Tuesday, January 11, 2011

10 Resources for Teaching History with Technology

In continuation with my series on teaching Social Studies using technology, it is time to focus on history.  My previous post on Geography, Economics, and Government are worth looking at as well.  I wanted to focus on just U.S. or just World History, but so many of the resources are usable for both, so I am sticking with just History.  Some of the resources might be specific to one or the other and I will make note of that.

1.) For U.S. History teachers is Mission U.S.  The site is designed to be a free online role-playing game where you play the role of an American during the American Revolution and you have to make decisions that determine where his loyalties lie.  This is currently the only chapter/level available.  The next game, available this spring will be focused on slavery.  It appears the goal is to release a new chapter/game every year. Another role playing video game option is American Dynasties that is worth checking out as well.

2.) For both U.S. History and World History is Footnote, which is a site for finding primary documents online.  There are several collections of interest: World War II, Holocaust, Black History, Vietnam, and the Civil War.  Footnote hosts 70 Million original documents.  You can browse by title, time period, keyword search, or search by state.  Great for State History classes.  Another option is Digital Docs in a Box.

3.) Maps of War is a great site for studying the impacts that war has had on the world.  The maps provide a visual history of war, religion, and government.  There are currently 7 maps that can be used in the classroom to enhance the subject matter. 

4.) The Historical  Marker Database is a great resource for U.S. History teachers.  So much history has happened in the United States and this site helps bring the location of those events to reality for students.  These markers are all over the country and throughout each state.  Using the Database, students will be able to find local markers and research historical events within their hometown.  Using a FLIP camera or digital camera students could log their "field trip" to the marker.

5.) Critical Past is a historical video and picture site.  With over 57,000 videos and 7 million pictures, it is your one stop for digital primary sources.  You can watch the videos on the website in a small screen and view the photos with a watermark/copyright.  If you want a full screen and HD versions of the video and non-copyrighted photos, they will have to be purchased.  You can also have a Pro account that offers more services.  Another great feature is that you can "edit" the information that comes with the videos in case there is discrepancies. So the site is free, and the videos can be free, but there are paying features.

6.) DocsTeach is a great site that takes primary documents and allows users to CREATE activities related to the documents OR use activities previously created.  There are over 3000 primary sources available to use from the National Archives.  I highly recommend using this site!

7.) Playing History is a site dedicated to sharing games that relate to history.  There are various games based upon the units that you are teaching.  There is a huge tag cloud to help find games as well.  It is basically a searchable database to outside websites.  If students are going to play video games, why not play some that relate to content?

8.) Newspapers are a great way to teach history.  There are two great sites do find archived newspapers.  The first is Rag Linen, which "is an educational archive of rare and historic newspapers, which serve as the first drafts of history and the critical primary source material for historians, authors and educators."  The second is Chronicling America from the Library of Congress.  "This site allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1860-1922 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present."

9.) OurStory is a site that offers American Stories and Activities that teachers can do with their students.  "OurStory is designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through children’s literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities."  There are several activities that are worth exploring and implementing in your classroom.

10.) Shmoop is a site that has been talked about a lot.  Shmoop for U.S. History has some great resources and study guides to use with students.  There are several resources for teachers that can be used inside and outside of the classroom.  All the resources are broken down by the units that are taught by social studies teachers.  For students there are supplements to help them learn about the subject matter, such as timelines, biographies, and assessments.  There is also a $1.99 Shmoop App that students can download from iTunes.

For my readers in Europe, Euratlas is a periodical of maps showing how Europe has changed throughout the years.

If looking for more resources for teaching Social Studies using Web 2.0, you might look at joining the Teaching History with Web 2.0 Tools Social Network.  Another option is a great Social Studies Wiki.


  1. hi Michael,
    i work with the Zinn Education Project (www.zinnedproject.org) and we have found that many people registering for our site found out about it through you and your blog. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! we appreciate the help with outreach.

    we wanted to send you a more formal thank you note, but we do not have your email address and you are not registered for the site yourself. can you send me your email? jtucker@teachingforchange.org

    Jonathan B. Tucker
    Communications and Development Associate
    Teaching for Change

  2. Greetings from Washington, D.C.!
    As the education specialist who oversees OurStory at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, it was great to see this "shout out" for our site. Sorry it took us a while to find your note, but we really appreciate your compliments. Also, if you've implemented any of our ideas and would like to make recommendations, we would love to hear them.
    Thanks again for your dedication to the art of teaching and for mentioning us!
    Jenny at thinkfinity@si.edu

  3. As a Civil War Reenactor and general history enthusiast I found these sites very useful! HMDB has a good selection of markers- took a nice afternoon and went to find some markers.
    Thanks for the great resources!