How To Think Like a Historian

» 29 June 2015 » In Guest post, History / DBQ's » 1 Comment

Richard_of_WallingfordLast week Marta Turner (NWRESD) and I had the privilege to work with a team of Oregon teachers in a workshop “The Student as Historian.” The session was jointly sponsored by the Library of Congress, the TPS Regional Program & NWRESD. More information and our "flipped" pre-course here.

One of our goals was to promote historical thinking, so we held a Google Hangout with Dr. Adam Franklin-Lyons - associate professor of history at Marlboro College. We queried him how historians think and discussed his insights into his approached to working  with primary sources.

Adam teaches European history and his research focuses on grain supply and famines in the Western Mediterranean. He also hosts a series of history podcasts at The History CafeI highly recommend Adam’s podcasts for their clever take on European history (plus a food theme). For more on Adam -  his research profile and his YouTube Channel

For a more detailed exploration of how a historian thinks watch Adam’s “Introduction to Primary Sources Part II.” (below) He looks at a single letter between merchants who were members of a powerful merchant company run by Francesco Datini at the end of the 14th Century.

Image credit: "Richard of Wallingford" Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336) was an English mathematician who made major contributions to astronomy/astrology and horology while serving as abbot of St Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire.

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The World Is My Audience: Using iBooks Author and Book Creator to Change Student Writing

» 12 March 2015 » In Guest post, Literacy, Publishing, Reflection, Students » 4 Comments


Guest post from teacher Jon Smith details the story of his student-written iBooks. Jon and his students have published 44 iBooks that have been downloaded over 32,000 times from iTunes bookstores across the world.

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How to Add Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Images to iBooks Author

» 05 September 2013 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, How To, Publishing » 5 Comments


Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files are very small files can be scaled up to yield large images without the distorting “jaggies.” Here’s a quick how-to that will allow you import SVG images into iBooks Author. Use the same process to import SVG files into Apple Keynote, Numbers and Pages. Download a free demo sample iBook.

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How to Use iAD to Create an External Video Widget for iBA

» 06 August 2013 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, How To, Publishing » No Comments


iBooks can be enriched by videos, but they quickly expand the file size of your iBook. Here’s an easy-to-follow video tutorial that shows you how to use iAd Producer to create visually appealing widgets that allow you to link to external videos outside your iBook project. Keep the file size of your iBook manageable. No coding required.

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DBQ Lesson Plan: Shopping with Historic Documents

» 31 July 2013 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, History / DBQ's, How To, Strategies, Students, Web 2.0 » No Comments


Here’s how to engage students in historic research and critical thinking in an innovative lesson that combines biography, historic photographs, the 1900 federal census, the 1897 Sears Catalogue, and Google Voice.

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DIY Textbooks With iBooks Author

» 22 January 2013 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, History / DBQ's, How To, Leadership, Publishing, Teachers » 2 Comments

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Two years ago, three junior high teachers were thinking about how to better motivate their social studies students. They decided one way to get kids more excited about learning was to get rid of their traditional textbooks. Here’s a guest post on how these teachers teamed with their school and district leadership to create their own textbook.

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Self-Publishing: A How-To For Students and Teachers

» 10 January 2013 » In Guest post, How To, Literacy, Publishing » No Comments

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Publishing is an effective tool for getting students engaged and writing. The new book, Publishing with PowerPoint, walks the reader through a process of self-publishing that can be used in any classroom. PowerPoint is an effective book design software – it’s already on your computer and everyone know how to use it. Students find it easy to use PowerPoint templates and position a wide range of text and images on a PPT slide. Powerpoint slides can be quickly grouped and rearranged into book pages. Finally, converting PowerPoint slides into pdfs for publishing can be done with the “Save As” function. The teacher with a limited budget can print just one copy for the classroom. Parents can order their own copies online.

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Students Create Augmented Reality History Tour

» 28 August 2012 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, History / DBQ's, How To, Students, Web 2.0 » No Comments


This guest post from Greg Wimmer – Social Studies Department Chair at Central York (PA) High School – describes an innovative student project. Students, working in collaboration with the York County Heritage Trust, wrote and produced movies for historic walking tours that can be accessed via Aurasma – a location-based, augmented reality, smartphone app. Greg shares how to integrate technology and community involvement into the history classroom. Includes videos and lessons learned.

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5th Graders Write, Illustrate, Publish Their Own iBook

» 11 March 2012 » In Ed Tech, Guest post, How To, Students » 2 Comments

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Jon Smith’s 5th grade special education students from Gibbs Elementary School in Canton, Ohio publish their own iBook. The post includes book highlights and an additional video student reflection on the experience.

Jon notes, “we need to globalize our teaching. Kids need to understand that there are other people in this world who care about their work than just their teachers. …. Special Ed kids are much more capable than people give them credit for and I wanted to show that to people including the kids. We wanted to squash stereotypes about special education students and showcase their successful work. …. Our kids are really touched by the fact that nearly 400 of their iBooks have been downloaded by people from all over the world .. and they’ve received great comments on their work via Twitter.”

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Complex City: Student Designed Animated Maps

» 18 December 2011 » In Ed Tech, Events, Guest post, How To, Students, Visualizations » No Comments


We devised an experiential project, “Complex City” in order to help students think critically about their communities. To help students to become more aware of their surroundings, in order to foster an educated, ethical, and empathetic community. To facilitate opportunities that help students translate experiences, investigations, and ideas into artistic renderings that effectively communicate new knowledge.

In asking them to map an area of San Diego that had significance to them, we wanted them to step back from the familiar aspects of their community and city, and translate those aspects into a visual map. As part of this project, students researched, interviewed, and investigated their city and community in myriad ways. By compiling their work and making collective and idiosyncratic maps of San Diego, they have been challenged to rethink what they understood to be the reality of the built environment around them, as well as to accept the new knowledges that their classmates contribute. They have become more invested in their own community because their new knowledge implicates them as involved citizens. These maps collect particular versions of this place (versions not always visible to others, or in traditional maps) as we see it in the fall/winter of 2011.

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