Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Using Digital Resources and Tools to teach Presidential History

By Nina Kendall

As history teachers, we devote time each year to teaching about the leaders of our nation. President’s Day, next week reminds us of the varied contributions made by the 44 men who have held that office. Here are a few digital tools and unique resources you can use to add variety and perspective to your lessons.

            The #myfavoritepresident contest is from Bill of Rights Institute and runs through February 23, 2014. It is open to students in middle school and high school. Students participate by sharing a picture of their favorite president along with a reason why they are their favorite. Answer can be are submitted through Facebook (@WeTheStudentsGroup), Twitter (@bristudents), or Instagram (@wethestudents). Your students should use the hashtag #myfavoritepresident so entries can be tracked.


Tweet a question about George Washington to the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon using the hashtag above and they will respond.

Apps and More!

Prepare for the launch of Sea of Liberty on February 17, 2014. You can explore Jefferson’s ideas and create projects using primary sources.  Try Learn with Homer a new free iPad app to tell the story of the Founding Fathers to primary students.

Explore Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads

Use the flash-based exhibit at the National Constitution Center to explore the political decisions of Abraham Lincoln. Compare your decisions with this talking Lincoln and deeply examine his struggles.

            iCivics: Presidential Games

            Use iCivics to engage student conversations about citizenship and government. Teachers can use their digital resources to teach a lesson or have students play an interactive game.  In Win the Whitehouse, students run for president. Executive Command  gives students the chance to try their hand at being president for four years.

            Hoover Online! & Hoover wore many hats.

            These are two online resources that students can use to learn about the life of Herbert Hoover. Use these resources to take a deeper look at a man with a storied past. Biography can be a great tool to help students relate to historical figures. Hoover wore many hats lets elementary students look at the many different hats a president wore. Students place a hat on Hoover’s head and see how he fulfilled each role.

             Try Coursera or iTunes U
Look for a course on the presidents that your students can take for free. In fall 2013, students had the chance to take The Kennedy Half Century. "Age of Jefferson" Massive Open Online Course  begins February 17, 2014. This online, six-week course is open to all. Students will learn about Jefferson’s life and legacy, and its importance to understanding global history.

Use a tool like TodaysMeet to create a room for students to chat about a president or advocate for why their president should be your favorite. Your heart will cheer as they begin to recognize the significant achievements of each leader they have researched.

Roosevelt Rap

Learn the Roosevelt Rap and discover more about the life of FDR and how he shaped America. At the FDR Presidential Library, you can find the lyrics, video, and questions. The video is engaging and made from primary source images and footage from Pare Lorentz Center. Here is your chance to tune in and rap bout FDR

Take a Virtual Field Trip

Take a Virtual Tour of the White House or another landmark or museum. Visit our Pinterest board for more options. Use Monticello Explorer to tour Jefferson’s house with 3-D models and animations.

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