Ten Great Tech Tools for Social Studies Lessons

Over the last decade I’ve written about a lot of excellent resources for social studies lessons. Over time some of those tools have faded away and others have moved to the forefront of my top recommendations. Here’s my current list of ten top tools for social studies lessons.

Timeline JS
Timeline projects as as old as history classes themselves. It used to be that timelines were only made on paper. Today, students can build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is the best tool for making multimedia timelines today.

StoryMap JS
StoryMap JS is produced by the same people that make Timeline JS. StoryMap JS enables students to tell stories through the combination of maps and timelines. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text.

Google’s VR Tour Creator
Google’s VR Tour Creator is a free tool that enables anyone to create virtual reality tours that can be viewed online and in the Google Expeditions app. In the year since the VR Tour Creator was announced it has added features for including featured images and audio recordings.

Google Expeditions
Google’s free virtual reality application that lets students virtually tour more than 800 places around the world. The best of Google Expeditions is the option for teachers to lead students on virtual tours. When leading students you can point out the landmarks that you want to make sure they see and you can ask them questions about those places. Here’s a list of tips for getting started with Google Expeditions in your classroom.

If you have ever considered making a current events podcast or a history podcast, Anchor.fm makes it easy to do that. You can record, edit, and publish through Anchor.fm. The best part is that you can publish your podcast to up to ten podcast networks from one place with just one click.

Metaverse Studio
With Metaverse Studio students can create augmented reality games and tours. Making an augmented reality tour of historic landmarks in your community can be a good way to have students research local history and produce a product that they can share with the community.

In today’s media climate it is more important than ever for students to be able to recognize what is and isn’t valid information, how media is manipulated, and how to be responsible consumers of media. Checkology is a service that is designed to help students develop those skills. Checkology’s free version offers four interactive modules for students to complete. Each of the modules is comprised of between twenty and forty-seven instructional video clips and interactive comprehension checks. The four modules are titled Info Zones, Democracy’s Watchdog, Practicing Quality Journalism, and Misinformation. As you might expect, the contents of the modules gets progressively more difficult as each section is completed.

Google Earth
The desktop and browser versions Google Earth should be a standard in the collection of tools that a social studies teacher uses. Google Earth provides a great way to view places and collections of places around the world from overhead and street-level views. Viewing in Google Earth lets students zoom-in and explore details in a manner that simply can’t be replicated in printed maps. And students can build their own tours in Google Earth. Take a look at this playlist to find tutorials to help you get started using Google Earth in your classroom.

If you want to have your students try their hands at making Ken Burns-style documentary videos, WeVideo is great tool for that purpose. With WeVideo students can mix images, video clips, audio, and text to create a short documentary video. Here’s a collection of short tutorials on how to create a video with WeVideo.

Google Books
Google Books offers a huge collection of books, magazines, and newspapers that are in the public domain. For history teachers this means there is an abundance of books about famous battles, biographies, and other works that your students can access for research. The option to search within a book is useful in helping students find information within a book.


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