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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tarr's Toolbox and History Tech: Two Great Blogs on Strategies and Tools to Improve History Education

I've discovered three new exciting blogs/websites recently.

The first is Tarr's Toolbox. Created by a British history teacher, Tarr's Toolbox promises "quick and easy ways to spice up your lessons.

The entries range from creating subject themed Spotify playlists to "Three creative ways to use jigsaw groups." He provides lots of templates--like this Source Evaluation Overlay Template, this Causation Diagram Template, and even a template for creating a Pacman style quiz. I was particularly taken with the idea of having students design a new page for their textbook emphasizing a topic that was not sufficiently covered and his post "Ditch Debates, Adopt Arbitration," (No surprise there: those of you who are longtime readers know I'm not a big fan of classroom debates.)

The second is History Tech, which is so much more than its title suggests. Yes he sometimes suggests tech to improve history education (for example, this post on tips for using Google), but he also suggests low tech exercises (for example, having students organize hexagons to emphasize how ideas, events, people are related), offers links to downloadable tools to encourage historical thinking in elementary classrooms, and talks philosophically about the goals of the history classroom.

History Tech is where I first learned about Tarr's Toolbox--and also where I learned about the Teaching with Primary Sources Journal, "an online publication created by the Library of Congress Educational Outreach Division in collaboration with the TPS Educational Consortium. Each issue focuses on pedagogical approaches to teaching with Library of Congress digitized primary sources in K-12 classrooms." History Tech's post includes a list of his favorite issues--since I love curated lists, I recommend starting there, but you can head straight to the source if you prefer.

I'm learning a lot from both these bloggers. Are there other blogs or sites that you'd recommend?

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