Sunday, April 11, 2010

Historical Twitter

After yesterdays post I decided it might be fun to see if there were any sites or projects out there that used “Twitter” for historical events. After a little searching, I found a site called The site contains what is mainly one liners and humorous thoughts from various “famous people”

While they do not have actual lessons on the site, I think that it could be used as a base and it would be easy for a teacher to take a concept and have students develop tweets from different groups of people during an event. Students could explore how different groups would react to an event and the spin they put on it with their tweet. Are they happy about what has happened? Upset? Confused? Students could explain the reason behind the tweet and why this character would have reacted that way. It is just another way to try to get the students to connect with concepts and content on another level, which is always our goal as educators.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Social Media and History

As I sit here working on some homework for my class that I am taking, I have Twitter and Facebook both on in the background. Seeing the updates pop up in the background it reminds me of how much these tools have changed the way that we live now. Information comes across these sites almost instantly as they happen, and spreads across the world so that by the time they hit the nightly news they are old and people have moved on to the next thing. For example, when I woke up this morning and logged on the first posts I started to see were about the plane crash in which it was feared that the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski along with his family and top military leaders had been killed. As the events unfolded pictures and videos of people going to the capital and mourning began to surface, and updates on others that were killed, along with what may have gone wrong started to appear. This is history as it happens, and something that you can never again get is the true raw emotions and reactions that the world has as an event happens. Future writings will leave out certain facts, or twist an event to affirm what the author believes happened, and how it affected Poland as a nation. What cannot be twisted whether they prove to be correct of not is a person’s real-time reaction to an event such as this. Imagine what it would have been like if people would have been there and able to use social media to twitter about the Gettysburg Address as it happened, or were able to post pictures to their facebook wall of Paul Revere’s famous ride. What would the initial reaction of the people of that time be? It is something that we will never know about these historical events, however as we become a more connected society and world the chance to see and learn from each other becomes a more valuable tool. So this makes me wonder in an age where students and people are learning in an instant, why is it that so many teachers still will not embrace this technology?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Websites for social studies

As I have started to create this blog I of course think back to how different things are now compared to when I was a student. The ability to work with primary documents, take virtual tours of sites and museums, listening or watching important speeches, and being able to collaborate or communicate with different experts around the world are just the tip of the iceberg as to the tools that students now have at their fingertips.

I decided to look at just a couple of sites that are out there and talk about what I like about them.

The Smithsonian was the first site that I really decided to check out. Whats great about this site, is that it covers just about any part of U.S. history you can think of and is very easy for anyone to navigate using their very simple search function. The information come from a trusted source, and is full of pictures and documents. They have uploaded quite a bit onto the site so that students can get virtual tours, and also easily map out and plan a day if they will be in DC and want to go to the museum.

Another site that I looked at was Civil Rights Movement Veterans website. The site has first hand stories of people that were involved in the civil rights movement. To me anytime that students can see and hear first hand accounts of a event it will be much more powerful then just reading about it in a book. Students can read these stories and see these pictures from people who lived out this event and get a better understanding of just how powerful of a change was coming with the movement.

The third site that I looked at was Harp Week, which is a site that has political cartoons from the 19th century that span over different issues that were impacting American life. For me this a valuable site as I like to use political cartoons in lessons because I feel they do a excellent job of breaking down events or debates into a simple form. This can allow for students to quickly get the basic idea of what was transpiring and then build on that base to understand the complexities of the full event or issue.

I want to thank the staff at findingDulcinea for putting together a great list that has 101 total sites and links that can be used in social studies classes. In this day where teachers have to compete with so many other things to get students attention, tools like these can help to make a students learning fun and exciting while getting to explore new things.

So what sites have you used on their list? Are there sites that you use all the time that are not listed?

A new beginning

I was given an assignment in a class that I am taking to start a blog. The idea behind the idea is that you would this blog within a classroom setting using it to share ideas with students, post homework assignments, create questions of the day that students would respond to and other ideas along those lines. Since I do not have a classroom of my own yet, I also plan on using it to comment on things that I come across in education, sharing resources, thoughts, and impact on me or education as a whole. I look forward to this new journey and hope that as people read this it allows them to think about new things while also having fun, because without fun life can be quite boring.