry.
      -locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.

Technologies/Web applications applied to the unit with description of how they are used:
  • Students will be using the internet to find resources and conduct research for their topic. In doing so, they will be evaluating the validity of internet sources.

  • Students will be using PC and/or Mac computers to create an original website, their “online voting rights museum.” They will be responsible for creating the page that corresponds to their topic, and for handing everything (images, media, etc) in on a disk for the teacher to upload and organize into one master website. Students may have multiple pages, and may use whichever website editing program they wish to create the site. As such, they will also use some fort of website design software.

  • Students will be using Skype to present their lessons to a group of younger students between the grades of 5-8.

  • Students are welcome to use whatever appropriate online resources/websites they find to create their own original lesson materials.
Assessment: Students will be assessed using three criteria: their contribution to the overall website, their lesson and its presentation, and group participation. A rubric, presented when the project is first explained, will be used for grading.

For example, a group getting full credit for the website portion will create well-designed webpages that clearly state and thoroughly explain their topic, contain accurate information, present information in an interesting or compelling way, have no spelling errors, contain appropriate multimedia, an attractive layout, be easy to navigate, include sources, and can easily answer questions regarding content and the website itself.

To get full credit for the lesson component, a group's lesson and presentation would have to make clear why the lesson is important and relevant, members would show full understanding of the topic being presented, are able to answer all or almost all questions that are asked about the topic, are enthusiastic, stay on topic, and speak/present well.

The last criteria is individual, where each student's contribution to the group will be measured. Each member of the group is to describe what each member contributed, how they organized their work, what issues arose and how they were solves or not solved. The teacher will take those evaluations and then assess what each student did, the quality of work each student contributed and whether it represents their best effort.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Social Media Makes Information Move Ridiculously Fast.

I didn't realize that news about the earthquake in China was not reported by the government, but by the people it was happening to--in real time. That's crazy! If the media implications of technology/social networking sites on the internet were the same in the past as they are today (as described in Clay Shirky's lecture "How Social Media Can Make History," I think that government repression of information would not be possible.

For example, during the 1950's the Dominican Republic was ruled by a dictator who was actually backed by the United States because he was anti-Communist (in this way, the Dominican Republic is not unique). Given that it was difficult to get out word of the state of terror he kept Dominican society under, the United States was not under pressure to answer for their support of a repressive ruler. Perhaps if social media such as Twitter or Blogger had been available at the time, more people would have been made aware of the situation and held American leaders (at least partly) responsible for their compliance.

Another instance is in Cambodia's genocide in the 1970's. The country was essentially closed off to tourists and journalists for years, and Pol Pot had free reign in the country to do what he wanted with the population. If there had been a way to get information from regular people out, then perhaps the executions and relocations would not have happened, at least not in such a grand scale. Perhaps the Khmer Rouge would have been denounced and made into an embarrassment, like the Sudanese government because of the genocide in Darfur. Or, perhaps not--sometimes people just don't listen or care enough about what's going on across the world because it doesn't directly relate to them.

Social media is a really powerful tool for the masses. Do you think that it really causes people to pay attention, or care more? Or does it just get information out more quickly without really making a difference in how people view or feel about the news?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

YouTube Response

It was so easy to embed this video!

I first tried to search for "embed video," and it just took me to this list of all these YouTube videos about embedding things, which I didn't want. All I wanted, I got by clicking the "YouTube on Your Site" link. Which proves that sometimes, you really don't need a YouTube video to learn something by watching someone else do it. Sometimes, you really can just read the directions.

I have mixed feelings about the above-embedded video. The only social networking example he really focused on was YouTube. YouTube matters because it's a great educational resource, and has potential for people to be really creative. But as the speaker admitted, there's thousands of hours of crap uploaded every single day. Who wants to search through all of that just to find the one really funny, or really poignant, or really interesting video?

I guess it has the potential to connect people--but why aren't people connecting face to face? Why are people doing all of this connection in an anonymous, kind of narcissistic way? It makes it seem inauthentic. Also, there's so much potential for connection but most of YouTube's users aren't using it that way, at least not in a way I can see.

The role of the "self" in social networking is strange. I don't think you have to be particularly self-aware, but you do have to want to put yourself out there. You can be whatever "self" you want to present yourself as online. When making a video, or writing a post, you're very aware that this is meant to be read or viewed by someone else, so you're not your uninhibited, or what some may say is your real self- the you that you are when no one is watching, or the you that comes out when you wish no one was watching. But you're still a version of yourself, and you have to think that you, is so important that people want to watch it or connect to it or respond to it to even put it out there. I disagree with what the speaker said about people being less self conscious when they're sharing themselves online, but that people may be more so because they're actively constructing this idea of themselves.

I like the idea of using some social networking arenas in education. YouTube, for example, has a lot of resources available for teachers. I don't know if I would ask my students to publish themselves in the way that this professor asks his to, even if I did teach adults at university instead of secondary school students. Perhaps it would be best to confine the "sharing" to something only the students and teacher can see, or others with authorization.

I don't think I look at social network differently because of the video, but the video (and my being asked to respond to it in this medium) has made me realize that I'm rather pessimistic about the whole thing, and that it's ironic that I'm responding to this YouTube video about YouTube through a blog entry.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Voting Rights

Recently, Megan from Learning to Teach and I created a "Voting Rights" podcast collection using a few podcasts found on iTunes U. We were able to find podcasts on women's suffrage and African-American voting rights.

Unfortunately, Megan already mentioned that she would like to have students take a literacy test (as mentioned in one of the podcasts), like many people used to have to in order to vote, to give them a better idea of what they were like. I think that's a great activity and she linked to one that's on the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website.

Since she stole my thunder, I'd have to say that I think that students would get a lot out of these podcasts. In particular, I think it would be fun for students to, during a unit on voting rights, use these podcasts as inspiration (particularly the one made by a New Jersey middle schooler on Women's Suffrage) for either their own podcast or a digital storytelling project. Using information they learn during the unit, they could possibly put together a synthesis of what they learn into a video or audio podcast for other students. There is a lot of information out there on minority voting rights that the students could pull from to do this project.

PBS Teachers also has a great activity that I think would work well as part of this collection, to have students think critically about voting and their own civic participation. I would play around with the actual lesson plan because I think it has a lot of room for improvement, but the point is to have students write in to their congressperson their support (or non-support) of a fake federal amendment to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. This way, students have to think as those who they're learning about did: there's a right they're being denied that they want and are willing to work really hard for. There are actually some groups out there working for this, like Youth Rights and several countries that have changed their voting age to 16, including Austria, Brazil, and Nicaragua. At the very least, bringing this up in class might raise a few eyebrows and get a few students thinking...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Service Learning in Social Studies

When searching for a social studies related service learning plan, I found a lot that seemed really interesting and like they would be fun to do with a class. The Citizenship Test Project on really piqued my interest, however.

The site's description of it is:

While studying immigration to the United States in the 1990s, students will learn about the naturalization process and prepare lessons to be given to adult school citizenship classes. These lessons will help prepare the adult school students for their citizenship test. The lessons will include handouts in English, Spanish and other languages that might be relevant. Students will also present the lessons in several languages to meet the needs of the adult students.

This service learning project reflects some of the benefits of inquiry learning in social studies, such as allowing students to connect lessons to daily life, fostering "team spirit" as all the students are working towards one goal, and stimulating students curiosity and motivation. As immigration is a controversial issue in many communities, this particular service learning project will also allow students to sharpen their critical thinking skills in general and make them more aware of this controversial issue in particular.

The Citizenship Test Project also puts into effect the "learning cycle" method. Before beginning the project, students must first have a working understanding of the information necessary to pass the U.S. naturalization exam, such as basic U.S. History and Civics. They would have to also go through the specific questions on the naturalization exam, discuss and decide what is most likely to come up, and decide how to present the information in order for others to learn from their handouts.

This plan also reflects some of the best practices found throughout inquiry learning: using topics relevant to students (again, as immigration is a "hot" issue at the moment, cities are growing all over the country due to immigration, and many students are immigrants themselves or have been in the United States for just a few generations), using collaboration between students, and students learn various lessons through hands-on experience in producing these study guides.

Surely challenges may arise when creating the Citizenship Test Project, such as depending a lot on students and requiring a lot of participation from them. The teacher overseeing this project must absolutely be there every step of the way, acting as a guide by providing examples for each step and making sure things stay organized.

Reading through the assignment, I thought it was great that the students would be creating handouts for adult students preparing for the citizenship test. I thought it could be taken a step further, though, and benefit more people taking the U.S. citizenship exam if the class put their handouts up on a website. Another idea I had was providing some tutoring from students for the adults about to take the citizenship exam, or having a group of adults come in and having the students teach them lessons they have prepared.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Potential Social Studies Activity

I browsed through a lot of article summaries collected by classmates, trying to find an idea that really struck me and inspired a social studies lesson. I was getting a bit frustrated because nothing was coming to me, but then I read the summary Louisa posted for "Making Connections: Using Online Discussion Forums to Engage Students in Historical Inquiry," which appeared in Social Education and was written by Whitney Blankenship.

The article described the teacher's use of online discussion forums in her IB social studies classroom, and I thought it was brilliant. I thought it would be a good idea to have students participate in an online community as characters from different time periods. For example, when learning about, say, the Depression, pose a question about how a particular event may have affected their "character," like a student or a housewife or a stockbroker, and have the students investigate the conditions for their character and respond as such. Ideally, I would be able to pose questions or scenarios from the start to the end of a period, and have the students track their characters life through the events.

The objective is for the students to gain greater overall knowledge of the time period discussed, and to understand how and why people do things that they may not since they live in a completely different time period. It also would require the students to work on their research skills, and improve their comfort level with technology. This could be used in a U.S. history class, world history class, or a global issues class.

A different variation could be used in a Civics or Government class, as well--for example, having each student be a representative from a different state and have them vote on proposed legislation and discuss their rationale, given the voting history of their area.

It seems rather involved, but like it could be fun. What do you think could be done to get students more interested in a project like this, or to improve the project overall?

Blankenship, W. (2009). Making Connections: Using Online Discussion Forums to Engage Students in Historical Inquiry [Electronic version]. Social Education.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A few resources among many

There are so many resources online for social studies teachers! My quest over the weekend was to find a social science blog, wiki, and podcast to share. Here's what I discovered:

I found the Southern District of Florida blog on my search for a social studies blog. It's not an "official" blog, but I thought it would be a good one to share because as I read through I found interesting information about topics ranging from Justice Souter's retirement, immigration law, and various court opinions. The blogger, Davis Markus is a South Florida lawyer who has a lot of experience under his belt. I like that he presents a lot of information about things going in that have to do with South Florida's federal judicial system without really infusing much of his opinion in it. Again, that's just what I've seen so far--I didn't have time to read each and every post, and I'm sure that like most bloggers, Mr. Markus is not always objective. Another thing that I like is that Mr. Markus has links to information about the southern district judges, which students could use to learn more about them when learning about the federal judiciary system.

I mentioned that this blog is not "official," but I like it a lot more than a so-called official blog I found: "The Official Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building Blog". I just found the blog messy and annoying, and actually very unofficial: the bloggers do not identify themselves, and are really just attorneys down in Miami who are not authorized to speak for the Justice Building.

I also found some great blogs for teachers in general, like The Tech Savvy Teacher, and a few others whose links I seem to have lost. I'll post them as I find them, however.

It was more difficult to find a good wiki than a blog or podcast. There are a lot of incomplete or otherwise useless ones out there. However, the War of 1812 Immersion project is awesome. It's an project completed by Mr. Armstrong of Del Mar Middle School's history class. He gave his student this challenge:

"Due to our country's current economic crisis and California's enormous budget shortfall, many local schools are having to find ways to cut costs and save money. Del Mar Middle School is no exception. The principal and superintendent are searching for ways in which to reduce costs and are seeking alternatives to purchasing large and expensive textbooks for next year. They have heard that some schools and universities have replaced textbooks with wikis and they would now like to see for themselves the type of learning that is possible.

Using the War of 1812, design and create an online wiki that could replace the information in your History Alive textbook and be used by teachers and students.

The students did a great job. Scrolling down, you can see the submissions of each of his students. They used podcasts and a variety of media to create these wikis, and covered the subject really well. These students' teacher gave them a challenge: to learn something well enough to create a teaching resource, and that they did. They also learned to use the internet to create something for the world responsibly.

I was really surprised by how many history podcasts are out there. I listened to a few using iTunes, and some were great. I found that a lot of them were available on The Podcast Alley, like The History of Rome. I really liked this one, though some of the podcasts are really long--not so great for students with short attention spans. I also thought it was a bit mature at times, so it may not be one to recommend for younger students. Appropriate for everyone, though, is the Learn Out Loud podcast, Founding Documents Podcast. It is an audio reading of important documents in our nation's early history, such as Federalist No. 10 and the Bill of Rights. Another great Learn out Loud podcast is the Great Speeches Podcast. These are either readings or archival recordings of famous speeches in history, like Eisenhower's resignation and Bobby Kennedy's announcement of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. I listened to Bobby Kennedy's speech, and the screams of surprise when he announced Dr. King's death were something I'd never heard before and made the situation come alive for me at that moment. The rest of his speech, calling for calm and peace between the races in light of such an event, was great. I think having students listen to these speeches is a great resource to teaching them history and making it seem "real," for lack of a better term.

I'm really happy I stumbled upon these resources, particularly the podcasts. There are a lot available that are helpful to social studies teachers at Learn Out Loud, but also on The Education Podcast Network.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Unfortunately, I just realized that I didn't actually answer the question about why technology should be integrated into the social studies classroom. I really just responded to the reading assignment for this week. So, please think of this as an addendum to my first post.

I think that technology should be used in the social studies classroom because we increasingly use technology in all aspects of our lives. Technology can help us enrich our subject in many ways, such as illustrating points that are difficult for students to grasp by giving them visual examples at the click of a button. We can use it to help students work together on a class project, like the math teacher in Winnipeg (I really love what he did, if you couldn't tell), have them ask us questions any time of day, and help them improve their writing, reading, and communication skills by using technology. And, honestly, technology often makes things more fun to teach and learn...for me, anyway.

Also, I knew that September 1 was the anniversary of Germany's invasion of Poland, but I did not know that today was also the fifth anniversary of the Beslan hostage crisis. The BBC news this morning did pretty great pieces on both of those things, but the one on the schoolchildren in Beslan was really interesting. Some of the children that were taken hostage were interviewed, and it was quite touching--a bit disturbing, though, as in the case of the little boy who spoke in a very matter-of-fact way when giving a tour of the school, saying "This is where they shot my father...this is where they threw bodies out of the window." It was interesting, but kind of heavy to watch firs thing in the morning and over breakfast.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Inaugural blog post!

The basics covered in the first chapter of Web Literacy for Educators didn't provide me with very much new information. The information covered about domain names and HTML I learned through observing my own use of the internet and because I used to create websites for fun.

I did, however, look up the Victorian Robots website and thought it was a great resource for teaching students about the validity of websites.

I also really liked that the second chapter had a lot of resources for students and teachers alike when doing research. I plan to spend more time looking up some of the ones I hadn't heard of or used before, like NoodleTools, and the ones specifically tailed to younger students. I also didn't know that there were entire search engines for podcasts--until this, I'd never thought to try to find a podcast outside of iTunes.

The information presented about different blogs was really interesting as well. I thought that the idea of having students contribute to a class blog like the math teacher in Winnipeg did was great. I was a little bit surprised that the website cited in the book stopped being updated in 2005, but when I went to the teacher's profile I saw that he kept the project going in later classes. It seemed like a great way to have the students work together on this bigger project that would benefit students of Calculus everywhere, stay attentive when taking notes to contribute to the class blog, and learn how to publish blogs responsibly. I'd like to do something like that in a class one day, but it seems like a lofty goal at the moment--for now, I'd be happy with learning how to write a good lesson plan.

I have not looked into RSS feeds much, since I don't read too many blogs, but the explanation of how they work makes it seem really easy and like something that might be really helpful for keeping a lot of information in one place, and a time saver if you're like me and check various news sites regularly.

Overall, what I got from this reading assignment are a lot of resources to look into more deeply, and some ideas for class assignments and websites to use to illustrate points to students.