#Education: Learning to Teach with Today’s Tools

2015-11-01 08.51.37 pm
The percentage of New York Times articles in which the word “blogosphere” appears, by year. Created at chronicle.nytlabs.com.

Prompt: Write a blog post in response to our class on digital history.

I enter the teaching profession at an interesting and tremendously exciting moment in history. Barriers are evaporating left and right and educators have access to more powerful, inexpensive resources than ever before. Last week’s class gave me an opportunity to explore some of these new tools and I really liked what I saw.

I had a great time participating in my first #engsschat on Twitter and enjoyed e-meeting my future colleagues from around the country. Twitter seems like a terrific venue for collaboration and I am excited to use it to continue a dialogue with other social studies educators. A planet’s worth of classroom innovations are just a hashtag away.

I was particularly impressed by some of the big-data tools freely available online. The New York Times’s “Chronicle” language usage visualization tool is an elegant and simple way to perform powerful analyses of discourse. Google’s Ngram Viewer is a similar resource that reveals patterns of word or phrase usage in books. However, there is no doubt that the coolest addition to my teaching toolkit was GapMinder. Gapminder empowers visitors to easily test sophisticated hypotheses using a treasure trove of datasets. The inclusion of a “time slider” is especially useful and could shed light causal relationships that aren’t otherwise obvious to students. I’m certain that this website has enormous potential to help students recognize and analyze complex social phenomena and I plan to incorporate it into future lessons.

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