National Council for the Social Studies Community Network
I have been teaching social studies for the past ten years and my biggest struggle has been in finding a textbook that engages my students enough to read the thing. Of course, reading the chapter is just the first step in moving them towards doing the "fun stuff" like simulations and debates.
Out of this challenge I have been motivated to create an online resource called Go Social Studies Go. I'd appreciate any feedback you can send my way.
Is this resource more engaging than the traditional textbook?
What are the challenges in using web based learning?
What methods do you use to overcome the textbook gap?
Nice website! I just spent a few minutes browsing through the US History section of your website, and I have a few comments:
1) Based on my experience, students find websites more engaging than traditional paper texts. It never seizes to amaze me how simply clicking a link can be ten times as engaging as flipping a page. Your website is easy to navigate and aesthetically sharp.
2) One shortcoming of using websites as sources is that students can't mark them up. Active reading and annotations are helpful tools for comprehension. It also makes it easier for students to find evidence later on to support their arguments, whether you are having a class debate or students are writing essays. I find annotating texts particularly facilitates comprehension when dealing with primary sources.
3) My biggest critique of textbooks is that they make history seem like a straight forward narrative. Having students dig into primary sources and question what happened in the past--and examine bias, perspective, etc--separates history from other academic subjects. History class is arguably the best place to develop these critical thinking skills. One suggestion I have to your website is to include more primary sources and to encourage your students to try being historians. Have them dig into the messy past and try to peace together what happened. This could work nicely in your section on the battle of Lexington, as there is substantial debate over what happened there. The following website provides some resources in an online format you might find helpful: http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/us/intro/evidence.html. Another one of my favorite history websites that promotes primary source inquiry is historicalthinkingmatters.org/.
Let me know what you think. Thanks for your post.