Adult Ed
From the Beginning of Time,
Online:Using the Internet to Explore History



OverviewActivities


Activity One: Start with the PBS Web site.
Activity Two: Use a Web site to review programming
Activity Three: Using history Web sites to research a topic
Activity Four: Reviewing Web sites

Activity One: Start with the PBS Web site.

http://www.pbs.org/neighborhoods/history/
PBS does a lot of history programming and offers background material for just about every program they air. Most offer classroom resources, teacher guides, lesson plans or links to other useful sites.

The Web site changes to reflect current programming. There are always new features online or on the way. The ongoing menu features ancient history, world history, U.S history, war and espionage, plus biographies on many historical figures from the worlds of politics, science, and the arts.

Some areas of history have been prominently featured in PBS programming. For example, the Ken Burns Jazz series led to the creation of a wealth of online materials on jazz music and many jazz artists.

Activity: Previewing a Web site

Preview the home page of a program's site the way you might preview the cover of a book. It's best if you use the site of a program that you are also going to view in your class. If that is not possible, the Web sites can be used without viewing the television program.
  • Ask students to tell you what they see on the page.
  • Ask them what sections look interesting.
  • If so, what did you think?
  • Ask them what they would expect to find if they clicked on any of those parts. (Students can write or say predictions.)
  • After the students make predictions, go into the site and see if the predictions were correct.
  • Make sure to note that incorrect predictions are not bad. If we could always make correct predictions, we wouldn't need to read further.


Note
If your students don't have Internet access, you can do most of this activity by printing out the home page and showing it to the class as if it were a book cover.


Here are some ways you might use a Web site such as http://www.pbs.org in a computer lab or a classroom that has Internet access:

Activity Two: Use a Web Site to review programming
Use a Web Site to review programming
After watching the show, use the site to go deeper. Not every program's online materials will be exactly the same, but here are some ideas that will work for most programs.

For biographical programs:

Step 1After viewing the program, make a list of the key events or achievements of the person's life.

Step 1Break the class into goups based on their interest in the different events.

Step 1Send students to the program's site to come up with more information.

Step 1Have students do a search for other biographical material.

Step 1Have the groups work to create a short presentation on their segment of the person's life.

Step 1Have each individual write a report or summary of what they have learned.

For programs about historical events or eras:

Step 2After viewing the program, make a list of the key people, places, and events featured in the program.

Step 2Break the class into groups based on their interest in the different people, places, or events.

Step 2Send students to the program's site to come up with more information.

Step 2Have students do a search for other information.

Step 2Have the groups work to create a short presentation on their segment of the person's life.

Step 2Have each individual write a report or summary of what they have learned.

Activity Three: Using history Web sites To research a topic

There is so much history information on the Web. Students can research topics, then practice writing and oral presentations skills.

Step 1Demonstrate searching for information. You can do that from many homepages (Yahoo, Altavista, Excite, etc.).
These are my two favorites:
http://www.AskJeeves.com (answers questions)
http://www.Google.com (lists relevant Web sites)

Step 1Ask students for the name of a famous person to research and follow the search to get information.

Step 1Brainstorm a list of topics, historical figures, or events that the class would like to know more about. You might want to narrow the focus: the history of New York City, Women's History, the history of Jamaica.

Step 1Ask students to pick three items on the list that interest them.

Step 1Send them to do a quick search on each of the subjects. Students should spend about ten to fifteen minutes on all three topics.

Step 1Have students get into groups or pairs and discuss what they found and which topic seems the most interesting.

Step 1Send students back to the Internet to do deeper research.

Step 1Stop the searching at intervals and ask students to write down what they are learning.

Step 1Ask students to write the story of what they have learned about the topic they researched.

Step 1Have students share their writing in groups or with the whole class.

Activity Four: Reviewing Web sites

Step 1 Write these URLs on a separate slip of paper and put them in a hat or a bowl. There are eleven URLs here. Make enough slips of paper for every student to have one. (In other words, you might have to write each URL two or three times.)
Step 1 Send students to review the sites on their slips of paper using the following questions:
  • Was the site interesting?
  • Was it easy to navigate?
  • Did it take me to other interesting places?
  • Was it fun?
  • Was it interactive?
  • What did I learn?
Is there still more there that I didn't get a chance to finish up? Would I like to go back to this site?

Step 1 Have students write reviews of their Web sites.

Step 1Have students read their reviews to each other in groups. Ask for volunteers to read to the whole group.

Step 1Ask students to check out another site based on the recommendations or warnings they have heard in the reviews.

Step 1Have students write letters to the reviewers (their fellow students), giving their opinion of the site.

Extensions

Create a journal of Web site reviews.


close WNET EDUCATION