Teaching Humanitites in the Digital Age: Porter Palmer #DOD2011

L2R: Porter Palmer & Kyle Schutt, DEN Managers

Porter Palmer, DEN Manager, is a wonderful friend and a great addition to the DE team. I met her years ago at a Summer Institute and have been following her ever since.

Did you know that Discovery Education has hundreds of speeches with speech guides and transcripts or that we have the ENTIRE Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia series? That’s not all! If you’re looking for engaging resources on history, literature, music, art, theater, culture, or even primary sources DE is the place to look. In this session, not only will we discover how to find humanities resources in DE, but we’ll also explore how to incorporate them into free web 2.0 tools. Join us as we take the humanities into the digital age.

Porter’s resources on Scoop.it

Porter has graciously shared her resources on Scoop.it, including her presentation. Porter wishes to thank Jennifer Dorman for much of the content of today’s session. Porter used Scoop.it to aggregate her resources. Scoop.it allow you to become a curator of information by using the bookmarklet in the upper right on Scoop.it to add information. If you are a DEN STAR, then you received an invitation for the beta version of Scoop.it. If you are not a DEN STAR, use today’s opportunity to network and become a STAR.

Porter showed us how to navigate Scoop.it where she curated her resources, including her SlideShare.net presentation which plays inside of Scoop.it. What Scoop.it enables is widgetizing your content as well as providing digital works cited.

The classrom application is easy beesy. If you want your students to curate worthy information, they create a library of information, much like you would diigo it, except that Scoop.it is interactive and displays content in the format you scoop–video, images, websites, images. Whatever is worthy.

When you are in your account, you get to drag and drop the bookmarklet to your toolbar. To use the Scoop.it bookmarklet, you Google or Bing your topic, find your url, and open it. Tell your students when their url is open, they just click the bookmarklet to scoop important and relevant detailsbookmarklet.  Your content appears in Scoop.it.

You can search for Discovery content by Curriculum Standards searches. When you select your selected standard or benchmark, you get all of Discovery’s rich resources for that standard. You can also search by subject and get mixed media resources. Video, images, songs, text, websites, quotations, speeches, encycolpedia articles, integrated simulations, video segments, editable video segments, games–all forms of academic exploration are housed among DiscoveryStreaming’s content. Porter recommends that you do not search by grade level because it is too limiting; you can use an upper grade level video and mute the volume and talk over while the video plays. In this way, you expand your resources and their applicability to your classroom.

You can continue to drill down and narrow your search. But when questioned by her audience, Porter recommended to search broadly in the drill down limited search. For example, search for “dustbowl” rather than “dustbowl and a year.” You can also do an advanced search where you can search “dustbowl and To Kill a Mockingbird.” But the audience said that in the humanities, it is really better to broaden the topic since DE is not GE or Bing. Head up a layer if you can’t find the resource you seek. You can also search by genre: do you want audio or video or image content or text? You mouse over your content and you see additional resources connected to the subject searched. A bonus is that audio files are mp3, so you can add them to your iTunes library and even use these audio files as an introduction as students enter your classroom. Talk about creating an inviting and engaging environment.

When using the speech tools, you also get 3 versions of citations (MLA, Chicago Style, APA), saving your students (and you) from using citation generators. Porter takes speeches from Discoverystreaming and puts the speech into Wordle to create a visual speech. Did you know DE Streaming includes the entire Funk & Wagnells encyclopedia. Anything you can copy/paste from DE Streaming speeches, texts…you can put into put into Wordle or WordSift.

Then there’s WordSift, and that takes words into a new level in the cloud and visualizes it as a word cloud. Very cool alternative and for learners who need differentiation, this tool appeals to a visual learner for whom Wordle is too cluttered. You can open a work space and drag words from the WordSift cloud tagged to key words to the cloud. You can shift, drag, and use these words in your workspace and gives you an advanced way to visualize learning in the humanities. You can use the embedded thesaurus in WordSift to develop vocabulary concepts. If the word appeals to the student, it can be added, and learning continues to grow.

Yet another cool tool is Tagyedo which lets you convert an image to text. Pedagogical point is this is a great way to summarize text, find main ideas and an excellent way to teach toward the state testing that is so ubiquitous. Not that I/we are suggesting to teach to the test, but rather that we have so many engaging tools in DE Streaming that make learning testable concepts more fun, more engaging, more relevant to the students. What an amazing way to begin to flip your classroom than with using DE Streaming resources, make a video for your students, assign it as homework, and then begin your day with students in a block schedule starting with what they watched that integrated DE Streaming resources.

GreatSummary is a wonderful tool that does just what it says. It summarizes, and you can control how many sentences you want. I’ve used this tool in the classroom, working from DE Streaming speeches, and it is a great tool, with wide flexibility. If you haven’t tried this tool, you really want to explore it in your classroom. Great tool for main idea and compare/contrast.

Porter mentioned that Lodge McCammon’s songs in DE Streaming are mostly math, but there are a few humanities songs under “social studies” that Lodge has created. This was a wonderful find. Thanks, Porter. It’s also more than just listening to the song; he includes the lyrics you can project to discuss meaning. You can sing along, and Lodge adds study guides for classroom use. You can have your students act out the song and then film it. It’s an easy fast insert to your curriculum, doesn’t have to be perfect, but is a wonderful culminating activity. Your student knowledge should be deep before they begin these activities. The purpose of these videos is to see if students understand the learned concepts.

Did you know that Discovery has a Great Books series? Forget Google Books–DEs Great Books are vetted, safe, and here for your reading, learning and teaching. Each book has an author’s profile with a re-enactment of the author’s life. Search for Great Books, but then you can narrow the search to quizzes and can administer the quizzes as is or copy/edit them, add questions, change DEs version of the question, and copy the quiz into your folder. You can change the response the student sees when the question is answered. This is a great and frequently undiscovered tool in Discovery Streaming.

Then there’s the Discovery Atlas, found in the Teacher Center. When you click on Discovery Atlas, you will find so many things: teacher guides, related videos, and a wealth of options in the pull-down menu. If you haven’t discovered the Discovery Atlas, you know about it now.

A special thanks to Porter for an amazing presentation for those of us in the humanities. You rock.


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