Literary Resources for Teachers and Students Who Compute


Sherry L. Field and Linda D. Labbo

Elementary classroom use of technology is expanding rapidly, as are resources available for teachers and students. Many teachers consider themselves to be adept at computer usage because they have been using technology in their classrooms for years in the form of Internet sites, videodiscs, CD-ROMs, and floppy diskette computer programs. Still other teachers find themselves in the beginning stages of computer and advanced technology usage and may be feeling a bit unsure about their competence to do so. There can be no doubt, however, about the fascination that these and other rapid technological advances hold for children and adults and the promise that they hold for seeking and gaining information. As this issue of Social Studies and the Young Learner shows, classrooms of pupils around the country are regularly taking extraordinary learning adventures with the assistance of technology. The resources that follow for elementary social studies teachers and for their students provide sound strategies for planning effective lessons and offer the most up-to-date information available in print about using computers in the classroom.


Resources for Teachers

Technology Tools in the Social Studies Curriculum by Joseph A. Braun, Jr., Phyllis Fernlund, and Charles S. White (Wilsonville, Ore.: Franklin, Beedle & Associates, Incorporated, 1998; ISBN: 1-887902-06-6) is the most comprehensive book on the topic. Drawn from original work by the authors and reprints of some of the most influential articles available about computer use, it is designed to help educators understand different types of technological resources for teaching social studies, plan and evaluate these resources in the curriculum, and examine potential future trends. The topics include an overview of social studies education and resources for exploring technologies, and guidance on how technology and computer software for social studies can place learners in an active role as they pursue social education goals. Computer software applications for teachers and students are evaluated, as are the uses of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and multimedia. Also considered is how technology helps achieve the social studies goals of examining values and making civic-moral decisions in an increasingly diverse classroom, society, and world. Especially important is the text’s consideration of ethical issues as they relate to student computer use. The book concludes with a comprehensive chapter on resources for using technology as a teaching and learning tool, which includes software producers, books, journals, workshops, conferences, and favorite Internet sites.

The Online Classroom: Teaching with the Internet by Eileen Giuffre Cotton (Bloomington, Ind.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication, 1996; ISBN: 1-883790-18-2) will be of interest to teachers new to the Internet. Cotton invites readers to use the ideas and lessons in the guide to assist their students in communicating with people in faraway places, gathering information from around the globe, developing sophisticated research skills, and increasing knowledge across the curriculum. Topics covered include e-mail, Netscape Navigator, and search engines. Sample lessons explore Canada, Mexico, whales, the news, fairy tales, and Washington, D.C.

In Social Studies in the Cyberage: Applications with Cooperative Learning by Scott M. Mandel (Arlington Heights, Ill.: Skylight Training and Publishing, Inc., 1998; ISBN: 1-57517-122-8), author Mandel draws on his classroom experiences in this book about using technology in cooperative ways. The book provides step-by-step instructions on using particular web sites and offers ideas for integrating the Internet into the social studies curriculum. Ideas from teachers are offered in one chapter. This book would be helpful for teachers with little or some experience with computer use.

Social Studies Resources on the Internet: A Guide for Teachers by Barbara Cohen (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1997; ISBN: 0-435-08905-6) gives upper elementary, middle, and high school teachers supporting information about how to incorporate the Internet into existing curriculum frameworks. Cohen first explains how to get started on the Internet and then provides annotations of more than 1200 web sites. Selection of web sites was guided by pedagogical tenets: students need to be informed about their history and the world around them; they need to develop critical thinking skills; and they need to recognize how an issue can be perceived reasonably from multiple perspectives.

Two books on taking virtual field trips are practical and useful guides for teachers: Virtual Field Trips by Gail Cooper and Garry Cooper (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1997; ISBN: 1-56308-557-7) and its sequel More Virtual Field Trips by Gail Cooper and Garry Cooper (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1999; ISBN: 1-56308-770-7). The entire texts of both are devoted to annotated web sites and are easily navigated by teachers who already know how to use the Internet. Web sites are divided into categories, such as Historic Time Travel (sites such as Plymouth Plantation and World War I); Worldwide Travel (specific country and locational sites); Art Museums and Galleries (sites such as National Museum of American Art, and Postcards); and Mathematics and Logic (sites such as History of Mathematics and The Calculator Museum). Each annotation includes a description of the site along with special features or classroom connections noted.

Internet Resource Directory for K-12 Teachers and Librarians 1999/2000 Edition by Elizabeth B. Miller (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1999; ISBN: 1-56308-812-6) is a comprehensive guide to 1,500 quality Internet resources for teachers. By identifying the best and most useful Internet sites for classroom use, Miller allows teachers to spend time planning and implementing Internet-based lessons and not searching for sites. Multicultural and gender-balanced sites are provided, along with a new chapter on reference materials. New sites range from free electronic journals and a violence prevention guide for youth to those appropriate for even the youngest students. Arranged by subject area to facilitate educational applications, the annotations emphasize curriculum connections. Some offer literature links and national education standards applications.

Classroom Connect (220 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 221, El Segundo, CA 90245; 800-638-1639; e-mail: offers teachers an assortment of programs with which to enhance teaching and learning. Among recent releases are many with social studies-specific content. Typically, the cost of each resource includes print and/or software based materials and use of a specified web site for one year.

100 Activities for the Online Classroom is available in three editions: Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5), and Middle School (6-8). Each edition features content-specific activity foci, and most of the Internet-based activities can be completed in thirty minutes, making them useful for both computer lab and classroom settings.

HotLinks for Elementary Social Studies includes pre-screened web sites on topics such as Explorers, Holidays, Heroes, America, and Geography. For students in grades 5-8, HotLinks for Middle School Social Studies offers pre-screened web sites on topics such as Presidents, Civil War, Civil Rights, Geography, and Ancient Civilizations.

CyberTrips: A First Internet Journey takes intermediate and upper grade students (4-8) on educational virtual field trips to various parts of the world. CyberTrips Egypt walks students throughout the world of pyramids and the people of Egypt. CyberTrips Washington, D.C. guides students on a tour of our country’s government and capitol. CyberTrips Mount Everest takes students to one of earth’s most interesting locations and helps them learn about the people of the Himalayas. CyberTrips Kenya summons students to experience the diverse cultures and wildlife of this Eastern African country. CyberTrips Paris invites students to learn about the food, history, art, and lives of the French people. Each program is a four- to six-week unit, including mapping, customs, language, music, and religious beliefs. Units include eighteen tour stops along the way. The program includes a curriculum guide and access to the CyberTrips web site.


Resources for Students

101 Things to Do with Your Computer (an Usborne Computer Guide) by Gillian Doherty, Philippa Wingate, and Howard Allman (Tulsa, Okla.: EDC Publishing, 1998; ISBN: 0746029357) is a typically high-quality publication from Usborne’s series. Children will enjoy reading this informational text and looking at the vibrant illustrations.

Bill Gates: Helping People Use Computers (Danbury, Conn.: Children’s Press, 1998; ISBN: 0516261320) focuses on the life of Bill Gates and the impact he made in Seattle and around the world. This is one of the few biographies available for children about one of the pioneers of the computer software industry.

Build Your Own Website edited by Asha Kalbag (Tulsa, Okla.: EDC Publications, 1999; ISBN: 0746032935) inspires children to add to the ever-growing collection of kid-created web sites.

Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Computers by Diana Linsey Reeves, Peter Kent, and Nancy Bond (Checkmark Books, 1998; ISBN: 0816036888) is a must read for children who enjoy reading about career possibilities in the field of computers.

Choosing a Career in Computers (A World of Work Series) by Chris Weigant (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 1996; ISBN: 0823922707) is an excellent addition to the World of Work Series. This informational trade book answers children’s questions relating to career possibilities.

The Computer from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman (New York: Crabtree Publishing, Co., 1998; ISBN: 0865053790) introduces young children to computer terms. The book is enhanced by rich illustrations and full color photographs.

Computer Fun: Geography by Lisa Trumbauer (Brookfield, Conn.: The Millbrook Press, 1999; ISBN: 0-7613-1507-1) is a colorful exploration for understanding the nature of geography and for doing a variety of geography activities on the computer. This book requires that children use the word processing program Microsoft Works. They can then engage in tasks such as making maps, painting landscapes, and creating a habitat. Other books in this series that children may want to investigate include Computer Fun: Reading; Computer Fun: Science; and Computer Fun: Math.

Cool Sites: Free Stuff for Kids on the Net by Lisa Trumbauer (Brookfield, Conn.: The Millbrook Press, 1999; ISBN: 0-7613-1508-x) guides children to sites from which they can download games, songs, mini-movies, magazines, samples, and software. Each annotated site is accompanied by a one-sentence review from a young child.

Getting Ready for a Career as a Computer Animator by Bill Lund (Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 1998; ISBN: 1516209140) will intrigue children who want to find out about the jobs behind the scenes of computer animation.

Getting Ready for a Career as a Computer Technician by Bill Lund (Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 1998; ISBN: 156065550X) provides an overview of the work done by the people who install computer equipment and maintain computer systems. The interesting text helps children learn about these unique job opportunities.

Grandpa’s Amazing Computer by Ursel Scheffler (New York: North South Books, 1997; ISBN: 1558587950) is a compelling fictional story of contemporary life in which grandpa has a lesson with a surprise ending to teach his computer-literate grandson. Bright watercolor illustrations by Ruth Scholte Van Mast add to the appeal of this warm, funny narrative.

Home Page: An Introduction to Web Page Design by Christopher F. Lampton (Danbury, Conn.: Franklin Watts, Inc., 1997; ISBN: 0531202550) will appeal to teachers and students alike with its clarity. Using the information provided, students and teachers will quickly succeed in setting up a web site.

Internet for Kids: A Beginners Guide to Surfing the Net by Ted Pedersen and Francis Moss (Price Stern Sloane Publishers, 1997; ISBN: 0843179376) is an engaging beginner’s guide. It also includes a helpful parents’ and teachers’ guide.


About the Authors

Sherry L. Field is an associate professor of social science education at The University of Georgia. She is the editor of Social Studies and the Young Learner. Linda D. Labbo is an associate professor of reading education at The University of Georgia. She is the editor of Literature Links, Reading-on-Line.

©1999 National Council for the Social Studies. All rights reserved.