Classroom Tech Blog

We welcome teachers to participate in the ongoing discussion and sharing of strategies to enhance learning in every social studies classroom. The following blog posts are from teacher practitioners from each region across the state. 

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  • 03/07/2013 7:30 PM | Elizabeth Ramos
    One of the areas of focus in the Common Core History ELA standards addresses expository writing. Additionally, this is a great formative and summative assessment to use with students. As we are requiring more writing, why not make it fun and creative. Fodey has created aNewspaper Clipping Generator online. Students can work independently or collaboratively to create an informative article and "publish" their work. In doing such an activity, teachers will be hitting multiple Common Core Tasks (Writing 2, 4, 7 Language 1, 2). Students have the opportunity to name their newspaper, date it, create a headline, and create their article. Once complete, the website generates an article clipping like the one to the side. This would be great to do periodically, as a class activity with unit material jigsawed, or as a CST review and post them around the class or hallway for a gallery walk
  • 03/04/2013 4:00 PM | Elizabeth Ramos

    March is Women's History Month. The Library Of Congress has a wealth of resources for teacher to create their own lessons or utilize a lesson and materials ready to go. Better yet, the lessons include primary sources which are great to use in the classroom and support the Common Core State Standards. Women's History  has a variety of material on Women's History.Women Pioneers in American History has a variety of information and primary sources related to the Westward Movement, Suffrage, Struggle for Equality, On the Job, and Women Today. This site also allows you to search for material and lessons by Common Core, State Standards, and Organizations. Women's Words of Wisdom is another great project. The page has a variety of pictures of women. Just click on one to bring up information and a quote from the woman This is a great short and quick way to examine a primary source. One could examine different ladies throughout the month in discussion or use the quote for a warm-up activity.
  • 02/27/2013 3:30 PM | Elizabeth Ramos
    You may remember having to learn the periodic table in Chemistry class in high school. There were so many elements to remember...kind of like all the New Deal programs. It made sense in Chemistry class, why not do the same for the New Deal. This is exactly what the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum has done.

    We now have the Interactive PeriodicTable of the New Deal. You can use it on their site or email them for a cd disk or color poster. As the site states, The table presents major programs, players and events surrounding the New Deal and includes brief definitions or descriptions. The table is designed to be used in a number of ways: as a visual depiction of the complexity and scope of these events; as a way introduce students to specific players and events; or as comprehensive list from which teachers and students can select a topic for further in-depth investigation.
  • 02/11/2013 10:14 AM | Elizabeth Ramos

    Wallwisher was a site where students and teachers could brain storm and move the text box of ideas around into categories or chronological order. Many teachers also wanted to do more.  Apparently Wallwisher has listened to comments and their vision for a “tablet” like site has evolved. Wallwisher is now Padlet.

    There are a variety of ways to use this in your classroom beyond an in class brainstorming activity. They have included a streams, which places the postings/notes in chronological order with a timestamp. This allows teachers to easily use this as an extension activity beyond the classroom. Padlet can easily be used as a notice board, brainstorm, make lists of activity/unit/class resources, watch and share videos, and more. I really like the idea of it becoming a different discussion board.

    One way that I have used in the classroom is to brainstorm ideas on a topic. I had a student type in the responses students shared and I have also had students post their responses from their smart phones or in the computer lab. As a class, we then discuss ways of categorizing them, you could also categorize them based on SPEC (social, political, economic, cultural) categories. This can be done as an end of unit review, DBQ outside info review, or CST review prep.
  • 11/29/2012 3:50 PM | Elizabeth Ramos

    You may have heard of Pinterest. It is big in social media sites at the moment. It is an electronic bulletin board to “pin” websites and images of interest. Not only is it great for personal use, but there are creative ways to use it in your classroom.

    If you are like me, you are constantly coming across things that stand out and you want to remember to use in your classroom at a later point. Pinterest is a great place to put these items. For example, you could create boards for your different units and “pin” items that you want to use later on. A quick search of a particular history subject or topic can bring up many items. If you find a teacher or board you like, you can follow them and gain more potential items to use in your classroom…a great way to develop you personal learning network.


    Another idea is to use it with your students. You would need to create boards with multiple users. Pinterest tells you how to set up a multiple user board in their help page and there is a You Tube tutorial video. Here are some possible ways to use it in class:

    Reference Materials: You may want to create a board with different sites for students to use for research projects categorized by topic or a variety for them to brainstorm. You may also want to set it up for students to post sites that they find useful.

    Group Collaboration: You may want to organize end of the year review into chunks. Why not have small groups find helpful review material for collaboration with other students. It may be that they find informative sites and/or sites with review material such as Quizlet, Study Blue, Capzles, or others.

    Student Presentations: If you assign group presentations, why not make them accessible to all students by pinning them. Student Glogsters, Weeblys, Prazis, or other electronic presentations can be “pinned.” Mine just asked me to do this today after our Gilded Age presentations for review.

    Decades Project: Students can create a board for an assigned decade and curate information pertinent to the time for a visual collection. You expand it to websites or other relevant info to meet your instructional needs.

    Music DBQ: Students love music. Why not have them find music of a given era and “pin” samples? Or if you play in music in class while students enter or work in class, they could “pin” possible selections to be played in class.

    Image/Political Cartoon Gallery: Images are powerful. Why not create a board for students to “pin” powerful images of a given time frame or from history. Political cartons would be great to be included. Students could contribute and you could rank them in order at the end of a unit or semester and have a great discussion/Socratic seminar. They could also be used for a random warm-up discussion/analysis activity or end of the year review.

    The possibilities of Pinterest go on. Hope you and your students can have a creative and engaging experience. Pinterest also has secret boards for teachers of lower grades where posting student work/name may be more difficult due to school policy. Also, as a teacher, you may want to create a class account and “pin” items as a class activity with different students at the computer.
  • 10/12/2012 9:02 PM | Elizabeth Ramos
    Today's students are facing an ever changing world and future workplace. The Common Core aims to help prepare students for career and college readiness. The 21st century is here in all aspects of our lives and challenges teachers and students to utilize it in the classroom as well. Additionally, as teachers we want to challenge the young historians in our classes to engage with the content and become critical thinkers. The tools below provide an engaging way to introduce content and have students work with history. Better yet, the tools below will also be a "fun" way to get your students to work and publish their writing, meeting the Production and Distribution of Writing Common Core Standards. 

    This was a FAVORITE of many of my students. I wanted a way to spark my student’s interests in working with primary sources. VoiceThread allows you to upload images, movies/video clips, and PPTs into the program. There are some nice ones online that teachers of Special Needs students have been using to show their students progress. You can pose questions for the students or have them annotate on their own. Students like it for the animation and “fun” value…they stopped dragging their feet to work with primary sources. The writing tool is great for annotating text and political cartoons. Hint: to have students work with documents or text, copy or type the text into a PPT, save the PPT as a JPEG, upload the PPT JPEGS into VoiceThread.Here is a sample from high school students where I digitized and modified a Teaching with Documents lesson from the National Archieves. App available  


    Your presentations will come alive. You can import a PPT and modify it here. Alternately, you can type your text in directly and import video and images. Prezi allows you to set a motion path and rotate you text/images. This is great for uploading an image, political carton, or map and “hiding” your text (questions or notes). There a variety of teacher and student samples online. Students or other groups can also work on a Prezi collaboratively…Carreer Readiness. Hint: do not leave the Prezi open for others to edit out of the group. I had a student group working on a great Prezi and someone “vandalized” it overnight. We were so disappointed…they had done nice work in the computer lab. iPad app available

    Create electronic posters with Glogster. Teachers can create a Glogster to introduce a unit topic or detail a main concept. Students can also create a Glogster to demonstrate mastery and/or use as their visual in a presentation. Student creation of Glogsters is also a way to meet the Common Core Literacy Standards and Technology Integration.

    Create web quests with this easy to use website. Basically a web quest is an inquiry based lesson students complete online. You can sign up and create a free web quest. For a small fee you can create additional web quest. There is also a search feature to find web quests ready to go and use in your class. Students are given an introduction to the topic, performance task(s), resources, and a rubric for evaluation.

    I LOVE this site. You become the curator of your own electronic magazine. Search for items online and Scoop then onto you topic page. You can add multiple pages to curate by topic, class, and more. Scoop it suggests articles based on the tags you give your topic page or you can add your own from the internet. The site also allows you to comment on the article/item and others can too. Not only is this great for teachers to use with their students, but students can also create their own magazine/journal and reflect on their article they’ve chosen. Other students in the class can comment too. This a great way for students to integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information, evaluate different points of view, produce clear and coherent writing, and use technology to produce and publish…all part of the Common Core Standards. A suggestion in using this in a global context is to have students use Newseum to find articles from around the world to curate. App available

                                                                                        Capzles
    Create a visual timeline online with this tool. Add image(s) of an event, tag the date, and provide a description. There is also a comment feature to use with students…great for teachers and students to use. Another application would be to use it thematically such as a collection of Native American Art, photosynthesis process, characters in a piece of literature and so forth. App available

    Students can create flash cards online. Very user friendly for the students. Study Blue allows students to have their flashcards in there hands anywhere they are if they have a smart phone. They can also be accessed online. App available

    Photostory is a free download for PCs to make movies. You can add images, save a PPT as a JPEG and import the slides, and upload music into your own movie. Editing options include transitions, adding text in color, setting motion paths in the Ken Burns manner, and setting the timing. It is a basic movie making program…easy for students to use. A teacher friend of mine was making one and then her early elementary grandson did his own. Great for students to create a mini documentary or content trailer. Here is an online tutorial.  

    This is a free and easy to use website maker. Also, if your students participate in History Day, this is the platform students must complete their websites in. They have a variety of themes and page design to choose from. You can pay to upgrade your site for more advanced features. Great for teachers and students to create an electronic portfolio or use for unit or topic assignments. Click here for a PDF of step-by-step instructions with screen shots. App available


    Ever had the problem of student work in a format that doesn’t open on your computer? Tired of emailing docs back and forth the collaborating remotely? Google Docs is your answer. Create documents, presentations, and more in Google docs and share…no more format issues. This also facilitates collaboration between peers and students in group projects. Teachers can also comment on student work and view when students have contributed. Sharing files between department members, PLNs, and students is made as simple as hitting the share button. You will need to have a gmail account to use, but that’s free. App available


    Edmodo is a free class management system that functions like Facebook… student like this and have little problem navigating it. This is a great tool to post comments or question of the day and continue the dialog outside of the classroom. Teachers can separate students by subject, class period, or club. It is a closed site. Upon creation of your group, you are given an access code for your students to use when registering. Edmodo provides a variety of tools such as the ability to poll, quiz, continue discussions, and share information and resources. App available

    Choose from a variety of sets, music, and characters to create your 3D animation to share or download. There is a free version and ones for purchase. Xtranormal allows teachers to set up classes, issue a class registration code, and manage assignments.You or the student creates the script… I suggest having the students complete a story board before moving to the computer. Students generally are very apt to navigating the program and think this is fun…a nice way to trick them into working. This has a variety of ELA Common Core and content area applications… colleges are using this too.

    Turn your photos, video clips, and music into a video. Animoto allows you to create free 30 second videos, longer videos are available for $30 a year. App Available

    Turn a photo into a talking image. Blabberize can be used as a hook or student assignment. Ideas for the classroom include having students select a figure and recording a speech, creating a song, poem, or narrative about a key figure, or having students research a person and then having them give their biography. App available

    Tagxedo  
    Take famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes and turn them into a visually stunning word cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text...a more creative Wordle.
  • 10/02/2012 8:52 PM | Elizabeth Ramos
    It's election season again! If your students are like mine, they have lots of questions regarding the election. Often , I get questions about how do I know what I am? Which candidate? With so much to cover in the curriculum, it's hard to take time out to discuss the 2012 election outside of a government class...but there are ways. 

    A few colleagues and awesome teachers asked me if I knew of quizzes students could take. But of course! However they were linked school. This is the inspiration for this posting. Below I have linked three online quizzes you can use with your students to see where they fit on the political spectrum by candidate, party, and more. 

    This posting ends with BINGO. Yes, BINGO for the presidential debate. This is a fun way to have your students watch the debate.

    I Side With 

    Students can take an election quiz with questions regarding social, environmental, economic, domestic policy, healthcare, foreign policy, immigration, and science issues. The quiz will let you know how well you match up with the presidential candidates,  California voters, and American Voters. Also, it will give you a percentage of how you side with the Democratic, Green, Republican, and Libertarian Parties.

    Party Match Quiz  

    Students can take a quiz based on questions relating to individual rights, domestic issues, economic issues, and defense issues. It will let you know how the user ranks in agreement with the political parties and political leaders by personal and economic percentages.

    Where do you fit?- PEW Political Quiz 

    Answer 12 questions that were part of a national survey conducted by the  Pew  Research  Center , and find out where you fit on the partisan political spectrum. You can also compare results to how you compare with others by age, sex, race, religion and candidate.


    Print these out and have your students stay engaged in the conversation. Debrief in class. You can also use these as a lead into an extension activity where you have the students write on the issues and the candidate's position.
  • 10/02/2012 8:16 PM | Elizabeth Ramos
    Welcome to the California Council for the Social Studies Classroom Tech Blog! You will find a variety of tools to add to your arsenal for an engaging classroom. The websites below contain a variety of resources and lesson plans aligned to history and the Common Core Standards. Additional resources and lesson ideas will be posted here as well. Enjoy!

    America in Class
    Collections of primary resources compatible with the Common Core State Standards undefined historical documents, literary texts, and works of art undefined thematically organized with notes and discussion questions.

    Designed to help teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom, Teachinghistory.org has a wealth of history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research accessible available by grade level. Each grade level page also has material on thinking like a historian and using technology. Going Beyond the Textbook has thematic lessons with What does the text say? What do historians say?, What do the sources say?...great in meeting the Common Core performance tasks.
    The library of Congress has classroom materials ready to go for teachers. You can search for material by state standards, lesson plans, themed resources, primary source sets, presentations and activities, or  collection connections. The American Memory Timeline  is great for students to use for class activities, lesson extensions, or projects.

    The Gilder Lehrman Institute has created ten Common Core units in American History. Each unit has an overview, lesson plans, objectives, and materials. The lessons span Columbusto Martin Luther King Jr.

                                                                      History by Era
    This is another great collection by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. It is a collection of fifty individual introductions written by some of the most distinguished scholars of our day… historiography and the Common Core. It thus speaks to the reader not in one voice, but in fifty different, unique voices as each of these scholars interprets the developments, movements, events, and ideas of a particular era.

    Each Era follows the same template so that readers can move easily from one to another. An introduction to the time period is followed by essays by leading scholars; primary sources with images, transcripts, and a historical introduction; multimedia presentations by historians and master teachers; interactive presentations; and lesson plans and other classroom resources. 

    The National Endowment for the Humanities has a collection of AP level lessons based on primary source documents that cover the most frequently taught topics and themes in American history.

    Reading Like a Historian is a project of the Stanford History Education Group. It is high school history curriculum that is literacy-rich and document-based. The focus is on core content, critical thinking, and improving reading comprehension.

    The Huntington Library examines three struggles in American history; independence, rights, and equality. Each topic has a timeline and a series of primary sources and explanations/context organized by subtopic.

    American Democracy in Word and Deed
    This TAH project worked with the UC Berkely History project to create a variety of history lessons aligned with California's grade 4, 5, 8, and 11 curriculum. They also have Common Core literacy resources targeted at reading and writing that can be used with various grade levels and across the curriculum.

    Content Trailers
    WOW! West Baton Rouge Parish Schools have created content trailers for grades pre-K through secondary and all subjects. "A Content Trailer is a short, 2- to 3-minute, media-rich experience from which a point of inquiry can begin. The vehicle is unimportant in the relationship to the concept. Providing students with the images and sounds that can be attached to the textual information that they will be exploring can provide a profound shift in the way learning is engaged. Content Trailers can be one tool to help the process of inquiry begin.

    What is this Common Core educators are talking about? Engage NY has a wealth of Common Core resources that is helpful regardless of what state you are in- I’m in California.

    Literacy TA has Common Core materials. They break the Common Core down toReading in Action, Writing in Action, and Speaking in Action. For each of these they identify the standard with the appropriate literacy skills and application ideas and worksheets. While you do need to pay for the worksheets, if you hover you mouse over the image you get an idea of the handout…most teachers have something like these already. Many teachers are already teaching the Common Core, seeing the handouts help you to identify your activities/lessons to the Common Core.



                                                                       Planbook
    Planbook is an online planbook where you can input your lesson, notes, homework assignment, and select what state and Common Core standards apply to your lesson. You can give it a free trial and after that it is $12 a year. When selecting your standards, you can add state and Common separately. In doing this, most teachers will realize they are already integrating Common Core in the classroom. As states move into implementation of the Common Core, this is a great school for leaders of PD and teachers in identifying what they are doing in the classroom. If desired, you can create a teacher key to share lessons with other teachers or a student key to allow others (principals, parents, students, etc) to view your lesson plan.
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