3-Tools To Develop Historical Skills

A- Active History.co.uk Essay Planning/Marking Tools

Active History website has a History Essay Planning Tool, which aids students in developing their essay planning skills.
It develops students’ history essay planning skills through the following process:
a- Submit the essay (any number can be submitted)
b- With the click of a button a detailed essay plan is provided suggesting ways to tackle the essay question. It is programmed to distinguish between various types of questions.

Teachers can use such a tool for their students, via allowing them to compare their personally derived plans with those suggested on the ActiveHistory essay planning tool and then make a decision regarding the most effective plan elements. Furthermore for initial comments, students can use the online tool to submit their first draft. Students will receive some useful pointers, although generic, to work on before submission to the teacher.

B- Wordle
Wordle is useful in textual analysis as it creates a “word cloud” of any text. Wordle removes the most common words in the English language to produce a “word cloud” of the remainder. The size of the words in the “word cloud” is determined by their frequency in the submitted text.

C- Etherpad
Etherpad is a collaborative writing tool that may seem identical to Google Docs (www.google.com/docs), yet it is different as it provides “real-time collaborative text editing” and an “undo” operator which Google Docs lacks. “The edits made by each person engaged on the document are highlighted in a different colour, and a 'chat' window to the right of the screen enables discussions to take place”. Etherpad can be incorporated in class as a classroom debate or used to enhance students’ writing and peer evaluation skills.

D- Wikispaces
Wikispaces, another collaborative writing tool, may be used as a mean of communicating information regarding a student’s essay between the teacher and the student himself. It helps teachers in assessing and marking a student’s essay. The teacher is informed of students’ changes, additions and deletions. In the “discussion” area, the teacher may provide feedback on the draft. The feedback functions as a good reminder when marking the paper. Comparisons of later draft with earlier ones is an important function of Wikispaces, as the teacher is thus able to spot the areas that have not yet been given enough attention.

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