This weekend is the Schools History Project Conference in Leeds. I’ve always wanted to go but I’ve already taken more than my allocation of the CPD budget to do a Masters in the last two years so never had the cheek to ask school to fit the bill. With this in mind I decided I would follow the tweets (uisng #SHPCon2011) and experience the conference virtually. Everyone says that Twitter is awesome free-CPD and I wanted to prove it. So over the last 48 hours I set up a column in Tweetdeck and made those tweets with good ideas my favourites so I was able to view a simple list of those things I thought I could implement into my own practice. Below are four of my favourite ideas and how I am going to use them in my classroom.
Big time thanks to the following twitterati who provided these ideas: @drdennis, @MrsThorne, @mrarcher, @julestheteacher, @1972SHP, @nwatkin, @ahrenfelt, @foxburg, @davew1968
1. Google NGram
Google NGram displays a visual graph showing how phrases or names have occurred in the corpus of books in the GoogleBooks collection over time. This is an ace way to visually show historical trends, e.g. see how Hitler has trended over the last 50 years. I am going to use this with my Year 13 class, who study the Soviet Union, by creating an NGram of the four leaders and how they have trended over the last 70 years. This should encourage debate about their significance and relative importance. See the NGram I produced below:
A website that lets you ask a question to an audience who can respond via text, twitter or web browser. Its free if you use it with an audience of less than 30 (perfect for the classroom!) and is a quick and easy way to get mobile technology into the classroom. Ace for the end of debates, especially as everyone will be able to participate, even the quiet ones, with a live display of the results.
3. Domesday resources
Both the domesdayreloaded and Domesdaymap.co.UK were tweeted about and are great resources for anyone teaching the Middle Ages and links in to my previous post. The first allows a comparison with modern day and the second allows the user to search the Domesday Book via GoogleMaps. This would allow a great independent research project for gifted students given the enquiry “How similar is our local area to that of 1066?”
3. Using Wordle as a starter
I’ve seen MFL staff use Wordle to create word clouds of written work but have been stumped of how to use it in the history classroom. However, one tweeter suggested using Wordle as a starter, either turning a famous speech or an essay into a word cloud then asking students to guess the subject of the lesson. I love this simple idea so next week when I teach the US Civil War to Year 12 I am going to start with this Wordle, can anyone guess what it is?
4. Using QR codes to further interest
I’ve read lots of blogs recently about using QR codes and been interested, however, I haven’t actually had the inspiration to use them yet, maybe as most blogs have focused on how business can use them, not education. However, yesterday I read tweets about them being used in the history classroom and thought more. In the next week or two I am going to use them as starters. I like the idea of sticking a QR code on the board (easily created using goo.gl) and not saying a word. In theory this should create a sense of interest and once one student scans the code others should follow. This could then link to a picture or a text which could link into the lesson. Additionally this should create a sense of wonder which links with the research of Matthew McFall who I recently saw speak at TeachMeet Clevedon. Below is a QR code I am going to use next week:
Obviously going to the physical conference is preferable, but as you can see above, you can learn loads just by watching a twitter feed. If you did attend the conference and you think I missed a few gems I would love to hear them and hopefully I can attend next year!