Visual Digital Library

WDL

So often my Jr. High students seem to lose interest in their research and begin to complain that they can not find any good information. Wikipedia and other informational websites by their nature are not designed for younger students. So after the first few minutes of searching student interest is lost and they are off task. So I began looking for another website that might hold their interest a bit longer and found one that seemed to fit the bill, “World Digital Library“. This site provides images and a timeline that students can use to search for information on historical topics world wide. The great thing about this site is that it is very visual and seemed to captivate and keep student attention. There was a good amount of information on the website and I found it be a great starting point for students with research projects.

Check it out at World Digital Library http://www.wdl.org/en/

Below are some resource for other historical resources.

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Don’t Forget You Need a Foundation!

John Wooden at a ceremony on Oct. 14, the coac...

Image via Wikipedia

Education is in a state of flux all across the country. Districts are looking for new ways to improve learning and meet the state and federal guidelines for education. As districts look at these different techniques and technologies, what is often overlooked is the foundation.

There is a great story about the famous basketball coach John Wooden. One of his first lessons that he taught his college players when they came to UCLA was how to put on their socks and shoes. He told them that this game requires you to move and change directions quickly and if your shoes and sock are not on correctly, you could get blisters or your shoe could come untied. In both cases you are then out of the game. If you are out of the game, you cannot be successful.

Today in education teachers are often overlooked as these new approaches and techniques are implemented in their schools. As districts mandate these techniques, they do not consult the fundamental aspect of their educational process, their teachers. Techniques do not teach kids, teachers do and they can often can provide valuable assistance on implementation of these new techniques.  When districts overlook the fundamentals in applying new techniques and programs, they are often met with failure and frustration adding to the dilemma of education today. True change in education today cannot be successful unless it has been built on a good foundation.

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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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Challenge Based Resource

Writing Tutorial #3

Image by topgold via Flickr

As I begin to develop my curriculum and materials for the upcoming school year I ran across a great website on challenge based learning. This site provides resources and examples that really demonstrate how to develop and implement this type of learning environment. It is an excellent resource to help teachers begin to develop their own lessons. Not only am I excited about giving this a try in the upcoming school year I believe it to be a great resource for other teachers to use.

Check it out at http://ali.apple.com/cbl/

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Make the Ordinary seem Extrodinary

I was watching Helen Papagiannis on TEDxYorkU this past week and was struck by her supposition, ” make the ordinary seem extraordinary”.   This really is the key, I believe in education today. Students are bombarded with technology and are constantly entertained. If their is no element of entertainment in our classrooms we will inevitably lose the attention of many students. Like it or not this is a conditioned response of the current generation. Educators need to acknowledge this fundamental component of their clientele and address it in their classrooms.   I am not saying to become full fledged entertainer and I do realize that students need to learn how to interact in a traditional educational setting. However educators must acknowledge they need to make the ordinary seem extraordinary to create a true learning environment.

If you have not seen Helen Papagiannis’s “How Does Wonderment Guide the Creative Process” check it out below.

Help Students Find Their “True Swing”!

Wow! Time flys! With the school year coming to a close and state testing taking place I have been a bit overwhelmed. So I apologize for being off task and not posting as regular to this blog.

Over this past week as I have had time, I was reading my regular blogs and came across a post that, of course, I cannot find now which mentioned the movie, “The Legend of Bagger Vance“.  It got me to thinking about this movie and its many different messages. One that I feel is so important for students and teachers is to help students find their “True Swing”.  Their true passion in life.  Every student has a gift in a particular area, and it is so important for educators to help students find that area they are gifted in and have a passion for.  This is the key to success for many students.  Unfortunately, many time students do not find it until later in life and miss out on much of their education.  Watch the video clip below, and as I said to my colleagues at our school lets make this one of our new goals to help students find their “True Swing”!

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The Friday Mystery

Mysterynet.com is a great class opener website.  I have often used this on Fridays to engage and settle them down for class. This site has many different mysteries to solve. Typically, I would display a “Get a Clue” or “Solve It” mystery that the students could see as they enter the classroom. Once the bell rings I allow the students some time to try and solve the mystery. They become quite engaged in trying to figure out the mystery often well before the bell rings. This activity has led to some great class discussions about a variety of social topics but best of all it has engaged them and settled them down on a Friday afternoon so I can start my lesson.

Give it a try at the following address:  http://www.mysterynet.com

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Making PowerPoint INTERACTIVE Easliy With ActiveOffice

Microsoft PowerPoint

Image via Wikipedia

I have always been a big fan of cross platform integration.  Many times I have worked with programs and wished I could blend applications together seamlessly to create projects and lessons. Well, finally there is an integration that just makes sense.

Promethean is now offering  what they call an ActivOffice application that will integrate their software, ActiveInspire/ActiveStudio with Microsoft’s PowerPoint.  This feature will place a toolbar within PowerPoint that will allow you to access many of the features of the Active software.  With this extension in PowerPoint you will be able to incorporate Promethean LRS student devices to assess learning by quickly and easily by  adding questions and importing questions for assessment. This software also allows you to display these results within PowerPoint. ActiveOffice will also provide you the ability to annotate on PowerPoint slides and save them for later presentations. ActivOffice will provide instructors the ability to create interactive presentations within PowerPoint.

For more information on this great application take a look at Promethean Planet at the following links.

 

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Keeping “I GET IT!” & “WHAT?” Students Engaged

A special education teacher assists one of her...

Image via Wikipedia

Every teacher knows that students learn at different rates.  We know that students need their own time to process the content that they are presented. The problem is that in many cases they are required to move at specific times to keep up with the scope and sequence of the class. This causes problems for some students.  While some are ready to move on early and are stuck waiting for the class others are just not grasping certain concepts and need more time.  Both scenarios cause students to be disengaged with school. This dilemma really seemed to be a problem with my students this year.

Sound familiar? We all have those years where we have two kinds of students the “I get it!” kids and the “What?” kids.  So it has caused me to rethink my delivery method and class organization.  Through some experimenting I came across a method this week that does show some promise. I call it pod learning.

My room is broken up into three groups. I have them color coded by rugs on the floor, red, black and green. At the beginning of each unit I give a pretest to see where my students are at. Depending on how they score on that test they are placed into each of the pods. The black groups is for kids who are struggling with the concept. Green students have a basic knowledge of the content and red who seem to have a good understanding of the concept. Once they are placed in their groups each pod has scaffolded instruction to their specific needs. Black will receive a lot of my attention and I will move them along slowly while green and red can move more at their own pace. My scope and sequence has not changed I have just added some enrichment activities to the green and red groups.  In some cases my red students get into their own course of study on the subject. This process really seemed to work well over the past couple of weeks and has led me to begin looking at refining this system even more.  While this is not true differentiating instruction it is allowing students to move at their own pace and has not created an excessive burden as far as planning my lessons. I am optimistic about this concept and wish to hear your thoughts on this little experiment. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

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Students Know Technology NO THEY DONT!

This past month I received a set of netbooks for my classroom.  I feel very fortunate to have received these and wanted to incorporate them into my class as much as possible. So I decided to make my class a paperless classroom.  As my classes have begun working in this new digital learning environment I have found that many students really do to know how to use technology and really need to be shown how to correctly use a computer.

So often I hear teachers say things like, “I don’t want to teach kids technology because they already know it all and I don’t.” Or that “the kids know more about this stuff than I do.” To put it bluntly, NO THEY DON’T! This is a myth and in fact I believe that you will find that things like file management, proper email, and using many online tools will be foreign to them.  Although many students will pick up how to use these digital tools quickly we must remember as teachers, students need to be taught how to use many of these tools. Assuming that students can use technology is a pitfall that many educators and schools fall into. Any technology to used in the classroom must be taught to the students before its use to ensure the best possible application of that learning tool.  This is a lesson that even though I knew, really has been pointed out to me in the past few weeks.

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