Category Archives: Social Studies

Student Crosswords from the NY Times

Did you know that the New York Times has an archive of student crosswords listed by subjects on this page?  From American History to Technology, you can find puzzles created by Frank Longo as well as the answers and suggested curriculum links.  I found this link when I discovered this page that provides a printable crossword puzzle on how people say thank you around the world.  A couple of other timely suggestions are, “Thanksgiving,” “Giving,” and “Holidays Around the World.”  These seem to be targeted at the teenage age range, though some upper elementary and middle school students can probably work on them in groups, given the proper resources.

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image from Pixabay
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Weekly Map

Leslie Fisher (@LeslieFisher) tweeted out this link to Weekly Map yesterday.  The concept is similar to the “What’s Going on in this Graph?” feature that appears in the New York Times the second Tuesday of every month – except, of course, that this a weekly challenge.  Each Monday brings a new map, and a hint is given each weekday including Friday.  A link is also provided on Friday to the answer.

So far, the site has archived 65 Weekly Maps, and they are labeled with difficulty ratings.  This is a great way for students to practice deductive reasoning and geography skills, as well as vocabulary. (I had no idea what a choropleth map was until I looked at this site.) The “Lessons” part of the site is under construction, so maybe if we give them lots of love that will happen faster!

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image of choropleth map from Wikipedia

Critical Thinking Cheatsheet

The Global Digital Citizen Foundation has a page of resources on its website that includes the free Critical Thinking Cheatsheet.  The downloadable PDF has excellent question stems that students can use when trying to analyze a topic more effectively. You can see a sampling of the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How questions stems in the image below.

You will need to register on the site before you can receive your download.  However, there are several other free resources that you can also access once you login, so it is well worth taking 30 seconds to sign up.

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from Global Digital Citizen Foundation Critical Thinking Cheatsheet

I plan to give this sheet to all of my students so they can use it to understand current events better.  A great site this could be “smashed” with is Newsela.

Empatico Registration Open

In July, I posted about a website, Empatico, which endeavors to match classrooms around the world.  The site is now offering free registration for teachers of 8-10 year olds who would like to participate.  There are four “Spark” activities to choose from. Empatico provides the lesson plan and downloadable resources for each one.  When you register, you select the activities that seem a good fit for your class, as well as the days of the week and times that will work for a live internet chat with another group of students working on the same project.  Empatico will e-mail you once the organization finds another classroom with similar interests so that you can then arrange a specific day and time for the students to virtually meet.

To register, visit Empatico, and click on any of the hyperlinks that offer, “Get matched with a class.”  It is recommended that you choose more than one activity in order to get matched more quickly.  Although this project is just beginning, it has a lot potential for helping students to see other perspectives and develop empathy.  According to the site, “As students learn together, they explore their similarities and differences with curiosity and kindness and develop practical communication and leadership skills.”  Programs like this can promote more understanding around the world, something that seems to be urgently needed in today’s society.

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#wgoitgraph

“What’s Going on in this Graph?” is a new feature from the New York Times that will appear on the second Tuesday monthly for the rest of this school year.  Building on the success of a long-running similar activity,  “WGOITPicture,” this version posts a graphic that has appeared recently in the NYT, with much of the information removed.  Students are encouraged to analyze the image by thinking about these three questions:

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder?
  • What’s going on in this graph?

There is a comment section where students over 13 years old, (or teachers) may post their observations, questions, and extrapolations.  A moderator from the American Statistical Association gives online feedback on the day the graphic is posted, and then the actual details are revealed at the end of the week.

The first “What’s Going on in this Graph?” was posted yesterday.  According to the caption, it has some connection to Hurricane Harvey – but what, exactly?  That is for your students to try to discern.  From the comments I have read so far, there are some extremely perceptive students attempting to decipher the graph’s meaning; it will be fun to see the answer on Friday!

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Do I Have a Right?

With Constitution Day approaching in the United States on September 17th, I thought I would share “Do I Have a Right?” from iCivics.  It is free, and you can play it on your web browser or using the iPad app.  The game helps you to learn the rights you are given by the constitution as you assign cases to lawyers based on their specialties.  There is now a Powerpoint extension pack that teachers can use to reinforce what the students learn after they play the game.  The game is really engaging (my daughter and I love to play it together), and only one of many fabulous resources brought to you by iCivics.  If you haven’t used iCivics before, here is a little more information from a previous post.

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image from Pixabay.com

Leela Kids

The “Wow in the World” podcast from NPR is just one of the many kid-friendly podcasts that can be curated by the Leela Kids app, which is available on iOS or Android. Download the app to your mobile device (search for it under “iPhone Only” in the iTunes store – even though it works fine on iPads), and open it up to see a simple menu that allows you to choose an age bracket (3-5, 5-8, 8-12, 12-15*) and a category (Stories, Music, Animals, Ocean, Space, and Curious).  Once you’ve made your selections, you can then see either a list of specific episodes or the list of shows that provide those episodes.  The duration of each podcast episode is listed under the title.  Some are a minute long, while others can be almost a half hour.

How could you use this?  Well, as a parent and/or a teacher you may know how difficult it is to search for appropriate podcasts.  Now you have a treasury your children can listen to during long car trips or in classroom centers with a set of headphones.  The great thing about this is that podcasts have frequent updates so there is a slight chance that you will never run out of episodes!

If you are using this in the classroom, you can gather student reflections using a response sheet like this one from Chase March.  Students searching for topics for Genius Hour projects may find something that they may want to research further. Another idea is to use the app to find relevant podcast links for class, and embed those links in a Hyperdoc.

As you can see, there are many ways to use podcasts in class, and the Leela Kids app just made it even easier.

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Leela Kids App

*If you teach secondary students, here is an article on “Likewise,” a more robust collection of podcasts that can be used in the classroom.