Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Social Studies Sites Of 2011

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I’m slowly, but surely, posting end-of-the-year “The Best…” lists. As always, in order for resources to make this list, they need to be available free-of-charge and be accessible to English Language Learners. It’s possible that some of them were available prior to this year, but they are new to me in 2011.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Social Studies Sites Of 2011 — So Far

The Best Social Studies Websites — 2010

The Best Social Studies Websites — 2009

The Best Social Studies Websites — 2008

The Best Social Studies Websites — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Social Studies Sites Of 2011:

Number eighteen

ViewChange.Org has some pretty amazing short videos from around the world. This is how it describes itself: Using the power of video to tell stories about real people and progress in global development. Believe me, that doesn’t even begin to tell you what’s there.

Number seventeen:

As most readers know, three years ago I put my entire United States History curriculum online.

I’m teaching it again this year — one class to Intermediate English Language Learners and the other to Beginning ELL’s, and am developing an updated version of the curriculum. This online version is more for the Intermediates, but there will be some materials accessible to Beginners, too.  You’re welcome to use it, including the uploaded resources there. I’d just ask that you credit the source and not charge others for it.

Number sixteen:

How Many Really? is a BBC interactive that shows you how many people were affected by or participated in major historical events, and then you can compare other numbers with them.

Number fifteen:

“1001 Wonders” is a neat site sharing panoramic photos from United Nations’ World Heritage Sites around the world.

Number fourteen:

A History of Poverty is an animated world map showing where poverty (and prosperity) have been most present over the past two hundred years. You can narrow it down by continent or county, too. It’s from the Christian Aid charity.

Number thirteen:

Google has created a gallery where you can visit historic areas around the world using its Street View feature.

Number twelve:

“Democracy Kids” is a nice series of interactives designed to teach young people about how the United States government operates. It provides audio support for the text, which makes it particularly accessible to English Language Learners. It’s sponsored by several respected civic organizations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Number eleven:

Newspaper Map shows you the front pages of newspapers from around the world, displayed on a Google Map. If it just stopped at that, it wouldn’t be much different from the well-known Newseum display of the same thing. But it doesn’t stop there. Unlike the Newseum, Newspaper Map lets you click on the front page to gain access to the entire newspaper. And, even better, with one quick click, you can choose the language you want the paper translated into. It’s very simple and easy to access.

Number ten:

Mapping America: Every City, Every Block is an amazing interactive from The New York Times that displays U.S. Census data from…everywhere. The New York Times Learning Network also has a simple lesson plan related to it. Connecting the Dots: Interpreting U.S. Census Data is a New York Times Learning Network lesson.

Number nine:

Public Opinion and the Occupy Movement is a fascinating interactive infographic from The New York Times.

Number eight:

How Many Slaves Work For You? is an interactive that helps you determine how many slaves were involved in the products you use.

Number seven:

As regular readers know, I write a lot about using online learning games with students. In fact, if you go to my page listing all 800 “The Best…” lists you’ll see many under “Games.” But Canadian secondary Social Studies teacher Mike Farley has gone far beyond my sharing of games. He writes a blog where he lists the links to fifteen excellent Social Studies-related games. That’s nice, but you can find those links in my “The Best…” lists. But what Mike also shares in his blog are student hand-outs for all those games. I don’t think you’ll find these kinds of resources anywhere else on the Web, and they’re a gold mine! Even if you don’t want to use some of them, they are excellent models that can be easily modified. Go check them out, and I think Mike has earned a big thank you from all of us for creating those materials and sharing them with the rest of us.

Number six:

Products Of Slavery is an impressive online visualization of products throughout the world created through using child or forced labor.

Number five:

This year, Pearson has, among other things, published a new U.S. History textbook and a new text on Ancient Civilizations. Big deal, right? Well, I don’t really care about the paperbound versions, but they has made the book’s online companion sites freely available. They both have some nice interactives.

Go to the sites and then click on each chapter. There are good interactives for each one:

American: History of our Nation

Ancient Civilizations

Number four:

I’ve previously highlighted Glencoe’s online videos for social studies, but have now discovered that offer many more free resources to support all their social studies textbooks. They’re useful even if you don’t use their books, though, and they’re freely available. You can start off at their main Social Studies site or at their main site for all their textbooks. From there, it’s easy to navigate to their U.S. History, World History and Geography books. They all have links to videos, “in-motion animations” like this one, interactive maps like this (I especially like these maps because they offer audio support for the text), and different games (I especially like their categorization activities).

Number three:

“If It Were My Home” is a neat interactive that compares the standard of living in the United States to any other country of your choice. The site also has some other neat features.

Number two:

The Daily What: News For Schools In Scotland provides very well-written and accessible articles about world-wide events, and, in addition, provides interactives (such as quizzes) for each one (look for the red question mark on the right column to find the interactives). The articles have both shorter and longer versions available. The site has a lot of other features, but those are only accessible to Scottish teachers and students.

Number one:

SAS Curriculum Pathways has a huge amount of interactives in all subjects. In many of them, students complete the activity online, and then send their work electronically to their teacher (it can also be printed out).  And it’s free.

The teacher signs-up and is give a log-in name for all the students in a school. It doesn’t appear that students need their own individual log-in because they have to type in their name before beginning any activity. Let me tell you, that will make using this site immeasurably easy — students won’t have to remember — or forget — individual passwords!

Since I’m teaching US History this year, I mainly focused on those sites, and they looked pretty good and accessible to ELL’s with audio support for the text. The site, though, has resources for all subjects.

In my review of the US History sites, they all appeared engaging, though primarily geared to lower-levels of thinking, primarily comprehension and recall. But since I use the Web generally as a reinforcement tool, that works fine for me.

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 800 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

3 Comments

  1. The Birth Year Inflation link seems to be broken or no longer in service – any tips? This would be great for my pop culture class.

  2. Thank you for the nice compliments on SAS Curriculum Pathways. On behalf of the entire team at SAS, we greatly appreciate your review and recognition. While I may bit a bit biased, as a former social studies teacher myself, I have to say that SAS Curriculum Pathways is some of the best digital content I have ever come across.
    Bruce Friend
    Director – SAS Curriculum Pathways

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