Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Christian Miraglia, former teacher and now education consultant, has some app suggestions to help the history classroom:
Essential technical tools for the history lesson
The school year starts in a few weeks, and you’re excited to use the trending app your co-workers suggested to work with your students. Social media has over a thousand posts about how awesome it is. However, you have seen another program that you think will work better with your students. Confusion sets in. What to do ? As a history teacher, I took advantage of the summer to experiment and attend online professional development sessions and technical camps. Either way, I was constantly faced with decisions about which apps I would use in the coming year. On a few occasions I’ve made changes over the years when a fellow educator introduced me to an exciting new app that I thought would benefit my students. Still, I traditionally stuck with a set of programs so my students wouldn’t get confused. This article will focus on three programs that worked well in my 8th grade history class.
I’ve been on the Pear Deck train for five years. I found out about it through my network of history teachers on Twitter (a catch to using Twitter for work purposes). I was immediately drawn to Pear Deck’s interactive template, which integrated with Google Slides or PowerPoint with a simple add-on. As with most apps, there is a basic platform and a premium platform. The selling point for me as a history teacher was that I could present information on slides. At the same time, students interacted by answering questions on the slides, taking a short quiz, drawing a representation of their learning, or even annotating the main source text using a teacher prompt. . I was then able to view student work as it happened in real time using the dashboard feature, a premium feature. As a history teacher this was invaluable as there was continuous monitoring of understanding. Plus, Pear Deck integrates with many quiz platforms and web pages so students can navigate at their own pace if it’s decided to keep learning at their own pace. For teachers who use Google Classroom, Pear Deck has just announced an integration with the platform that will mirror the features of slide presentations. If one is looking for an interactive tool that provides feedback and is engaging, consider Pear Deck.
This free video tool that originated at the higher education level as a discussion platform is now a mainstay for many educators. Under the Microsoft domain, Flipgrid, now known as Flip, offers students the ability to publish their learning with various customizations. In the history classroom, it can be used by students to explain a primary source by recording their interpretation with annotations by uploading an image of the historical source and then using text tools or annotative tools to demonstrate their understanding . Flip also has many other features. For example, it’s a great tool for students to introduce themselves to their classmates by creating a biographical recording or showing what they like about the subject. The platform also has a library of over 45,000 topics that teachers can access when looking for a lesson or content idea. If a teacher uses an LMS, Flip can integrate directly with the platform, so the instructor doesn’t have to navigate outside of the LMS to create lessons. During the pandemic, some of my students were recording historical quick replies using the Flip mobile app.
The Kami platform has grown over the past three years to become a go-to for history teachers when creating assignments that require student annotations. What was once an app that only had annotation capabilities for students has now become a comprehensive tool that allows students to add video annotations to a document. Kami integrates seamlessly with Canvas, Google Drive, Google Classroom, and One Drive and also has a Google Chrome extension that is easily accessible for students. In the history classroom, teachers can create reading assignments with annotation options or use templates from the Kami library. Additionally, students can use the whiteboard feature to facilitate discussions on the interpretation of documents or historical issues, giving them ownership of the learning process. Teachers can also benefit from the document merge feature of OneDrive or Google Drive, combining multiple documents into a single PDF file. The possibilities are endless as educators can add images, readings, and a written assignment in a single document.
Although I have described three tools, which I have used successfully with my students, there are many technological applications that enhance teaching in the history classroom. Either way, it is imperative to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool in the learning process. Allow students to provide feedback on the app and keep track of its impact on student learning. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to move on and find another platform.
—Christian Miraglia is a recently retired 36-year-old educator and now an educational technology consultant at t4edtech where he also blogs. He can be found on Twitter @T4edtech and on his Youtube channel Transformative Edtech.
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over 100 technical resources, including a K-12 Technology Program, K-8 keyboard program, K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in technical education, master teacher, webmaster for four blogs, a Voice of the Amazon VineCASW presentation editor, freelance journalist on technology education topics and author of technology thrillers, Chase a submarine and twenty four days. You can find his resources at Structured learning.