On Page 338 its mentioned that Social Studies suffers from a lack of available technology resources and support, with the technology resources being directed towards other subjects that are State tested (Passe & Fitchett, 2013). This means we have to be creative in not just what we teach but on carefully matching the appropriate technology resources with a topic or theme that fits best with that technology. Social Studies does much to support the other content areas and their SBAC/ISAT tests.
It is also true that Social Studies does tend to be a Jack of All Trades but master of none subject. Each Social Studies teacher has a particular area of personal interest within the field of Social Studies but with the wide variety of topics that falls under the umbrella of Social Studies it is hard to truly master more than several fields. So we turn to the internet and search out resources that will help us fill in those knowledge gaps when we come to fields that we struggle with (Berson & Berson, 2013). These technology resources that I have found on the internet to help shore me up in areas such as Economics and Geography in turn have helped me get closer to that expert level that I want to be at.
On page 339 it mentions another challenge being the ready availability of information out there on the internet. Students can find anything on the internet no matter the quality of the website and the information it presents. This is a challenge for teachers in helping students to look with a critical eye at websites and the information that they present as ‘fact’. Also, how best can I use the insane amount of information and technology resources available to best teach my students the topics and themes we cover?
Asking my students to work together to solve problems can be a challenge. How do I get them to truly engage in the problem solving process and to be excited about it as well? Page 340 mentions using software simulations to help with that. I’ve done several before when comparing types of governments or going over the complex causes that led to The Great War or World War II and the kids get really excited when they are put in situations where they can choose to make different choices than actual leaders of that time period did. Muzzy Lane’s Making History is a great resource for simulations which challenge kids to collaborate and solve problems (Page 340).
Another problem is finding quality on line resources in terms of primary resources and good websites for research (Page 341). Students have a hard time differentiating between Primary Resources and Secondary Resources. Students also have a heck of a time using the internet for research. Finding good quality websites with quality information and then finding websites that have access to plenty of high quality primary sources are challenging. The U.S. Congress and The White House are great places to go to when trying to find quality primary sources and do a little bit of research (Page 342).
Lastly, how best can I use technology in my classroom to compare/contrast cultures in the world? Do I simply show them a video? Do I have them find a website with lots of information and have them read about it? Is there a website out there or a combination of websites that have a good blend of visual with text? You can find a website about anything out there but I love to use websites that allow my students to go on a virtual tour of different places as we try to understand why things are different and strange to us in different parts of the world (Page 343). YouTube is great for short video clips but I prefer http://www.fullscreen360.com which gives my students 360 degree views of locations throughout the world that we can compare/contrast with our own culture and with information we may have gleaned from text heavy websites.
As always, time and availability of resources are problematic. The challenge is not in having enough technology resources available, rather the challenge is finding quality technology resources on line and matching it as best we can with the most appropriate topic or them that maximizes the potential experience and enjoyment of the lesson. Teachers have always been good about sharing with each other which makes the search less difficult and less time consuming. There will always be obstacles in finding the best way to integrate technology in the classroom, but collaboration and PD along with courses such as this ED-Tech course go a loooong way towards making that more of a process of which tools we want to use, which is kind of fun to do.