Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Retronaut--A Look at the Civilizations From Their Earliest Beginnings to Present Day

If you teach art, photography, history/social studies, or literature, you will want to bookmark this site.   For teachers to help ELLs (and others) make connections to upcoming lesson themes before the lesson actually starts, teachers need to employ a variety of quick "activating prior knowledge" OR "building background knowledge" activities.  Such activities should not be any longer that a 5-7 minutes in general.  Here visuals help immensely since no reading is required.  This makes instant access possible for ELLs because they are reacting to the visual only.

How could this site be used for literature?  Think about Grapes of Wrath (set in depression of 1930's).  Photographs of DUST BOWL victims would add vital context to reading the novel.  Imagine how they would react to seeing that all ethnic groups have had struggles in society.  In fact, in some cases, students may have experienced similar suffering (there would be no need to have them share with the class here obviously).  Other students may personally know of friends who have encountered hard times in this day and age.  This might assist them in making those vital connections to the novel's theme.

World history connections?  See World War 1 soldiers in their trenches looking out for enemy fire.  Watch them wearing their mustard gas masks.  Ask students how they feel the soldiers felt living under such horrific conditions.  Have ELLs and EOs reflect and share their reactions to the plight of these men in small groups with chart paper.  This type of activity motivates everyone to contribute since the writing is kept to a minimum, but the content is grade appropriate.

Contrast technology in the 1950's with now.  ELLs and EOs would have much to draw vivid contrasts with using this site.  Look at the telephone then and contrast it with what we have now.  Visions of space travel then as opposed to the reality of now.  With this background, classes would be ready to enter the arena of quality science fiction and enjoy every minute of it!


Try it out and see how your students react to it.  My guess is that they will truly be amazed at how the world has changed over time.



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