myHistro: A Great Teaching Timeline Tool

Tallinn, view

Tallinn, view (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the great things that I have enjoyed about blogging is communicating with people all over the world. Recently, I had a message from a reader  Valeria from Tallinn, Estonia who brought to my attention a great website called myHistro. This is a great site that combines maps, timelines, images, video and puts it all together in a presentation format. This is a great tool to teach students about a sequence of events like battles and other historical events.  Click the link below for an example of a basic myHistro presentation on the battles of the Civil War.

Click here to see a good basic example of a myHistro presentation.

This is a great tool to be used in the classroom. Check it out at www.myHistro.com and thanks again to Valeria for bringing it to my attention.

Click here to read about other great timeline tools.

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Spark Student Interest with Time Search

Spark Student Interest with Time Search

Time Search is a great resource that I came across near the end of this past school year. It is a great research tool to assist students looking for information about many different topics in a history course. The timeline approach is one students always seem to appreciate and often captivates their attention. The way that the information is displayed and linked together seemed to really interest students. I found my students often discovered topics that intrigued them and really seemed to captivate their attention. Many of the students who used this began asking me questions about a variety of history topics that we were not covering in class. This lead to a few of my students research and studying different events in history in addition to the topics covered in class. Anytime I find a resource that has this effect on students it is one I bookmark and use in future classes. If you teach history you need to have a look at this site along with their parent site History World. Check them out with the links below.

Click here to check out Time Search.

Click her to check out History World.

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Locating Primary Resources for Students

Over the past week my students began our states Classroom Based Assessment known as a CBA for the state of Washington called Digging Deep. This project requires them to do the following:

1. Develop a historical question.

2. State a position on the historical question.

3. Provide reason(s) for your position that include:

  • An explanation of how two or more primary sources support your position.
  • Additional evidence from one or more of the following social science perspectives:
    • geographic
    • cultural
    • political
    • economic
    • sociological
    • psychological.

4. Make explicit references within the paper or presentation to three or more credible sources that provide relevant information AND cite sources within the paper, presentation, or bibliography.

One of the biggest stumbling points for my students was locating resource that they could use to find primary sources to support their position. So as the students worked I began collecting resources that they found to be useful in locating primary sources. This is not an exhaustive list by any means but was one that allowed my students to find the needed information on many different topics. As always if you know of a great resource that I have not mentioned please drop me a line and let me know so I can add it to the list.

Searchable Primary Sources Sites

These sites can be used to search for primary sources on American History.

  1. Yale University-Three ways to search for Primary Source Documents at Yale University.
  2. Library of Congress collections and searchable database.
  3. New Deal Network collection list and a searchable database.
  4. Northern Nevada Primary Source Catalogue Search.
  5. Smithsonian Institute search for primary source documents.

Primary Source Site Lists

These links provide you with many resources to locating primary sources on a variety of topics.

  1. Here is another great Primary List Resource for the Library of Congress thanks to Julie
  2. Primary Source Sets – Each set collects primary sources on a specific topic, all as easy-to-use PDFs, with historical background information and teaching ideas.
  3. Primary Sources by State – Selected primary sources for each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
  4. Browse by Topic in the Library of Congress- Easy browsing for primary sources across all the digital collections of the Library of Congress.
  5. Web Guides – List of primary documents arranged by topic.
  6. From Revolution to Reconstruction: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/usa.htm
  7. The University of Oklahoma Law Center: A Chronology of US Historical DocumentsThis site offers a great set of historical documents from pre-colonial days to the present. http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/
  8. Repositories of Primary Sources great list of primary sources.
    1763-1815: Primary Sources: The American Revolution and the New Nation
  9. 1815-1860: Primary Sources: National Expansion and Reform
  10. 1860-1877: Primary Sources: Civil War and Reconstruction
  11. Primary Source Documents: A very extensive list of Primary Resource websites. Treasury of Primary Resources pertaining to early American History.
  12. Top 100 links for Primary sources
  13. American History Primary documents categorized list of documents by era in American History.
  14. Historical Scene investigators 13 topics and primary resources on each topic.
  15. The Valley of the Shadow searchable database for the Civil War.

 Other Primary Source Helpful sites

  1. Historical Scene investigators 13 topics and primary resources on each topic.
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Start class off right with a historic intro activity!

As a history teacher I am always looking for ways to grab students attention and interest in history. One of the ways that I have found particularly helpful are introduction activities that bring to light topics and events that students do not always hear about. The following list of websites not only bring history to life by pointing out what happened on this day in history. It also exposes students to a variety of different types of events and historic information. This variety seems to grab almost every students at one time or another during the year. I simply start of the class by reading through one of the events or a couple of events from one of the websites. Then I have a quick discussion or question and answer session and move on to the lesson for the day. At this point I often have their attention and they have settled down for class.  This type of introduction activity is so powerful I often have students come back years later and bring up topics they learned through these various websites.

This day in History

This site is probably the best of the bunch they have great videos that you can play right as the class bell rings. They are interesting and can hold students attention for the 1-3 minutes in length.

 

 

BBC “On This Day”

For a another site check out the BBC’s “On This Day”. Here you are able to focus on one topic with a more information to have discussion or class activity.

For an American History focus only try the Library of Congress’s Today in History Archive. Here you can search by day and find some great American History introduction topics to discuss.

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Historic Witness Podcasts

I was reading one of my favorite blogs yesterday, Free Technology For Teachers, and came across a great resource post called BBC Witness Podcasts.  BBC Witness Podcasts provides first hand accounts of historical events.  This would be an excellent way to bring history to life for your students.  After listening to a few of these accounts I began to think of many ways to incorporate these historic podcasts into the classroom. They are engaging and provide insight and information about hisotoric events in a new light.

As they state on their website: “Witness – history as told by the people who were there. Five days a week we will be talking to people who lived through moments of history to bring you a personal perspective on world events.”

Check this site out at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/witness

If you have not read Free Technology for Teachers blog I highly recommend you bookmark that site check it out at: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/

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14 Student Favorite Project Websites

Over the past two years my students have been allowed to create their projects in any format or medium in which they choose.  This had led to some amazing and creative projects that have not only inspired me but opened my eyes to what my students are truly capable of creating. I have noticed however that there seems to be certain sites and programs that they gravitate to every year.  So the following list, are sites that my students seem to use at some point every year and really seem to enjoy.

  1. Glogster: is always a fan favorite since they can add music video and images all in one project.  This virtual poster site is always one that I see multiple times a year.
  2. Photo Story 3: has become a big hit over the past year and a half.  This is a simple video creator that allows students to take a series of images place them in any order and then narrate each image and/or add text to each image. It then generates a movie adding in transitions and panning automatically to the video.  It is simple and creates great short informational videos. They do also have a mac version.
  3. Museum Box: This is a great site for history classes.  Students place items in a box that would help describe a person or event. They can add video, audio, images and text.  This site has led to some great projects.
  4. Goanimate: takes a bit of learning but is a animated video creator that students love to create their projects with.  It generates great animated cartoons that my students have used to explain many different historical events.
  5. Google Search Stories: is a great video creator for quick informational video clips.  It uses the Google search engine and results to tell a story or explain and event.
  6. Picture A Story: allows students to tell stories about history, explain topics or concepts using preloaded images characters and objects.
  7. Flixtime: Is another video creator that allows students to take a series of images ad create great videos to explain concepts or historical events.
  8. Poster 4 Teachers: Is a free program that allows students to create online projects and reports in a poster format.  It also allows them to create simple websites to explain or discuss topics presented in class.
  9. Slideroll: This site allows kids to create simple slide shows to tell a digital story.
  10. Animoto: This site allows students o create professional looking videos projects.  This site is easy and fun for students to use.
  11. Alice.Org:  A animated story creator. That also teaches programming. I have had a few students really get into programming after using this application.
  12. Digital Story Teller: This is similar to Photo Story 3 students can add text and audio to their digital stories.
  13. Kerpoof: Always a favorite site for students to create movies and other digital media.
  14. Fotobabble: This is really a card creator but students have used it in a variety of ways to narrate  a digital story and have used it a segment in other digital projects.

 

History Today in Education

As a history teacher in education today I often see me subject placed on a back burner, while all of the schools resources and  attention are placed on math, reading and science.  I am not opposed to this but feel that we must maintain our history so that students have a sense of who we are as a country.  Over the past few years I have seen history classes cut in our district to make room  for more math and science classes.  Public education was designed to create well rounded citizens. Citizens who do not know our own countries history are not well rounded.  So I was glad to read this morning about the former Senator Byrd‘s efforts to promote history in education today.  I hope that this creates some good conversations that lead to finding ways to meet state standard requirements but still teach students about history.  As a history teacher thank you Senator Byrd you will be missed!

For more on this subject read the following article. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2010/06/sen_byrd_was_a_champion_for_hi_1.html

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Timelines for the Classroom

I have often used timeline in my classroom to help students understand the evolution of history.  But often times the timelines contain extraneous elements that confuse students or get them off of the main idea of the lesson.  So I began looking for an easy to use timeline creator and “PRECEDEN” seemed to fit the bill.

Preceden is a web-based easy to use timeline creator that allows you to customize timelines to fit your specific needs.  This tool allowed me to make specific timelines that kept my students on task and focused through my lessons.  It is also a great tool for visual learners to really see how history comes together.  I have used this tool a couple of time and found it to be very successful.

Check it out at the link below.

http://www.preceden.com/

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Simple to Use Online Video Editor

Over the past week my students have been putting  together a project on the causes of the revolution.  Their task was to tell the story of why the American colonies wanted their independence from Great Britain using only images.  Some students chose to use glogster and others windows movie maker but I had a good handful use Flixtime.  As I watched and assisted students in their project I was impressed and surprised to see how easy Flixtime was for my students to use.  They had no problems using the actual program which allowed them to focus more on the project than on its creation.  They created some really great videos and seemed to really enjoy using this program. Check this out for your next class project at http://flixtime.com/.

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Why should I care? “Shmoop”!

Over the past week or so I linked Shmoop on my class site for students to use.  During that time there were a couple of things that I noticed kids really enjoyed about this site.  The first, was the link to contemporary culture and pop culture.  That link fostered connectivity with the students and helped keep them engaged.  The second, was the section found under each topic called, “Why Should I Care”.  This was very powerful for many of my students who are always wondering, “Why do we need to learn this stuff anyway?”  While I use it primarily as a resource tool for the students it has seemed to capture their attention and is now one of the first sites they go to to find information for projects and assignments.  This is definitely a resource I will continue to use.

This site contains lots of great information on U.S. History, Civics, Literature, Poetry and others. Check it out if you have not already at http://www.shmoop.com/

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