Apr 19 2021

EdTech Essentials: A History Teacher’s Must-Have Tech List

World history teacher Jamie Ellman shares the educational technology she relies on in her hybrid high school classroom.

Jamie Ellman’s eleventh grade students haven’t read from a textbook all year. It’s not because she only sees about a third of her students in person each day. It’s because of the technology-focused model of Moe and Gene Johnson High School, where she teaches history to sophomores and juniors.

The tech-based approach of Hays Consolidated Independent School District’s new high school in Buda, Texas, lends itself nicely to the various digital learning models the district adopted in the wake of the pandemic. In the school’s current hybrid model, students can elect whether they’d prefer to learn from home or in the classroom.

Ellman doesn’t spend every class lecturing, instead preferring to engage students with primary source materials, prerecorded videos and interactive assignments. This allows the high schoolers to work at their own pace and get credit for attendance as long as they check in online each day.

Software Helps Highlight History Lessons Online

Ellman recommends Google Workspace for her virtual and in-person students. She uses it in conjunction with her school’s learning management system and has found multiple extensions that make life easier for her and her students.

Ellman uses the Google suite to teach her students to make websites and maps for class assignments. “When we review for the STAAR test, we’re going to have them make a Google site,” Ellman says, referring to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test. “They’re going to do a page for each unit of the test and do certain things on it so they know how to build a website. I want to make sure they know how to embed images, for example.”

The other benefit of using Google is that it works seamlessly with Ellman’s three favorite extensions for her classroom: KamiDualless and Screencastify.

With Kami, students can easily annotate PDFs, which they frequently encounter when working with primary sources. The Dualless extension for Google Chrome lets them split and merge browser windows with a click, allowing for easy comparisons and multitasking. Screencastify, billed as the No. 1 screen recorder for Chrome, helps the students take videos for class presentations or screenshots for their projects.

DISCOVER: The Logitech C270 HD webcam provides a clear picture for virtual instruction.

Class Essentials for Student Success

All of these Google programs and extensions are easily integrated with the students’ school-issued Chromebooks. Although the school’s device program was not one-to-one before the pandemic, Ellman says the school made a point to get a laptop into the hands of every student.

She has additional laptops in her classroom because some students inevitably forget to bring their computers from home, while others bring their laptops without remembering to charge them. There are spaces throughout the classroom where students can sit and plug in their devices.

Overall, the most important use of the tools in Ellman’s classroom is helping her students grow.

“I think they learned so many cool skills this year. I’m a total tech nerd, so I love teaching them how to do things they can use for the rest of their lives,” she says. “I think they would be shocked if they went back to day one to look at themselves compared with what they can do now.”

Image Courtesy of Jamie Ellman