Bookmark This! Blogs for History Teachers Worth a Visit

cigarbox panels
Thu 30 2009

Cyberspace teems with noteworthy (and yes, not so noteworthy) blogs. At the Clearinghouse, we encourage their appropriate use in teaching American History (see Tools for Teachers: Blogs and Using Blogs in a History Classroom), but what about blogs as resources for teachers to help find things to use in the classroom and to share teaching methods?

The three blogs below are full of suggestions for teaching materials, teaching ideas, and examples of teaching, and their authors encourage discussion and comment.

Teacher blogs highlight wordless Wednesdays, Best of lists and the process of historical inquiry.

The author of the award-winning History Is Elementary is a Georgia elementary school teacher, an active blogger since 2006. "I look for the details of history that will enthrall others, old and young alike, the quirkiness of history, the stuff of history that make it alive and worth remembering," she explains in a post about teaching standards. The blogger comments on teaching resources such as the recent post, Childe Hassam's Flag Series...Appropriate for the Fourth, explaining how works of the impressionist painter countered isolationism during the World War I period. Among the many features of her blog: Wordless Wednesdays, when she posts mystery artifacts, inviting guesses about why they are important with answers posted the following week.

Larry Ferlazzo became a teacher after almost two decades as a community organizer and now teaches English language learners (and native speakers) in Sacramento, CA. In theory, his blog Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day focuses on resources for teaching ELL, ESL, and EFL. In practice, his prolific posts move across the curriculum—including commentary and links to resources useful to teaching American history and social studies. Useful references include compendia of Best of lists such as My Websites of the Month and My Best of Series! covering practices, tools, and history and social studies content.

The Cigarbox project engages historical research, analysis, and technological skills.

Thinking in Mind takes you across the border to Canada where 7th-grade teacher Neil Stephenson teaches Canadian history at the Calgary Science School. Stephenson's blog is a methodology resource. He highlights, explains, and illustrates specific classroom projects and the processes of inquiry-based learning "using 21st century tools to reinterpret events from Canadian History." Chief among them: the Cigar Box Project, a year-long historical exploration which he describes as ". . . an iterative process powered by peer feedback and self evaluation, [where] students created five historical Cigar Box panels and three short documentaries, each one supported by rigorous research and the help of a number of experts along the way."

Stephenson is a nominee for this year's Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History.

About the Author

Lee Ann Ghajar is a digital history associate in Public Projects at CHNM and a PhD candidate in American history at George Mason University.