Classroom Tech Blog

Elizabeth 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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  • 09/06/2015 1:29 PM | Dr. Margaret Hill (Administrator)

    Are you a middle or high-school teacher interested in deepening your work with media and technology? Would you like to impact the resources developed by KQED for educators? The KQED team invites you to join the KQED working groups and become part of their think tank.
    KQED Education aims not only to serve the nine Bay Area counties, but has grown to a national level with the help from our recent partnerships with the National Writing Project, PBS NewsHour Extra, Youth Radio, California Academy of Sciences, and Twitter.

    Why Get Involved?
    Influence media and education content used by thousands of teachers and students
    ·       Engage with a network of like-minded educators. Share best practices for teaching and    learning with public media resurces.
    Connect with KQED Education producers, and get inspired to bring new tools and practices back to your classroom.
    Receive free professional development, including the opportunity to attend and present at local, regional and national education conferences.
    Learn best practices for using social media and open educational resources in your classroom
    ·       Inspire, refresh and modernize your teaching practice.
    Receive a cash stipend for your time and effort.

    Apply for KQED Working Groups Here!

  • 08/23/2015 1:51 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)


          We aren’t talking about the campfire treat. Smore is an online newsletter web creator that you can print out or share electronically. They have a variety of templates available and it is super easy to use. One of the great Smore features is that you can hyperlink to other sites and make your newsletter interactive. You can choose to share your newsletter on your social networks or via a mailing list. Your first five Smores are free. After that, they offer an educator license for $59 annually. This is a great way to share information. You can also have students create a newsletter to demonstrate mastery of content. So get cozy around the fire and check out your Smore.

    Sample Smore on Getting Started with Twitter

  • 06/12/2015 3:24 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

         Social media is becoming an ever growing part of our students lives. Why not show students how to you social media responsibly as digital citizens and with an educational purpose? My students are getting more and more into Vine. I took the plunge and had a student show me how to use the app. Then I had to think- what did I want to document? How can I find a purposeful way for students to use the tool? I often take pictures of our class and post them to our class Twitter and Instagram to document our growth and provide an opportunity for the parents to peek into our classroom. Vine allows me to share brief 6 second videos. In a Twitter chat a participant also mentioned having students create them for vocabulary. You can asks students a brief question to respond to. Another possibility is to have students record their analysis of a political cartoon. Get creative.

         Once you have your students create them on their iPhone or Android phone, you can collect them using Google Forms. Another option is to have your students post them to their ePortfolios by embedding it onto their site  if they have them. You will need to get the embed code and embed it on a computer or Chromebook. The process does not work on the smart phones or ipads to embed Vines.

    Check out this Prohibition exhibit Vine from the National Constitution Center.  
  • 05/02/2015 1:37 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    Last weekend I attended Edsurge in Los Angeles, where teachers can explore emerging educational technologies. While waiting for the event to start, I had a chance to catch up and chat with Jen Roberts. Roberts is a rockstar middle school English teacher in San Diego. In our discussion, I brought up researching and getting students to properly attribute sources when she shared Photos for Class. This site is FABULOUS.

    Photos for Class is a free database of Creative Commons G rated images that you can download WITH proper attribution included at the bottom of the image. Let me say this is golden. I have stressed with my students the needs to give proper attribution in their work including images. Too often teachers have students just grab an image off of Google. This is wrong. We must teach our students to search for Creative Commons images to utilize and give proper attribution. See last month's Fair Use blog post for more information on the topic.

    Photos for class is easy to use. Just type in the topic in the search window. My students and I found that you may need to include the general topic and a specific aspect to narrow your search to be more productive. For example, when a student was looking for images related to the fall of China to communism we entered "Communism China." Once you find an image you like, select download. You will now have a Creative Commons photo with proper attribution to use in your task. This serves as a great way to teach digital citizenship and for students to see the proper way to attribute photos that are not there own.

  • 04/12/2015 4:38 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    Not everyone is 1:1 with Chromebooks or ipads. Or maybe you want your students to record in an "old school" way without visuals... think Fireside Chats. One item that most of our students have is a cell phone. If not, many classes have enough where students may work in groups. You can have your students record audio with their cell phones using ipadio. ipadio is a allows you to broadcast live to the web by having your students call a phone number.

    To begin, you will want to have the students who will be using their phones sign up for a FREE account. They will be given a phone number to call and a PIN number after registering. Have the students write this down, they can also retrieve this info online by logging in. It is best to have students script out their recording prior to calling- there is no pause. Once they call the number, they will be prompted to enter in their pin. Next, there will be a recorded message, at the beep students record into their phone and press # at the end to stop the recording. They will be prompted if they want to listen then. I have my students save all recordings and select the best one at the end. Having a class record in the classroom can get loud and the noise will overlap, consider taking your class outside to a common area such as the quad to record. Have the student with the account login and have them/group listen and select the recording they like. Lastly, have the students download the recording to share with you via a Google Form or they can share the selected recording embed code with you via email or a Google form as well. If you have a group that does not have access to a phone, you may consider having them use your phone. To do this, you can register an alternate phone number- I entered in my class extension to share with students. You can then share the alternate number and PIN and allow student(s) to use your phone.

    There are a variety of ways in which to use this. You may consider doing this for WWI or WWII battle reports. My students really embraced this and downloaded battle sound apps on another student's phone to play in the background as they were recording their "battle reports." The class was excited to listen to their reports to review for the exam and complete their battle notes graphic organizer. You may also consider this in meeting Special Education accommodations. This is a great tool to help meet the speaking and listening requirements of the Common Core. 

  • 03/24/2015 10:18 AM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    My first session at the annual Computer Using Educators (CUE) Conference this month was a session led by Gail Desler and Jane Lofton was phenomenal- Can I Use That? Not only was it packed full of resources samples, and videos to use with students, but they began with a Constitution reference quote.  Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution calls for the government “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”  It is incumbent upon us as teachers to show students the proper way to utilize resources and give proper attribution. One cannot just go onto Google and utilize whatever image comes up. As Desler and Lofton state on their website, “In today's media-rich world, to be truly college and career ready, our students need a strong understanding of the concepts of copyright and fair use and how to apply these concepts within and beyond the school day. And teachers need a toolkit that clarifies both the limits of copyright and the possibilities of fair use.”

    The ladies have also created a Can I use that? A Guide to CreativeCommons PDF that is invaluable. You will also find image and music Fair Use resources, links to Fair Use curriculum videos to use with students and teachers, and more.

  • 03/14/2015 1:31 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)
    This year's keynote at the CCSS Conference was the amazing Sam Wineburg. He is author of "Why Historical Thinking Matters" and is the director of the Stanford History Education Group(SHEG). One of the important historical thinking skills SHEG reinforces and Wineburg spoke about was sourcing. In today's digital age this is a necessary skill to teach our students as they sort through troves of information on the internet. WhoIs is a great site Wineburg mentioned in his keynote.
    This site allows you to plug in the URL to a website and it will tell you who it is registered to. It is important for all of us to learn who is behind the web pages we are visiting, site names can and often are misleading. So before you or your students reference a site, do you due diligence sourcing the information and check out who is really behind the site.

  • 02/18/2015 5:08 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    Civic discourse is an important activity which history teachers must provide models for our students to do so responsibly. This is even more paramount in today’s environment and given the growing concerns regarding digital literacy, social media, and digital citizenship. Daily Read offers a free and engaging way for teachers to engage students in current events and civic discourse. Daily Read articles are available in a variety of topics ranging from US news, world news, arts and culture, science, and business. Students have access to leveled readings, linked articles for further reading, a poll question to take a position on, and a thought provoking question where students take a position, defend their position and type their response.

    All one needs to do is sign up for your free Daily Read teacher account. You can have all of your students in a class to interact or separate students by class period and discuss by class period. You can instruct your students which articles to read or let their curiosity guide their reading. From your dash board, you can see the most popular section of articles your students have commented on, the most popular articles, who read what article and when, top commentators, and more. Engage your students.
  • 01/24/2015 12:40 PM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    My students were working on our WWI webquest this month. One of the requirement is to integrate their research into a timeline. We were having trouble with both of the websites I have used the past four years. I sent out an SOS Tweet to one of the companies. Within minutes I had received a Tweet from HSTRY to try them out. We did and I am and grateful for HSTRY’s outreach and easy to use product.

    HSTRY is a free and easy to use timeline maker. The teacher signs up for a free account. As the teacher, you have a dashboard to create classes, issue a class code for students to sign up (no student email needed), control the roster with the ability to reset student passwords (I LOVE this feature), and can view and monitor student progress. One of the other great features is that if a group is presenting and the timeline creator is absent, you can still provide access to the group/class for presentation.

    HSTRY is not your traditional timeline- it progresses vertically. It allows for a brief or more elaborate entry. Their template includes positions for images with image citation, incorporation of You Tube video for multimedia, topic trivia with Did you know?, and allows you to integrate questions along the way.

    Again, HSTRY is easy to use for both the teacher to utilize for their presentation of info and for students to demonstrate their research and mastery of knowledge. Check out these sample timelines.


  • 12/13/2014 11:10 AM | Elizabeth Ramos (Administrator)

    In this digital age, quick access to information and visual literacy is shaping how data is communicated. Did you know that the White House has a page dedicated to infographics and they include emoticons? Infographics are not to be discounted. They are becoming more a part of communication and require synthesizing and summary of information. Another consideration of infographics is that they can provide access to students with limited reading and language abilities.

    Piktochart is an easy to use infographic maker. Teachers and students can sign up for a free account and begin creation. It is important to first conduct research and identify the key points and data to convey. Having students collaborate using a Google Doc for their research first is beneficial. Once this is known, it is easier to select a template that will work best. See Mei Chow has created a helpful layout sheet for planning and selecting the best template. You and your students can adjust color and fonts, import images from their site, or even import your own pictures or student created images from Google Drawing. Once you have created your infographic, you can share it via email, use the link to collect student work using a Google Form, or embed it on a web site. 

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