Monday, December 5, 2011

Save World History in Ohio: Sign the Petition!

We've recently started an online petition to ensure World History is a required course for high school graduation in Ohio. For more context on this story, read the previous blog entry.

The names of supporters will be sent to the Ohio General Assembly to document our shared support of ensuring all students are prepared to understand the world and its people.  It just takes a second to complete!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Save World History in Ohio

As a teacher educator, an avid voter, and a citizen deeply concerned about the future of the State of Ohio, I’m asking for your help in curtailing the devastating cuts made to the social studies curriculum by the Ohio State House. In its most recent decision, the Ohio State Legislature and the Ohio Department of Education decided not to include World History as a required course for high school graduation. The state representatives have also failed to include world history on its list of courses to be assessed. In the past 10 years, the education community has come to learn that if a course is not mandated or assessed, it’s usually not taught; especially, in such difficult economic times for schools. This unprecedented move by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Legislature will have devastating consequences for our students, families, communities, and industry in an increasingly globally interconnected age.

The decision to not include world history as a required course could not have come at a worse time with our nation and veterans engaged in two on-going international military conflicts, citizens facing a global economic recession, and our world facing important global issues. The fact is that our State needs citizens, consumers, workers, and businesses that are knowledgeable about the rest of the world and its people. More so than any other generation, today’s students will be actors on a global stage (Merryfield & Wilson, 2005). Their lives will be shaped by events, movements, and issues from all corners of our planet. Their economic, political, and environmental decisions will have a significant impact on our world. World History is one of the most important courses in the entire social studies curriculum geared towards preparing students to work with a diverse citizenry committed to a deeper level of understanding in order to confront both local and global challenges.

We need your support in mandate that World History is a required course for graduation in the State of Ohio. There are three steps readers can take to meet our goal of ensuring World History stays a vibrant course offering in Ohio:

1. Discuss this issue with family, friends, and community leaders. Be sure to emphasis how the decision to not include World History as a graduation requirement or to mandate the state-wide assessment of World History in the State of Ohio will be devastating for our State’s mission of cultivating globally attuned and active citizens.

2. Contact your elected leaders and voice your concern about the failure to include World History as a required course for high school graduation.

For more information on this topic, please, feel free to review the advocacy efforts of the Ohio Council for the Social Studies: I have also blogged about this crisis at .

I look forward to your support in helping to educate the youth of Ohio in a globally interconnected age.

A Recent Article Published in TSSP
Saving World History in Ohio's Schools

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mobile Technology as a Disruptive Force (for Better and Worse) in the Social Studies Classroom

---Part II: Harnessing the Educative Potential of Cell Phones in the Social Studies Classroom

Adults and teens are increasingly turning to their ‘smart’ cell phones to communicate and access information. In fact, over 85% of adults and 75% of teens have a cell phone (Pew Internet, 2009). While the number of cell phone users continues to grow, teens in particular have a special relationship with their cell phones. Besides a communications portal with friends and family, these smart wireless devises serve as MP3 players, web browsers, can stream videos/audio, and allow for interactive gaming. Cell phones have in many ways become a social utility knife for teens. In a recent report, over 47% of teens polled said their social life would end or be worsened without a cell phone, and 57% credit their cell phone for improving their life (CTIA & Harris Interactive, 2010). Recent research points to teens feeling comfortable and knowledgeable in using their cell phones to access information and communicate with friends and family (Lenhardt, 2009). For instance, teens frequently note their preference towards texting rather than talking on the phone (CTIA & Harris Interactive, 2010). Texting allows students to multi-task, enter into and exit conversations quickly, and have these conversations on their own terms.

Mobile technologies like smart phones, iPads, netbooks, and laptops are disrupting/changing our relationship with both time and space. People can now access information when they want it and where they need it. For instance, people can get directions, translations, the weather, and even local news on the go. Learning is no longer land or line locked. Mobile platforms are allowing individuals access to information that is practical, up-to-date, and in-demand in real time. In a recent Pew Internet and America Life Survey, 30% of all mobile using respondents stated they use their cell phones to follow local news and 42% use their phones for weather updates (Pew Internet, 2011). These devices are allowing on the go citizens the ability to access information and communicate.

While there are still significant numbers of citizens without access to computers or the Internet, new statistics have emerged that teens in low-income households are more likely to access the Internet on their cell phones than on household computers (Pew Internet, 2009). Rates of cell phone adoption drastically outnumber the pace of low-income families adopting household computers (Pew Internet, 2009). In the United States, a disproportionate number of low-income African American and Latino households often struggle to have stable and meaningful access to computers and the Internet (U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 2010). Mobile technology access and use could hold the potential to be a major disruptive force in combating the digital divide (Kim, 2008). In fact, teen cell phone owners from low-income households are most likely to use their cell phones to go online. 41% of teens living in households with incomes under $30,000 used their cell phones to go online, while only 23% of teens living in households with incomes over $75,000 used their cell phones to go online (Pew Internet, 2009).

As already presented, mobile technologies can serve as a familiar and meaningful tool for teens to communicate and access information. However, many would argue that these same mobile technologies can be disruptive forces that impede student learning. Nationally, most schools ban students from using cell phones on school grounds (Scholastic, 2010). Many administrators and teachers see these digital devices as nuisances that distract students from learning. Such noted distractions include students sending text messages in class, browsing the Internet, and taking pictures/video in school. As a result, many schools and school districts have adopted a zero tolerance policy for students using/having cell phones in schools (Lenhart, 2009). Other mobile technologies like iPads and netbooks are still scarce in schools, and most students are discouraged from bringing their personal laptop computer/mobile device to school. In a recent conversation with a high school Principal just outside Cleveland, Ohio, he stated how the school goes to great lengths to inform both students and parents that personal laptops, cell phones, and other mobile devices are not allowed in school. Even though the school lacks enough working computers and has an overly sensitive/ highly unstable Internet connection, the fear of these devices being used inappropriately or damaged/stolen discourages their use and integration. Learning in the classroom is still very much land, textbook, and chalk board locked.

In particular, the social studies has been notorious for its teachers being over-dependent on lecture, rote-learning, and textbooks (Loewen, 2010; Shaughnessy & Haladyana, 1985). As a result, students often cite the social studies as one of their least favorite subjects (Martorella, 1997). These instructional methods often leave students thinking at lower-levels, bored and questioning the importance of the social studies. Marc Prensky, in Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (2001), comments that when teachers incorporate new technologies into their instruction they genuinely get students excited about learning and often tap into their culture and digital interests. In an age where technology has redefined commerce, communication, advocacy, the integration of these technologies in the social studies classroom can help students gain the skills and etiquette needed to use these technologies appropriately. Furthermore, this familiar technology (cell phones and mobile devices) can serve as an important platform in getting student excited about the social studies (Greenhut & Jones, 2010). Yet, there has been very little discussion/ research in regards to ways in which mobile technologies (like cell phones and iPads) can be used to promote student learning in the social studies.

Below, I’m including my top 8 Applications for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch for mobile learning in social studies education:

1. The World Factbook 2011

• The World Factbook 2011 is an app that allows students to examine global demographic information, populations trends, navigate land masses and water ways, and better understand physical and cultural geography.

2. My Congress

MyCongress is a portal that provides detailed information about your elected U.S. Congressional officials. Track their news, video and Twitter feeds. Look up their official Open Congress profile or contact them directly. MyCongress helps you get in touch with your government.

3. We The People

We The People is an app that allows students to review and explore the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

4. Stake the States: Lite

Stack the States is an app geared towards elementary students that makes learning about the 50 states fun! Students will get to watch the states actually come to life when playing a colorful and dynamic game! Users get to learn state capitals, shapes, state locations, and can actually touch, move and drop the animated states anywhere on the screen.

5. World Wiki
Get quick access to detailed demographic information of almost 250 countries around the world. Users can access information about the capital, government, population, area, GDP, currency and the flag of any country as displayed on the Wikipedia site. Best of all, the app is free.

6. The Civil War
150 years after the start of the American Civil War, HISTORY presents The Civil War Today, a ground-breaking app that allows users to experience the war as it unfolded, one day at a time, with daily updates that let you live the events in “real-time” over the course of four years. Users get to feel and explore thousands of original documents, photos, maps, diary entries, quotes, and newspaper broadsheets like never before.

7. iAmerica: The Pocket Guide to the US History and Presidency

American History at your fingertips! The iAmerica app offers users a complete reference guide to the life and history of the Presidents of the United States. This includes presidential biographies, images, and videos.

8. Oregon Trail

Westward, Ho! This app allows users to make critical decisions and solve problems as they encounter real historical characters and locations. These historical facts explain the perilous journey of the pioneers.

Global and Social Studies Education

The website/blog allows educators in the social studies to reflect upon key issues in the social studies. It also allows teachers the opportunity to access resources that help infuse instructional media and technology, and global perspectives in their teaching.