Friday, April 22, 2011

Incorporation of Technology

History Connected has been a literal treasure chest of resources and information. Its amazing just how often I am able to find practical application, not just for myself but for my colleagues as well. Technology and visual education has always been a part of my teaching style, so that has been my biggest take-away so far.

Wakefield recently hosted a technology fair where teachers were able to pick a 1/2 hour workshop off a list of options. I ran a quick workshop on the uses of Prezi in the classroom as an alternative to PowerPoint. It was well attended by fellow History teachers, as well as colleagues from many other disciplines. When I demonstrated its uses, I termed it "one stop shopping" for PowerPoints. Due to Prezi's simple nature and extreme flexibility, it makes it more visually appealing, more dynamic, and easier to add in multimedia. I once wrote a graduate thesis on the need to show cause and effect through a clear concept map of associations. Given Prezi's "path" that allows teachers to sequence talking points, my enthusiasm for its potential is considerable.

In regards to other uses of technology, I am creating a project for my US History I class about sequencing the events leading up to the Civil War using the program Photostory. This program allows students to create a picture slide show (using the Ken Burns photo panning effect) and record voice-overs to narrate over the pictures. The students will receive a series of pictures on the following topics:

1. Election of Lincoln (1860)

2. Secession of South Carolina

3. Dred Scott decision

4. Harper’s Ferry

5. Selection of Jefferson Davis

6. Lincoln/Douglas debates: Introduction of the Freeport Doctrine

7. Creation of Republican Party

8. Passing of the Fugitive Slave Act

9. Publishing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

10. Firing on Fort Sumpter

Ideally, each topic will have 5 pictures that help to tell the story of that event. The students will use these pictures to literally narrate the powder keg effect of national events that lead to Civil War. Students will proceed to upload their Photostory videos to a blogspot link on my Wakefield teacher homepage. Once these Photostory projects are linked together in sequence, they will paint an overall picture of the road to war. This assignment will be a nice method of making my curriculum and my classroom more student-centered.


  1. Some great ideas here! I love the concept of preselecting pictures for students to use to narrate a portion of a story and them linking them together for a single narrative. I think this would create a more meaningful product instead of lecturing about a historical event. I bet students would prefer to hear themselves narrate and automatically be engaged, which would provide the "hook" for the lesson.

  2. Andy, your photostory assignment gets at so many different skills that are important in the history classroom. It challenges students not only to consider cause and effect but also to analyze the images, determine connections among the different sources, and work as a documentarian to create order and flow. It's similar to the act of curating a museum exhibit and gives kids some real world connections to careers that are appropriately related to the skills learned in history class.