Social Studies. (Web Wonders)
Troutner, Joanne, Teacher Librarian
Social studies web sites are the treasures to be found in this column. Sites were selected based on the range of curriculum resources and their usefulness for project-based learning. I have included a few sites that have subscription fees. These sites are exemplary and well worth the cost in both materials and time saved for your teachers and students.
Begin by examining this wondrous, whimsical site with a large number of timelines. It is broken into categories of history and cultures, science and technology, arts and literature, popular culture and science fiction, and is a treasure-trove of information for students working on social studies projects. For example, history students can explore a 20th Century timeline developed by Borders Books with ties to specific titles or a civilizations timeline. Be aware that there are some links to materials which can be considered controversial, so guide students to the exact site you want them to use.
Unionville History Project
A great site to introduce a class to project based learning, this is a virtual museum developed by a Grade 8 class with the help of community members. It includes a driving tour, digitized historical maps, information on Native Americans and the Underground Railroad and links to community sites. This model site serves as an excellent example of a joint school/community project.
Web sites can prove highly useful for the study of ancient civilizations, and here are four sites to consider:
Images from History
Here researchers will find images from Archaic Africa, West Asia, Europe and the New World, images from ancient and feudal means of production, and images of both world art and archaeological digs. Students need to pay attention to fair use as these images are assumed to be copyrighted.
Ancient Greek Civilizations
Next, stop by this site, which richly chronicles the Minoans, Myceneans, the Dark Ages of Greece, Homer's writings and a number of Grecian cultures and cities. The information is concise and well written, and a number of graphic resources are included.
Cradle of Civilization
Another example of student production is this ThinkQuest entry on Africa. Information on ancient as well as modern times can be found at this resource-rich site.
Stone Pages: A Guide to European Megaliths
Finally, learn about the Ancient Stones of France, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. The brief descriptions and superlative graphics, some with QuickTime VR features, make this a rich site for students and teachers. Works very well as a single-computer teaching tool in the classroom.
Life Top 100 People
Another way to liven up a research assignment. Students can use this list as a place to begin research and as the means for a debate assignment. Questions such as "Do Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan actually belong on the Top Ten list?" or "What government leaders would you choose for the Top Five list?" can provide excellent group projects as well as meaningful research assignments that do not invite plagiarism, but force students to construct their own knowledge.
Another excellent site for single-computer classroom use is this feature from the Library of Congress. Archives are housed at http://learning.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/activity/detect/archive.html. Students search the resource-rich American Memory site to answer questions such as "Was Billy the Kid really killed by Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner, New Mexico? …