How teachers Can Leverage More Time?

As a social studies teacher I feel strongly that students need to acquire facts, but we want our students to move beyond routine memorization to analyze and make connections with the new information. With the new demands of Common Core standards teachers will be faced with an educational decision to teach content that leads to a deeper understanding, comprehension, and application.

Incorporating technology into daily instruction is one way in which teachers can leverage more time, restructure learning activities so they become more meaningful, and provide opportunities for more rigorous  instruction. Digital tools can be seamlessly integrated into the curriculum to save teachers time and enhance learning time. Some teachers have a hard time envisioning how digital products can be enhanced into classroom instruction. Here are a few ways I integrate technology into my classroom:



I use a program called Infuse learning as a formative assessment with my students. Students can electronically through their cell phones, tablets, or laptops send responses immediately to an electronic spreadsheet that can allow me assess whole-group or individual feedback.


I can then use this information to guide my teaching and instruction. For example, students may answer a critical thinking question from the previous night’s homework. If the spreadsheet or graph reveals a majority of students did not comprehend a concept the assignment I can then reteach or review a particular concept or question. Students send immediate responses to my teacher account which can place responses into an electronic spreadsheet, which allows me assess the whole class or give individual feedback. Through infuse learning, I can send my class a multiple-choice question. The website instantly graphs my students responses, which reveals if my students did not comprehend a concept


For example, students may answer a critical comprehension question applying a historical topic to modern day. Another way I have my student’s use this program is with the draw feature. In pairs they are assigned four vocabulary words. They then need to draw the vocabulary words. They then send the words to the board and as a class we guess the word and review the definition.  This makes for a particularly useful review activity in any class (yes even AP).

Image by: Krista Moroder


Google Forms for Data Collection

I simplified my life with Google Forms.  Google forms can help you plan an event, send a survey, give a quiz, or collect information in an easy way. Through Google Forms responses are automatically collected in a spreadsheet. Responses can be shown in a graph or sorted by spreadsheet column.


I use Google Forms on the first day of school to collect student information, back to school night data, rubrics for projects, and so much more. My students even asked me to make a Google form for a debate evaluation so that no one knew their handwriting with the evaluation.

Evernote for Lesson Plans, Notes, or Assignments 

Evernote is an easy-to-use, free application or website that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Evernote lets your take notes, sync files across your devices, save webpages, capture inspiration, and share your ideas with friends and colleagues.  There are so many wonderful ways to use Evernote for file sharing, lesson plans, digital portfolios writing submission. The ideas are endless! Here is a great Livebinder created by Justin Stallings on all the wonderful features of Evernote.



Online Discussions

Back channeling during class can encourage your students to make comments, ask questions, and provide feedback.  I have used Today’s Meet, Twitter, or My Big Campus as a back channel during class such as with a debate, video, or resource sharing session when I do not want “verbal” discussion. My students enjoy back channeling during videos. My students ask questions, answer questions, and share links/quotes about the topic of the video. I find I can have a more engaging discussion after the video because all of the initial questions were already answered.







Why is #sschat valuable to you? Join Today!

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How you can join #sschat?

1. Join the Live #sschat Discussions on Twitter Every Monday Night from 7-8 PM EST (see calendar on the main screen)
2. Join our Facebook Group
3. Join in 24/7 Discussions on Social Studies related topics on twitter follow the hashtag #sschat
4. Visit this #sschat ning website, which has discussion boards, groups, and archived chats of previous twitter discussions.

Why is #sschat valuable to you?
  • #sschat has helped to make me into a more dedicated, engaged, and connected teacher. It has helped me to create a positive learning environment for my students but also a professional learning community that I actually want to be apart of. Melissa Seideman @mseideman
  • #sschat allows me to instantly link with fellow social studies teachers around the globe, in real-time, from the comfort of my sofa.  It’s crowdsourcing professional development (how cool is that?), and it’s the most inspiring and resource-rich professional development I’ve ever participated in.  Joe Sangillo @joesangillo
  • I began watching the collaboration in #sschat as a lurker and thought “I want to belong to this!” The sharing and the organic co -developing of lessons has helped me develop as a newer teacher. -Michael Milton
  • #sschat has given me a countless number of lesson ideas and resources.  Just hearing what other teachers around the world are doing with their classes gets the creative ideas flowing.  It is also inspiring to collaborate with others.  It makes me a better teacher. Mike Nash @mackiefloyd
  • As an education professor, #sschat helps keep me connected with classroom teachers – their interests, successes, and challenges – on a daily basis. – Dan Krutka @dankrutka
  • I am the only Social Studies teacher in my middle school so #sschat IS my Professional Development!  Passionate educators keep me excited and eager to collaborate – John Padula @PadulaJohn
  • #sschat keeps me connected, invigorated and enthusiastic.  Learning from so many innovative educators is an experience that frees me from my office and classroom walls! @antfitz
  • #sschat is a great place to bounce ideas about lessons off others.  You don’t need to always reinvent the wheel. @sbdavidso
  • As a new SS coordinator, #sschat helped me expand my professional network nationwide and worldwide!  In some ways it is like having a SS Fairy Godmother – when I have a question or need a resource,  I tweet it out to #sschat and within minutes I have many great ideas or answers! @MapM8ker
  • #sschat is a great place to know what other people in the world are doing and a place to share good ideas and resources that we may not all have time to keep up with @praisesifa
  • #sschat is a community of passionate and knowledgeable educators dedicated to helping each other grow professionally.  Everyday I learn something new and always come away inspired.  The real winner in all of this… our students.  @RoanHoward
  • #sschat allows for continuous PD and it provides an outlet to share ideas and get feedback by teachers in the your discipline. In addition, it allows us to stay up to date with teaching trends, ideas, technology, and websites.  @philpuzz
  • Without #sschat,  EDSITEment would not be connecting to the most tech savvy teachers in America. We’d be in our “ivory tower” and they would probably not be aware of how much NEH has to offer them.
  • #ssschat has enriched the teaching in our department.   I often share the resources that I have found with teachers in social studies.  They have had great success with students using these resources.  I especially appreciate the support that I have seen provided for teachers new to the profession or teaching a course for the first time.
  • I don’t usually make the live #sschat and when I do it goes too fast for me, but I do enjoy the benefits of using the hashtag to ask questions or to search the archives later. I often share resources that I find here with the teachers in my department.  My participation has made ALL of us better. @jenslish
  • I have not taken part in many #sschat conversations, but I do look through the posts that are tagged #sschat. I have received many great ideas from other social studies teachers. Thank you to all. Monte DeArmoun @nksocialstudies
  • I am inspired by the creativity and dedication of the teachers on #sschat.   In the current test-driven climate, I am so impressed by the ways in which social studies teachers incorporate technology, current events, and interactive methods in their teaching, and refuse to “teach to the tests.” @dutchermann
  • The great people that use #sschat are ALWAYS willing to help with a link or advice to possible teaching topics.  It is instant professional development and probably the best PD tool in use today.  @jeifling
  • #sschat provides me with colleagues who are a resource, support, and inspiration. I just have to ask and there are so many in my PLN who respond immediately. It definitely makes me a better educator. I also connect with educators who are as passionate about student learning as I am and are willing to connect their classrooms worldwide. @kconners09
  • #sschat brings me in contact with new colleagues with new ideas. Collaboration is important to me as I do not have the opportunity at school to do so. There’s always lots of support, too. @geojo22
  • #sschat brings together passionate history teachers to connect, learn and share with one another.  It is a forum for getting help, support and great ideas to improve the teaching of Social Studies. @cybraryman1


How do you use #sschat?
  • 24/7 or during synchronous, moderated chat on Mondays at 7pm EST
  • I tune in most Monday’s to see what’s up.  I always find something useful.  I will also post resources to #sschat throughout the week and look there when I am trying to find something.  I also occasionally post questions.
  • I ALWAYS come away from #sschat with a new site, article, or connection for my PLN – EVERY TIME.  That’s the kind of people who keep me coming back!
  • I used to come across resources that I wanted to share out and thought no one cares, why bother sharing.  Then I discovered #sschat and now I just tweet a resource with #sschat and I instantly have a whole slew of like minded social studies teacher excited about the resource too.
  • I use #sschat to connect live and collaborate or I can go back and check the archives and find great ideas that are perfect for my lessons.  Every little bit helps in keeping education fresh!
  • Having a network of people who always willing to help/share is refreshing!  Also makes me feel great when I can offer help or a resource – validates what we all believe in as educators, despite high stakes testing and local politics
  • When I come across something useful that helped shaped the way I plan what I’m teaching or some interesting ideas, I like to share it out to others on #sschat
  • EDSITEment staff views #sschat as our window on the world of K-12 social studies and history teachers. We find out so much every day about where they are and what they need.
  • I use #sschat throughout the week rather than come to the chat. I use the archives and follow the hashtag.
  • I generally have classes on Monday evenings so I refer to the archives and follow the hashtag. The archives have provided an abundance of resource and ideas for use in the classroom.  @MaribethWestlun
  • Looking for new ideas and classroom resources.
  • I introduce my preservice teachers to it so that they can have a digital learning community.  I gain energy and enthusiasm from the teachers, even though I can’t regularly join the synchronous chat.  I love to share ideas with other teachers, and to get their suggestions of classroom projects, especially to see their student work.
  • When historical current events take place (death of bin Laden, Japan earthquake, etc) #sschat is the best place to gather information.  It is collaboration at the best.

Life After the Red Pill: One Educator’s Journey into the Rabbit Hole of Social Media

We all have to make choices. As teachers we must constantly make them. How will we spend our time in and out of class? What resources should we use with our students, and where should we go to get them? How will we foster effective learning? Social Studies educators, like me, often wonder, how will my lessons foster responsible citizenship among my students?


Implementing Social Media into the Classroom

I recently chose to investigate the possibilities and challenges of utilizing social media to improve my social studies teaching. I define social media as any service where content is user generated and shared with fellow users of that medium. I was already using several social media services (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram) in my personal life, but I did not utilize them professionally. While I didn’t understand it at the time, I’ve found this choice, albeit a quite a bit less dramatic and violent, like the one Neo faced in The Matrix (1999):

Like Neo, I had no idea of the ramifications my choice to select the red pill of social media. When I began to use it I discovered a world that I did not know existed, but, fortunately, it was not the painful reality of Neo’s “real world.” Over the last couple weeks I have uncovered a wealth of resources, ideas, and colleagues. Yet it has not been without challenges. I will provide a brief summary of my some of my experiences using social media for school. I hope these experiences might provide some insights for others embarking upon a similar journey (or maybe even remind social media veterans what it is like for neophytes).


Exploring New Forms of Social Media

While I made the choice to investigate social media, I have not been alone. For the past week I asked my senior social studies methods students to accompany me. I began a week before our first class by immersing myself in a variety of social media services by using them 5-10 hours a day. I created a Facebook page, a new Twitter account (@WSUSocStudies), an Edmodo account, and sought out people and organizations on these forums. I checked out books from the library and searched databases for academic articles on the topic. The academic materials provided some interesting perspectives, but they didn’t show me what to do. Just like Morpheus explained to Neo, “no one can be told what [it] is. You have to see it for yourself.” Only by using social media can one really understand the possibilities it might afford teachers and students.

I initially used my linked Twitter and Facebook pages to collect and share resources with others. I searched organizations with which I was already familiar (e.g., the History Channel, the Gilder Lehrman Institute). I retweeted interesting links, or posted YouTube videos or websites that I had previously used in my own classes. I made use of to find new and interesting articles.

I found many good resources, but I also felt overwhelmed. I was inundated with a mass of information, and keeping up with everything on just and Twitter seemed like too much. I enjoyed much of what I was finding, but I found myself without enough time in the day to keep up with all my professional responsibilities along with this new cyber world. Not only was I overwhelmed, but I also wondered, what is really different about social media then just searching the internet? I was also nervous about how my students would feel accompanying me on this journey (see next blog post). The social studies methods course is designed to help students think about theoretical and practical aspects of teaching social studies, and I was dedicating the first few weeks of our course to exploring these tools so we could practice using them all semester. I certainly did not want to waste their time, and there’s always anxiety when you try something new and different with your students, especially something that is banned in many schools. Like Neo, I was initially unsure of my role in this new world.


The Turning Point: Connecting with Other Educators 

The turning point came when I discovered that the real power of social media was not in simply collecting resources and ideas, but in connecting with others whom are on the same journey. I have met a community of social studies educators passionate about teaching, and using social media tools to improve their craft. All of a sudden, I not only found resources, but support, insightful recommendations, answers to questions, and invitations to opportunities to continue the conversation. I didn’t just search for resources, I began receiving and providing them to people as we had conversations about wise practices. My online use went from a largely one way gathering of resources to the development of transactional relationships and the discovery of an online community.


Twitter’s #sschat 

After 10 days of social media use I found myself participating in a Twitter social studies chat (#sschat) where educators from across the country were sharing resources and ideas. Four days later social media leaders in the social studies – Shawn McCusker (@ShawnMcCusker) of Illinois and Melissa Seideman (@mseideman) of New York – were imparting ideas and answering questions with my class via Google Hangout videoconferencing. They showed my class and I specific ways we could successfully use social media and technology to become better teachers. As they answered my students’ questions I was amazed how social media made this all possible.

I still have an incredible amount to learn, but after only two weeks I can’t help but feel like Neo at the end of the Matrix – after he finally believed and understood how the Matrix works. He realized that the rules of the old system didn’t apply to anymore. He saw that a new world of possibilities existed. I am excited and unquestionably satisfied with my choice to journey into the rabbit hole of social media. I recommend that you make the same choice.



- Participate in social studies chats on Twitter using “#sschat” every Monday for one hour beginning at 7 Eastern/6 Central; Follow moderators: @ShawnMcCusker, @Ron_Peck, @Becky_Ellis_

- Although I’ve had some problems, I’ve found Edmodo to be an interesting way to set up a class. It has a Facebook interface, but provides a closed, and presumable safer, environment for classes.

- I have found Google Drive (formerly Google Documents) and Google Hangout invaluable resources to connect with students and colleagues.


Dan Krutka, Ph.D. is middle level/secondary social studies chair at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. He taught high school social studies for six years previous to beginning in his current position in 2011. He can be followed/contacted at, on Twitter @WSUSocStudies, or by e-mail at [email protected].  

#sschat has made me a better teacher!

Unfortunately, teaching has the potential to be an isolated career in terms of collaboration and support. Before I discovered Twitter I felt alone with my teaching and was most certainly not as reflective. I feel extremely privileged to have discovered #sschat on Twitter. I love observing people’s reactions when I say I use Twitter for professional development. When I was interviewing for my job my husband and I sat down and carefully constructed how I was going to approach the way I introduce twitter as a PLC. I wish more preservice teachers knew about this wonderful asset.  Twitter has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to connect with dynamic educators from around the world and learn interesting ways to engage my students.


Twitter (#sschat) has truly become one of the most inspirational ways I have created my own profesional learning community. Every Monday night at 7 PM EST teachers from around the country log into their twitter accounts and follow the hashtag #sschat. Every week there is a new discussion prompt or topic. It’s pretty AMAZING to say that I connect with hundreds of AWESOME social studies teachers from around the country EVERY week… actually everyday.  Some people joke that #sschat is one massive department meeting, one in which I truly enjoy “going to.” Monday become my favorite day of the week, which is pretty rare for most educators.


In addition to the wonderful #sschat discussions and the #sschat Ning Website  has become an amazing resource! If I am teaching a lesson and need help I can post a question or a problem and I instantly get a response and resources from teachers who teach the same subject. My lonely job is no longer isolating but inspiring! I hope to “see you” Monday Night!

Video Introduction to  Twitter #sschat -


Reflection: #EdCampNYC and #sschat

Unfortunately, teaching has the potential to be an isolated career in terms of collaboration and support. I feel extremely privileged to have discovered #sschat on Twitter and the EdCamp conference model. I love observing people’s reactions when I say I use Twitter for professional development.Twitter has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to connect with dynamic educators from around the world and learn interesting ways to engage my students.  Twitter (#sschat) has truly become one of the most inspirational ways I have created my own profesional learning community.


On Saturday, May 5th, 2012 I attended EdCampNYC at Francis Lewis High School. EdCampNYC was one of many unconferences occurring in the United States. For me, EdCampNYC and EdCampSS was an amazing experience and one in which expanded/reinvigorated my  teaching methodology and repertoire. It is important to remember we are all learners – teachers and administrators as well as students and we must constantly adapt and reflect on our own teaching and learning. Here is the reflection page from EdCampNYC, where there are free resources, websites, presentation links, etc.

I plan on attending two EdCamps this year: 

  • EdCamp Lower Hudson Valley (New Paltz, NY) August 14, 2012 website
  • EdCampNJ (North Brunswick, NJ) December 1, 2012 website

I led the session about mobile devices in the classroom at EdCampNYC. Here is my Powerpoint from the session.

Photo Credit 


Twiducate Safely with your Students

Twitter is a wonderful professional and educational resource for education.Twitter has assisted our students and teachers to extend learning beyond the classroom. Students learn better when they are engaged in the curriculum through a social setting because the environment is inclusive for all students.


Twitter has revolutionized the learning environment and truly brought the world into the classroom. The ability to “watch”  the events as they happen around the world is so valuable. My classes “watched” the twitter feed as #occupywallstreet movement occurred and the #syria hashtag of the uprising in Syria. The experience was priceless!


Unfortunately schools across the country have blocked Twitter, which is preventing our students from collaborating and interacting with each other in a 21st century medium. That’s where Twiducate comes in!

For schools where Twitter is blocked or students are too young, teachers can incorporate Twiducate into the classroom. Twiducate is a wonderful FREE resource for teacher to incorporate a twitter like program into their learning environment. It is a safe medium to extend the classroom beyond the school day and incorporate social media into the classroom. Using Twiducate, teachers and students can be in a specific group, post, comment, and view classroom discussion. Twiducate is a private and safe social network to engage your students. Check it out today!



Citation and images: Twiducate

Twitter for Professional Development

After school I board a train to go to #EdCampSS held in Philidelphia on Saturday March 24th. I don’t think I’ve been more excited for a conference/workshop. I am very excited to meet teachers from around the country that I have been socially collaborating with on Twitter.

When I tell most teachers about Twitter for professional development I often get a head scratch or two. Most people assume Twitter is how friends stay in contact or a place to share what you had for lunch with the rest of the world. Twitter has enabled me to enhance my professioanl learning community and most of all it has improved the way I teach social studies.  I have found twitter to be one of the best ways I collaborate with other teachers and I have truly discovered a network of other teachers just like me.

Here is a list of Educational Hashtags

Update your Instruction with Social Media

Social media is becoming embedded in our lives. Research has shown that there are many benefits to using social media to enhance instruction in the classroom. Students are more engaged using social media, and it is truly a wonderful way to spread information and make connections with students. Implementing social media into the classroom is very simple and can be done using a variety of simple to use resources:

Incorporate Twitter into your classroom- You can identify a major concept you want students to comprehend. Tweet the concept to your student. Allow students to respond to the concept through Twitter. Students can compare and contrast, share ideas, and develop their critical thinking skills. As you teach a lesson you can allow students to Tweet or back-channel their thoughts and comments during the lecture. You can even post the comments on the Smartboard. You can even respond to student questions this way. Another benefit to using Twitter is that it can positively and proactively involve all students in the learning process and create an interactive classroom.
Create a Social Media group- Students can meet on Facebook, Google+, or Edmodo in groups. Students can be provided with various concepts to explore or research. Students can embedded blog posts, project-based learning activities, or other alternative assessments into the social media website.
Students can create a video- Many students own devices such as cell phones, tablets, etc that can record and produce a mini video. Students can record a video and then upload their videos to google video or youtube. Students can comment on the videos or simply learn from their classmates. Here is a good tutorial if needed.
Summarize textbook chapters using blogs – Create a blog (I like EDU blogs). Have student create a blog post or summarize a major concept. Students can also comment on other student’s posts. Blogging can increase comprehension and provide a wonderful resource for review.
Text Announcements- As radical and extreme as that may sound, students respond well to text messages related to instruction (I use a program called Teachers can create a groups of students or cells. Teacher’s can text reminders to a entire class or an individual students. Students can even text their teacher if they have a question. The best part is that it is a controlled environment in that keeps a record of every message placed.
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