Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Maker Fair Fun in the Social Studies Classroom

By Nina Kendall

The Maker philosophy is to apply a do-it-yourself approach to learning in the modern classroom. Students are empowered to make, to tinker, and to create. This approach appeals to me as an educator and as a child of the 1980’s. Not only do I want to make things, so do kids. This is a great way to encourage creativity in the classroom.  Frequently maker spaces and activities involve 3-D printers and Lego robots.   Yet the maker movement is bigger than robots. This approach to learning can certainly be brought into the Social Studies classroom too.

Here is what I did to bring a maker event to my classroom:

·         Investigated the #maker approach with Mozilla and looked for way that this approach could be brought in to class for learners at all levels of digital experience.

·         Selected the tools for use in the activity.

·         Selected the content students could share their understanding of that day.

·         Created a PowerPoint slide for each activity that included tool, product goal, and content.

·         I saved the slides as jpeg files(photos).

·         I created a basic website that had links to web tools that students could use and a photo slide show of the activities.

·         I created a form to hand to each student that would indicate the activity they choose, the type of activity completed, and the method of electronic turn the students used. (Students could email project, turn in on ThreeRing, save to their drives, or upload to Edmodo. )

Maker Event in Class:

·         Give students each a copy of the form to report their efforts on.

·         Direct students to #maker website and let them know that what they choose to make is there choice.

·         Monitor progress  and collect sheets at the end of session.

·         Enjoy what students share!


·         Shifting technology infrastructure. Be aware of the limitations of your digital environment.

·         Students struggling with digital tools. They are not all digital natives. Some students are also very insecure with activities that don’t have exact responses.

·         Time. As in every activity some students needed more time than others.


We had a good day. Students were highly engaged and very creative. I liked the focus students displayed.  It was good to see them work together so positively. It was also nice to share in their efforts. In high school, the days students want to share their work with you are rare. I would certainly do this again. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Instagram and Hashtags: Connecting with Social Media

By Nina Kendall
July 4th Bingo with the Archives
Instagram offers opportunities to engage students in new and different ways.  Schools and teachers can follow institutions like the National Archives and the National Gallery in using media to engage audiences with observation and curation activities. Here a few thoughts if you are interested in giving it a try.


Embrace the Hashtag
Hashtags are like guide words in a card catalog or key words in a Boolean search as they help you find things.  Using a hashtag allows you to find thoughts and images on a similar topic. 
Create your own Hashtags with Instagram Assignments
 Use them when you create an assignment so you can enjoy student shares without having to follow students. Make the hashtag as unique as possible so your search will have less cross contamination in the results.

Let students craft their own Hashtags
Have students create their own hashtags when analyzing texts or creating diagrams. Their choices will reflect their understanding of the work. You could even have students create hashtags to reflect different perspectives and have students look for evidence to support that hashtag and perspective.
Let Students craft the Vision
Have you ever started a lesson with a modern image or phrase to help students connect with the past and then found they didn’t know the modern image? We know that students are more likely to remember something when they can relate it to something learned previously. Instagram can help you engage students in building hooks for units and lessons. Assign a topic like “cooperation.” Have students share images that represent cooperation to them. Use those images as a hook for discussing how communities reacted to Civil Rights change as you study the 20th century.
Make the world your classroom.
Instagram lets students engage in observations of the world around them. Students capture and share images that become a text to relate what they are learning to and share with others.

Student observations of  modern food landscape
·Have students take pictures of the modern cultural landscape and compare to works about the same area from a different period. The Federal Writer’s Project has some great texts to use for comparison.
·   Going on a field trip? Don’t assign a worksheet. Give students a list of things to photograph on the trip and assign a hashtag for the trip. Students can share their day with others and comment on what others saw. Then with a program like Storify you can have a slide show to view as class the next day.


These ideas represent just a few of the ways you could use hashtags and Instagram in class. What ideas do you have?