When I’d first heard about Hstry Timelines this spring, I didn’t know if I could use it much. “More of a social studies thing,” I decided, and I didn’t play with it much after that. Students could make timelines of books they were reading, but teaching juniors and seniors, I wanted them to do higher level thinking than that.
Recently, I’ve given Hstry a second look, and I’m elated that I did. I’d first thought of Hstry too literally as timelines–thinking outside the box, and now looking at others’ timelines, it can serve as much more than history lessons.
1) Use in flipped or blended learning. By embedding videos, text, links, images, and questions, teachers can create lessons for students to progress through. I love the simple, graphic layout of Hstry, which is easy for anyone to follow. Plus, timelines embed beautifully into Schoology.
2) Reflections. When I’m reading (or listening to) a book, I’ll come across a brilliant idea and think, “Yes! I need to remember that!” A quote, an idea, but a day or two later: it’s gone. Sure, I have this blog I could record it on, but I feel that my posts should be more developed. I could jot it in one of my two-dozen journals, but then I can never find it again. A few weeks ago, I started a timeline of my reflections. It’s so easy and non-threatening that I don’t feel I have to have beautiful formatting or deep insights. I can type in a sentence or two, or if I find an image on Facebook or Twitter I want to keep, I upload it to my timeline. I like being able to review all my thoughts over the course of a month.
Imagine this for students. It’s so simple that elementary students can easily use it. Use it for exit slips, or once a week to journal about what they’ve learned, questions they have, or want they want to do next. I only wish that student timelines could have public links for parents to see them, too.
3) Reading logs. Just as I’ve started using a timeline for my own reading reflections, so can my students. Last year, they turned in reading reflections through Google forms. This made responding to them easy with the help of Google Sheets and a mail merge/email script, but they didn’t see their progression. I love this timeline format because they can see their old reflections and see how their reading has progressed or changed through the book.
4) Creative “book reports.” I almost hate to use the phrase “book reports” here, but timelines could be a form of multimedia project for a book. Students could create a trailer and upload it as a video; add photos of what they believe characters look like; create a quotation image in another program and upload their favorite quote images; and of course, add their own reflections.
5) Forums. After you create a timeline, students can add comments to items you’ve added. This doesn’t allow for an intense conversation, but if you’re looking for a place for students to give short responses, a Hstry timeline could work.
The site is also working hard to add new features, such as adding more html capabilities to their text windows. So take a look at Hstry. Or a second look. There’s far more potential than you might see at first glance!