Integrating Technology into Social Studies Classrooms: Changing the Way Teachers Teach”
The following information contains suggestions on some ways to meaningfully use the technology highlighted in the Summer 2009 issue of DPIs Social Studies Connection.
The question raised in the article was: What then are some ways to use technology meaningfully and not just for the sake of using technology?

Digital_camera.gifDigital Archives: A recent initiative by the National Archives, which has partnered with, Google and the Generations Network to digitize more that 100 million pages of archival documents houses a collection of rich, student-friendly materials, such as streaming videos of historic value. Using the digital archives of primary sources available online, students can conduct historical research to construct the significance of people and events in history. Students are potentially able to better connect to the change over time that occurs in history. (Blankenship 127) These materials provide students with the opportunity to access, manipulate, and interpret raw materials of our past.

GIS.jpegGeographic Information Systems (GIS): Teaching with GIS can be wonderful for stimulating project-based learning. GIS is a useful tool across the range of social studies, from studying the history of human migration and the decline of bison in the Great Plains region to the planning of contemporary sewage systems. (Simpson 108)

Podcast.gifPodcasts: Many sites are available in which social studies teachers can download primary sources and teaching resources. Today many of these sites now include the popular teen technology favorite . Many podcasts by historians and historical figures can be found as well as many online historical speeches and interviews. An example given in an article by Kathleen Ownings Swan and Mark Hofer “Trend Alert: A History Teacher’s Guide to Using Podcasts in the Classroom” is The History News Network which features interviews with historians, press briefings, and conference presentations that might be of interest to educators. Educators and historians are increasingly leveraging the power of the podcast to disseminate research. In this article, Swan and Hofer share a popular history podcast that teachers may find useful and is ranked first among the top five educational podcasts in iTunes . (Swan and Hofer 95) Podcasting is not a passing fad. Many middle and high school English and social studies teachers are incorporating podcasts into their curricula as well as encouraging students to become involved in projects and learning experiences that allow them to create and present their own podcasts.

Wordle.jpegWord clouds (WORDLES) are a great visualization tool. Word clouds monitor texts and speeches to generate images that present higher frequency words in larger print. They can be used for instant identification of themes that a speaker or writer considers most important. (Simpson 108) They can be used to identify and spark discussions and debates about what dominant themes and concepts may have run through an era, region, demographic population, campaign, etc. Using WORDLES in the classroom can strengthen and involve students in lessons that engage them in historical inquiry and political analysis.

wiki_Cover.GIFWikis and Blogs: Wikis and blogs are two very engaging, cutting-edge and helpful tools in a technology-infused social studies classroom. Both types of technology allow students to collaborate with each other, the teacher or individuals outside the social studies classroom. In addition, students are able to practice writing skills, post and collect research and to be able to publish work that can be shared globally. A wiki is literally your own webpage that allows online collaboration with others. With wikis, you no longer have to depend on a webmanager. You and those who you invite to join your wiki group become collaborative webmanagers. Students can log in and edit a project, leave comments for each other and see the development of a project as it occurs. Teachers can also use wikis for online collaboration and monitoring and assessment of students. In using these Web 2.0 tools teachers also get students excited about thinking and writing, researching, problem-solving, decision-making, etc. In addition to giving students an authentic audience, writing wikis and blogs eliminate walls. Social studies classrooms can be anywhere there is a computer and internet connection. Students are able to collaborate with anyone, anywhere in the world, at anytime. Students are blogging on a daily basis in online social network groups. Why not use wikis and blogs to create your own classroom network group for the teaching and learning of social studies? Teachers can create blogs where they list various statements that are facts and others that are opinion about a given issue or event in social studies and have students blog their comments explaining why each statement is either a fact or opinion and support their blog with information that they research to justify their decision. A teacher could do a Know - Want to Know - Learned (KWL) activity on a blog to prior to the lesson they were teaching. Creating a blog asking students to comment on information that depicts various movements in history and then has them post their own examples of movements in history and blog with each other about their examples is a popular activity. Using blogs that ask students to evaluate the real meaning behind selected political cartoons and correlate their importance in the time period being studied and/or current events can put a meaningful spin to teaching or reinforcing a needed skill. Students can even conduct historical interviews to gain insight to events in history using blogs.
Look at examples of Wikispaces at
Look at examples of PBwikis at 12+example+wikis

Skype.gifSkype: Skype allows teachers to connect to the world in real time. Skype makes it easy to connect to other people, other cultures, and other countries. Using Skype is just like sitting in a room with someone from across town or even in a classroom across the globe. The impact and benefit of students speaking with students across the globe brings an authenticity to social studies education that adds immeasurably to both textbooks and other web references. Skype is an FREE online service that teachers and students can access with only one computer and internet access. If there is an LCD and screen in the classroom an entire class of students can come together with those outside the school walls. Skype is a natural environment for student collaboration. In the 2 to 3 minutes it takes to download the free software and install, students can talk with each other and send drafts of files to everyone in a group to review and interject with text comments. Students can work on social studies activities or projects with classes across town or across the state, use video to practice a skit or simulation, try debate strategies and pose historical arguments, and even be set up as classroom stations in an activity. Students are skyping all over the globe. Your students are skyping each other daily. Many of you may be aware that since 2008 Oprah has been using Skype to connect her audience to individuals across the nation and the globe who may not able to come to Chicago to meet in the studio. Teachers can use Skype to bring authors, history professors or political and community leaders into the classroom to present and talk to the students. Imagine studying the Reconstruction era and having historian Eric Foner Skype into your classroom to talk with your students or having the mayor or local city council members Skype in to speak with your class and interact with them in real time. This can be done, all free of charge, no field trip needed using Skype.
Download skype now and try out today.


Blankenship, Whitney. "Making Connections: Using Online Discussion Forums to Engage Students in Historical Inquiry." Social Education 73(3)(2009): 127-130.
Simpson, Michael. "Editor's Notebook." Social Education 73(3)(2009): 108.
Swan, Kathleen, and Mark Hofer. "Trend Alert: A History Teacher's Guide to Using Podcasts in the Classroom." Social Education 73(2)(2009): 95-102.