What Websites Are on My Favorite List?

By Risinger, C. Frederick | Social Education, April 2008 | Go to article overview

What Websites Are on My Favorite List?


Risinger, C. Frederick, Social Education


I've been writing this column for several years now, and I am continually amazed at how much e-mail I receive from readers--recommending additional sites on that issue's topic, telling me how they used the sites in their classrooms, and asking questions about my selection criteria. Recently, I've received more than a few e-mails asking if I would send a list of the sites on my "Favorites" list. This column is scheduled for the annual technology issue; and, since most of the authors in the issue are far more technologically savvy than I, it seemed like a good time to write a more personal article--one that highlights websites that I think are interesting, well designed, and useful to classroom teachers, college-level methods instructors, and other social studies professionals. Mostly, I try to look at websites through the eyes of a classroom teacher. Does it have relevant, accurate information? Would it help me in my preparation for a topic? Could my students use information on the site? Is it suitable for group project work? Is it easy to navigate? These questions (and others) help determine what sites I select.

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As far as my "Favorites" list, I'm going to restrict it to those websites that I would use as a classroom teacher, methods instructor, or social studies supervisor (and exclude the recipe and cooking websites or those on gardening, photography, and short-wave radio). I will include a few news/information sites not directly related to classroom teaching, because I believe strongly that social studies educators should be aware of national and international news. But before I start giving you a glimpse into my Favorites, I want to (l) recommend a book, especially for history teachers, and (2) highlight two relatively new websites of interest.

This column doesn't often deal with books, but I found one at my local library that I wish I had had when I was teaching U.S. history. Students of all ages love to hear interesting stories about people and events, and this book would give any teacher a full catalog of such stories. The title is History's Shocking Secrets by Bill Coate. (He's also the author of History's Mysteries Revealed.) The book is filled with little-known tidbits and interesting side trips about historical figures and topics. I learned that the first fatal casualty of the Civil War was a "friendly fire" death. I learned that future President Zachary Taylor's son-in-law was Jefferson Davis-and about the premature death of Mrs. Knox Davis Taylor.

Second, here are two websites readers should know about.

Social Studies Classroom

www.socialstudiesclassroom.com/index.htm

This site is on my Favorites list now, and you will probably want to add it to your list if you haven't done so already. The website description states: "Social Studies Classroom.com was founded in May of 2007 by a social studies teacher and supervisor with the mission to create a company, which would give social studies teachers the resources, tools, and collaboration needed to enhance their classrooms and benefit their students." The site has just about everything a teacher or supervisor might want. On the side of the page, there is a list of excellent websites on just about every topic in the social studies curriculum (many of which I have recommended in these columns). There is a search engine, powered by Google, of the entire site that you can use to find information and resources on just about any topic in the social studies curriculum. And there's a "Forum" section where viewers can read and post comments on relevant issues in the social studies field. There is a weekly "Director's column," and readers are free to post reactions or other comments. Additionally, there's a "Network" section where teachers and others are asked to make recommendations or comment on curriculum areas and resources in social studies. In order to participate in the Forum and Network, users have to register, but it's free. …

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