Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Historical Timelines using Google Maps

Timelines and a History Classroom go hand and hand. Having students understanding Chronological Thinking and to be able to see the relationship between cause and effect are important skills in any history classroom.

The past two years I have added a little bit of twist to the traditional timeline by having students create timelines using Google Maps. Not only do students have to place events in order, but they also have to think about relevance of location of those events.

At the conclusion of our study of the events leading up the US Civil War, students create a timeline Google Map of the following events:

  • Missouri Compromise   
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act  
  • Compromise of 1850   
  • Election of Lincoln   
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin   
  • Secession of South Carolina 
  • John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry   
  • Invention of the cotton gin   
  • Attack on Fort Sumter  
  • Dred Scott Supreme Court decision  
Students have to place the events in the correct historical sequence in which they occurred. 

Students than have to think about a possible location to place that event on their Google Map that is logical for the event. Some of these events happened at an actual location, some happened in a general area, others it can be left up to interpretation where the event location makes the most sense to the student. 

Finally students have to identify five events that they think are the most important to understanding what caused the US Civil War. Students have to write a short caption for those events where they describe the event in their own words as well as a brief explanation on the significance of the event as a causation factor of the US Civil War. 

YouTube directions for students to set-up their Timeline Map:

Overall, I really enjoy the project. Students are stretched a little bit on their thinking and it gives me a chance to see which events students found the most significance from our study of this time period in US History.

I would love in the future to have students create their maps in Google Maps, but create a Narrated Google Tour in Google Earth as an extension to their final project.

Looking for other Timeline Generator Websites, check these website tools out:

What are some ways you use Google Maps in your classroom? Do you have any great ways that incorporate timelines into your classroom? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Where In Time Is Little Abe? Fostering Historical Thinking with Images

Last year I created a fun contest for students to practice some of their historical analysis skills.

When I was at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C., I found a Abraham Lincoln Doll that I bought to use as my classroom mascot. Each week I created an image where I superimposed the doll's picture over a historical image. I typically looked for images that dealt with a topic we were studying that week, or an image of an important event that happened that week in history.

Famous Westward
 Expansion Landmark
Each Monday I would share with students the image, as well as "Tweet" out the photo on my class Twitter page @litte_abe_213  Since Twitter was "Blocked" on my school's filter, I also placed these images on my Blackboard Course website so students could access the image from their school computer. I looked for images found in the Public Domain as much as I could, or use pictures I've taken at several historic locations to keep copyright in mind.

Google Submission Form
Students had from Monday to Thursday evening each week to investigate a possible time and place for Little Abe's location. When student's thought they had an answer, I had students complete a GoogleDoc form I created for them to answer the weekly challenge.

It was important for students to not only get the correct answer, but to also provide evidence from the image they used to help them identify Little Abe's location that week.

Each Friday in class I would announce the weekly winners and have candy prizes.

I had anywhere from several students to 40 students participate in the contest each week. To keep my expenses down, I usually limited my contest to six winners each week (one for each class period). To help me randomly pick winners I used this handy random name picker from ClassTools.net

I had a lot of fun with this contest last year and I am looking forward to expanding on this concept for the coming school year. Students had fun each week doing this contest, and it really didn't take much time out of my daily class routines.