Resources: Even Bad Ones can be Great!

This week I challenged my class of Bachelor of Education candidates to think outside of the box. I asked them to evaluate a variety of print and electronic resources and discuss alternative ways to use these resources in class.

Often, teachers are given limited resources but are still required to inspire students to enjoy history. Sometimes an dusty old box or a pile of worksheets can be given new life through a little creativity. Other resources can be used in lessons about “why don’t we use this sort of thing anymore?”

Here’s what my teacher-candidates came up with. I have provided as many links as possible so that you may use these ideas too!

Resource Review

Resource Evaluation Assignment

Review of Resources Rubric

Example: Resource Review assignment

I’d rather have an armload of resources than be forced into a Socratic style of questioning pupils whilst hanging out under a tree (okay, I’d dig a tree classroom). Although a teacher can facilitate engaging discussions, helping students chew over historical information is best done with imagesinteractives, interesting texts, films etc. Resources can make or break lessons. Even seemingly ‘bad’ resources, if creatively applied, can be remarkable tools to capture the imagination.

This assignment will help you hone skills in identifying resources and challenge you to identify new ways to use them. We’ll practice a few examples in class.

inspire teachers

Some of my favourite resources:

1. The Faithful Elephants

This is a great children’s story about the unintended consequences of war. Beautiful water colour images capture the haunting history of the Tokyo Zoo during Allied bombing in WW2. http://www.amazon.ca/Faithful-Elephants-Story-Animals-People/dp/0395861373

2. The Big Six by Sexias and Morton

This teacher’s resource is an accessible breakdown of the major elements of the historical inquiry process. Whether an educator had been trained in History or not, this book provides clear examples and activities to study any period of time. The book focuses on “The Big Six:” historical significance, evidence, cause and consequence, continuity and change, historical perspectives, and the ethical dimensions of History. There are more great follow up activities here. 

3. The Enemy: a Book about Peace

This is an amazing children’s book about the futile nature of war. This youtube clip is a fair substitution if you can’t get a copy.

Scategories (a game for any classroom)

Scategories

Scategories is a great board game allowing all ages and abilities to contribute. This is a strategy for an introductory lesson as it activates previous knowledge as well as gets students to think about related ideas.

I make a game sheet. I usually make it small enough to fit three game sheets on one page (saves photo-copy clicks!).

Game 1                         game 2                          game 3

1 Famous Canadians
2 Canadian Places  Saskatoon
3 Laws  Street Signs
4 In my Community  Salvation Army
5 Rights and Responsibilities
6 Common Symbols  Swoosh (Nike)
7 About Politics  Socialism
8 Democracy means  Speaking Up
9 Non-Governmental Organizations  Save the Children
10 Things Citizens do…  sign petitions
11 Movies which teach Civics concepts  Stand and Deliver
12 Synonyms for Civics

I change the categories to suit the subject or unit.

How to Play

Goal: get the most points

Object: earn points by having unique words in each category

1) Teacher picks a letter of the alphabet (ex: S – as above)

2) Students have 2 or 3 minutes to come up with words which start with this letter and fit the category (see game 2 above).

3) Students cannot repeat the same word in a different category. (They can’t have ‘Stand’ for ‘things citizens do’  and also “Stand and Deliver” for movies.)

4) Take up answers. If one group has the same word as another, students strike off their answers and no points are awarded. If the group has a unique word, one point is awarded.

5) Add up points and declare a winner!

Variation:
Aschew the use of the letter and have students use course-related/unit related terms to fit the categories. This can be a great review!

War of 1812

I love anniversaries. We can relive moments of the past and celebrate (or mourn) the events shaping our present and future.300x133x2013_war_of_1812-300x133.jpg.pagespeed.ic.dpidUbu9Zf

Our current government invested heavy dollars into the commemoration of the War of 1812. The Canadian War Museum created a stellar exhibit showing the four major perspectives of the conflict (American, British, ‘Canada-British’ and First Nations) and there have been a plethora of reenactments along the St. Lawrence River for the 200 year ‘celebrations.’

Sexias and Morton’s team have created a plethora of activities and lessons around the War of 1812 using the Historical THinking Concepts of ‘the Big Six.‘ (If you haven’t invested in this fantastic resource, you should. Buy it here.) 

These lessons help teachers to give students historical inquiry strategies and skills.  Although I’ll come back to these again and again, Sexias and Morton (2013) conclude:

To think historically, students need to be able to:

  1. Establish historical significance

  2. Use primary source evidence

  3. Identify continuity and change

  4. Analyze cause and consequence

  5. Take historical perspectives, and

  6. Understand the ethical dimension of historical interpretations.

Literacy and History

Literacy & history resources

Resource: Examining Bias in the media (Sir Sam Hughes’s Dismissal)

More Literacy Resources:

1. Think Literacy (Ontario Ministry of Education)

– features ready to use lessons for every area of the curriculum

– outlines general reading, writing and thinking literacy strategies which can be applied across the curriculum

2. Pre, During and Post Reading Strategies

3. Facing History and Ourselves: Teaching Strategies for Critical Thinking and Literacy

4. Pre-reading Strategies

Making Inferences:

Activity: Students make Observations about what happens in the short film. Then they make inferences about what is being suggested by the things they observed. Encourage creative and thoughtful ideas. They aren’t ‘right’ answers, just ‘better’ answers.

Bridging the Gap – Student Success as Student Servant (technology) Leadership

Replace-Fear-with-Curiosity

Bridge the Gap between teacher knowledge and student knowledge through a technology they’re interested in playing with.

Why Are you (sometimes) hesitant to use technology in the classroom?

(this will take you to a Google doc and you’ll be able to anonymously contribute).

Student success is consistently tied to their connectedness to the school and classroom. They

Easy Ways to Include Technology in your classroom:

Fakebook Discussion Threads

Fake Twitter Threads

Want to try real twitter? See this post.

Online Comics:

Bitstripsforschools.com –> I have set us up with a class and an activity comic so you can have some fun playing with this amazing program.

http://www.kerpoof.com — Better for a younger audience and creates .jpegs or can save if signed in
žhttp://www.xtranormal.com – Requires log in
Mind Mapping
text2mindmap.com – takes text broken down through tabs and creates a mind map with associated sister and child branches
bubbl.us — Tool allows students to determine the space and orientation of their map, colours, etc

JUST PLAY.

Here’s a great fun activity to help your students engage with the interactive white board. –> www.drawastickman.com

Newspaper Clip Generator (and other things)

Other Neat Stuff:

http://waterlife.nfb.ca/#/ — An interactive  multimedia presentation about Canada’s Waterways

http://flawed.nfb.ca/#/flawed — Body Image, Love and a beautiful multimedia story

PicMonkey.com

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Want further Inspiration? This is a great “catch all” site.

Google has created an interesting resource to help teach students how to “google” better. It’s American-centric, but you can adjust the concepts to make it more accessible in your classroom.