Monday, November 30, 2015

Online Resources

Where do you get your ideas? I'm often asked. The answer: conversations with teachers, archivists, and fellow historians, other blogs/listservs, and even Facebook. But mostly other blogs.

Here are a few of my favorite blogs about teaching social studies--along with links to posts I found particularly useful.

Tarr's Toolbox is the creation of British history teacher Russell Tarr. It is full of good teaching ideas, like Designing a New Page for Your Textbook and Using Google Autocomplete to Formulate Research Questions.

Glenn Wiebe also sometimes writes for the blog "Doing Social Studies," a great blog maintained by the Kansas Councill for Social Studies, which is where I found this link to the "Six Cs Worksheet," developed by the History Project at the University of California. Irvine. This graphic organizer has students look at primary sources through the lens of the six C's: CONTENT (Main Idea: Describe in detail what you see), CITATION (Author/Creator/When was this created?), CONTEXT (What is going on in the world, the country, the region, or the locality when this was created?), CONNECTIONS (Prior Knowledge: Link the primary source to other things that you already know or have learned about), COMMUNICATION (Point-of-view or bias: Is this source reliable?), and CONCLUSIONS (How does the primary source contribute to our understanding of history?)

Glenn Wiebe, who works for the Educational Service and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas, is the man behind HistoryTech and a man after my own heart. I always read his posts with interest (and, in fact, quoted one at length in my last post). Another recent favorite is "Use Google Public Database Explorer. Your kids get smarter," a post about, well, Google Public Database Explorer. According to Wiebe, "Data Explorer uses a variety of data sets from places like the World Bank, the US Center for Disease Control, International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 130+ other organizations. The cool thing about the tool is how it allows you to quickly create visual representations and then make comparisons between different visualizations."  I was also very taken with this post of his on "Quick Writes to Assess Historical Thinking."

I've talked before about TPS Barat (see for example, here and here.) Recent favorite posts include "Today In History: Indian Citizenship Act," which provides links to Library of Congress resources relating to this 1924 law, granting official U.S. citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S.; and--although it has NOTHING to do with Montana history--"Literature Links: To Kill a Mockingbird," which offers LOC resources relating to this widely taught novel.

I find the Free Tech 4 Teachers blog less useful day to day, but every once in a while it offers a real gem, like this post on recording and mapping local history. Would someone PLEASE do this project and let me know how it goes?

Finally, Billings Ruth Ferris, who scours many blogs that I don't read often sends me great links. Just last week, she turned me on to Education Updates: Sharing Teaching and Learning Resources from the National Archives, when she shared their post "A Primary Source Transcription Mission!"  Last summer at teacher institutes, "educators hand-picked documents that they knew would make useful teaching tools." Now the archives is "inviting students, teachers, and learners of all ages to make these primary sources even more accessible by transcribing them." What a great way for students to practice their typing skills and make a genuine contribution to the study of history! Is this something your keyboarding or computer teacher would take on with a class? 

What's your favorite education/history blog or website? Let me know and I'll share it.

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