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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Timelines.... You'd be surprised how useful they can be!

Here's another one of those tools that I had been trying to figure out for a while. It's called Timeline JS (find it at:  http://timeline.knightlab.com/). It took me a bit of playing around with it, and some "workarounds" as they are called (work·a·round  ˈwərkəˌround/  noun COMPUTING a method for overcoming a problem or limitation in a program or system). 

I wanted to use this tool, which is an interactive, multimedia timeline producer, as a way to get people to introduce themselves at a workshop, in an unusual way - (something I had seen one of my mentors do a while back, and just HAD to figure out). 

The good news is: I finally figured it out. (It entailed using a Googleform that would feed into a Google Spreadsheet, which I would use for copying and pasting data that the participants would send me..... but that is not the usual way to use this tool, as I said - just a fun way to show off a bit ;-)


The even BETTER news is: this is a simple timeline tool that can be used in the classroom collaboratively by both teacher AND students, and it is a lot easier than I had expected!

There are a lot of occasions I can think of just off the top of my head, when a timeline tool can come in handy.

For example: one of the topics we often use in my school for an umbrella topic for projects is "Making a Difference", where the students must choose a famous person who made a difference in the world, and research him or her. Making a timeline of these peoples' lives, using photos, video footage, maps, etc. can really bring the major milestones of a famous person, their achievements, highlights and other interesting events, to life!

Another way to take advantage of this tool could be to make a timeline of events in a piece of literature you are teaching, to help your students follow plot development. It could be used for a short story, a novel or play, or even as a book report task! 

The example that I used here is a partial timeline for the play All My Sons, by Arthur Miller, which many of us teach in high schools in Israel.  It is not complete at the time of publication of this blog post, but the beauty of it is, it can be added to and reposted. So, if you have a look in a few days' time, maybe I will have had time to upload some more events in the story, and they will automatically be seen on this timeline.  Of course, some of the dates are ones I just made up (since it is not mentioned WHEN the events actually happened, I made up approximate dates for the purposes of getting them in the timeline.)

As you can see from this sample, it really drives it home in a more multidimensional
 way than could just a regular word-file timeline. 





It's absolutely easy enough for teachers to use, and to teach to their students.  Here is a clear, short tutorial that explains how it works.




Here is a longer, more detailed walk-thru.





               

So, what do YOU think? How could YOU use this tool with your classes? I would LOVE to hear YOUR ideas!

Digitally yours,
@dele