Beth Holland

Food for thought…

Current Events & US Geography with Technology

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Tweets from @ugafrankI woke up this morning to discover these two tweets from Drew Frank (@ugafrank), Lower School Principal at Davis Academy in Atlanta, GA. Drew helped us coordinate our first set of EdTechTeacher Summer Workshops in Atlanta two years ago, and has recently become extremely active on Twitter. While I wanted to quickly respond, I realized that it just wouldn’t fit in 140 characters. Hopefully this post will suffice (yes, I will tweet the link back to him).

How can we incorporate more technology with our current events?

My initial response was how can you discuss current events and NOT incorporate technology?? With the proliferation of social media, I don’t think it is possible to even discover current events without a reference to television, Internet, Twitter, Facebook, etc. In fact, the Today Show has even embraced the impact of technology on current events with Carson Daly’s new segment. This morning, he deconstructed the tragic shooting at the DC Navy Yard by commentating on a string of social media posts: the official Navy tweet, a photo from Instagram, the first Vine…

So, what can students DO to construct a better understanding of the events unfolding on a daily basis?

  • Use current events as an opportunity to reinforce online research skills. Given the sensitive nature of some events – such as yesterday’s Washington DC Navy Yard Shooting – a Google search could be a terrifying prospect. With KidRex, results are filtered and make for a good media literacy discussion.
  • Incorporate kid-friendly news into reading activities. Whether you use an app such as News-O-Matic or a site like Time for Kids, students can find events of interest and then guide the discussion.
  • Let students report the news. Rather than just passively consuming news stories, let the students do the reporting. A great opportunity is to create videos for the CNN iReport (in fact, the iMovie app exports directly to the site.
  • Empower students to post their own news. Whether you choose to have a class blog, Twitter account, or Facebook page, empower students to do the posting. When I first started supporting teachers with class blogs, rather than creating multiple accounts for students, we linked to a variety of Google Forms. Each form provided the students with a framework for entering their news. It also gave teachers an opportunity to approve each post without any concerns about students posting without permission. This form is an example of our Sports Report.

Incorporating technology into current events has one other unintended consequence: it provides a great opportunity to discuss digital citizenship.

What are the best iPad apps for learning and practicing location and spelling of US States?

Last winter, Justin Reich published Breaking Research: Most Apps Bad. There may be some apps devoted to the States. However, rather than thinking about the apps, let’s look at the learning process. The objectives here include:

  1. I want my students to develop map reading skills.
  2. I want my students to learn the geographic location of the US States.
  3. I want my students to work on their language acquisition with a focus on the US States.

Given that focus, what if….

  • Students used the Google Earth app to explore the 50 states. They could work in groups to find each state from a list.
  • Students collaborated to create a ThingLink map with an observation, fact, image, or video.
  • Students created a US States book with Book Creator. Each page could illustrate the location of the state as well as include a fact and/or image from that state.
  • Students practiced identifying states on a map, and their spelling, by annotating an outline map inserted into a screencasting app such as Educreations, ScreenChomp, or Explain Everything. By capturing the process with a screencast, teachers are able to see their students’ thinking.

When I taught the states to my 3rd graders, I found some great resources on Enchanted Learning.

This may not have been the response that these teachers were looking for, but hopefully, it sparked some ideas!

Author: brholland

Researcher, Writer, and Speaker

One thought on “Current Events & US Geography with Technology

  1. Pingback: Size Doesn’t Matter…. | Beth Holland

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