Being Social… Online

Okay, let me precede this entire blog posting by saying that I am still at the very beginning stages of my planning for this project. It has always taken me a long time to plan something, as I tend to search for a variety of different ideas, get overwhelmed with all the ideas I have found, take a break because I am so overwhelmed, and then I start over. Pinterest has always been my planning-best-friend, yet also my time-consuming-enemy. Forty pins later, I may have new ideas for my next Social Studies or Math units, or my supper tonight, but I am still no closer to my current unit of study. So, essentially, it takes me time. That being said, I do have a few ideas and I am really looking forward to all of your feedback before I really dive in – so please don’t be shy!

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Photo Credit: Sesc em São Paulo Flickr via Compfight cc

Firstly, after both our first choices didn’t have any takers, Katherine and I have talked about working together to plan a Social Studies 30 online course. I hope I am not speaking
out of turn, but we both wanted to collaborate on a course, and this collaboration was more important to us than our first choice in curriculum. So here we are!

We both teach Social Studies 30, so that is where we are headed for this course. I do not have a lot of experience teaching Social Studies 30. I have just finished my first time teaching the course, and I will start a second round in a week when our second semester starts. Although I don’t have a lot of experience, I have always enjoyed Social Studies courses, and Canadian history has always been a passion of mine. As I reflect on my first semester teaching Social 30, I would say my biggest weakness was the interactivity of the course. I was overwhelmed – again – with all the ideas I could find, and I couldn’t grasp where I wanted to go with the course. Not only that, but I struggle finding valid and engaging resources in French. So, a goal I have with creating this course with Katherine would be to create an easily accessible, ready-made program that can be offered in English or French (which may be an eventual goal, and not one for this course… we will see what we can come up with together!), and making it easier for new teachers to deliver a course interactively, all the while meeting the objectives in this (I have to say) outdated curriculum.

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Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian Flickr via Compfight cc

The interactivity and simulations aspect of social studies classes is something I find can be truly engaging and helps students really understand the challenges of the past that can often be related into a current context. Although I have never done or seen an online course for Social Studies 30, I do have to wonder if the interactivity and simulations aspect is lacking because of the online nature of the course. I feel this would be a disservice to those learning the material and the outcomes, and therefore has become my goal for this online module. I hope to modify a Confederation simulation I did with my grade 12 students last semester into an online context, so no matter the course delivery, students can still be engaged in the critical analysis of historical events. This simulation would of course require pre-teaching and a post-assessment, but it would make up the majority of the activity of the course. I think it would be possible by using the Zoom Web Conferencing Tool. In EC&I 830, we did debates online using Zoom and they actually worked out quite well – proving that interactive discussions and course activities can still happen online. In addition to using Zoom, I would like to incorporate Google classroom and Google docs for the pre-teaching and post-assessment components. If you have never read my blog before, then you wouldn’t now how entirely obsessed I am with GAFE. It, essentially, has made my courses accessible at home for students who a) have lost their papers or activities or b) who were absent the day of class. Now, my courses have not entirely gone online because the pre-teaching and discussions still occur in class, so that will be something new for me to try with the creation of my online module.

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Photo Credit: ccPixs.com Flickr via Compfight cc

In the future, I think it would be great to have my current students help teach the course by doing the simulations themselves and posting them online. Alec suggested this idea at the end of class last week, and I just thought it was fantastic (and a huge awesome shout-out to Katia for speaking French, which I didn’t know until now – our 3rd course together!). At first, I thought the timing would work out well, but looking at my calendar, we will be doing the Confederation unit in my class around the same time this assignment is due, so unfortunately this will not be able to be incorporated for this current module. However, it is a future consideration that I think would help the learning of all students, both online and offline.

So that is essentially all I have thus far! A Social Studies 30 unit – Confederation – with a focus on actual participation during a Confederation conference that would eventually lead to the development of the 72 resolutions, making up the Canadian Constitution, forging the official Canadian nation in 1867. This unit is not only an important part of the Social Studies curriculum, but it becomes the culmination of years of Canadian history, which students really need to comprehend to truly

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Photo Credit: Barrett.Discovery Flickr via Compfight cc

understand how Confederation came to be. Not only that, but it is a starting point which brings us into the 20th century as a nation. The value of Confederation cannot be undersold – nor can a true comprehension of it. Both online and offline courses should offer ways for this unit to be engaging and interactive. By modifying simulations to be offered for online courses through the use of Zoom, Google Classroom, and Google Docs (perhaps even blogging!), I think it can be a success.

What are your suggestions? I am always stuck in that I absolutely love history and I could listen to somebody talk about history for hours on end – something I know is not common for our students. Do you have any feedback so far? Anything that should be taken out? Please let me know your thoughts!

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20 Responses to Being Social… Online

  1. This sounds super ambitious! Social is my minor so I’ll be watching your progress very carefully! Good luck! 🙂

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  2. Sounds like a cool idea! I feel overwhelmed understanding how to put it all together so I appreciate hearing about the journey of others!

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  3. I am similar to you when faced with a project. It takes me a while to sort out and narrow down what I want to do. We will get there 🙂 I wish I had suggestions for you – but I am so new to all of this that I am in the stage of taking it all in.

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  4. adamkrammer says:

    This sounds like a very interesting idea and I like all the web and online learning suggestions you’ve made.

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  5. Kara says:

    This sounds amazing! I could also spend hours listening to someone lecture on history (and history often permeates into all other courses I teach….WA10 Systems of Measurement = lesson on how the metric system came to be). I am teaching Social 8 this year which also focuses on Canada but more on New France and the development leading up to Confederation and less on Confederation itself (among other things). I think that the base of what you have thought out is good and would only add that some aspects may be easier to pre-teach or set the assignment up through a video which may be something to consider. I always find that, when giving assignments such as these, students are initially overwhelmed in reading the activities and a verbal description may help to alleviate a lot of those feelings. I can’t wait to see the final outcome!

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    • Thanks for the suggestion Kara! I often forget about the written portion to coincide with my explanation, so I appreciate the idea! I taught Social 8 for the past four years before I transitioned into high school, so if you ever want to chat about what you are doing, let me know!

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  6. benitastruik says:

    Wow this project sounds great! I think that kids can easily tune out in social studies and your ideas sound engaging and great for kids.

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    • Thanks Benita! You are right – unfortunately a vast majority of my students do not come in with an immediate adoration and passion for history like I do. I have to challenge myself to find it more engaging.

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  7. This sounds like a super engaging idea for students. I think this is what blended learning is all about. I also have a love hate relationship with Pinterest and find so many great ideas but then I’ve spent so much time and I’m not any closer to having something ready and prepared. It’s really addictive though! Good luck. I look forward to seeing it all come together.

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  8. Pingback: Choosing the content is INTEGRAL to creating an online/blended course – Kara Taylor's Blog

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  10. asingh2 says:

    Thorough post Liz! You had me laughing with your intro, and I must confess we seem to have similar planning styles! I always start planning on a grandiose scale (and in about 32 directions) before I inadvertently complete everything else on my to do list (and a few things that weren’t even on my to-do list)!

    It sounds like you’ve started off in a solid direction, and I can’t wait to hear where this project takes you.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  11. Great idea Liz! I love the idea of simulations to add interest and engagement to your unit.
    I feel the same way when it comes to teaching social studies but often times, I’m more excited than the students so having a more blended approach is definitely a great idea. I look forward to seeing how it turns out!

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