Archive for May, 2012

Interdisciplinary…is it a goal, a state of education, an action?  As I contemplate my new history course and the awesome math teacher I will collaborate with (Mr. Dan Smith), I am working my mind to find ways to accentuate math throughout the ages and to show how data is an important historical tool that tells great and interesting tales. In this process, I want to share an example of what I am getting at and some data resources that one can utilize with students to inspire their search for truth through data.

The following is a video clip of an older piece from Hans Rosling:  200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes:  a great example of combing data and history…

The next items are links to data resources that may be useful (in no particular order)…

Stat Planet http://hdr.undp.org/en/data/map/

KML Factbook http://www.kmlfactbook.org/#&db=ciafb&table=undefined&col=undefined&

Knoema http://knoema.com/

Many Eyes http://www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/

Data First http://www.data-first.org/

2011 in 11 Graphs http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2011-in-11-graphs/2011/12/22/gIQA0HWJMP_gallery.html#photo=1

The Joy of Stats Video 200 Countries, 200 Years in 4 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo&feature=player_embedded

Gapminder http://www.gapminder.org/

Google Think Insights http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/

Google Public Data Finder http://www.google.com/publicdata/directory

2010 Census Data http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/

Find The Best http://www.findthebest.com/

Policy Map http://www.policymap.com/maps

Where Americans are Moving http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2011/migration.html

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Any subject area teacher can and should create curriculum tools that can help students that require accommodations in their learning.  This is key to differentiated learning and instruction.  When I think of my content area of social studies I know that it can require a lot of reading.  Vocabulary is an important piece of knowledge that can help students make their way through the content, and I try to create or find activities that support vocabulary acquisition.

In the past I have utilized sites like Quia to create activities that build and reinforce vocabulary knowledge.  Quia activities like flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, and hangman are a few that present vocabulary in a fun way.  You can also create cloze reading activities with Quia that enable a user to read passages of text and identify key terms that complete a paragraph.  Online textbook resources also often have ready made vocabulary activities that can make it much easier for students to navigate text or take an active part in classroom discussions and projects.  Online textbooks are also interactive and most have an audio or read-aloud feature built into the text.

The following are several examples of vocabulary and reading activities that I have created or found and linked to that assist all students and especially those that may struggle with reading (especially see the flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, hangman, jumbled words, pop ups, and cloze activities).

American History Vocabulary and Reading Activities

World Geography Activities

Hokanson’s American History Quia Class Page

Help your students gain a better understanding of the content by accessing the reading tools that are all around you or create some today.  Technology makes for better and more complete learning, and your students deserve to utilize these tools.

In getting ready for a return to the middle school social studies classroom I have been considering projects I might start off with.  One I call “History A to Z.”  I see this as a beginning of the school year project to get students thinking about history, in a way where they can embed technology in the process, and to find out what social studies and technology skills they bring to my classroom (a diagnostic project if you will).

Students first would come up with words starting with letters of the alphabet and then find historical pictures that would match up with the words.  Students could use Photo Story 3, Windows Live Movie Maker, iMovie, iPhoto, or any digital photo storytelling program to piece together a sort of historical slideshow.  The slideshow could even be a personal history with pictures from their own lives to place another twist on it.

An extension of this project, that can be collaborative, would be teaching the importance of copyright, citing information, design, and you could even have students add narration to the story.  There are always many variations with a project like this, and that is why I like to provide students with an opportunity to try them.  The following is an example I put together…

Enjoy!

Five years ago I moved to North Platte, Nebraska to take a position as the educational technology director for the North Platte Public Schools.  I had taught for 13 years prior to that as a high school and middle school social studies teacher.  Upon my arrival in North Platte I soon found a lot of opposition to embedding technology into the learning process.  One of the first school board meetings I attended I heard one gentleman accuse me of being “only a teacher.”

What a great compliment!  That phrase sticks in my mind, and I couldn’t be more proud to be called such a name.  My career as a teacher has led me to many places and on adventures with many great educators and students.  I now go back to the classroom to teach, to work with students, to feel like what I am doing is worth something.  Worth more than gold or riches.  Teaching is a profession that literally reaches into the future.

I am a teacher, a great teacher.  If only everyone would be…

If you are interested in the book see the following (I profit in no way…)