HOT TOPIC: 50 States
Volume 3, Issue 39 - June 17, 2007

"Whether you’re traveling this summer or delving into social studies in the fall, a study of our fifty states can be nicely enhanced by the offerings available online.

Any study of our fifty states can be done from a number of perspectives, from state symbols and economic statistics to historical people & places and virtual tours & field trips. Turn it on its ear and it becomes a science study of meteorology, geology and physical geography, an immersion in regional folklore, or an analysis of voting data by state from the most recent national elections.

Taking a look at states from the tourist’s perspective is a popular tact for the classroom, asking students to research and plan a trip through a state via its major cities, natural wonders and historic sites. Creating brochures, itineraries and budgets for a tour of a state integrates skills from across the curriculum into a meaningful, real-world application of learning.

State government offices, boards of tourism and travel agencies are great resources, and they are easily accessible online for not only state data but for contact information, as well: snail mail addresses and email addresses. There are often excellent offers for materials and information available right online.

Keypals are also a great tie-in to a state study. Services like ePals and Gaggle can hook students up with classes from states they are studying, creating a virtual exchange of ideas and experiences that go far beyond the basic curriculum. These days you don’t even need to set up, administer and monitor email accounts. Create a blog or wiki, share the address with classes from other states, and let the collaboration begin in an open, easy to manage interface.

As we head to the last half of June and the impending summer, consider this collection of excellent resources on our fifty states for your students both this year and next. It’s a hotlist you can return to again and again.”

©2007 Walter McKenzie

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