I'm looking for practical ways to take these bits of hardware and transform how students interact with the subject of World History. Do you know of strategies or projects that use these tools to encourage learning in the classroom? If these tools were in your classroom, how would you use them to meet curriculum goals?

Sometimes all this technology can be overwhelming. A few practical tips from social studies teachers using similar tools could really open some doors in terms of professional development and student learning. Thanks for your ideas!

Tags: laptop, smartboard, socialstudies, worldhistory

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One things I have done is set up a game of Diplomacy with my students in Western Civ versus a group of students from another school. Diplomacy is a board game set just before World War I, and it simulates the making and breaking of alliances as the war progresses. The main purpose of the game is the negotiation, and so we've used a bulletin board to post public messages and send private ones to each other. Using schools from different schools on a system where they can't actually see each other and read facial expressions and body language simulates (or so we think) some of the fog involved in negotiations where you don't really know how far to trust someone.
I don't know why I didn't think of this immediately, but with regular access to computers and the Internet, I'd be steering my students to all kinds of primary sources. If it's any help, my list of primary sources (some good and some bad) is here: http://del.icio.us/mrpuffin/primarysource
Agree with James--access to primary sources in one of the gems of the internet. Here's the link to the International section of the Library of Congress. Another idea--art and history museums.

I teach gifted K-6 and we have a lot of simulation software Civ IV, Axis and Allies, Age of Empires, Railroad Tycoon, etc. I buy it dirt cheap and new on Ebay. I've heard good things about this Making History

I actually have tons of ideas. Let me know if you want more.
Diplomacy sounds very interesting, especially in the configuration you described. Thanks, too, for the links! I'm sure I'll find some good resources there.
Never worked with a smart board, but have worked with a lab of laptops. It is a great way to have the kids all work on something different towards the same goal

Look over your syllabus/curriculum guide for the next unit. Perhaps the middle ages. Make up a list of things the kids need to learn - not individual facts, but clumps of information. For the middle ages, for example, you could list learning the monarchs, the papacy, the life of the commoners, religion, government, architecture, and similar topics. Have each student in the class choose which he/she will research. You may end up with 2-3 on the same topic, depending on your class size.

Have the students use google, ask, or other search engines, and each look up the topic each chose. First, they should make a bibliographic list of the sites provided by the search. Then, add a summary of what is available on each site. Have the students compile a report on the topic from the bibliography. Let them rate each URL they explored as well as summarizing what they learn.

As you go through the unit, have each student report on his/her topic, provide a printed or digital list of all the sites researched and the data collected. Include what you would normally teach.

While you are going through the unit, set aside time to set up the laptops and let the students work on their individual topics. At the end of the unit, you should be able to collect a report on a chosen topic from each student for grading.

It is important to remember to let the students, from their research, fill in the details on what you are teaching. Let each student stand as the "expert" on their topic.

Another use for the laptop lab is in testing. Some classrooms are just too crowded to allow testing without the temptation to cheat. Make your tests in Hot Potato, Flash, or other software so that questions are presented in random order. Each student takes the test on the laptop. It is difficult if not impossible to see the screen of other students well enough to see what question they are answering and to see the selected answer before the ENTer key is hit. The tests can either be self-scoring, or can include essay questions for which the students will print out their essays and turn them in on paper or disk.

Hope this gives you a starting point!

I teach both US and World History and use podcasting extensively in my classroom experience. My site is www.masterymaze.com and you are welcome to browse the Subjects to see and use my work. I have a smartboard which I find useful to display web based materials as well as to use it to preserve my hand written notes and markups for students. I have a website at school as well where I post many of the things I create on the smart board for review and students who miss class. I love my smart board and encourage training on all of the things it has to offer. It is a great resource in a social studies classroom.

The laptops, again can be really useful for everything from web based research, web quests, and podcasting. I also have students creat podcasts and use our lab for that as well. We will be soon using Animoto to crreate short little videos and I will be using the laptops in the classroom for that as well. No limit on what you can do!

I don't have a document camera so I can't help you with that one. I find that using the resourcres you have mentioned really makes history more meaningful. I always try to tie what we are learning to the world today, and using technology allows me to "show" them more easily how it all relates.

Good luck!

Sue P

Thanks so much for the link! You're doing some great things with your learning community there. I'll direct my social studies teachers and their students to your podcasts. Maybe you'll be getting some more content soon.

One more technical, rather than curricular, question: what program do you use to podcast those segments? CamStudio? Thanks again for sharing!
Hi dmcallister~ I am a technology provider, but I only post when I think our technology is an important solution for the person I'm responding too, so hopefully this commercially driven message is helpful rather than annoying!

I run ChitChat, which is an "educational network" where our goal is to help teachers easily and practically get the most from technology. The problem I'm used to seeing is the same one you have: teachers get handed technology and have to either fall back on using more Word and Powerpoint in their classes (not really especially valuable) or spend a tremendous amount of time and effort changing their teaching style in uncertain ways in order to try to use the web... sometimes it works, and sometimes they wind up behind. So what we've done is make a set of completely web-based tools so teachers can create and assign content on the web, students deliver their work back over the web in a blog-like format, and the teachers can then write feedback for the students onto the work while it's still on the web. This means that if you think of something you want your students to do with technology, like work in some flash application (voicethread is a common example), make contributions to wikipedia, or even make something with a regular desktop application, it's easy for you to collect and give feedback on the work without having to worry about how you're going to keep track of it, how secure it is, etc.

I won't belabor this comment; I'd be thrilled if you checked out our stuff. We're only about two months old right now, so it's fairly new and we're adding stuff pretty quickly. Hopefully it'll be useful to you, and if you have feedback or don't like it for some reason, let me know!

As an aside, I agree that increased access to primary sources is one of the greatest things about the web.
The basic lessons site on Smartboards could give you some ideas. I have been fiddling around with it in the classroom and found that it could be used with a scavenger hunt over the world using google earth.
I created the game of Risk. I copied a Risk-like map to the Smartboard software. I put the class in teams. I gave them a symbol which I infinite clone to represent armies. Once multiple armies are established, I use numbers. I base every quiz, review, test, etc. on the game. The winning team at the end of the year exempts the exam. I reward team's so many points for an A on the quiz, I also penalize them for an F (I call that either natural disaster or dropping a bomb). Once a team's properties are taken over, they become rogue and can play havoc by attacking other teams. At the end of the unit, I allow team's to adopt rogue players. Also, players can be excommunicated. A team can never be under three or more than five. Feel free to contact me via e-mail and I'll send you some smartboard docs.
Here is a project that I just developed that I think would be great for WWII. Essentially we would encourage all of the countries in WWII to have their classes enter the program and collaborate online in a re-enactment of WWII as well as a re-imaging of what could be done differently. All of this will take place online. For more info, please see the attached file for the entire program description (generic template for all wars) and check out www.onlinewarfare.com

Be well.




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