TECH YOUR SS ROAD TRIP!

One of the great aspects of teaching social studies is that your curriculum is everywhere – historical site, a market, museums, a bank, government buildings, courtrooms .. you name it, it probably has something to do with social studies.  Taking your kids on the road is always a great way to get the social studies to come alive, set the stage for inquiry and discussion, differentiate your curriculum, and offer something new by getting out of the classroom.  How can we make these trips even more engaging and informative?  Go tech!

The typical field trip is often accompanied by worksheets for students to fill out as they visit a museum, science center, or fine arts location. Also, reflection usually takes place after the trip, sometimes when students have already forgot what they’ve seen. Are you looking for ways to innovate on your next field trip, allowing students to be more interactive, integrate technology, ditch the clipboards and paper, and get real-time reflection and feedback? Here’s a couple of ideas to supercharge your next social studies odyssey with your students.

Of course, when integrating technology at any point in education, there needs to be one disclaimer – you need to have access to technology. The ideas below will work with mobile devices and tablets, but for much of it there will need to be cellular connectivity or access to the Internet. Many museums that you visit will have wifi access, but it’s always good to check before you go. Also, you may need a advance reconnaissance trip in order to plan out your awesome new visit. Just a note to remind you!

You probably already know it – Nearpod is a great engager and formative assessment tool in your classroom. However, it also has a lot of power when you take it on the road. You can create a Nearpod presentation that guides students as they proceed through a visit, or you can have them control the slides themselves. You can integrate visual cues of places and items to look for, specific instructions for the visit, and links to additional information that they may want to consult. You can also get feedback from them through Nearpod’s multiple assessment tools and solicit reflections as they travel through a site. The information you collect will be great for debriefing when you get back to school or in a common area at the location. They can even draw something from their experience!

Nearpod trip
Teach led, student paced interfaces for Nearpod

The assessment tools also keep students on their toes and give them some responsibility for their own successful learning experience outside of the classroom – without the clipboard. If you control the slide show, you can also ask questions on the fly – and have the responses collected for later use. Here’s an example from a recent trip to Gettysburg – take a look! (The code to join the student paced presentation is PMGZT – give it a whirl).

 

Looking to crowd source student photos on your trip? There’s a ton of ways to do that with mobile devices. You could have students utilize a social media hashtag for your trip to document the experience from their eyes. You can also have students airdrop you their photos or upload them to a common dropbox or Google Drive folder when they return to school. It takes the camera work off of your shoulders – it certainly helped me in DC last year!

Another way to solicit feedback and collected in one platform is using Poll Everywhere. Ask students a pointed question about the visit or solicit some general feedback about the trip. Their responses will be collected in one single poll that can be private only for you or can be published for others to see. You can use it as questioning platform or get student reflections from a trip – just a few ideas!

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If you want to record student observations on the trip in real time and have them available for others to hear, try Ipadio. Ipadio is a mobile podcasting platform that allows you to record audio from your cell phone and upload it to a media player. It’s super easy to do … so easy that I sometimes forget to do it! By posting the media player on the classroom website or learning management system, parents and colleagues can follow along on your trip. Combining the audio with images allows visitors to feel like they’re virtually going along on the trip.

You could also experiment with live streaming video platforms. Periscope, Facebook live, and Ustream are all methods of sharing live video to people online. If privacy is a concern, just check your privacy settings and limit the publicity of any link.  You should also check your schools media policy for sharing student images.

IMG_1959Looking to keep kids engaged as they ride a bus to and from your location (or any other time)? If they have mobile devices with cellular connectivity, give Quizziz a whirl. You can create your own that deal with the location that you were visiting, or use it as a time to review class material. It’s also a good way to balance curriculum if you’re taking kids out of a different class in order to see a site in your subject. You can have them play a couple quizzes of the subject are missing. Prizes are always a great motivator, but the simple competition of the quiz usually does the job. Want to try your hand at some Constitutional questions? (If the game is active try 575335 for a code – it may need to be monitored!)

If you are taking a longer journey and want to collect everything in one happy place, a trip website is easy to use, especially if you front load it with essential info, pages, and embedded material.  I have used both Blogger and Weebly to a great deal of success. Parents love keeping up with the group, and it also serves as a chronicle of the trip after the fact.  Here’s our recent tour of DC – great times!

Of course, all of these ideas can be scaled for younger students by giving the instructor more control.  A discussion of positive digital citizenship should proceed any souped up field trip – but you would probably talk about behavior expectations anyway, right? And, you can scale the amount to cater to how much you want your students on screens.  It’s all up to the head traveler.

Have any other ideas about using tech on a field trip?  I’d love to hear and see it.  Please comment below or share with me (and others) on Twitter. Have fun the next time you hit the road!

Smash Up the Social Studies!

We’re a family of games, especially with my youngest son who loves playing every type of game out there – video games, board games, card games, you name it. Games are social, so they’re perfect for the social studies classroom in for social studies teachers. And, if you’re lucky enough to know Michael Matera and call him a pal, you can find out about any game in existence – the guy is incredible. My family’s current infatuation is with an awesome card game called Smash Up from Paul Peterson and Alderac.

We were introduced to it by our game nut nephews and my brother in law Rick, and it now is a nighttime staple! Not only do I love the game for it’s flexibility, gameplay, and creativity, but I also think it would be an awesome game to repurpose for the social studies classroom. So … here goes …

If you’ve played it before, skip down to the next paragraph. If you haven’t, here’s a brief description of Smash Up – the rules are pretty easy to follow.  In the game, there are multiple sets or factions of cards linked to a specific topic, genre, or concept.  Players take two different factions and mix them together – smashing them up. Each faction has a set of minions any set of actions. Each turn, you can play a minion on a base and then play an action. The abilities of each minion and the actions are thematic – for example, Pirates are able to move from base to base, Dinosaurs have a great deal of numerical power, Killer Plants keep growing and growing, and Elder Things make opponents mad by having them draw certain cards.  Your goal is to total enough points to score a base and add to your overall tally. It is cleverly written game, because each deck has certain powers, making it on par with every other deck. The creativity that went into the development of the game is astounding, in my mind, and that’s something I’d like to tap into when he comes to my students.

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Smash Up involves long term and short term strategy, thinking well ahead of your turn, but also the ability to make decisions instantly.  No two games are the same, since the various factions mix to make combinations with different powers and actions.   It’s great head to head, but the more the merrier in Smash Up.  I could easily see students partnering with a deck and discussing their next move – what great collaborative thinking!

So, I have gushed about this awesome game, but where am I going with this in the world of social studies? Simple – students can create their own Smash Up  decks based on historical eras, geographical locations, political systems, or anything else that involves people (or animals, or weather, or geographic features … there is no limit!) The game already includes one truly historical faction, Mythic Greeks, so I can’t be too crazy with my idea (and I guess I’m not very original either, but bear with me.) Smash Up minions each have a printed point value and an action or talent that goes along with them. Students could take a historical era and create minions for real or representative individuals.

For example, for a Civil War Smash Up, the theme could be moving up in rank and building larger armies to wear out the opponent. A simple Private in the army could have the full value of one, but played with another Private, this value could increase.  A Major could have a higher value, while a General could have the highest value and the ability to move around any subordinate officers to different battlefields (bases, in the game). The actions can be historically based and involve some sort of thematic element from the time period, location or topic. For the Civil War, a Spy action would could allow a player to look at an opponent’s cards and discard one, while a Hospital action could allow a player to revive a minion from their discard pile. As students create the deck, they are digging into the content, developing a theme for the deck, and creating minions, actions, talents, and bases that match the theme curricular area.  The challenge, critical and creative thinking, and fun would explode – especially when they get to play their deck!  How cool is that?

Here are some examples I developed for the Civil War.  Could it work, maybe for that creative gamer that doesn’t like playing the game of school?  I think so!

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I made some templates for minions, actions, and bases.  Let me know if they help out!

Some possible ideas for Social Studies Smash Up sets:

World History: The Roman Empire, Chinese Dynasties, Ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages, the French Revolution (think of the actions – “Off With Their Heads”, “Let Them Eat Cake”, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”), The Cold War, The Age of Exploration, Barbarians, Greek Philosophers, Aztec Warriors, Enlightenment Thinkers, the Industrial Revolution

American History: Colonial America, the American Revolution, Manifest Destiny, Civil War, the Women’s Rights Movement, the AEF in WWI, the Roaring 20s, Captains of Industry (I can see the minions – Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan), the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement

Geography: general geography, any specific area of the globe, environmental challenges (Global Warming would be a high powered minion)

Government and Civics: political systems, the Constitution, citizenship (the actions could all be ones of civic duty)

Economics: The Stock Market, Comparative Economics, International Trade

This could totally work for other curricular areas t00.  How about factions for Shakespeare, the Periodic Table,  or great Mathematicians?

You can print the cards on heavy card stock at home or at school.  If you want a more professional card set, try MakePlayingCards.com or TheGameCrafter.com.

Of course, to understand the repurposing of the game, you have to play it – and I encourage you to do so.  After a few times through, you will be nodding your head, thinking “Michael and Chuck are right, this is a totally fun game” and “Chuck is onto something here with the repurposing of Smash Up.  Has he ever written about repurposing other games?” Actually, I did! Check it out, please!

Hopefully you get the chance to play this awesome game at home and with your students. It’s addictive to social studies nuts and gamers! And, when you have your students make a deck, send a copy my way – I need to beat my son with some great social studies factions!