Monday, June 25, 2007

NECC 2007: Voices from the Past: Fictional Blogs of Historical Figures (Wood/Jenkins)

This session reported on three historical blogs created by students:
Harriet Tubman (3rd Grade):
World War II (8th Grade):
Civil War (4th Grade):

Harriet Tubman Blog

A third grade class studied Harriet Tubman by reading a book about her (The Story of Harriet Tubman, Conductor of the Underground Railroad by Kate McMullan) and researching using other resources. The teacher assigned different roles to students that resulted in the creation of a class-created blog. They used tools including KidPix (timeline), Word (writing), Kidspiration (character fact webs), Photoshop, and Typepad. They also included a video file. The result is their website at:

  • All students were assigned an important date or event from the book to illustrate using KidPix. They had limited access to scanners and they knew KidPix easily translated into uploadable JPEGs.
  • Students wrote fictional stories as if they were moving along the underground railroad.
  • Students or pairs of students wrote blog entries by chapter, identifying what they found to be most important in the chapter and including pictures.
  • Students created character webs. This was particularly helpful for low-level learners who had difficulty writing, but could prepare brief excerpts in concept maps.
  • Higher-level students created fictional video interviews between "reporters" and "Harriet Tubman."
  • Used read-aloud time to read book to students
  • Language arts block was used to complete writing activities
  • Addressed standards in language arts, social studies, and technology
  • Use PhotoBucket or Picasa to save bandwidth
  • Create blog banner in PhotoShop
  • TypePad allowed them to create as many blogs as they would like for one year for $150
  • Observe copyright when importing pictures
  • Close comment options in the blog
  • Students do not need email access to work on these blogs

The World War II blog was created by 8th grade students in two different classrooms. The classes were remote from one another. This was a comment-moderated blog and only one student tried to upload an inappropriate comment.

Students chose an individual from World War II that they wanted to study. Each student had to write an "autobiographical" entry and had to comment on another entry. The entire blog was created in about two instructional days.

One student was assigned to create the blog banner using PhotoShop.

Fourth grade students studied the Civil War and created posts from the point of view of various people living in the time of the Civil War. Due to the lack of available technology, this blog activity was not as successful.

Other Notes

Wood does not use Blogger because he cannot remove the navbar which allows students to use the "Next Blog" option. I looked this up online and found that only those using Blogger via FTP can remove the navbar.

One change I would make is with the audio interviews. By using voice moderation during the audio interviews, they would sound more authentic and the students would enjoy experience the technology and final product. Also, I would prefer the audio interviews focused on higher-level questioning.

Another recommendation is that the students couple this activity with a field trip and a Chautauqua presentation.

This was a great presentation and I will use the tools and activities I learned here in the Teaching American History grant and with my ICE 234 students. I will reference these blogs in my ICE 458 class.

This session was presented by Herman Wood ( and Tina Jenkins

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. It is always great pleasure to read your posts.