I usually just do a year-end list of The Best Social Studies Sites and many other topics, but it gets a little crazy having to review all of my zillion posts at once. So, to make it easier for me — and perhaps, to make it a little more useful to readers — I’m going to start publishing mid-year lists, too. These won’t be ranked, unlike my year-end “The Best…” lists, and just because a site appears on a mid-year list doesn’t guarantee it will be included in an end-of-the-year one. But, at least, I won’t have to review all my year’s posts in December…
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Here are my choices for The Best Social Studies Sites Of 2012 — So Far:
My updated United States History class blog is freely available, and pretty much contains my entire U.S. History curriculum. I only ask that if you download any of the original materials that you add me as the source.
The site Imagine All the Water would like to remind you of how much water you’re using even when you’re not taking a bath or brushing your teeth. Sponsored by the European Commission, the site brings together a mind-boggling array of estimates about the overall amount of water required to create everyday consumer products. Though the site’s purpose is advocacy — essentially, to scare us into a water-conservational mindset — it also offers a useful reminder of how crazily resource-intensive the most ordinary objects can be.
The Civil War is quite an impressive interactive infographic on…the Civil War. It shows casualties, stories, and a whole lot more. And it’s a college student’s project.
The World Wonders Project enables you to discover 132 historic sites from 18 countries, including Stonehenge, the archaeological areas of Pompeii and the ancient Kyoto temples. In addition to man-made sites, you can explore natural places: wander the sandy dunes of Australia’s Shark Bay or gaze up at the rock domes of Yosemite National Park in California.
Film Story is an interactive site where you can search for theatrical films by geographical location, history or science subject, historical era, and film type. It seems like an exhaustive list and is very accessible.
The Smithsonian, in conjunction with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced Preparing For The Oath. Not only is it now probably the best site out there for preparing people to take the U.S. Citizenship exam, it’s also just a great site to learn about U.S. History. Audio is available to support all the text, and it includes a practice exam.
Stanford has created what I suspect is one of the coolest things you’re going to see today — a Google Maps-like tool that lets you map the fastest and cheapest ways (by donkey is one option) and routes to travel (including how the time of the year affects it) in the ancient Roman World. You can read a very useful review of the tool, called Orbis, here.
Paws In Jobland is an excellent interactive site for young people to explore careers. It’s designed for younger students, and is also very accessible for English Language Learners of all ages.
The New York City Department of Records has announced online access to 870,000 historical images of the city. They’re great to show in class, though, in email correspondence I’ve had with them, any educational use of them in student or teacher projects like slideshows requires a license. “They are available without license only for use to illustrate editorial comment in a news story” they said.
With News Jack, all you have to do is paste the url address of any website and you’re immediately given the tools to easily transform its homepage into looking however you want it to look. Without having to register, you can make the New York Times highlight photos and articles of your great basketball-playing ability; have CNN focus on covering what was happening in 1776, or The Huffington Post reporting on the first Thanksgiving dinner. You can easily grab images off the web or your computer to insert, as well as text. You can then click “publish” and you’re given the url address to your creation so it can be shared with the world.
The World Stories Project is “a growing collection of traditional and new stories representing the 21 most commonly spoken languages by children across the UK. These stories can be read, listened to and downloaded in English and their original language.” It also has an extensive collection of teacher resources, including lesson plans. And it’s all free!
Career Thoughts is a very accessible site where students can explore possible careers.
Where are you on the global pay scale? is an interactive from the BBC. Type your monthly income in (they make a point of saying the calculations are done on your own computer so that your data is safe) and then it will tell you where on the global scale you rank.
Oreo cookies has developed an ingenious advertising campaignusing oreo cookies to illustrate seventeen important moments in history. Students will love them — and I love them!
Measuring the U.S. Melting Pot is an interactive map from Bloomberg. It shows the distribution of ethnic heritages county-by-county across the United States.
Old Maps Online lets you type in a location and then it will search through collections of historical maps throughout the world to show you a variety of them for that area. Its interface and accessibility are superb.
Our Mother Tongues is a very impressive site that’s designed to support and preserve Native American languages. It’s very engaging, and includes a “language map,” videos and more. One of its very neat features is that it allows you choose a virtual audio postcard with a Native American greeting that you can send to someone. You can also write a personalized message on it. You’re given a unique url address, and it can be posted on a student/teacher website or blog.
I’ve posted — and used — Google’s cool Ngram Viewer (see The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New “Books Ngram Viewer”). It lets you easily analyze “the 500 billion words contained in books published between 1500 and 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.” I’ve got plenty of examples at that “The Best…” list. Now, some ingenious folks have applied the same concept to Supreme Court decisions and have created The Legal Language Explorer.
Hold Ye Front Page is a cool site from the British newspaper “Sun” where they produce online front pages about events in world, science and sports history. The articles are fairly accessible, and they typically include videos from The History Channel.
Flight To Freedom is a new online game about the Underground Railroad. You have to register to play (it’s easy to do so), and it’s designed in the “choose your own adventure” genre. It’s part of Mission US, which is funded by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment For The Humanities.
Let’s Play ‘History As A List’ by Robert Krulwich is a very interesting post over at NPR. In it, he gives various examples of describing history as a…list. Here is one example:
He has lots of other great models. Looking for patterns and categories is definitely an indication of higher-order thinking, so I’m going to try having students do something like this as a project. I’ll show them some examples, and then see what they can come up with.
What Was There lets you search for any place in the world and then shows you images of “what was there” a long time ago using a Google Maps street view. You can upload photos, too.
Sean Banville unveiled a great new site called Lessons On American Presidents. He’s got multiple interactive exercises on every President — all designed for English Language Learners. It will be a huge help for teachers and their students.
CNN regularly produces two-to-three minute video clips on current news topics (including ones related to science) called “Explain It To Me.” They’re generally excellent. The best way to find them is to type in “Explain It To Me” in the CNN search box, as I have done here. Then click on “CNN Videos” at the top of the page, and you’ll see titles and thumbnail images of them all.
GCFLearnFree.org is on a number of “The Best…” lists because of all its great sites and tools. They have recently updated their Career Exploration page with interactives and videos. It’s looks very good.
Feedback is welcome.