The CORE Project e-textbook is an online textbook in Economics for college students created by economists from all over the world. It’s a bit advanced to use as the sole text for high school students, but teachers should be able to use this resource in many different ways.
John Cassidy in The New Yorker writes:
The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008–9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn’t do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.
Of course, that criticism doesn’t apply to WorldView Software’s Economics — we’ve had the comprehensive Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis for years!
The National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) is a library of online course content for students and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement. It’s a non-profit project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, an education think tank that is well-funded by competency-based education advocates like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It also receives funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and from NROC member institutions.
Hippocampus.org has video presentations and interactive activities called simulations available in history, government, sociology, and economics. These are openly available, and the content collections come from Chattanooga State University, National Geographic, Dallas Learning Solutions, the Virginia Historical Society, and Tom Christian and Thorp School District.
“There are increasing suggestions that extreme weather events and climate change will have the greatest impact in cities, where people are concentrated and many of the natural systems that could provide buffers against extreme weather have been removed or degraded. When one starts to deconstruct the causes and impacts of natural disasters, the messiness and interconnectedness of contributing factors quickly become evident. Natural disasters occur at the intersection of social, political and environmental systems.”
[Raises some interesting issues about community preparedness; useful discussion points if your class is reading any of the following:
Chapter 18: The U.S. Adapts to a Post-9/11 World in American History II
Case Study: Insurance in Civics and in Economics
Chapter 10: The Federal Bureaucracy in U.S. Government
Chapter 23: Search for Solutions to Global Problems, Graph/Chart: Growth of Cities in the Middle East, or Graph/Chart: Urbanization in Latin America in World History B
Case Study: U.S. Geologic-Related Natural Disasters, Case Study: U.S. Weather-Related Natural Disasters, Internet Project: The Devastation of Katrina, Internet Project: The Aftermath of Chernobyl, and Tutorial: Haiti in World Geography]
One way to engage your students in social studies is to incorporate their own creativity. The arts can provide a window into culture: a time period or a social movement can come alive. To give just a few examples from WorldView programs:
Project: Political Cartoons in American History I has students create their own image to illustrate an era
Tutorial: Social Media in U.S. Government in part examines the history of protest songs
Project: Art Appreciation in World History A explains how to examine the elements of a specific style of painting
Art: W.P.A. Poster in Economics examines the role of art patronage (in this case, the federal government)
There are also good academic reasons to use the arts. Music, long known to provide a path into mathematics, has recently been shown by neurobiologists to help students process sound and language. Specifically, it was the action of making music themselves, not just listening to it, that mattered most for reading skills!
Using the arts with social studies is working together to help struggling students in schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut:
With such creative outlets, the teacher says, even children at the lowest level academically can feel successful. And then they’re more motivated when it comes to writing and answering questions – skills many of the students still need to develop.
Their associated skill increases are even more impressive given the resource-poor environment (Connecticut schools are known for their inequality.) The author is careful to note, however, that “Whether arts integration delivers on its potential generally comes down to leadership and sustained effort.” (The story is from the new “EqualEd” section at The Christian Science Monitor.)
So with all that in mind, here are a few edtech resources for making your own works of art:
a list of free and open source music making programs from MusicRadar
As usual, George Orwell says it better than anybody. Here he is in his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier, asking his readers not to give up using coal, but just to recognize whose labor is providing them with coal. Nowadays I would only add to the coal miner all the people behind all of our conveniences…
[The excerpt chosen illustrates Orwell’s concern that people be mindful of the people who make their lives possible. Bonus: a link to the complete text of “The Road to Wigan Pier,” and the following post has a harrowing excerpt on the coal mining process.]