Classroom Tech Blog

1Elizabeth Ramos, a H-SS teacher at Alta Loma HS in Southern California and Inland Empire Council for the Social Studies Teacher of Excellence, has been exploring ways to integrate technology into her classroom as a tool for teaching and learning since she first entered the classroom. She has participated in international video conferences with students, involved them in creating digital documentaries,digital storytelling, blogging, digital collaboration, and much more. All the while she has learned from her experiences and improved with each iteration of her projects, willingly sharing with others.

After discovering the technology blog she had been operating for her colleagues and students, the CCSS Publications Committee asked her to join our effort to bring our cutting edge publications to our members.  You are welcome to participate in the ongoing discussion and idea sharing of the most effective uses technology to enhance learning in every social studies classroom.  You will enjoy Liz’s energy and ideas and are encouraged to add your own.   
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  • 16 Mar 2014 4:04 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)


    If you are reading current articles and journals on education, you've probably heard of the flipped classroom. Jon Bergmann, one of the pioneers of the flipped classroom, lead a session at International Society for Technology in Education, ISTE,  last summer. In his session he discussed flipping one's classroom is NOT about the use of videos but it IS about creating a STUDNET-CENTERED classroom. Without knowing it was called flipping, I was in one of the latter stages as his presentation continued. With the Common Core, it is even more important to create a student-centered classroom and give students the opportunity to engage with the content.
    Many people have a misconception of it being about students watching the videos and doing homework in the classroom. I was delighted to catch 

    At this year's CCSS Conference, I presented Flipping the History Classroom. In my presentation I provided the why and how, including ways to structure student activities with and without the use of technology. You can flip your classroom and not be a 1:1 school- I did. Here you will find the resources forFlipping the History Classroom. In the link you will find the Prezi, sample student activities, session handoutsactivity resources which include links to primary source and activity repositories, and some tech tools that I have used to engage my students in historical inquiry- particularly with visual literacy. The sample Lino board and Voicethread that we did not get to are also still live in case you would like to try the resource. You will need to sign up for a free Voicethread account before you post.

  • 12 Mar 2014 5:08 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    Sometimes it can be an arduous task collating primary sources for the World History classroom. At my Flipped History Classroom presentation and the CCSS Publications Committee session I mentioned a few repositories for World History primary sources that I have stumbled upon and have been very helpful. Participants asked for a blog entry on World History primary resources for activities and here we are. The repositories below will help you to select World History artifacts to engage your students in inquiry and meet the Common Core. I have also included Merlot II which is a database of not only primary source materials but also topic specific sites with activities and primary sources in many cases. Enjoy!

    World HistoryDigital Library The World Digital Library makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world. The principal objectives of the WDL are to promote international and intercultural understanding, expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences, and build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries. You can search the repository by regions and eras, as well as by a few languages including Spanish.

    Universityof San Diego Library Guides I was ecstatic to come across this one on my Twitter feed from Chris Long (@clonghb). The University of San Diego has compiled subject listings of primary sources available online: free web collections as well as UCSD subscription-based resources. It includes a custom Google search engine to key word search across many of the listed sites. As a teacher, if you take a public school letter head note from your administrator verifying that you are a teacher at a public institution you can recieve a UC library card and gain access to their resources- a tip I learned two summers ago at UC Berkeley. 

    Internet History SourceBooks Project Fordham University has created a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts for educational use. They have divided the collections into three eras: Ancient History, Medieval History, and Modern History. Each collection has been further broken down. Fordham has also enabled search of their collections by topic and region. 

    Merlot II Merlot is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials contributed and used by an international education community. Select an are from the left scroll bar and let the browsing begin.
  • 08 Feb 2014 2:53 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)
    Too often our students go through the school day without speaking in class. Communication and Speaking are elements of the classroom addressed in CCSS. Often as teachers we find it difficult to keep track of student participation and randomizing our student selection for participation. Class Cards is an android and iPhone app that makes tracking student participation easier. Utilize Class Cards to randomly generate a list to call on students, select a student of your choosing to respond, rate the quality of the student response instantly in your hand, view student response scores individually or as an entire class, email yourself student scores, and archive scores to view, print grade sheets, or download the data into an Excel spreadsheet. I love the idea of being able to quickly note the quality of student responses', especially for Socratic Seminars. Also, many students sit passively in a class because it has no "worth" to speak. Class Cards makes it easier for teachers to give purpose to
  • 25 Jan 2014 6:23 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)


    Google keeps turning out tools for students to practice the Creativity in the CCSS 4Cs. Their newest tool is Google Story Builder. It is as simple as typing in the characters, type in the script, and select music....REALLY! Making a "movie" couldn't be easier. You can add up to 10 characters. Next you type in the script for each character and select music, and then play the film. It is a great tool to also work on literacy because the students will need to read it. You, the teacher, can make brief films to intro a topic or pose a dilemma in history for students to consider. Another possible use would be for students to create a brief historical dialogue.

  • 11 Jan 2014 11:05 AM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)


    If you have a projector hooked up to you computer or laptop, you can easily use it to mirror your iPad! Have you ever found an app that you want to use in your classroom? Use Reflector to wirelessly mirror your iPad through your MAC or PC. Relector is a cheap $12.99 download that opens your classroom to the app world. If you are like me, you find great apps for content and classroom management that are only on an iOS device. Problem is now solved. If your school is like mine, you may need to have a school administrator or computer tech download the program onto your work computer. Another work around is to download Reflector onto your laptop and connect that to your classroom projector and enjoy!

  • 03 Dec 2013 3:38 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    Setting the hook is an important part of a unit and lesson. One of the ways teachers may think of doing this is through comics. Comics are a great way to peak students curiosity. Pixton allows teachers to create comics to introduce topics and convey information in an engaging manner. Teachers can sign up for a free trial and pay to extend beyond that. Students can also create their own comics to demonstrate their understanding of concepts, meeting the multimedia component of the Common Core. Pixton is easy to use. Users can select settings, characters, move and position characters, select from a variety of text boxes, and create their own dialogue. Multiple comics can be created together to form a book as well- great for the sections of a unit or chapter. In a few hours one can create multiple comics to use in the classroom!

  • 02 Nov 2013 4:07 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

          I came across a tweet from Sean Ziebarth (@MrZiebarth) on Twitter about his students using Thinglink. I was curious...What is it? is a great tool to annotate an image with uses for the teacher and students. Thinglink is a website that lets you add 'tags to an uploaded image to annotate. You may type in info, link to an image, link to a video, link a Google Document, or hyperlink to an additional website. This is a great presentation tool for teachers and students alike to utilize. Additionally, it meets the criteria for students presenting their findings in a multimedia format for the Common Core.

    Here's how to use it:

  • 12 Oct 2013 10:22 AM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

           Google Docs, housed on Google Drive, have a limitless possibility in the ways teachers can utilize them to meet the 4C's of the Common Core (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication). Additionally, using Google Docs eliminates the need for costly Microsoft software and formatting issues. How many times has a student told you their computer crashed, they lost their flash drive, student x is absent with the PPT/doc, they forgot to save the file, or the computer will not open the file? Google Drive eliminates all of this! It automatically saves the document, students can share the document and work on it at the SAME time ( I have had a whole class of 37 students working on 1 CST PPT for review at the SAME time), it is stored in the cloud, and eliminates the cannot open file issue with different formats. As long as you are connected to the internet, you can access the file. It is also available as an app on android and ios devices.

           To begin, have students create a Google Drive account. When in Drive, you can create a document (similar to a doc), presentation (similar to a PPT), spreadsheet (similar to excel), form, drawing, or folders. Once students get used to the sharing and privacy settings, Google Documents are transformational and students generally will gravitate to them. They also allow you to see the revision history so you can see exactly when and who was active on the document. Students can create a Doc and you can have them share it with you and/or another student enabled to comment. This can be used as an exercise to write , collaborate for revision, and then have the student revise the Doc for final submission. If you are completing a group project in class or for National History Day, multiple students may edit a document. Teachers may also have students create a folder with their writings/inquiry throughout the year to serve as an electronic portfolio.

         Here are the steps to creating a Google Document and sharing it:

  • 23 Sep 2013 3:42 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)
    With teachers having multiple devices and students using tech tools in class and a different device at home, note taking platforms are in demand. Two options, which many teachers are using themselves and with students for portfolios, are Evernote and Notability.

    Evernote works on a variety of platforms and syncs on multiple devices (android and ios). You can take notes on Evernote, insert images, and record audio with text notes. It is great for students who begin research in class at school and continue it later on. They can resume where they left off and retain links they saved earlier with Evernote's webclipper tool. Teachers and students can even save tweets too. Evernote provides a variety of tutorial videos to support its product.

    Another product for note-taking is Notability. This is an ios app compatible with the ipod, iphone, and ipad. It is a $2.99 download from the Apple Store. While taking notes in Notability you can type, use touch screen with your finger or stylus, add images, capture a webpage, and record audio. Users may export their files in PDF or email and may back them up to Google Drive or Drop Box. Cnet has provided a guide for getting started with Notability.

  • 14 Sep 2013 4:29 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

           Examining primary sources and evaluating data is an important skill in history. This skill is also explicitly addressed in the Common Core State Standards across the grade levels. Teachers are called upon to engage students in historical inquiry. Often times students are weary of speaking in class. Additionally, more schools are gaining access to technology and looking for ways to leverage their devices in meaningful ways. Voice Thread is a collaborative conversation tool to foster inquiry with text and visuals.

           Voice Thread is easy to use and provides versatility. They have included a vast number of images one may select from their media options. Teachers can also upload images, insert a video, or convert a PPT for students to engage with. A teacher may insert part of a primary source text, image, or chart into a PPT and type a question(s) for student analysis/reflection. If using a PPT, the teacher/user must first convert the file into a JPEG. Students have found the tool engaging. There are a variety of response options available. A student may type a response, circle part of the image of text with the writing tool, use the writing tool to focus on part of the image and type a response, text a response, or record a video response. Students must create an account for free using an email address before they can post. Once a teacher has created a Voice Thread, they may share with with the students via email, sharing a link in class, or they may embed the voice thread on a website. It is also available as an app.

           The following instructions walk you through creating a Voice Thread, including how to convert a PPT to use it in the program.

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