Windows into Teaching and Learning (WiTL), developed to provide relevant and meaningful technology-mediated clinical experiences in an online social studies methods course, engaged participants in purposefully designed synchronous and asynchronous field experiences to address a lack of summer clinical teaching opportunities. Following a discussion of the challenges of providing clinical experiences, the authors describe the outcomes of a study involving remote partnerships in learning between candidates enrolled in a distance education social studies methods course and mentor teachers employed in middle and secondary schools. Findings illustrated that WiTL exceeded expectations by opening unanticipated opportunities into the profession of teaching, both for candidates and teacher mentors who participated in the study. Participants provided rich descriptions of these experiences, as well as the potential within WiTL, as it progressed beyond being a substitute to a means of transforming observations in both distance education and teacher preparation programs in a traditional university setting.
This study examined the effect of a minimal Web-based GIS experience within a semester-long methods course on enhancing preservice teachers’ dispositions regarding the use of geospatial technologies for teaching. Fourteen preservice teachers enrolled in a senior-level methods course offered in geography and focused exclusively on how to teach geography in K-12 classrooms participated in the study. The findings of the study indicate that Web-based GIS activities had a positive impact on participants’ beliefs, attitudes, and confidence in GST implementation and teaching spatial thinking in their future classrooms.
This paper presents web research strategies for teachers and students to use in building Dramatic Event, Historical Biography, and Influential Literature wiki pages for history/social studies learning. Dramatic Events refer to milestone or turning point moments in history. Historical Biographies and Influential Literature pages feature historically prominent people, both real and fictional. As teachers and students research these topics, they practice accessing and assessing online information while expanding web research and digital literacy skills. They discover how the interactive capacities of wiki technology present people, events and literature in multimodal ways that engage students in deepening history learning. The paper includes sample event, biography, and literature pages hyperlinked to Resources for History Teachers, an award-winning open educational content wiki maintained by the History Teacher Education program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. These model wiki pages incorporate primary and secondary materials, multimedia resources, and multicultural topics for teaching and learning. Students and teachers can use these model pages to construct their own wiki pages tailored to local and state history/social studies curriculum.
The microblogging service Twitter offers a platform that social studies educators increasingly use for professional development, communication, and class activities, but to what ends? The authors drew on Deweyan conceptions of participatory learning and citizenship aims of the field as lenses through which to consider social media activities. To determine how and why social studies educators use Twitter, 303 K-16 self-identified social studies educators were surveyed in this study. Results from respondents suggested that they valued the professional development experiences afforded by the platform, but were less likely to utilize Twitter for communication or class activities. Themes and examples that point to ways social studies educators use Twitter are described to provide insights for educators aiming to use social media professionally. Questions are also raised concerning whether social studies educators have missed opportunities to use social media to connect across racial and cultural boundaries and for civic purposes.