Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Technology

Student Discovery Set

Student Discovery Set

I’m excited to see the new Student Discovery Sets from the Library of Congress Teachers Page and available free through Itunes/IBooks.

Teachers familiar with the Library’s Primary Source Sets will recognize the topics and set organization. They will  be excited about  the interactive capabilities the 6 eBook sets provide. Teachers new to these resources will quickly see the possibilities enhancing teaching and learning.  Students can individually view primary source photos, maps and documents, and listen to audio. They can engage with the artifacts by zooming or simply tapping on the image to draw or analyze. Analysis prompts use the familiar Observe, Reflect, Question and Investigate prompts and a place to write.  Analysis notes can be copied/pasted into other apps; screenshots of images or drawings images can be saved to photos for future use.

Each set includes a page with  a thumbnail  version of the primary source and citations.  The Teachers Guides that have teaching ideas and additional resources are not included in the eBook versions of the sets, but remain available through The Teachers Page version.

These new eBooks escalate  LOC Classroom Materials to a different level, providing intuitive, engaging learning opportunities for students to learn individually following teacher introduction. They are easy to find in the iBooks Store; simply search for Student Discovery Sets. Learn more or access the ebooks directly at www.loc.gov/teachers/student-discovery-sets/.

The six sets offer learning activities for all ages and a variety of content areas.

  • Immigration
  • ’The Dust Bowl
  • Symbols of the United States
  • Understanding the Cosmos
  • The Constitution
  • The Harlem Renaissance

Free Ebooks from the Library of Congress Put History in Students’ Hands, Teachers Page Blog Post, September 2014.

Classroom Ready Materials on the Library of Congress Teachers Page, Internet@Schools September 2013.
More about Primary Source Sets and other materials for teachers.

Making Learning Interactive (The New Media Center, Column,  Internet @ Schools, March/April 2015)


CD Rom Encyclopedia

I loved being an early adapter and introducing technology to students when technology first became available for school media centers. We piloted a circulation system on an Apple II, the text only CD-ROM  version of World Book on CD-Rom, and Gopher Internet with its text driven commands.  We explored software, collaborative initiatives and multimedia.  We  tried out a few non-computer innovations such as video disks and created a video production studio with a mix of scavenged old and new technology.  Cutting edge technology was not without it stress and there were a few failures But, through trials, errors, and frustrations we learned what works, what doesn’t work and what’s best for real learning.  We expanded possibilities for students and the media program. We were part of change and it created change.     The Verge post of photos and animated GIFs of old-school technology (including a few audio visual items) are worth a few seconds of reminiscing. Be thankful for wireless, and no longer hooking up zip drives or pry jammed floppy disks out of drives.
Enjoy  Reboot: these stunning still-life photos will take you back to the future

Photo: The CD-ROM still worked after a  dunking in a boys’ bathroom toilet!  Remember making signs with Print Shop?

Frustrated by endless email threads that result from even the simplistic scheduling process?  Finding a meeting time for as few as three people can be more work than it should be. It gets worse if phone tag is part of the problem.  As several of us often do, send a Doodle!

Doodle’s Scheduling option makes setting a meeting time as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Log in to your free account
  2. Enter a list of options,
  3. Send a password free email to colleagues or friends

Recipients need only select the link and check the times the work.   You, the originator of the invitation, can view results in a convenient visual format and announce the meeting date.   If 5 of 6 people are available at 10:00 Tuesday that’s when you meet!

Need to schedule a group of volunteers?  Enter the time slots and job descriptions; send the link to the group, asking them to indicate their choice and add an optional comment.

Doodle is efficient for planning large group or classroom activities.  Teachers who give students a choice of project options can ask students to check their choice from a list.  The choices can be limited to one or several participants.

Doodle Poll is free and practical.  Make a Choice and MeetMe Requests are other options.  The premium version includes additional options such as email reminders.
Check it out at Doodle.Com to see what else you can do.
You really will wonder how you got along without Doodle!!

Screen Shot of the original Oregon TrailMay 2016 update: Minnesota Made Oregon Trail is Inducted into Video Game Hall of Fame

Original post: Not the trail that Lewis and Clark traveled, but the memorable computer game.  Ask a group of adults about their first memories of computers; often they mention Oregon Trail.

Some recall the original Apple II green and black version; others a CD-ROM (WOW) or networked version.  My current online students brought up Oregon Trail in a conversation about change.

I remember back in 2nd grade. My teacher taught me how to dial the telephone, place the handset into the modem cradle, and log into the Teletype so that my classmates could play Oregon Trail. What a thrill!

I remember Oregon Trail!  Nothing like big and little floppy disks on the Apple 2 GS computers.  Between that and Word Munchers, my how I loved my computer lab.

 You were never successful the first few times you played the game because it took so many trial/error tests of determining which profession gave your the most money versus keeping your family alive (in the end, the doctor was my preferred job).  You needed to weigh all the variables of packing, fixing, hunting, weather, buying.  It was such an involved game . . .  I remember the cringe of the disk loading . . .

I also remember the amazing 16 bit graphics and lifelike drawings of animals we hunted!!! 

I remember OT in the third grade as a computer game you got to play when your typing exercise was completed!

OT was often a time-filler. As a middle school media specialist I was concerned about students who only wanted to shoot and kill.  Too often an excellent program with high potential was only used when teachers provided an end of unit award.  Yet, I couldn’t help but think that maybe the kids were learning more than we realized.  One former kid, now a teacher said:

I think teachers liked it so much because it forced us to use our problem solving skills. Through repetition, you learned how to be successful. The idea of problem solving can be related to how we approach new technologies. . . .  With time and practice, we learn how to navigate the technology just like we navigated through Oregon Trail.

 What made it so engaging was that it was interactive. This gob of a machine, clunky and noisy, was telling me a story, asking me questions, and responding to my answers. . . The process was dynamic, and like the best learning experiences, it played to my sense of curiosity and wonder. 

We know more now about how kids learn and the value of games. Let them play! It would be fun to integrate programs like Oregon Trail in an instructional unit and to inspire further exploration using primary sources like maps and diaries.

Classic and 40th anniversary editions are available. There are even Wii & Nintendo versions.       Read Wikipedia’s interesting article and historic overview.

How CAN I use primary resources along with a game?

Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources 

It’s Personal! Transforming Pedagogy with Technology was the theme of this year’s very well attended annual TIES technology conference.   As always I  came home with new resources and ideas to incorporate in online courses.

Web Tools for Grades 4-8 In-Depth Inquiry captured my attention; two teachers shared easy to implement ideas such as  using Todaysmeet.com and primary sources to encourage engaged, thinking discussion.

I was excited by a first grade teacher’s creative and helpful classroom blog.  Tom Deris shared great suggestions for successfully communicating with families.

Jen Legatt from Farmington and I shared the MN Teacher Loop Resource Center.   MN Loop is a searchable database of over 9000 resources aligned with MN content standards, NET-S Technology Standards, MEMO information and Technology Literacy Standards, and the Common Core Standards.  Educators liked the standards alignment.

Keeping up, keeping it personal —  Ipads, eReaders and smart phones were everywhere!  The former email stations available for attendees are now charging stations. Its fun to see the changes each year.  As always, connecting with friends and colleagues, making new friends and meeting an online student in person was the conference highlight.

Mary Alice and Kellie

“Mary Alice can take care of the e-newsletter; she has the tech skills.”   The skills I have acquired continue to be valuable in so many ways — creating e-newsletters or databases, helping others, teaching online classes and working on education related  projects.    

It’s all relative!  There is always someone who knows more than us, can do more than us and there is always something new to learn.  My newest experience was using a computer cash register, a skill I never needed until now. My transferable skills made it easy.

A great resource for helping us be one of those who knows is  A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet created by New Jersey Media Specialist Julie Greller.   Julie generously shares her good and creative ideas frequently. Take a look at her recent postings about photo apps, citation generators and web 2.0 screencasts.  Thanks, Julie!

” Mary Alice can do the e-newsletter; she has the tech skills; She got us all using Google Docs. ”  It’s fun to be recognized for my tech skills and glad to put them to use in many ways.  But. . . .it’s all relative!  

Someone always knows and can do more than us; someone always knows and can do less.   Working as a school media specialist and being “there” when technology first arrived has served me well. Tech  skills are valuable in my “new job” teaching online classes and volunteering with community organizations!   There is always something new to learn and do!  I just learned how to use a  cash register computer system! That was a completely new experience; my “built-in” transferable tech skills made it easy!   (Helping students acquire — and use– transferable skills is one of the most important things media specialists can do is help students learn!)

There will always be tech changes to cope with, learn from, and growth with.   Change and learning never stop.  We sometimes learn from situations we least expect to!   It’s all relative and that’s good to remember  if we feel overwhelmed  or  think “I’ll never need/do this.”

A top-notch resource for helping us know how is  A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Interne   New Jersey media specialist Julie Greller helps us learn with her  collections of links and notes about a wide array of web 2.0 tools and useful resources for educators.     Don’t miss her extensive and thoughtful collection of resources.

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