Teaching History with EdTech

lincoln home

It’s good to be back in the swing of things. We have been on a little road trip/vacation. We had the chance to visit some of the Lincoln historical sites in Springfield, MO while on our trip. Watching my daughter take in the history was eye opening. My daughter has always been well read, and very interested in learning. However, it wasn’t until we were at the Lincoln museum that we realized just how ‘under-taught’ she was in history.

Sure, she knows some of what happened. She learned it through discussions with us, reading books, etc. But she has never “experienced” history. Walking through the Lincoln museum made us realize this. She has had almost no formal education in school in social studies. She begins 6th grade this year, and she has yet to be taught much of anything dealing with history/social studies. Everything she has learned, for the most part, came from books, or, even better, her own curiosity and discovery.

How can kids today experience history? We, as educators, MUST do a better job in educating our children in this regard. I understand what the argument is. Social Studies isn’t tested in lower grades, it’s not a priority. What many don’t understand is that learning history is not wasted time.

This might seem odd, an English teacher arguing that a solid education in social studies and history is important In reality, these two subject can, and SHOULD, go hand in hand. It is extremely simple to teach history and reading at the same time. Yes, that means that some teachers will have to change their lesson plans. They won’t be able to fit all the cute little stories they have taught forever in. Yes, I know they have all the worksheets already copied for those stories. (That’s shameful in itself). However, if we take a little time to find texts to read closely, we can teach most of our reading skills through this subject. Now, I am not arguing that literature/fiction should go away. Never! I love teaching Lit, but we must balance it to give our children a sound education.

Often, social studies teachers teach by the textbook. Never wavering, never exploring. That needs to change. So, here is how we change it. Introduce some tech to your lessons. It’s not that hard. You can start with virtual field trips. Those are easy enough, and get the kids engaged.

Use YouTube videos. There are THOUSANDS of resources there for you. For example, while my daughter knew a bit about the Civil War, it wasn’t until watching the video, The Civil War in Four Minutes, that she really grasped the scope of the conflict. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN1VX_g8JZM ).

Check out www.historyreference.org  This is a great site, and is chock full of resources. It has newspapers stored digitally dating back to the early 1700’s. Primary sources anyone?  It has panoramic images of historical sites. Sites many of our students will never get to visit… what a great way to give a little perspective.

Don’t let social studies and history go by the wayside. It has incredible value and importance. Don’t let the textbook be your only resource, get out there, do some searching. There are plenty of EdTech resources to implement.

I’m not a history teacher, though I am certified to teach it. If you need help figuring out how to implement something, I would be more than happy to help. Drop me a note, a tweet, whatever. Or, ask someone else. The important thing is, don’t let opportunity go by just because you are having trouble making it work. Instead, find a way to make it work.

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