Exploring the New Frontier

The use of "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" in the history of the New York Times. Created using the NYT Chronicle website.
The use of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas” in the history of the New York Times. Created using the NYT Chronicle website.

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

Last time in our Social Studies Methods class, we found ourselves trying many new things. From participating in a twitter chat, to exploring websites like GapMinder,  NYT Chronicle, and Google Ngram Viewer. These tools, while interesting to use in making comparisons also present new ways of examining information.

When I first took a look at each of these sites, I had fun seeing that you can take different pieces of information and see how they might relate with each other. I saw how you could take a site like NYT Chronicle and search words like “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” and examine their usage throughout the history of the New York Times. It showed how word usage and word choice are important things in our culture and history. With something like a Twitter chat, I saw the chance for easy collaboration and reflection on how I am doing as a teacher. Twitter chats present the chance for interaction on a scale that goes beyond the classroom.

I would like to use these tools in my own future classroom. I find that these tools offer the chance for students to look at information and make inferences about what that information tells us about history. If you take the example mentioned in the previous paragraph, then it could become an example where I ask students why we added the use of “Happy Holidays” in our writing. I might also ask students why usage of “Merry Christmas” has seemingly gone up over time. In learning about these different sites, I have found that there are plenty of new resources emerging to get students engaged and asking questions related to history and social studies.

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