Editor's Notebook

By Simpson, Michael | Social Education, April 2007 | Go to article overview

Editor's Notebook


Simpson, Michael, Social Education


For teachers seeking to make better connections between their wired, IM-creating, Internet-savvy students and the social studies, this issue of Social Education abounds with suggestions. Software enhancements and the growth of Internet resources in different formats have paved the way for newly creative lesson plans that are supported by the easy availability of documents, audio recordings and video footage that were once expensive, hard to find, or stored in inaccessible archives.

One new resource lifts the curtain on the operations of the twentieth-century presidency. The Presidential Timeline of the 20th Century, made available on the web this February by the National Archives' presidential libraries in conjunction with the University of Texas, offers a captivating inside view of the responsibilities of the presidency. In this issue's Teaching with Documents feature, Paul Resta, Betty S. Flowers, and Ken Tothero describe the purposes and potential uses of the site, presenting documents from one of Lyndon Johnson's longest days, August 4, 1964, as examples. Users of the site can hear that day's riveting audiotapes of Johnson dealing with the Gulf of Tonkin crisis, the murder of civil rights workers, and anti-poverty programs.

The new possibilities of audio technologies in the classroom are a focal point of this special issue on instructional technology, which has been organized by our Technology Department editors, Michael J. Berson and Cheryl Mason Bolick. In one article, George B. Lipscomb, Lisa Marie Guenther and Perry McLeod point out that "many of the young people entering today's social studies classrooms are auditory learners,"(124) and review recent audio innovations that can enhance class activities. They recommend websites with valuable audio resources for teaching about historical events such as the world wars, as well as geography and current affairs.

One dimension of audio that fascinates many students is podcasting-Internet broadcasts that can be stored on portable devices like the Apple iPod. Tony Vincent and Mark Van't Hooft present the experiences of a third-grade class in Omaha, Nebraska, whose study of communities led students to create a podcast about Omaha itself. Working on the podcast energized the students and stimulated them to conduct research of high quality, knowing that readers across the Internet could tune in to their report on the city.

Many regional history records that were formerly only open to specialized historical researchers are now accessible to all. One example of an important and growing regional collection is the University of North Carolina's "Oral Histories of the American South," presented here by Cheryl Mason Bolick, Lisa Norberg and Dayna Durbin. Its archives cover subjects ranging from environmental issues and civil rights to industrialization and the role of Southern women, while lesson plans and classroom resources make it a friendly site for teachers.

Computer simulations of patterns of human behavior and social organization once required very powerful computers and complex special programming. …

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