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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

Using Social Studies Links to Enrich Your Curriculum
Paul Hewitt

You can have access to primary sources for your social studies classroom that were undreamed of by previous generations of teachers. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.

But where should you look? What is a good source? How will you use it? Is the website for your use or for your students? When the students use it, what will they do with it?

There are several identifiable types of web resources for social studies:

  • Historical documents are being catalogued and made available on-line at a phenomenal rate.
  • Geographical information spans the globe, from major tourist sites to out-of-the-way small towns that want to be on the internet map.
  • Economic data and insight is provided by both governmental and commercial websites.
  • Government at all levels is providing access to their deliberations for a global constituency.
  • Best of all, teachers are creating lessons using internet resources and sharing them with others.
Uses range from printing a document to share with your class, to putting the students online to examine websites themselves.

If you plan to set up learning stations in your classroom, web resources printed from the web can be useful. When studying the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears, I printed a half dozen of the best resources, combined this with some of the books available, and sent pairs of students to these 'learning centers' posted around the room to gather data about the event and the history of the Cherokee. This discovery method worked much better than passive learning, and the students stayed engaged better than with a lecture.

You could just print out the url (web address) of each site you want your students to use. This invites frustration, as they mis-type the addresses, but it's good experience for them.

Or, you could put the links you want on a web page so that they can simply point and click to access. If you don't wish to do this yourself, find a high school student who does web pages, and ask for a simple page with links. Doing it yourself isn't difficult if you have Microsoft Word, or any of the simple web page programs.

If your school district has a website, ask the person who manages it to link your page (lesson) from there. Then you can have access any time you wish. If not, put the page on a disk, or multiple disks, and have students use the disk to access your page when they go on the internet.

Is the additional time spent searching for websites and creating access for your students worth it? Most certainly if you want to get out of the text and out of the lecture mode. Besides, others have done much of the searching and have already created lessons that are readily available to you. Check out some of these links for a head start. Then share what you find with others on the New Teachers' Listserv.

TeachersNetwork.org has lesson plans

American Studies Resources from the Crossroads Project at Georgetown U.

Discovery Channel School

National Archives and Records Administration

Social Studies Resources from www.ed.gov/free

The New Deal Network

The History Net

History/Social Studies Web Site for K-12 Teachers from Dennis Boals

Social Studies School Service

WWW Virtual Library The History Index

Lesson Plans and Resources for Social Studies Teachers from csun.edu

NCSS The National Council for the Social Studies

Lesson Plans from EdSitement

Webquests and Resources for Teachers from Paul Hewitt


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