Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Round-up of Ten Thanksgiving Lesson Resources

Over the last month I've published reviews of various Thanksgiving lesson resources. As Thanksgiving is now less than one week away, it's time to put all of those resources into one list. Here they are...

When Is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America is an episode in John Green's Crash Course on US History. The video starts with the history of Jamestown before moving onto Plymouth. Green does a good job of illustrating the differences between why and how each colony was established. This is video is suitable for high school students, but Green's use of sarcasm (which I actually like) and the details would probably be lost on middle school students.

The History Channel's History of Thanksgiving provides a short overview of the history of American Thanksgiving. This video is suitable for middle school students.

And just for fun here's a video that explains the differences between American and Canadian Thanksgiving. This video is appropriate for high school students. (I would stop it before the credits roll at the end).

You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving is an interactive exploration of the facts and myths associated with the story of the First Thanksgiving. Students can explore the facts and myths through the eyes of a Native American child or through the eyes of a female Pilgrim. Through the eyes of each character students discover the culture of giving thanks in the Native American and English cultures. My favorite part of the investigation is "The Path to 1621" in which students hear the perspectives of Native Americans and Pilgrims about events prior to 1621.

Voyage on the Mayflower is a nice resource produced by Scholastic. Voyage on the Mayflower has two parts for students to explore. The first part is an interactive map of the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Students can click on placemarks on the map to read and hear about the journey. The second part of the Voyage on the Mayflower takes students "inside" the Mayflower to see and hear about the parts of the ship.

The First Thanksgiving: Daily Life is another online activity produced by Scholastic. Daily Life is comparison of the lifestyles of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. Students can click through each aspect of daily life to see a comparison of housing, clothing, food, chores, school, and games.

The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings tells the story of Thanksgiving 1939. In 1939 Thanksgiving was going to fall on the last day of November which caused merchants to be worried about a shortened shopping season. In response to this concern President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be moved up one week. Some states chose to ignore this proclamation and celebrate Thanksgiving on the last day of the month anyway. The conflict was finally resolved in 1941 when Congress passed a law stating that Thanksgiving would always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month. The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings is supported by ten primary source documents. Included in those documents are letters from merchants appealing to FDR to change the day of Thanksgiving and letters opposing the change.

Earlier this week Storyboard That made available an option for creating Thanksgiving cards. To create a card you use the same process as is you were creating a comic on Storyboard That. After creating your short story save it and select the option to print as a Thanksgiving card. I demonstrate that process in the video embedded below.

This month BoomWriter is offering a Thanksgiving-themed writing lesson plan that is appropriate for students in third through eighth grade. WordWriter (produced by BoomWriter) allows you to create vocabulary lists that you want your students to incorporate into a writing assignment. The new Thanksgiving-themed lesson plan includes a pre-made list of Thanksgiving-themed words for your students to use in the writing assignment that you distribute to them. Each step of the process is outline in the lesson plan. The lesson plan document also includes the Common Core standards addressed in the writing activity.

ReadWorks is a non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. For the (American) Thanksgiving season ReadWorks is offering a set of non-fiction articles about Thanksgiving. The set includes articles appropriate for all K-12 students. Each article is accompanied by ten reading comprehension questions. Those questions are a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Share Lists and Search Notes by Color in Google Keep

Last month I wrote about using Google Keep to organize your thoughts. Google Keep is a digital sticky note service that is available as a website, as a Chrome app, and as an Android app. On Google Keep you can create sticky notes to use as simple text notes, as bookmarks, or as reminders with dates and times. This week Google added the option to share lists on Google Keep. When you share a list you and your collaborators can check-off items as you go through the list.

You have always been able to color code notes in Google Keep. Now you can search notes by color. So if you use one color for to-do lists, another color for personal bookmarks, and a third color for professional bookmarks you will be able to find those notes by searching for the colors associated to them. As before you can still sort notes by dragging and dropping them on your screen.

Applications for Education
Besides using Google Keep to organize shared to-do lists, using the color-coding aspect of notes in Google Keep could be a nice way for students to construct an outline for a research paper or presentation.

Free iBooks from the Library of Congress

For years the Library of Congress has been a go-to resource for teachers of U.S. History. Thanks to Glenn Wiebe, I learned about another good offering from the Library of Congress. The LOC's Student Discovery Sets are iBooks arranged around six themes. Those themes are The Constitution, The Dust Bowl, Immigration, Symbols of the United States, The Harlem Renaissance, and Understanding the Cosmos.  Each theme is contained within its own iBook.

The LOC's Student Discovery iBooks incorporate tools for zooming-in on elements of primary sources and drawing on documents to highlight aspects of them. Teaching guides are available for each of the iBooks in the Student Discovery Sets.

Applications for Education
Learning from primary source documents can be challenging for many students. The drawing and marking tools available in the LOC's Student Discovery iBooks could help students identify tricky aspects of documents and write questions to ask you during class.

ITN Source Presents a Timeline of Technology Over the Last 100+ Years

ITN Source, a provider of archival video footage, has published an interesting timeline of the development of technology since 1900. The timeline is arranged by decade from 1900 through 2010. Each stop on the timeline features a short video about the technological developments of the decade. None of the content is terribly in-depth, but it could serve as a good starting point for discussions and lessons about the technological advances of the 20th Century.

One complaint that I have about ITN Source's timeline of technology is that you cannot rewind or fast-forward to a decade. You have to play all of the videos in sequence in order to navigate the timeline.

Applications for Education
Students can create a similar type of timeline by using Timeline JS. Timeline JS allows students to develop timelines that contain videos, images, and text. Click here to watch a demonstration of how to create a multimedia timeline through Timeline JS.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes Arranged by State

American Thanksgiving is less than one week away. You and your students may already be thinking about your favorite Thanksgiving dish (mine is cranberry sauce in a can). Favorite Thanksgiving dishes, like all favorite foods, vary from region to region. The New York Times has a neat site about the favorite Thanksgiving dishes served in each state (and D.C. and Puerto Rico). The United States of Thanksgiving lists the signature Thanksgiving dish of each state. Select a state and find a dish. The recipe for each dish is included on each page.

Applications for Education
The United States of Thanksgiving could be a good resource to use in conjunction with History of Harvest and Map Your Recipe. By using all three resources your students can identify a favorite Thanksgiving dish then learn about where the ingredients come from and how they get to the dining room table.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing The United States of Thanksgiving.