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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Clay Shirky Talks About Why SOPA is a Bad Idea

I've been traveling today and working from a dial-up speed connection at the hotel I'm staying in. Therefore, I'm late to the party on sharing this video, but it's too important not to share even though many others have too. In the video below, Clay Shirky explains why SOPA is a bad idea and what it could mean for the way we share on the web.

Six Sets of Gold Rush Lesson Plans

Personally, I don't care for it, but I've heard a lot of students talk about Discovery's television show Gold Rush Alaska. That gave me the idea for this list of lesson plans for teaching about the original gold rushes in North America.

The National Parks Service offers fifteen lesson plans about the Klondike Gold Rush. The lessons are designed for use with students in grades two through eight. You can view the lessons online or download them as PDFs. The lessons are combination of online and offline activities.

EdSitement offers a very in-depth, six part lesson plan for teaching about the Klondike Gold Rush. The lessons are designed for middle school and high school students. An emphasis is placed on using primary documents and images to inform writing.

National Geographic Xpeditions has a 2-3 hours lesson plan for elementary school students about the boom and bust of gold rush towns. The lesson plan calls for students to view and reflect on a series of photographs of gold rush towns.

PBS has a website built as a companion to their American Experience television program about the Gold Rush. You can use many of the resources on the website without watching the program. The Strike it Rich game, the interactive map, and the timeline can all be used without having seen the American Experience Gold Rush episodes.


The Oakland Museum of Calfornia has a great set of resources for teaching about the California Gold Rush. On the museum's website you will find lesson plans for elementary school, middle school, and high school use. The virtual exhibit includes art and images about the gold rush as well as narratives about gold rush participants. After exploring the online exhibit students can take a quiz about the California Gold Rush.


Harcourt School Publishers has a free website that is designed to accompany their elementary school textbooks. On the website students can scroll through a series of drawings about Sutter's Mill (the place where gold was discovered setting off the gold rush). Clicking on each image reveals a box of text summarizing the significance of that image. Harcourt School Publishers also has a short timeline of the gold rush.

Museum Box Is a Great Way for Students to Create Virtual Artifact Displays

Museum Box is a great tool for creating virtual displays of artifacts that you find online. Museum Box has been around for a while and I could have sworn that I had written about it before, but a search of my archives revealed that I haven't.

Using Museum Box students can organize images, text, videos, links, and audio clips about any topic that they're researching. When completed , students' "boxes" become digital dioramas.

Adam Bellow at EduTecher put together an excellent museum box tutorial a couple of years ago. I've embedded that video below.


Applications for Education
Museum Box is a great way for students to visually organize all of the information that they have gathered and or created about a particular topic. While the tool was designed with history students in mind, it can certainly be used in other content areas. For example, you could have students in a biology class gather and display virtual artifacts about animals and their habitats.

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