EdTech Interview: Social Studies Teacher

By Monica Burns 02.15.2016 blog

Integrating educational technology tools into classroom instruction can transform teaching and learning. In this contribution to the our series of EdTech interviews, Cheryl Davis shares her experience working with social studies teachers to incorporate technology in the classroom. Here, she shares ways integrate one-to-one technology and how to use mobile apps in the classroom.

Describe your current role and the student population at your school.

I facilitate professional development for educators working with teachers in a high school district. I am also involved with mentoring a Teaching with Primary Sources national network, connecting educators with resources and ideas from the Library of Congress. Although my school district role was originally one of technology specialist I’m delighted to see that handle being redefined in many districts to focus on teaching and learning in the curriculum rather than focusing on tools and isolated pushes to implement technology.

What type of technology do you use with students?

The specific kinds of technology that teachers and students use in our schools varies with assignment and purpose. We may have students blogging about contemporary issues, using social media to learn Latin, using screencasting apps to explain a history concept or political issue, creating visual museums with iPad apps, using a voice recording app to improve creative writing skills, collaborating with apps while writing argumentative essays or doing research for their own educational websites or electronic books. The emphasis both in professional development and student projects is increasingly on choice. I’m seeing that more teachers rely on students to choose the best tool to solve a problem, learn a concept or show what they know.

How has technology changed the way you teach?

What I’ve seen with the implementation of technology in schools, is that the reach of what can be learned expands. I’ve also seen the emphasis on content memorization move towards problem solving and creation. In the discipline of social studies for example, students can be history discoverers and explorers in their own communities easier with a mobile device, recording, analyzing and archiving local history.  There are apps and sites where students can engage in the practice of history. The Story Corps app is a great example of a participatory history experience for students. With easy to use mobile production and editing tools, it’s wonderful to see students learning about government and political issues actively. Just delving into these real world history and civic experiences helps students understand the process and importance of preserving our history and becoming participatory and active citizens. Technology has broadened the possibilities of student participation in their own learning.

What are your hopes and dreams for using technology in your current teaching role?

As a long time educator who has seen many shifts in pedagogy, I’m am very encouraged by the movement towards student agency, mobile access, project-based learning and the role of social media that is fostering a broader collaborative exchange of ideas between teachers and their learners. I’m encouraged by more student and teacher publishing of work so that we all can share the information and creative projects that are developed in the classroom. No longer do we need to rely on static texts and limited voices. I also like the direction that the discussions on learning spaces and environments are taking us.

Do you have any favorite EdTech resources for the social studies classroom you would like to share?

My favorite resources to share, both with teachers and students, are those that hold the raw materials of history, primary sources. A couple of favorite United States History sites are the Library of Congress and the National Archives. However there are many other primary source sites authored by universities, libraries and museums that hold a wealth of resources to be explored and used for learning. Recently, for example, the New York Public Library enhanced their public domain collections with a release of over 180,000 digitized items.

Learn more about Cheryl’s work by following her on Twitter.

Monica Burns is an EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.


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  1. carlos


  2. kaine cribb


  3. Matthew B

    I think that allowing kids to use technology for school, not only allows the students to get more involved, but also be more into learning in the future.

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