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.


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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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Augmented Reality Lesson Plan “History Detectives”

This assignment was created with Mscape and is played on window mobile 6.1 or higher devices. Since Mscape is going to be discontinued by HP I was hoping that someone out there could point me to another platform that I can use to create these type of learning environments.

Here are the programs I am aware of:

In this simulation students are in groups of two or three and each have a specific character that they select and play in the simulation. Also each character is vital to the overall game and students must discuss what they find at each location to correctly solve the mystery.

Storyline or topic:

Skeletal remains have been found in the back field of the school. Students will investigate the scene to discover what took place. As they investigate, they will learn that this event is a murder; however, it took place over 150 years ago. Their task is to discover what happened to this individual. While investigating the scene, they will gain valuable insights and an understanding of the conflict between Native Americans and white settlers in the mid 1850’s in the state of Washington. Through this process they will discover the 10 major reasons for conflict and gain insight from both perspectives. Students will conduct interviews, read journals, and hear native stories throughout the simulation. Like my last scenario, I will give the students a week to conduct the simulation and develop a presentation to present their findings and theories.

This project will consist of two to three people per group: an archeologist, detective, and a historian.  All the roles will be vital in the development of the groups overall theory. Each individual will be responsible for finding and developing key pieces of evidence to assist the group in developing their overall theory and game strategy during the simulation.

Archeologist: This role is responsible for dating the evidence and discovering the physical evidence of the scene. In a way they are setting the stage for the group.

Detective: He/she will take the information from the Archeologist and the Historian and piece together the events that occurred at the site.

Historian: This player will provide valuable insight to life of the times including opinions, feelings and biases.

As they work together, they will be able to put together what happened at this site and be able to draw inferences to the conflict that occurred throughout the rest of Washington State.

I have chosen three players, because it seems to work better for middle school students. It distributes the workload without overly taxing the individual student. This allows students to work collaboratively by assisting each other to discover the mystery behind the skeletal remains. Since the roles may overlap, I can have some students take on two roles, again, without overloading them. This will allow me to separate the class into groups, whether I have an odd or even number of students.

Curriculum standards are as follows: Based of Washington State Bench Marks

Social Studies:

4.3.1 Analyzes and interprets historical materials from a variety of perspectives in the state of Washington or world history.

4.3.2 Analyzes multiple causal factors that shape major events in the state of Washington or world history.

5.1.1 Understands evidence supporting a position on an issue or event.

5.1.2 Evaluates the breadth of evidence supporting positions on an issue or event.

5.4.1 Analyzes multiple factors, makes generalizations, and interprets primary sources to formulate a thesis in a paper or presentation.


2.2.1 Apply curiosity, honesty, skepticism, and openness when considering explanations and conducting investigations.

2.2.5 Know that ideas in science change as new scientific evidence arises.

3.1.3 Analyze multiple solutions to a problem or challenge.


1.1.2 Use models and simulations to explore systems, identify trends and forecast possibilities.

1.2.1 Communicate and collaborate to learn with others.

Analyze, synthesize and ethically use information to develop a solution, make informed decisions and report results.

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Project Based Learning with Primary Sources

Historical Scene Investigation is a great website to use to incorporate not only technology in your classroom but also primary sources as well.

Historical Scene Investigation


This is a project based website that provides lessons focusing on U.S. history.  Here are the topics covered on this website.

  • March on Frankfort
  • Case of Sam Smiley
  • When Elvis Met Nixon
  • Dropping the Bomb
  • School Desegregation
  • Children in the Civil War
  • Antonio Slave
  • Constitution Controversy
  • Boston Massacre
  • Lexington Concord
  • Bacon’s Rebellion
  • Jamestown Starving Time

All of these lessons have a student and teacher sections and include all readings, worksheets and links to other WebPages.   This is a great site to use in your class but also to see a great way to setup similar content projects.

Click on this link to check out this website. http://web.wm.edu/hsi/index.html

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