Welcome to Tradigital History!

The purpose of this website is to provide you with lesson plans, tools, tips, and strategies for using technology to teach history and social studies.

Overview of the role of social studies in the curriculum

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” When George Santayana wrote this simple sentence in 1905 he showed how important it is for us to educate our students in social studies and history.   According to the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS), social studies is, “the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence.  The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world” (NCSS, 1994).

History, on the other hand, is a specific discipline that focuses on interpreting and analyzing the past. According to the NCSS (2004), the purpose of the history content area is to determine a concept’s origin, locate and study various primary source documents that address the concept, and then to analyze the concept’s development over time. History is the study of human behavior through time and usually refers to the study and interpretation of the record of humans, families, and societies as preserved primarily through written sources.’

Overview of the use of technology in social studies

Traditionally, the major focus of instruction within the social studies classroom has been related to the learning of facts, while the subject matter centered on learning and memorizing the important dates of history, geographic names, government individuals, and so forth (Wilson, 1999). The NCSS  points out that an effective way to engage students actively in “authentic problem-tackling or decision making contexts” is to incorporate technology into the social studies classroom (p. 165).

The Internet and other types of new technology can have a major impact on the teaching of history and social studies by increasing the amount of information available to students. Digital historical resources such as the National Archives, the American Memory Project from the Library of Congress, and the Valley of the Shadow Project provide primary sources related to many of the grade-level indicators listed in both the Pennsylvania state and national history standards.

Today’s students have the ability to access information about and make interpretations about a large number of social studies
related subjects. For example students and teachers can access vast libraries of historical archives, historical museums, articles from newspapers and magazines, historical audio and video clips, and databases of information for use within the classroom (Braun & Risinger 1999). When comparing it to more traditional print or text-based resources, the Internet requires discerning information quality, using criteria like accuracy, bias, authority and currency.