Meeting the Common Core Standards with Technology: Bring History Lessons to Life

Common Core State Standards: 
Informational Text
Literacy in History/Social Studies
Instructional Strategies: 
Semantic Mapping
Word Analysis

The Common Core Standards represent a shift in the way we teach reading and writing, both in ELA classes and in content-area classes (history, science, and technical subjects). The standards in K-5 and 6-12 both focus heavily on building rich knowledge through reading content-area nonfiction. Standards focus on reading, writing, and speaking that is grounded in textual evidence; they encourage regular practice with complex texts and academic vocabulary. Use of web-based tools, interactives, online primary sources, and other technology tools can be a great way to immerse your students in history, and to build vocabulary and comprehension!

Now, with so many technology options, history, a subject of our forefathers, does not have to be taught in the same way as it was to our grandfathers. With online primary resources and web-based interactives, history lessons like those on the Civil War come alive with this photojournalism lesson plan. Teachers and students alike will find the Civil War Timeline helpful in detailing the Civil War from various points of view, including detailed accounts  from soldiers of the Civil War, as well as digital maps. Teach students about the role of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, and the Gettysburg Address.

Battlefield of Gettysburgh [si... Digital ID: 1150191. New York Public Library
Views from the battle field of Gettysburg, July 1st, 2d, and 3d, 1863 : General Hospital, near Gettysburg, PA.

Give students an opportunity to listen to the Gettysburg Address while following along with the text. Many options for listening exist, including this one from TEDEd which also includes a brief multiple choice quiz. Help struggling readers to visualize what they are reading by first giving them some context. Further ensure comprehension by having students write a letter to Abraham Lincoln. Browse through photos from the Civil War on an interactive whiteboard.

Another great resource can be found in this history of immigration lesson plan from the Library of Congress. Explore the Immigration interactive with your class; there is something here for every level with detailed descriptions of immigrants from different cultures, vocabulary, and even interviews with immigrants from the 20th -21st centuries. This is a great way to support reading in Social Studies. Even better, there is an interactive tool for educators on the site that will let you know which Common Core Standards align with your activity! Also, have fun with your class by looking through the Great American Potluck, discussing the significance, and maybe even trying out a recipe!

Acknowledgment: Special thanks to Rebecca Flynn for helping to prepare this blog post.

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