Livebinders for the Social Studies – Part 4

Livebinders for the Social Studies – Part 4: Using Livebinders to build on collaborative skills

On the previous post on “Livebinders for the Social Studies” we looked at how you can use the “Livebinder it” tool and how to use Livebinders in general to organize and gather resources for lesson plans.  On this post, we are going to look at how students can use Livebinders to build on their collaborative skills.

When it comes to the Social Studies classroom, students take part in research projects on historical events or historical figures throughout the year.  Students research data in books, newspaper articles and, primarily, online content.  When you determine that your students will complete the project in groups, something you must consider is the “nuts and bolts” of how it will be done.  How are my students going to collaborate on the project?  What is the best way to make the project effective that will build my students’ skills?

With Livebinders, you can provide your students a central location where they can collaborate and combine their efforts to enhance their learning.

The benefits of using Livebinders

As a student teacher, I tried to engage my students as much as possible in collaborative activities.  One of the ways I used was creating a webquest and assigning responsibilities to where each group member had a responsibility (jigsaw method).  When I made the webquest, I hoped that my students would at least like the activity and have some fun while learning,  When my students started getting hands-on with it I realized how much they loved doing something besides something on paper or listen to me lecture.  What I also realized is how important it is to provide each student ownership of the project.

Livebinders gives you both the means of engaging your students and giving them ownership of what they contribute.  Livebinders also provide a means of collaborating and contributing throughout the year.  This is something they can constantly update and reflect upon.

Collaborating on a Livebinder

Livebinders provide a way to engage each one of your students and give ownership of the project to not one member, but to all.  Each student will have the opportunity to contribute to the Livebinder when they are added as a collaborator.  Whenever they find a resource, they can add it.  Each member of the group can add a tab to their group’s Livebinder and add content to that tab – which gives them part ownership of their group’s Livebinder.

Having your students do a project on World War 1?  One member can create a tab on the key historical figures, one can create a tab on battles and another member can create a tab on pictures/videos.  All of this combined into one Livebinder where the students can reflect upon their learning.

When students are engaged, the learning experience is enhanced.  This also has the potential of sparking interest in your students that may have not been discovered prior.  As a educator, these interests are key to providing the most meaningful lessons possible.

How to add collaborators to your Livebinder

Please note that each student will have to have previously signed up for their own Livebinder account in order to collaborate on any Livebinder. Click here to go to the blog post on about how to have your students sign-up for a Livebinders account.

There are two ways which you can add collaborators to your Livebinder.

The first, and quickest way, is to go to your “My Binders” tab. From there, place your cursor on the Livebinder you would like to add collaborators to – this will bring up three quick menu tabs (Options, Edit, Present).

You’ll then want to click on the “options” tab which will give you several options to choose from, including: share this Livebinder, collaborate, show details, link or embed, add to shelf, make a copy, edit it, present and delete from your account.

The option you’ll want to click on should be the second selection, “collaborate”.


Once you click on “collaborate” you will notice that the “Add or Remove Collaborators” selection is now on the left side of the webpage.

The second way is to add collaborators is via the “edit this binder” link once you open your Livebinder.  Simply open your binder, click on “edit this binder” link and then “binder settings”.

Once you get into the binder settings of the Livebinder, you’ll see the “add/delete” button where you can update your collaborators for that Livebinder.  


The collaborators that you add to your Livebinder will receive a email asking to approve to collaborate on that Livebinder.  Once they complete those steps, they will be added as a collaborator to that Livebinder.

Here’s an example of a Livebinder that was collaborated by myself and Jen Petras (@jenpetras) on Cyberbullying:


Cyber Bullying

For more details on having your students collaborate on a Livebinder, please visit this Livebinder created by Tina & Barbara, the creators of Livebinders:


Create an iBook

Last year I had my class complete a Supreme Court Brief Assignment but this year I wanted to create an iBook with my class. I attended a session on iBook creation led by Edtechteacher at West Essex Tech Symposium. Through the Book Creator app, my students created an iBook. Book Creator app is a simple way to create a beautiful and creative iBook project. Students can choose from portrait, landscape, and square book sizes. They can easily add media from the camera roll such as photos or videos. Pictures and videos can be quickly resized or rotated with the swipe of a finger. Students can edit text by color, size, rotation, and font. They can even draw or write on the book with a freehand pen tool. As a presentation tool your students can add their voice to their projects. This application is perfect for any type of school project, especially children’s books or alternative textbooks. They can easily be shared via PDF, iBooks, or uploaded to drive or dropbox. said “Book Creator makes e-book publishing easy.”  My students loved creating their books and were very creative with images, drawings,  and animation. Overall, it was a very worthwhile assignment that I would reccomend to any teacher. Here is a sample project before it was converted to an iBook:

Give your students a fun language experience with Normandie à la Carte’s French learning programs

Language learning is more important now than it ever has been before and almost every school will offer some sort of language course. Knowing what language to learn can be a difficult decision for students, but one language that every school should teach is French. The ability to speak French will provide students with a huge number of opportunities and will greatly improve not only their career prospects but also their life experiences.


French is one of the most widely spoken countries in the world with over 200 million speakers, and is the only language apart from English which is taught in schools in every country. It’s spoken in five continents and is the language of the arts, so that ability to speak it will give students the chance to enjoy many works of theatre, literature, film, music and more which they may not have had access to beforehand. Students who can speak French will be able to communicate with a huge number of people all around the world and they’ll have a better experience when travelling because of this.

French speakers are in incredibly high demand in the professional world and a qualification in French language will create a lot of career opportunities for students in many different areas including travel, teaching, editing and publishing, and even governmental positions. They’ll also get the chance to work in various international companies.

Not only does learning French give students lots of opportunities in the business world, but it also gives them a better understanding of the English language. Whilst it is common belief that most of our English vocabulary is derived from Latin, we actually get the majority of our words from the French language. By learning to read, write and speak French, students will get a better understanding of the English language too, and they’ll be able to steadily improve their abilities in both.

One of the best ways to help your students learn French is to take them on a French language trip. Trips are incredibly helpful in teaching languages as instead of learning in the classroom where they are able to speak English to their friends and teacher if they want something, students will be completely immersed in the French language and culture and will have to use their French vocabulary in order to communicate with the locals. This will help them to develop their fluency and conversational skills. If you want to take your students on a French trip, you can start by looking into Normandie à la Carte’s French learning programs. These have been specially created so that students can learn in a safe, fun and friendly environment.

Normandie à la Carte’s French learning programs are based in a centre with 3 acres of grounds in a village which is 2kn from the coast. This is a beautiful and safe environment in which students will have a lot of fun and take part in a range of activities. They’ll be able to enjoy learning French with much more freedom than in the classroom, and as a result they’ll become much more eager to learn even when back at school.



Evernote and Professional Development


Evernote for the Social Studies – Part 9: Evernote and Professional Development

Professional development is a key component for any educator, administrator or professional that needs to keep up with and provide the best expertise available.  Professional development can come in forms of workshops, conferences and any other form where people get together and discuss and train on issues in their field.

As one might expect, you may be taking several notes during this time to review and reflect upon afterwards.  Thanks to Evernote, you can create and organize your notes with notebooks and tags for quick and easy access.  Evernote also allows you to share your notes with your colleagues via social media or by the unique note URL.  Melissa Seideman recently used Evernote to take notes while attending  a conference for West Essex Regional School District.  Melissa was kind enough to share her notes with everyone via Twitter and agreed to let me share her notes in this blog as well.  Below is a part of her notes from the conference:

New Skitch

Click here to see the full note.

Using bullet points and bold headings, it is much easier to create a solid note to review and organize.  What is also great about creating notes such as this in Evernote is that anytime you make updates to the note it is automatically saved in the link you shared – no need to re-share the link.

How to organize your Evernote note

Here are some quick tips on how you can organize your notes in Evernote, making it much easier to review and access later on:

Note organization

Special thanks goes out to Melissa Seideman for inspiring this post!

Win a World Flag!

Students’ history curricula, from kindergarten through high school, tend to focus on the events in American history, but sometimes don’t make mention of certain civic observances that are part of history, too. For example, the significance and proper display of and care for American flags is seldom taught in classrooms. However, there are activities that you can do, especially with young children, to teach about the flag. Most educators and citizens know that the stripes represent the original 13 colonies and the stars represent the states, but did you know that red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white symbolizes purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice?

 Here are the basics for proper flag display: 

  • The flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset; if it is displayed at night, it should be illuminated
  • The flag should never be allowed to touch the floor
  • The blue portion should be in the upper left-hand corner if the flag is mounted on a wall or window
  • The flag should be raised quickly and lowered ceremoniously
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should be raised to the top for a moment and then lowered to half-staff; it should also be raised to the top before lowering at the end of the day

This lesson can go along with teaching about the Pledge of Allegiance and how to recite it while demonstrating appropriate respect. For young children, it’s helpful to teach the meanings of the words in the Pledge, rather than using rote memorization. For example:

I [promise] [to be loyal] to the flag of the United States of America and to the [country with elected leaders] for which it stands, one [country] under God, [cannot be divided] with [freedom] and [fairness] for all.

Contest: Win this Flag

There are lots of activities you can do with young students to teach them about the American flag, and I’d love for you to share your ideas. Please comment below with your ideas for teaching students of any age about the flag and how to use it. One commenter will be chosen at random to receive a Patriotic World Flag for your classroom (pictured below). The flag was donated by Gettysburg Flag.