Archive for the ‘Social Studies’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Meograph: New Face of Timelines




Timelines are a staple in social studies and ela.  They help students keep track of dates and facts.  I have been searching for a good online-timeline creator for a while.  I have tried dipity which is good but I find that it is very slow to load and is limited to the number you can create and information mediums.  So I searched and searched for an alternative and lo and behold I found Meograph.  Not only is it free (YAY!) it can embed videos, text, audio, and uses Google Maps.  I was in heaven.  I did this with a class and it went smoothly.  Well almost smoothly (internet went down once).


As you can see at the left you can add an event, then a when (date), where (location), link (with more information).  You can also add a photo, youtube video, and even narration.  The narration online is limited to 30 secs.  However, you can upload unlimited audio.  I used audacity (remember you need the LAME encoder to save as MP3) and had the students record and publish as a MP3.

A note on location:  You must use the current name of the city or town.  Therefore if you are talking about Ancient Persia you need to find the modern country.



PostHeaderIcon Teaching Copyright and Responsibility

Although plagiarism was the sincerest form of flattery in the ancient world, it is no longer the case in the modern world.  Plagiarism is a serous problem with the ease of the copy and paste in the Internet Age.  Therefore, it is imperative that students are educated in proper digital citizenship.

Rather than using Turnitin services (check if text was created by someone else) after the project is done to check the papers.  I would suggest having students use it prior to turning their papers in to check the paper themselves.  This could be used as a teaching tool rather than just a grading tool.

YouTube has a new series of videos which attempt to educate the public on copyright.  Included is a series of 4 questions about copyright to answer after the video.  In addition, there are captions in English or other languages.  The video has a cartoon with Russell (beaver) and Lumpy (moose) who talk about copyright.  Included are videos and also mashups or compilations of video and pictures which can be confusing.  (The videos are in order if you use the above link…but I have add additional videos below in the series I specifically like.)

I found another video called a Guide to Cut and Paste.  It takes each letter of Cut and Paste and educates users on legal and illegal uses of media and information.  It is bare bones but does break down a student or user’s rights in using data.

Another video I found is manga inspired called Copyright Exposed: Featuring Cop E. Wright.  It has a Cop E. Wright who educates users on ownership on content.  The one drawback is that there is no vocal and users have to read the thought/talking bubbles.

The last video I want to share is called What is Copyright?.  It takes copyright and repackages it into a rap video.  This comes from the Media Education Lab at Temple University.

There is also a graphic novel created by Duke Law School which educates students in a fun way about the regulations of Public Domain and Copyright.  You can view it in HTML, Flash, PDF, or Translate it into numerous languages.  You can also buy the comic from Amazon for $5.00.

There are tons of videos on Youtube on the issue of copyright.  Not to mention games and media to educate.  However, it is important to model what you teach.  When you are teaching students to create content, use of open source pictures and music is important.  Although, as educators we can use content in limited amounts, it is important for students to understand what they will be able to create outside of the classroom.  When they are creating content for their own profit and personal use, we must give them resources to be successful.

PostHeaderIcon Student Blogging

20 Reasons Students should blog Blogging with students is a great, however, management can sometimes be a challenging piece.  This is especially the case with elementary and middle level students.  In most cases, this is the first time they have experienced blogging in the school setting.  Therefore, I have looked at several student blogging options. — The first I looked at was which was great, however, one has to pay for the management portion of the product.  It is not a lot, but I still try to roll as cheaply as possible.  So this was a major turn off for me.  However, does work much like many blogging sites.  They have been especially designed for education and with a paid account one has every management tool a user would need for a class.  The cost can be a benefit as that does give you a small amount of stability.  Websites can disappear online at a moments notice.  Cost: $3.33 per month — this is a site that I just stumbled upon today and I am in love!  For FREE, this service allows multiple blogs and a teacher account with management options.  This is ideal for K-12 education.  Having to log into multiple accounts is a chore and something I have had to do with Animoto.  Kidblog has created an ideal product and this might be my elementary and middle school bias coming into play.  “ is designed for elementary and middle school teachers who want to provide each student with their own, unique blog”  Kidblog does not require student email addresses!!

Google Sites — another free option is Google Sites.  With many schools using Google Apps, this would be ideal to have students use their Google Apps accounts.  However, this option does not come with a management tool.  This can be problematic as I have said for younger students.  Yet it is a feasible option that cannot be overlooked.  Students can create sites as well as blogs.

A note about Blogger – as of yet they still share a server with content not suitable for schools.

WordPress — much like Google Sites it is a great option but lacks the management tool which is helpful for educators.



PostHeaderIcon eTextbooks — Free and Personalized

eTextbooks — the future of education???

eTextbooks seem to be on the horizon.  Some districts have begun to embrace them from California to New York.  There are pockets of creators and district initiatives.  Then there are the choices of pdf, ePub, eBook, and many others.  What format should this new book take.  Will you have videos, links, and other media?  Of course, we say, because we want to take advantage of the technology of today.  Will the textbook take advantage of collaboration and be an editable text?  Will you add student work?

There are many questions to ask before one begins undertaking an eTextbook.  However, I believe the benefits are well worth the effort.  A text that changes and evolves with the class and links directly to instruction rather than driving it.  How many teachers have truly reached the end of their textbook by June?  Few that I know of.  The money saved by using eTextbooks could put a computer or digital device in the hands of each student (1:1 iPad or Kindle or Nook anyone??)


You can buy eTextbooks but why?  Unless time is a real issue the ability to create your own textbook is power.  You can work as grade levels and create a text that will truly supplement your teaching.

Flexbooks – Create interactive textbooks using this online creator.  There are quite a few textbooks that have been created.

EPUB Conversion — This format can be read by eReaders including the iPad.  PDF & Word Document Converter to EPUB

Traditional ebook creator (no multimedia features): You can create traditional books, cookbooks, textbooks, etc.  However, they are not interactive (yet…I have high hopes for in the future)

Ebook – Add to this myebook’s powerful yet simple user interface, and you have the ultimate ebook platform for your own or your class publication. You can even embed or link to videos, audio, documents, images and flash files to make your books fully interactive.  Be careful when using with students as some of the books on the site are not necessarily the best for younger students.  A true eBook creator!  A site in which users can create digital content that is meant to be viewed on digital devices and computers.

PostHeaderIcon Simple Wikipedia

@David Truss I discovered Simple Wikipedia which can be easily used with students.  It is a safe way to utilize Wikipedia in the classroom.  One does not have to worry as Simple Wikipedia uses less complex sentences than  From the authors, “We use Simple English words and grammar here. The Simple English Wikipedia is for everyone! That includes children and adults who are learning English.”


  • Basic English
  • Well written pages
  • Use the pages to learn and teach.
  • Simple but not necessarily short

Wikipedia can be quite extensive in knowledge and this is especially true of the science pages.  An easier version was a necessity. Although Wikipedia is not necessarily a ideal primary resource,  it can be extremely helpful during the beginning of the research process.  It generally gives excellent resources to reference during the beginning of a project.  Keep in mind that Wikipedia is updated constantly and can sometimes be the most up-to- date information resource available today.

For an even more kid friendly version check out:

  • It uses Google SafeSearch for added safety.
  • Not only does it search Simple English Wikipedia but it also easily searches online for safe sites :)


PostHeaderIcon Fotopedia


is a collaborative photo encyclopedia.  What an interesting idea.  One can search the photopedia or look at pictures and discover an article of information.  The articles are short and give you a bit of information which originates from Wikipedia.

Photos are under the creative commons license and are rated by users.  One can use their facebook account to login or create a free account.  Embedding or downloading the photos are possible options, making these photos ideal for student projects.  New pictures are constantly being added as it is a bit like a photo wikipedia.  The homepage reminds me of Bing, which I am not keen on but works in this instance.

PostHeaderIcon eTextbooks a Reality?


Textbooks might soon be a thing of the past, however, there are some great websites that could be used to create textbooks.  Personalized textbooks created by teachers for students.  Each class could have their own textbook which would include student work and information.  The idea of a textbook is dated and usually when students receive the text it is actually dated.  Given time, I think Teachers would jump at the chance to create a textbook based on the information they teach rather than having 50% of the book that one does not have time to cover.

I recently discovered a site specializing in e-Textbooks and the creation of them: The usability of the site is great and resembles many bookmaking sites.  There are plenty of examples to view and get inspiration from or even utlize the information contained within (with proper sourcing of course).  Books can be downloaded to iPads, Kindles, computers and it has an interactive component which traditional textbooks do not have.  If the author allows, you can create your own textbook from the textbooks created by others.  Really, the sky is the limit with this product.  Keep in mind that the videos and flash animations only work in the HTML versions of the flexbook.

“Traditional textbooks are both expensive and rigid. FlexBooks conform to national and state textbook standards. They are free, easy to update and easy to customize. With FlexBooks, you can customize your textbooks to support your innovative work in the classroom. The CK-12 Foundation provides FlexBooks free to anyone who wants to use them.”


April 2014
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