Anthony Flowers' E-Toolbox

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Enhancing Teaching through Technology

Social Studies Education

"To remain ignorant of things that happened before you were born is to remain a child." -Cicero

"The past reminds us of timeless human truths and allows for the perpetuation of cultural traditions that can be nourishing; it contains examples of mistakes to avoid, preserves the memory of alternatives ways of doing things, and is the basis for self-understanding..." -Bettina Drew


This E-Toolbox demonstrates the multiple ways technology continues to connect teachers to a vast network of resources that were unknown to them only a couple of decades ago. In this day and age teachers no longer have to plan, prepare, and teach in isolation. On the contrary, they find themselves increasingly supported by a research base that enables them to maximize their teaching efficiency while simultaneously freeing them up to respond to the new demands placed on the public education system in the global, dynamic world of the 21st century. History teaches us that human progress occurs as we build on the foundations established by those who have gone before us. This is as true in teaching as it is for society in general. Those educators who excel today do so by standing on the shoulders of their predecessors. Simply put, there is no use in reinventing the wheel. We have the support system. We might as well make the most of it. Whether you are a Social Studies teacher looking for lesson plans, creative ideas, advice, the most up-to-date techniques, or ready-made activities for the classroom, this toolbox can help.


Instructional Resources

Every good history teacher knows that good teaching in the field depends on the educator's ability to connect his or her students to the people, places, events, and ideas that they are learning about, and, as every historian knows, nothing bridges the gap between the past and the present like a well-selected primary source. Unfortunately for most teachers, the age of textbook learning and the expensive subscriptions to primary source databases make getting this critical information time consuming, expensive, or both. The following sites are provided to make this search more time and cost effective so that every teacher can make history come alive in the classroom:

The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. It is a useful tool for researchers, historians, scholars, classrooms, and the general public. Teachers interested in moving outside the textbook can connect their students to a wealth of historical videos, books, photographs, and more through this virtual library. Whether you are looking for war footage or local history, the Internet Archive is a great place to look, and best of all, its absolutely free.
Library of Congress
The Library's mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people. It is only fitting, then, that students in a public school ought to make use of the extensive resources this online library has to offer.
Documenting the American South
DocSouth is a digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes sixteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs. Teachers and students alike can catch a glimpse of the personal lives, plantation economies, and rural culture that has defined so much of Southern history while also exploring how the antebellum world gave way to modern cities-Montgomery, Atlanta, Charleston-through the eyes of the people who live there.
From Revolution to Reconstruction
This database contains a wealth of primary sources ranging over seven hundred years, form before 1400 CE to the present. Beginning with the Magna Carta and moving forward, the sources focus primarily on documents that have shaped United States history.
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept indefinitely. Those are preserved here, and provide excellent insight into American life. Interested teachers should check out the "Teachers Resources" tab.
New Deal Network
The Roosevelt Institute created the New Deal Network in order to educate "students and the public about the Roosevelt era and its legacy, a research and teaching resource devoted to the public works and arts projects of the New Deal." There is truly no better resource for helping students understand the Great Depression, New Deal era, and early war years.
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian seeks to bring content experts and educators together to help strengthen American education and enhance our nation’s ability to compete globally. The Smithsonian serves as a laboratory to create models and methods of innovative informal education and link them to the formal education system. Check out the "Educators" tab and the online exhibits. From Ancient Egypt to September 11, 2001, there are many diverse, interactive, and informative exhibits. Share them with your students.
A Chronology of U.S. Historical Documents
Yet another site with U.S. primary source documents. This one is easily navigable for students and can be used in a computer lab setting. It is particularly rich in inaugural addresses and acts of Congress.
The Labyrinth
This Medieval Studies resource was created by Georgetown University and provides a network of links to relevant information on the Medieval period. Students can view medieval currency, learn about the power of the Medieval church, explore subsistence agriculture in Europe, see Old and Middle English, read gender studies, research feudalism, and more. There is so much high quality information here for teacher and students alike. It is truly a one-stop shop for any medieval unit.
The Perseus Digital Library
Perseus maintains a web site that showcases collections and services. The flagship collection covers the history, literature, and culture of the Greco-Roman world, but there are also Arabic, Germanic, and Renaissance collections. This is great for any educator hoping to use a single site to cover multiple aspects of a World History course.
Vincent Voice Library
The G. Robert Vincent Voice Library is a collection of over 40,000 hours of spoken word recordings, dating back to 1888. The collection includes the voices of over 100,000 persons from all walks of life. This is a great alternative to text and shows students the progression of source preservation with the advent of audio recording.
Internet Sacred Text Archive
ISTA is the largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric on the Internet. The site is dedicated to religious tolerance and scholarship, and has the largest readership of any similar site on the web. This is a must for World History and Human Geography teachers who want to give their students a taste of the religions of the world--both past and present. Buddhism, Hinduism, Greco-Roman, Islam, Christianity, ancient Mesopotamian religious texts, and more are all available here.

If none of these resources prove to meet the needs of the aspiring educator eager to infuse his or her lesson with primary source material, other E-toolbox's may fill in the gap by providing just the right link. Inquiring minds are directed to some of the toolboxes by Social Studies navigation links in the box at the top of this site. If these too fail to provide the necessary access, please feel free to leave a comment to that effect under the discussion tab at the top of this page and an attempt will be made to find and add relevant links.

Literature on Teaching and Learning

From reference materials to longitudinal studies, the sheer breadth and depth of pedagogical resources designed to help educators continue their professional development is immense. Sorting through what can be an overwhelming number or books and articles does not have to be difficult, though, when teachers rely on the recommendations of their peers. The following list of books and articles are just a few that this author found useful. Take special note of those works that defend the use of Historical narrative and captivating speech as a medium for delivering content. This has fallen under attack in recent years, but more date works outline the value of this "antiquated" method of teaching that is truly timeless. Live links on this page take the reader to sites with further descriptions of the materials and an opportunity to purchase any that might prove helpful.

Ethnographic Eyes
By: Carolyn Frank
This work by Frank challenges teachers to understand their role as amateur cultural anthropologists whose ethnographic field work helps them refine their pedagogical practices to meet the needs of their specific students. This is a profound addition to any educator's repertoire and stands as an excellent way for teachers to add professional objectivity and a systematic approach to understanding the dynamics of the classroom.
Frank, C., & Bird, L. B. (1999). Ethnographic eyes, a teacher's guide to classroom observation. Heinemann Educational Books.
Narrative Matters
By: Grant Bage
This is the most important work listed by this author with respect to the past and future of teaching History. It makes a case for the use of Historical narrative as a dynamic and effective teaching tool.
Bage, G. (1999). Narrative matters: Teaching and learning history through story. Falmer Press.
A Practical Guide to Middle and Secondary Social Studies
By: June Chapin
An excellent, discipline-specific and level specific resource. This "guide" acts as an anchor, connecting teachers to researched-based methods as they try to individualize their teaching methods. While this is not the only book of its kind, the Practical Guide is definitely a type of resource that no educator should be without.
Chapin J. (2011). A practical guide to middle and secondary social studies. Pearson Publishers. Boston.
Developmental Psychology
By: David Shaffer
Every teacher needs a book that gives them the theory behind their discipline, and this textbook serves as a great reference material for teachers who have been in the classroom so long that they begin to get fuzzy on the theory behind their practice. Everyone can use a refresher from time to time, and this overview text is great for that.
Shaffer, D. R., & Kipp, K. (2010). Developmental psychology, childhood and adolescence. (Eigth ed.). Wadsworth Pub Co.
An Investigation of Higher-Order Thinking Skills
By: Christopher Fischer, Linda Bol, and Shana Pribesh
Ever feel like the level of thinking going on in the classroom never gets beyond the basics? This article explores how some of the higher-roder thinking skills outlined in Bloom's now famous taxonomy can be cultivated in classrooms while also looking at some of the factors that may inhibit that development.
Fischer, C. (2011). An investigation of higher-order thinking skills in smaller learning community social studies classrooms. American Secondary Education, 39(2), 5-26.
Virtual Warrensburg
By: Scott Scheuerell
This is a resource on connecting technology to cooperative learning in effective ways. In a day and age when technology has such a great potential to distract students from formal education, more and more teachers are trying to turn the tide of technology in favor of the classroom. Those interested in this should start here.
Scheuerell, S. (2010). Virtual Warrensburg: Using Cooperative Learning and the Internet in the Social Studies Classroom. Social Studies, 101(5), 194-199.
Stimulating Instruction in Social Studies
By:La Vonne Key, Jack Bradley, and Karen Bradley
That instruction should be stimulating seems obvious, but how to make it that way is often much more difficult to discover. Some researchers examine student stimulation here.
Key, L. (2010). Stimulating Instruction in Social Studies. Social Studies, 101(3), 117-120.
Story-telling in School & Home
By: Emelyn Newcomb, George Partridge, and Everett Partridge
Another work on Historical Narrative, this book was published in 1912. It is included here as a point of comparison with the newer work listed above. For being as dated as it is, the book is still remarkably insightful.
Partridge, E., & Partridge G. (1912). Story-telling in school and home: A study in educational aesthetics. Sturgis & Walton Company. New York.

This list is by no means comprehensive. It merely reflects the type of literature this teacher-in-training has found useful thus far. Please feel free to leave a comment under the discussion tab at the top of this page suggesting any additional materials that might be helpful to others but has been neglected. A variety of perspectives is especially valued.

Games, Puzzles, and Technology

No matter what the discipline area, games and technology are important learning tools that can help students understand difficult concepts in exciting ways. The following resources are designed to help teachers transform their students' lives by tying education into more than just the curriculum. If students are going to play video games or watch television outside of school, why not make it something interesting that ties them to what they are learning in class? This line of thinking guided the author in his selection of these materials.

PBS Colonial House: Crossing the Atlantic
This interactive game presents students with "real life" situations that individuals faced as they attempted to cross the Atlantic during the initial years of travel to the New World. As each student makes these decisions, the game responds with consequences, giving them an assessment of their actions at the end of the voyage. Despite being a simple, text-based game, students have responded very well to this PBS classic.
Playing History
Playing History is an excellent Social Studies game database containing everything from the classic Oregon Trail and Inca Invasion to Colonial Gardener and Discover Babylon. With over 100 games covering multiple time periods and a wide array of topics, this database is a quick way to "search" for relevant games that can be used in class or out.
History.Com Games Section
Perhaps the least "academic" of all of the game sites provided here, the game site at can connect students to television shows that relate to history. These shows, while imperfect instruction tools, are nevertheless a potential medium for communicating information to students both in and out of class (particularly the latter). Consider, for example, a Pawn Stars episode about Civil War artifacts or a Full Metal Jousting episode along with a lesson on knighthood in the Medieval period. This can be a great way to involve students in a new way.
This is an excellent out-of-school or computer lab game activity that can supplement instruction in a World History class throughout the semester. This is something the author of this Wiki is vigorously attempting to integrate into a semester by developing activities based on the game content. The project attempts to incorporate classroom concepts into effective civilization planning with a focus on the application of concepts.
School Time Games
Here is another game database used by teachers in the classroom environment. SMART technology allows students to play these games in groups in the classroom. It is included here primarily because of the excellent geography games on the site.
Prezi Presentations
Prezis offer instructors an alternative to traditional PowerPoint presentations. As zoom and slide presentations, they are great for timelines, graphic organizers, and photo galleries. Better than that, educators get access to the basic Prezi package for free with their EDU email.
TV Schoolhouse
TV Schoolhouse is a free and fun way to support classroom curriculum using time-proven Social Studies Educational Films, Newsreels, TV Shows, PSAs, and Movies from the past. Films on this site cover the major wars in American history and have excellent videos to cover complex lessons on government that are crucial to Social Studies curriculum.
Brain Pop
BrainPOP creates animated, curriculum-based content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement.This resource can be used in numerous ways in classrooms, at home, and on mobile devices, from introducing a new lesson or topic to illustrating complex subject matter to reviewing before a test. Content is mapped to Common Core, aligned to academic standards, and easily searchable with BrainPop's online Standards Tool.
CNN Student News
CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program for middle and high school students produced by the journalists and educators at CNN. This award-winning show and its companion website are available free of charge throughout the school year.
Scholastic for Teachers
Like many of these other resources, Scholastic for Teachers allows teachers to connect content to supplementary materials. In this case, the connections all revolve around developing and encouraging student reading. For Social Studies teachers interested in finding appropriate primary sources (at their students reading level), Scholastic is a great place to search.
Global Virtual Classroom
The Global Virtual Classroom (GVC) project is a collection of free, on-line educational activities and resources. It aims to complement the efforts of governments and education departments around the world to integrate technology into their classrooms and curricula and to link their schools to the information superhighway. Teachers interested in connecting their students to other classrooms across international borders can do so easily by hooking into the GVC network.

Websites and Online Classrooms

The purpose of these resources is to connect Social Studies teachers to the growing network of educators out there so that "no man [or woman] is an island." Too often, it seems, educators struggle to go through trials in their profession alone when they could go through the same situations easily by simply surrounding themselves with people who understand. These links will tie the educator to people and organizations that understand what they are going through and want, in one way or another, to help.

National Education Association
The National Education Association (NEA) is the nation's largest professional employee organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. This site provides member teachers with a wealth of resources key to their professional development. In addition to that, it offers a network of information and a collaborative community bound by common goals.
Georgia Association of Educators
The Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) is a professional organization for public education professionals on the state level. As an organization, GAE exists to support, protect, and strengthen those who educate and nurture Georgia’s children. In many respects, the GAE is an extension of the NEA-a branch that understands and deals with the unique struggles of Georgia professionals. As a general rule, teachers are best served by the state organization since education varies so much from one state to another.
National Council for the Social Studies
Social studies educators teach students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy. The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators. For content-specific needs, Social Studies teachers need to look no further than this organization to meet their professional needs.
PBS Teachers
This PBS resource does all the work for teachers by tying PBS tools to standards based on content and grade level. Ready made units and lessons give busy teachers the means to deliver high-quality instruction even when they have little to no time to prepare. Just download the info, tweak it to meet the needs of your classroom, and bring it to class. Truly, this is another "one-stop" shop for teachers in need.
iTeach Social Studies
This online forum, made available by Pearson and powered by Ning, gives Social Studies teachers from all over the opportunity to engage their colleagues in critical conversation about the theoretical and practical issues facing their field and profession alike. From how to teach units on religion to what resources make a strong Medieval activity, there is no substitute for being able to get the perspective of someone intimately familiar with what Social Studies teachers have to deal with. This is an excellent way to do just that.
This site has job postings for teachers, chat boards divided by state and discipline, project suggestions, lesson plans, grade-level specific information, articles are pedagogy, and a "Hot Topics" section. In short, this is a website design to meet the practical, theoretical, and social needs of educators. This one is really worth checking out for those individuals who want one website to do many different things for them.

Link Disclaimer

The inclusion of all links, both internal and external, on this page reflect the interests of the author. However, they in NO WAY imply collaboration with or support by the people or organizations to which they refer. Further, while the information provided on the sites to which these link connect is deemed noteworthy by the author, he has NO control over the present or future content on these pages (except where links connect to his other works). Visitors referred to the aforementioned pages by the links ON THIS PAGE are encouraged to express any concerns or troubles they may have under the discussion tab attached to this wiki. Finally, the descriptions of these sites are partly the work of the site to which they point (describing their work as they describe it) and partly the reflections of this page's author (what he has used the sites to accomplish).Thank you for your time and attention to these matters. Enjoy!

Adams Monumental Illustrated Panorama of World History to 1878

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