Exploring History via Google Calendars

When teaching subjects such as History or Social Studies, I'm often faced by a few familiar problems. How do I make the learning experience an engaging one for students? How can students make use of technology in a meaningful and unique way? And finally, how can we integrate essential 21st Century skill building into the learning experience?

Using Google Calendars to explore historical timelines and profiles is one way to approach the above challenges.

Before exploring some specific features of this system, it's important for me to mention that creating historical calendars in Google works best with the use a particular Lab. Labs can be found by clicking on the settings button in your Google Calendar: 

The required lab is YEAR VIEW. Here it is as shown in the Labs menu:

With the Year View lab enabled, it is possible to view dates preceding 1980, which, without the lab enabled, is not possible.

At this point, individual students or groups can choose or be assigned a particular historical profile or timeline to explore.  This may include the history of a specific country, individual or event, for instance World War 2. Students would be responsible for researching significant events pertaining to their historical profile. For each significant event in the timeline, students would create a matching calendar event.

For example, if a student were researching Canadian Confederation, a significant date would be March 31st, 1949. This was the date that Newfoundland and Labrador became the tenth province to enter the Canadian Confederation. The entry in the student's historical calendar would look as follows:

Here's where the true potential of Historical Calendars comes into play! Students are able to incorporate a variety of resources, tasks and even present their learning via video conference calls, all through the features and settings available within each calendar event.
Add attachments:

  • Students can add files & documents from their Google Drive accounts, or upload from their device (See Image Below). 
  • This is an efficient method for students to share & submit tasks & assignments that they complete related to that specific calendar event. 

Add links within Description:

  • Students can share reputable web resources for further information on that specific historical event.
  • Students can create a modified bibliography by citing which online resources were used when conducting their research.
  • Unfortunately, these links would not be hyper-linked to the actual web source - so copy & paste will be necessary.

Create Video Calls for all invitees:

  • Multiple people are able to join in a video conference call by clicking on the Join meeting: <name> link within the event details.
  • This feature provides a unique way for students to share their learning with the teacher and other students in the class.
  • If you ever run Expert Groups in your class, the video chat would be an engaging and effective way for groups to share knowledge and facilitate new learning within other groups.

By having students use Google Calendar to explore historical profiles and timelines, students are building expertise in a variety of 21st Century Skills. Many of us use calendars as productivity and time management tools. We often share these calendars, or events within calendars with others. And so, our calendars become a means of communication. By integrating Google Calendars into classroom programming, students have an opportunity to further develop their own time management and productivity skills. They are able to use shared calendars and events to help strengthen their communication and collaborative skills.

Sound like it might work in your classroom? Give it a try and share your experiences with us @inquireinspire #historicalcalendars

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