Digital Resources for Social Studies Teachers

Earlier this month we were thrilled to have some of our alumni (and one of our current students) join three of our faculty to talk about social studies education. We heard what they found most energizing and fulfilling about teaching subjects like history and geography, but also what was challenging and frustrating about it. (And we started to think through how we could make something like this workshop a more regular part of our calendar. Stay tuned!) And our faculty gave brief presentations on some aspect of their own teaching or scholarship.

Amy Poppinga shared some ideas for using maps as teaching tools, drawing in particular on her experience with HIS/GEO320K History and the Human Environment. AnneMarie Kooistra reflected on the experience of teaching HIS302 History of Sexuality in the United States for the first time this past spring. And I got to highlight a few resources from the realm of digital history.

Kelly, Teaching History in the Digital AgeYou can find those digital resources for teaching history on a new page here at AC 2nd. It links to websites like the National History Education Clearinghouse and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, both of which make available lesson plans, teaching modules, primary source collections, interpretive essays, and much more. But our new page also suggests how teachers at various levels can use digital tools in their classrooms — everything from blogging at WordPress to building maps with Google, curating virtual exhibits with Omeka to learning to edit in Wikipedia.

I took some inspiration for my brief presentation from T. Mills Kelly’s Teaching History in the Digital Age, in which Kelly thinks through what it means that our students are not just consumers of online content, but creators of it. While Kelly is enthusiastic about the possibilities of student learning in a time of rapid technological innovation, he didn’t think this eliminated the importance of teachers:

We know that our students are much closer to the cutting edges of the digital revolution than we are, but nothing I have seen in the past dozen years of close observation has altered my conviction that just because they are adept users of the technology, that is not the same thing as being adept learners with the technology. For history teachers, this is a very positive insight, because it means that we still have a lot to teach our students about the past and how to make sense of it, using both the analog tools we grew up with and the digital ones that pervade our students’ lives.

Here’s the full collection of “Digital Resources for Teaching.” Please share your own suggestions in the Comments section of that page!

– Chris Gehrz


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