3 key steps when using VR in education

As new VR technologies emerge, educators at all levels are finding new applications to augment the classroom experience – and for good reason. VR allows educators to move past pages in a textbook to create totally immersive experiences that stimulate and inspire students.

Imagine a social studies teacher leading a discussion about the Taj Mahal, for example. While educators and students used to be bound to traditional experiences like books, handouts, or PowerPoint presentations–now they can use the power of VR to take virtual tours of the monument, walking from space to space and seeing every detail of the carved stone.

The applications for VR in education are truly endless and open up an entirely new way of learning–with lesson formats that can literally bring students back in time for history class or transport them to different galaxies for science.…Read More

Kids Discover Partners with Rhino Records to Release Free Units Celebrating Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Curtis Mayfield for Black History Month

Kids Discover, a leading provider of high-interest nonfiction for social studies and science, has partnered with Rhino Records, the catalog division of Warner Music Group, to celebrate Black History Month by releasing three free units honoring classic Atlantic Records artists Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin as well as Curtom Records’ Curtis Mayfield. Each of these units, featuring music, original album art, and more, will be freely available on the Kids Discover website for the entire month of February.

Designed to shine a light on the lives and impact of these music industry legends, the free units engage students in grades 3–8 through music and raise awareness of Black contributions to the arts and society. Educators can choose from three different Lexile levels for use in grades 3–4, 5–6, or 7–8. To make the materials available to as many students as possible, the free units do not require a registered account or login.

“In the past, we’ve always made a number of units in our library free to celebrate Black History Month,” said Ted Levine, the President and CEO of Kids Discover. “Given what has transpired in our country over the past few years, we took time to reflect on what else we could do to share the stories and impact of Black history and culture. In July, we released a five-part pledge, two tenets of which were to increase the number of stories we tell about Black figures in American history and to collaborate with organizations that share this vision. We’re excited to partner with Rhino to offer engaging, multimedia content that will educate and inspire students while highlighting the impact these three figures have had on our history and culture.”…Read More

Schell Games’ Virtual Reality Educational Tool HistoryMaker VR Now Available For Free

With a majority of schools participating in distance learning this year, Schell Games announced its virtual reality education tool HistoryMaker VR is now available for free on Steam for all to use.

HistoryMaker VR is an immersive content creation tool that helps students learn history in an entertaining and engaging way. This innovative application allows learners to display their knowledge of history, civics, and social studies, while offering educators and parents a new way to improve student engagement, increase lesson retention, and introduce an exciting alternative to textbooks and Zoom lectures. HistoryMaker VR seamlessly integrates into curriculums and includes classroom guides and recommended activities for teachers and parents to use.

Using an Oculus Rift/Rift S headset and a PC, learners and/or educators can upload a script, prep the stage with a variety of props and set pieces, and record themselves giving a speech as one of eight diverse characters in U.S. history, including Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Tubman, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and more. At the end of the recording, speeches can be exported as a video and shared with others, without the need for a VR headset. The videos can even be edited with any video editing tool, giving learners another opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and skill.…Read More

Actively Learn Digital Platform Offers Content Area Products

Actively Learn, Achieve3000’s research-based, standards-aligned curriculum platform, announces the release of new sequenced curricular units: Actively Learn ELA, Actively Learn Social Studies, and Actively Learn Science. Educators can now purchase these singular units instead of having to pay for access content they may not need. These subject area products make it possible to make tight budgets go further while addressing the specific needs of core content area teachers and facilitating an enhanced search experience.

“This new focus enables Actively Learn to better address the distinct needs of ELA, social studies, and science teachers. They can create interactive, multi-media assignments in each content area providing engagement and focus where needed.” said Jay Goyal, President at Actively Learn.

For each core content area, Actively Learn provides a full year of sequenced curricular units that leverage the breadth and depth of its catalog and allow for deeper knowledge in each subject.…Read More

Free Access to Social Studies and Science Curriculum

Educational publisher TCI is offering free digital access to its platform for learning social studies and science to qualified schools and teachers until the end of the school year. TCI’s  science and social studies curriculums and services for educators are based on proven teaching strategies and practices that bring education to life in order to achieve consistent and positive classroom results. Available on a digital platform, TCI’s programs allow teachers to deliver interactive lessons from any device – their laptop or tablet. TCI has also developed a resource page to help support teachers – many of whom are teaching remotely for the first time – with free videos, guides and FAQs.

https://www.teachtci.com/online-teaching-during-coronavirus-outbreak/

…Read More

10 of the best websites for bringing history & social studies to life

History and social studies bad reputations for being boring. To many students, these subjects mean reading long-winded textbooks and memorizing incessant facts. They don’t necessarily see the importance of studying something that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Getting students to really care about what they’re learning involves bringing the subject to life for them. Thanks to the internet, there are so many ways for students to experience the past. History and social studies feel more real as students participate in these interactive and immersive activities. The resources are endless, but here are our online charter school’s 10 favorite websites.

1. Google Earth
Much of history involves understanding the geography and settings for key events, and with Google Earth, students can explore those places. The free software lets them view the globe from a high altitude or zoom in on countries, towns, and even street corners. The overlay feature allows students to drop a map over a historical site, which gives more context to its significance. With Google Earth, students can also view 3D models of various sites and create “flyovers,” where they can use placemarks to “fly” from one point to another over a specific route.…Read More

Using politics to teach critical thinking

As high school social studies teachers in a swing state, election season is some of the most fertile ground for learning, and this past cycle—with all its splashy and expensive political ads—proved no exception.

Our students are all in their mid teens, which means in the next presidential election, they will be eligible voters. With so much information (and misinformation) swirling around our students, it was imperative for us to teach them how to think critically about the political process in an unbiased, nonpartisan way, giving them the power to sift through the reams of information we’re inundated with on a daily basis and decide what to trust and what to be skeptical about—and how to go about making those determinations.

Tools to Teach with Politics…Read More

App of the Week: Globe Smart Education 1

Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Graphite by Common Sense Media. Click here to read the full app review.
 globesmarteducation

 

What it’s like: Globe Smart Education 1 explores the lives of kids around the world through stories and games. Users pick one of eight kids from five countries: Haiti, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Burundi, and the United States. They then can choose to read that child’s story, select “tell me about yourself” to engage in a dialogue, learn phrases or count to 10 in the child’s native language, or read more facts about the child’s hometown. Teacher sections of the app offer a discussion guide for each country, lesson plan ideas, and classroom activities that draw directly from each unit and build on topics that arise in the stories.
Price: $19.99
Grades: 1-3
Pros: Stellar teacher guides offer lots of classroom connections that bridge disciplines.
Cons: Some kids talk very quickly in the story sections; high price tag may be prohibitive.
Bottom line: A smart, thoughtful way to learn about the lives of kids around the world.

9 inspiring social studies apps

These engaging social studies apps can help students absorb content while they have fun learning

social-studiesMath and science seem to get all the focus these days, but other core subject areas deserve just as much attention–and this includes social studies and history.

Student engagement may dwindle when they read about historical events or other cultures from a textbook, but giving them access to social studies apps can help stir their interest and make learning more engaging.

These apps, from geography, to U.S. history, to world civilizations, are just the starting point. What social studies apps do you use or recommend? Let us know in the comments section.…Read More

Three ways social studies teachers use tech

Increased access to devices and digital tools makes it easier for social studies teachers to integrate technology into their teaching

social-studiesSocial studies lessons are becoming more engaging and interactive, thanks to a variety of classroom technology tools and resources. Here are a few examples.

OER in the classroom

Shannon Blake, an eighth grade social studies teacher at the Charleston Catholic School in Charleston, S.C., uses Net Texts, a free open educational resources (OER) content management and delivery platform, to access and create information, organize it by chapter or subject, and make it available to her students.…Read More