Monday, September 19, 2022

My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students

A few years ago I published a list of my favorite tools for social studies teachers and students. Since then a few things have changed, namely Google has shuttered a couple of cool tools, so I think it's time to update the list. In no particular order, here are my top ten tools for social studies teachers and students. 

Timeline JS
Timeline projects as as old as history classes themselves. It used to be that timelines were only made on paper. Today, students can build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is the best tool for making multimedia timelines today.

Readlee
One of the challenges of giving students primary or secondary source articles to read on their own is knowing how long it actually takes them to read the articles and how well read them. Readlee is a service that solves that problem. With a free Readlee account you can assign articles to students and they have to read them aloud to their computers. Readlee tracks the speed at which students read along with information about total words read and unique words read. Here's a video overview of Readlee.  

StoryMap JS
StoryMap JS is produced by the same people that make Timeline JS. StoryMap JS enables students to tell stories through the combination of maps and timelines. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text.

Google Earth
Google Earth is available in two versions. The Pro version is the version that you can install on your desktop. That's the version that I prefer if given a choice because it includes more features that the web browser version. Google Earth Pro can be used by students and teachers to record narrated tours and to layer historical imagery on top of current map views. Here's one of my favorite Google Earth activities for middle school and high school. And here's my online course all about Google Earth and Maps. 

Google Books
This is an often overlooked search tool. Google Books provides students with access to millions of free books and periodicals. Google Books really shines when you start looking for work that was published in the 19th Century and early 20th Century. One of the best features of Google Books is the ability to search within a book for a phrase or keyword.

DocsTeach
DocsTeach is a free service provided by the U.S. National Archives. Through DocsTeach you can create online activities based upon primary source artifacts from the National Archives. Your students can complete the activities online. Don't let the fact that the service is provided by the National Archives fool you into thinking that it can only be used for U.S. History lessons. You can upload any primary source artifact that you like to your DocsTeach account to develop an online history activity. DocsTeach offers more than a dozen activity templates that you can follow to develop your primary source-based lessons. Watch this video to learn more about DocsTeach.

EDpuzzle
When I taught social studies I liked to use video clips as part of current events lessons. I also liked to use excerpts from documentary videos. If you use videos in the same way, EDpuzzle is a tool that you need to try. EDpuzzle lets you add questions directly into the timeline of the video. Here's my video overview of how to use EDpuzzle

WeVideo
If you want your students to make short documentary-style videos, WeVideo is hard to beat. It works on Chromebooks, Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac (though if you have a Mac, iMovie is just as good). Those who have upgraded WeVideo accounts can even use it to make green screen videos.

Scribble Maps
Scribble Maps is the multimedia mapping tool that I recommend whenever someone asks for an alternative to Google Earth or Google Maps for students. Scribble Maps is a free tool for creating custom, multimedia maps online. Scribble Maps provides a variety of base layer maps on which you can draw freehand, add placemarks, add image overlays, and type across the map. Scribble Maps will work in the web browser on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or Android tablet. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use Scribble Maps.



Canva
Canva can be used for making everything from an infographic to a presentation to a website to a video and a whole lot of things in between. In the context of social studies I've used Canva to create multimedia timelines and to create vintage travel posters based on public domain imagery found in these collections.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Physics of Soccer Kicks

My daughters have started playing soccer this fall. For the first time in my life I have a real interest in watching the game. Before yesterday's practice there were some high school students on the field who were making some long kicks which amazed my youngest daughter who wanted to know how they did it. While a bit too complex for a five-year-old, TED-Ed does have a nice physics lesson about soccer kicks. 

Football Physics: The "Impossible" Free Kick is a TED-Ed lesson that illustrates and explains how soccer players make the ball curve when they kick it on a free kick or a corner kick. The video also explains how the forces that make a soccer ball curve can also make a thrown baseball curve. The video also answers the question of whether or not it would be possible to make a ball boomerang back to you. The video is embedded below. The full lesson can be seen here.


How to Create PDFs in Google Classroom

Last weekend a reader reached out to me to ask if I could create a video about the relatively new option to create PDFs in Google Classroom. I was happy to oblige

In this new video I demonstrate how to use the Google Classroom mobile apps to create PDFs from scratch. As I demonstrate in the video, you can use the app to draw on a PDF or type on a PDF. The drawing option could be a great one for students to use in a mathematics class as they can easily sketch to show their work on solving a math problem.



On a related note you may be interested in How to Create Virtual Math Manipulatives in Google Classroom and How to Add Audio to Google Forms, Docs, Classroom, Slides, and Gmail.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Branchiness, Videos, and Archives - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I am not racing my bike this weekend and instead will be enjoying a nice early fall day by helping out at my daughters' soccer practices. By the way, I finished last week's race much better than I predicted and ended up fourth in my division despite a flat tire around the midway point of the race. I hope that you have something fun and exciting planned for your weekend. And if you don't, I hope you just enjoy a relaxing weekend doing whatever rejuvenates you. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. A Great Alternative to Quizlet
2. Two Tips to Make Chrome Run a Little Faster
3. A Short Overview of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine - And How I Use It
4. 5 Little Things You Can Do To Improve Your Videos
5. Display Note Broadcast Adds Helpful Features to Improve Screen Sharing
6. Try Using Vocabulary Lists to Help Your Students Conduct Better Searches
7. Synth is Shutting Down to Focus on Focusable - Other Audio Recording Tools to Try

I'll Come You!
If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 42,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
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This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Friday, September 16, 2022

The WWII Rumor Project - An Activity in Learning Through Primary Sources

A handful of years ago the Library of Congress launched a crowd sourcing project called By the People. The purpose of the project is to enlist the help of the public to transcribe thousands of primary source documents that are housed by and have been scanned by the Library of Congress. Over the years there have been collections of documents from the American Civil War, papers from the American Revolution, presidential papers, documents about suffrage, and documents about the integration of Major League Baseball. The latest By the People campaign is seeking help transcribing a collection of documents from the WWII Rumor Project carried out by the Office of War Information

Anyone can participate in the LOC's Crowd project to transcribe documents in the WWII Rumor Project collection of notes and diaries. To get started simply go to the collection and choose a document. Your chosen document will appear on the left side of the screen and a field for writing your transcription appears on the right side of the screen. After you have completed your transcription it is submitted for peer review. A demonstration of the process is included in the video below.

Applications for Education
The By the People project is a good opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn about the role of information control in the United States during World War II while contributing to a national project. All of the collections in By the People do have timelines and some other resources that help to provide context for the documents that are in need of transcription.

The Smithsonian has a similar crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers.