<![CDATA[Atlas Of A Social Studies Teacher - Technology Blog]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2016 12:22:04 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Web Tools for ESL Students ]]>Sun, 28 Jun 2015 22:44:13 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/web-tools-for-esl-students
Learning another language can be difficult and demanding, especially languages like English which have contradicting and often strange rules. As a native speaker even I sometimes have difficulties mastering  spelling and grammar. English language learners not only have to the challenge of learning a different language in the classroom, but are asked to comprehend the subject content in addition. However, with the English language learning population on the rise, it is no longer just the students or the ESL teacher's challenge, it is becoming a factor every teacher should consider when planning their lessons. Working with the schools, ESL department can help teachers prepare to be more effective in the classroom. Additionally the links below can assist students both in and outside of the classroom. These links could also be used for Native speaks to help improve vocabulary, spelling, writing, and grammar. 

Grammar and Writing: 


ESL lounge is a great because it has two main areas, one for students and one for teachers. Each of these lounges has content and resources for each target area, for example, on the teacher webpage there are links to lesson plans, blogs, tips from ESL teachers (this is nice if your school doesn't have an ESL department to assist you in teaching ESL students), pedagogy, and assessments, etc. The Student webpage has links at various learning levels for vocabulary, actives, grammar guides, pronunciation, and games, etc.     


Virtual writing tutor was created by a college professor who worked with English language learners. It can provide 24/7 support, checking grammar, sentence structures, tenses, and spelling, etc. It also provides explanations of grammar rules. Additionally, there is a page for teachers that offers resources that can be used in and out of the classroom. 


This a website dedicated to forums for English language learners, here they can ask native speakers questions. This is good for all ESL students, but especially for those who may be shy or too scared to ask the teacher or a classmate for help.



Students can type in a sentence and hear it pronounced back at them or can record their own voice and hear it played back. This helps them to listen to where they may be making pronunciation errors, or it can be used to show if they have errors in their writing.


This website has tons of resources and lessons for English language learners and a section dedicated to pronunciation. 



This is a place where students can create, exchange, and share flashcards of vocabulary words. Students can create their own or look though subjects and find preexisting cards to study from. This is good not only for ESL students but also for native speakers.  


This website has lots of actives and games for English learners to play, test and build their vocabulary at various learning levels. 


There are a lot of apps out there to help ESL students some of the websites above even have their own apps, such as Virtual Writing Tutor, and ESL Lounge. Some other apps are: 

Voxy: This is free but has in app purchases 

Babble: This is free but has in app purchases  

Duolingo: Free

iTunes store also has an entire section for English language learning in the Education Category. 

<![CDATA[Flipping Out! (classroom edition)]]>Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:25:28 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/flipping-out-classroom-edition
The flipped classroom is getting a plethora of buzz in the educational community. Research is being promoted and completed on its effectiveness in student understanding; even some school districts are advocating teachers of all subjects to "flip" their classrooms. With all of this commotion and excitement around the new teaching model, there are some questions to be asked and evaluated, beginning with what does flipping the classroom mean, and is it always the best strategy? I found an infographic on forbes.com that explains the flipped classroom in simple terms and goes through the some of the pros and cons of utilizing this method. [Side Note: I could not get the infographic to come out the right size when I uploaded it as a whole so I have taken screen shots]
Looking at the infographic there are some pros and cons that are missed. 

Some pros that are absent: 

  • Students must claim responsibility and ownership of their own learning
  • There is theoretically no down time, as students are to come to class prepared and ready to continue learning. 
  • An educator has the ability to provide links to articles and videos for further learning to students who are interested  

 Some cons that are excluded:  
  • How do teachers handle students who do not watch or listen to the videos/lectures
  • Technology issues
  • Students can not ask questions or clarification during a recorded lesson

Regarding the infographic critics section I personally feel there are some views that need a further discussion beginning with the first critique. Do children need more screen time? This I believe is up for debate students may learn best from the screen, it is a format and platform they are familiar and comfortable with. Some like the Forbes.com article ask would you rather your child spends time watching lectures or cartoons? It is a fair question to ask personally I think it does not matter if the student has to spend time watching lectures if there is a show they like they will make the time to watch that too. Due to this I almost feel like this whole critique is a moot point. Another moot point in the critique of flipping the classroom who is getting rich? It is true that when employing youtube videos students may have to watch an advertisement, however youtube is not the only way to give a lecture to students. Teachers can create podcasts that do not advertisements. Furthermore, education has become a huge business, the subject of social studies alone is over a 4 billion dollar (a year) industry. There are always people making money off education from textbooks, maps, posters, videos, professional journals, to standardized tests. Just because someone is making money off of it does not always mean it is a bad thing. 

The second critique is correct in homework does not always help students learn. Technically the flipped classroom designed to get rid of homework, however, watching the lecture becomes a homework replacement, so is it really addressing the problem? Furthermore if a school has mandated all teachers use the flipped model, that can leave students with hours of lecture to watch and/or listen too, and this is after they have already spent eight hours in school. Is that really fair to students are the lectures taking more time than the homework assignments of the past? It is said to keep lecture videos short, but for subjects, such as social studies, lectures can get quite complex and lengthy. Additionally as I pointed out in some cons that were not included what happens if a student does not watch the video because they have technology issues or simply don't want to do it. How are they to work together with others to complete classroom activities without hindering their peers? This also leads into the next point does flipping the classroom increase the digital divide? The answer, as of right now, yes it does increase the digital divide. Not all students are going to have access to computers and the internet. It comes down to understanding your students and their academic needs.   

The last issue is correct to a point, the flipped classroom is based on an expository model and that is not always the best way to teach or to achieve student learning. However lecture is only one part of the students studies, the other half of learning takes place the next day in the classroom. Analyzing and critiquing of resources could and should (at least to me) happen when students are working together to complete planned activities. Research projects can also be given to students to provide them with opportunities to find and evaluate their own resources.

To Be Or Not To Be: 

The final verdict for me on flipping the classroom overall is it is a great teaching method. However I am not so sure it should be the only teaching method implemented in the classroom (I still need some more convincing on this). Some units will naturally lend themselves to this type of strategy and some will not. Furthermore to successfully employ the flipped classroom the teacher must really understand and know their students' backgrounds and needs. If over half your class or even a third do not have access to the internet and computers at home, then the flipped model is not going to bring academic achievement and will only further the gap between socioeconomic groups. It does not mean that flipped model cannot or should not be executed under these circumstances. It simply means that it is not practical to be utilized all the time as it requires more planning and time being given to the students, so they may be able to make the necessary arrangements. 

I personally I am open to and would like to try the flip model for at least for one unit or mini unit, because of all the pros that come along with the method. I like that it allows for students to learn at their own pace, focuses on more mastery and cooperative learning, and provides the educator more personal encounters and interactions with students. Additionally it alleviates time in the classroom to do project based/discovery learning or activities that focus on higher order thinking, which can be more intensive and lengthy. 
<![CDATA[Grammar/Spelling/Plagiarism Check]]>Mon, 23 Feb 2015 06:50:47 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/grammarspellingplagiarism-check
If you are not a professional writer or language arts teacher grammar and spelling may be a struggle. It is, however, an important skill in writing and clearly communicating. With the escalation of technology spell check became a valuable tool to improve and double check for mistakes in writing. However, it is not an infallible resource as it does not always pick up on grammar errors or words that are spelled correctly although, used incorrectly in a sentence. Today that has changed, there are now websites that check for grammar or spelling mistakes and even plagiarism. Some of these websites like turnitin.com or grammarly.com preform these services for a cost and others, such as, PaperRater.com are free. These can be significant tools for educators and students to take advantage of for example, as a teacher if you read something from a student and suspect plagiarism you can use websites to check out your suspicion and get proof. It also allows students to double check their work and confirm they are not plagiarizing another's composition and/or ideas without proper citation. 

PaperRater works as a proofreader, grammar/spell checker, and plagiarism detector and it even offers suggestions. The best of all this website offers all these services for FREE! This is a great site for students to use to improve their writing, especially with their Vocabulary Builder tool.  Best of all it has a place for educators to leave feedback, to help improve the website. Additionally teachers can set up a free account and have students submit papers directly to your email account after they are done and satisfied with the check. 
<![CDATA[Focus! Stopping Distractions Technology Has Created ]]>Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:05:29 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/focus-stopping-distractions-technology-has-createdIn the age of technology there will allows be distractions that prevent us from getting our work done. We have all been there lessons to plan, papers to grade, or just work to do, but wait let me just check Facebook or Twitter, or look at that latest Youtube clip everyone was talking about real quick. Next thing you know several hours have gone by and all the work you have planned to do still isn't done. If this happens to us as teachers it is definitely happening to students at home. It leaves us with the question "What can be done to help against these weapons of mass distraction?"
While technology may be responsible for a large portion of procrastination that is happening these days it can also provide a solution. There are now apps and websites available to help solve these problems for both teachers and students. 
For Mac users there is a free app call SelfControl. This app only works for Macs but its very user friendly you simply set up a time limit that you want to be blocked, then create a blacklist of all the sites you think you might visit in order to put off getting your work done. Then click start, once the time starts you will be unable to visit any website included in your blacklist until the time expires. 
For Window Users there is a website called Cold Turkey. This has a basic free version and a pro versions that you can pay for to get more features that include blocking apps and not just websites.  
Its easy to spread the word of these sites to you students and if you have a class website make a resource section and post the links to these websites/apps. Also during parent teacher conferences if it becomes clear that a student is having a difficult time studying due to the ever growing world of the internet and social media you can offer these sites as a solution, even the parents themselves may find these sites useful for their everyday lives. 
<![CDATA[Ramblings]]>Sat, 27 Sep 2014 00:12:42 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/ramblings
So I have given my site a much needed facelift!!!! I am so happy with how it turned out. I mean look at the title image just for the blog, it works so much better than the original for the new look of the site. (Photoshop truly is an amazing program.)  While I really liked the old theme and look, it just looked a little to school project for me. I think this is much more clean and professional looking, but it still shows some of my creative flare. 

I know I have not done the best job keeping up with my blog and site but I am going to try and make more of an effort. So look out for the changes anyone who reads this (probably no one because I have done a poor job keeping up). I defiantly want to rework my teaching philosophy and classroom management plan. After completing my schooling and student teaching I feel both of these areas have evolved from how I first felt entering the education program at Akron U. Also I do have and have had a few posts in the works for a while now. However I haven't quite finished them yet so there should be some new posts coming in the near future. They all just need a bit more research and polish then they will be ready for the public viewing. 

<![CDATA[Making Global Connections in the Classroom]]>Fri, 26 Sep 2014 19:05:10 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/making-global-connections-in-the-classroom
My first post on this blog was pointing out the rapid changes in our world and how education needs to change to fit the modern day needs of students. One of the biggest reforms to address this issue has been the focus on 21st century skills (critical thinking, creativity/innovation, collaboration, media/technology proficiency, global awareness and civic literacy).   

The question some teachers may have with implementing 21st century skills how do I raise global awareness? If your a math teacher is raising global awareness really something you can incorporate into your classroom? While I am not a mathematics educator I do have some solutions to these issues. (Side note because I can't help myself just look at how prefect those 21st century skills are for social studies. It is almost like they were made for the subject. Okay I am done I swear.) 

Raising global awareness means more than just learning the countries on a map, it entails learning about issues the world faces, learning about different cultures, their histories and making connections with others across the globe. 

So how can a math teacher raise student awareness about issues the world faces? While I may not have the answer for how they can get students learning about all the problems, there is one I know could be incorporated into not just the field of math but almost all subjects taught in school, world hunger. Hunger is the worlds most curable/fixable problem. When I went to visit the United Nations they were promoting a website called freerice.com. Teachers or even schools can set up groups students can register for free join the groups and pick a subject. After they have a subject they answer questions and for every one they get right 10 grains of rice gets donated to the World Food Programme. 
Rice up against hunger
When I did my student teaching I set up a class group to allow students to pick any subject and used this as an extra credit assignment. Even if you don't incorporate this into your classroom I would recommend telling students particularly if you teach high school. Why? Because if you look at the subjects you can pick from there is a section for SAT preparation. Students can study for the SAT and be globally active in solving one of the worlds biggest issues. It is a win, win, win, everybody wins! 

Freerice.com is not the only tool out there for teachers to assist in Global Awareness. There are a few websites out there that actually allow classrooms to connect. This can be done with Skype. However you have to coordinate times to chat and with time differences this can be challenging and if you have 7 to 8 classes finding time for all of them to participate can be challenging. If you only have a few classes like 1 to 3 then this isn't as big of an issue and makes Skype classroom a great resource. At least when I looked into this option it seemed like class sizes and time made connecting difficult. Others may have a different experience. 

There are other options though, like Epals.  I have used epals before during my studies in college, one of my professors set up an account and found a class in Thailand for us to communicate with.  Through this experience we were able to learn about their culture address stereotypes from both countries. They were able to share what they were learning with us and we were able to plan a lesson about American Imperialism for them.  

On epals you as the teacher can either set up an ad or an advanced search for the type of experience you're looking to create for your classroom/students. Example do you want to work on a project with another classroom encouraging students to collaborate or do you just want to have students email each other and learn about each others culture, lives, and share student work, or both.  It works for multiple subjects not just foreign language or social studies. There are projects that you can join or start your own, the site has challenges and contests for students to participate in. Overall its a great site, I enjoyed my experience with it and I know when I get my own classroom I want to incorporate epals into my curriculum.  
Other websites to consider (particularly for international collaboration on projects): 

* Note: I have not used all of these, nor deeply researched them.  The EDU 2.0 looks interesting because the site will translate for you so there are more options of people you can connect with, they do not have to know English and your class does not have to know their native language. 
<![CDATA[Harnessing Video Chats for the Classroom Part II]]>Fri, 04 Apr 2014 02:27:49 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/harnessing-video-chats-for-the-classroom-part-iiPicture
The last post I did on video chats in the classroom, the main sites looked at were meetings.io, google +, and Skype. I have since then found another great site that allows for groups to chat, kollaborate.io. Below is a slide show showing the benefits of using Kollaborate for meetings, which could easily translate to students working together in the classroom, or at home or with other classrooms. There are work spaces for students to show their work to each other and figure out ideas. It is free, but to get some of the other features like private, and password protection costs money between 9.99 and 29.99 dollars depending on the package.  The company also offers other types of services to improve meetings, Presentation.io, Same.io, and API. These services could help students create professional looking presentations. 

<![CDATA[Reflection On Technology ]]>Fri, 14 Dec 2012 22:11:13 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/reflection-on-technology
Looking back at the beginning of the technology class, here at the university, I came in with little expectations of learning much. I had heard the rumors in my other education classes that the tech classes offered here were less than stellar; it was said if you new how to use a computer and make a powerpoint you would be board and the class would be a waste of time. Well shame on me for listening to them, I usually come into classes with an open mind but after talking with friends I was reconsidering this approach while sitting in the computer lab on the first day of class, but after it finished I realized if I did this I would be missing out. Now at the end of the semester I am glad I kept an open mind, being in this class with professor Holman, I have to believe the classroom gossip I heard was about another professor's class. When each class session ended I left with my mind blown away by all the new tools and resources I was learning about. To me technology is now not just a thing used to make power points for students to stare at bored out of their minds, while listening to a lecture and taking notes. Now technology is tool to not only to assist in presenting material but also a resource to help students create and take ownership of their learning. 
I can say I have already begun to use the tools we have learned about in this class my field experience/research study I also participated in this semester. The students loved using technology, and blogging about what they learned for their final project on popular culture and globalization. While technology is a great way to motivate students, there are still some who will be too cool for school I found, but the majority of the class loved it and it showed in the quality of their work. What the students produced/created and the learning they gained from it was greater than just memorizing the textbook to take a test. Through the use of technology students were able to incorporate their own lives as well making the content much more meaningful and relevant to them. To see their hard work click here
Overall this technology class has been one of the better ones I have taken here at the university and the things I have learned I know I will use when I begin to teach. I will step off my soap box now... Thanks for reading : ) 
<![CDATA[Wiki ]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2012 00:19:00 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/wikiPicture
Recently I created a mock wikispace to be used for a lesson on industrialization. Overall I have mixed feelings about using Wiki. 
Wiki was very user friendly to create, students after viewing a basic tutorial will be able to navigate and edit pages. Additionally it works well for web 2.0 tools that you can embed. After working with wiki and looking at other examples, it really is a space for the students to construct and take ownership of their learning. This is an aspect that I am really drawn to and like, however as you can tell by looking at my blog I am a visual person. When creating any project or website, I like the page to have a flow and visual appeal, in fact I am sort of OCD about it. Wikispaces are not the most aesthetically pleasing. To make them look better it takes time, and when students start to add to the wiki, it can become almost impossible to make it look well organized and pleasing to the eye. While I have this problem with wikispaces, I wouldn't not at least try it out with the students. If they respond well and like the concept then I can work through my strange compulsion to make everything look pretty and use it on a regular basis, because at the end of the day its not about me, its about the students and what helps them learn best.    
To view my wikispace by click here

<![CDATA[Emerging Technology]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2012 20:51:07 GMThttp://socialstudiesross.weebly.com/technology-blog/emerging-technology
Who Owns The Learning? 
When listening to Alan November's TED talk on best practices in teaching and learning, he makes it very clear that there needs to be a change.  He talks about students feelings about their work and how they need to be given a purpose for their learning.  I think many of us would agree that more often then not, students feel as those there is no purpose to their work.  It is simply work, for work's sake.  November argues that this needs to change.  We need to give meaning to what students are doing in the classroom and a purpose for learning.   If we give students a purpose for learning, such as solving a real world problem or advocating on a local issue, we have allowed the students to take ownership and responsiblity for their work.  We are giving them an opportunity to create alegacy.  Students will then be contributing to the world, adding value to their work, making it purposeful.  And more importantly, students are responsible for creating that legacy.  We will shift the workload to the students.  The students will be empowered to take leadership of their learning. 

3 Skills Students Need to Succeed:
November also gives a talk discussing the 3 most important skills students are lacking, and yet are the most important in order for them to be successful in today's world.  First, is information processing.  We really need to teach our students how to organize information, sift through it, give it value, and move on.  Many students get wrapped up in this process and are unable to make a full transition through.  Secondly, students need to learn to work globally.  They need to be able to organize people all over the world to solve problems through global communication skills.  Becoming a global citizen is one of the skills I value in myself and will forever work on instilling in my students in the social studies classroom.  This is an extremely important 21st century skill that is crucial for students to grasp.  Finally, he argues that students must become self-directed.  This is the most important of the three.  Students need to be able to function without someone hovering over them telling them every move to make.  November discusses how we need to be turning out students who do not need a boss to tell them what to do at all times.  If there was a candidate who was self-directed and did not need to direct instruction, then the position of the boss would be obsolete.  We need students that are highly disciplined!  This is something that is found in many problem based and project based learning.  We want students to be able to take an idea and go with it and create a piece of work on their own.  It is what they will be expected to do in college and in the workforce.   
What Tools are Available?
There is a vast deposit of resources and applications available to educators to help facilitate the use of emerging technologies in the classroom.  There are applications and resources to use for note taking, parent communication, visual imagery and organization, content specific apps, and social media for the classroom.  Below are some examples of general education applications or those that are specific to social studies content.

Android Market:  Skype, Edmondo, TED, Socratic Teacher, AndroClass, Reminder 101
Apple Store:  Everntoe, 270 to Win, The States, PBS, TED, Educreations, iMovie, Jotnot, Twitter, Teacher Kit, OnmiFocus, Dropbox, Wunderlist, iTunesU, Quizlet, Edmondo
Google Search:  Neu Notes, Screen Chomp, Skitch, Zite

* Above is a link to special pricing on apps for educational use. 

Facebook in Education:

If you search within Facebook for the "Facebook in Education" page there is a page set up with resources for implementing social learning in the classroom.  It also provides resources such as edutopia that provides starting points to help create social media guidelines for your school, bullying prevention resource guides, digital citizenship guides and much more information to think about when implementing social media in your classroom.

This is another resource for connecting, engaging and learning inside and outside of the classroom.  Quite similar to facebook and a blog at the same time, students are able to post and upload videos as well as their own work.  Each class page has a calendar, holds student grades, parent alerts and much more.  The tag line is that Edmodo "makes your classroom a community".

Twitter is not an emerging technology itself, necessarily, but it is becoming an integral education piece for teacher professional development.  A wise instructor once told me that Twitter is the best professional developement tool because it allows the classroom teacher to connect and network with educators around the world at the cutting edge of education technology.  Professionals, researchers, principals, bloggers and other classroom teachers can tweet out links to blogs and other resources that aid in implementing technology in the classroom as well as talk about what works and what does not.

Digital Content:
Below are examples of fun digital content pieces to use in the social studies classroom.  The focus is on the use of games to promote meaninful learning.  The video following is from a TED talk that discusses the new emerging theory behind gamification.