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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Five Good Non-Google Tools for Social Studies Teachers

Last night I shared five good Google tools for social studies teachers along with videos on how to use each of them. While at times it might seem that the Internet revolves around Google, there are many good non-Google tools that I also recommend for use in social studies classrooms. Here are five of my go-to non-Google resources for social studies teachers.

HSTRY Timeline Creator.
HSTRY is a multimedia timeline creation tool that will work on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or tablet. With a HSTRY account you can build timelines in a vertical scroll format similar to that of a Facebook feed. To start the process pick a topic and upload a cover photo. To add events to the timeline just click the "+" symbol and select the type of media that you want to add to your timeline. You can add videos, images, audio, and text to the events on your timeline.

There are two features of HSTRY that make it stand-out from the crowd. First, as a teacher you can create an online classroom in which you can view all of your students' timelines. Second, as a teacher you can build questions into timelines that you share with your students. You can even build-in explanations of the answers to your questions.

For other timeline creation tools, check out this chart.

Outline concepts with Text 2 Mind Map.
Text 2 Mind Map offers a great way to turn your typed outlines into mind maps. To create a mind map on Text 2 Mind Map type out an outline in the text box. After typing your outline click "draw mind map" to have your mind map created for you. If after creating your mind map you need to add more elements to just add them into your outline and click "draw mind map" again. Your mind map can be downloaded as a PDF or PNG file. The mind maps that you create on Text 2 Mind Map can also be shared via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Click here for more mind mapping tools.

Map data with MapStory.
MapStory is a free tool for creating mapped displays of data sets. Data sets that are time based, the travels of Genghis Khan for example, can be set to play out in a timeline style on your map. Creating a MapStory might look complicated at first glance, but it's actually quite easy to create a map. To get started select a data set or sets that you want to display on your map. You can choose data sets from the MapStory gallery or upload your own. After choosing your data set(s) select a base map. After that you can customize the look of the data points on your map and or manually add more data points to your map. The notes option in MapStory lets you create individual events to add to your map and timeline. Lines and polygons can also be added to your projects through the notes feature in MapStory.

Click here for other mapping tools to try.

The Commons on Flickr.
Flickr's The Commons hosts millions of pictures that are in the public domain. I've used images from The Commons in my history classes as prompts for discussion and my students have used them in short documentary videos they've made.

Classtools Fake SMS Generator
The Classtools Fake SMS Generator is a fun tool for creating fictitious text message exchange between historical characters. It is free to use and does not require students to register to use it. In the video below I demonstrate how to use it. As I mention in the video, the Fake SMS Generator could also be used to create visuals for lessons on cyber-safety and etiquette.


Some of my other favorite Classtools tools are featured here.