What it is: I’ll admit it, when it comes to websites, I’m a judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover kind of gal. If the website isn’t user-friendly and visually appealing it is an almost guaranteed skip for me. History Buff is one of those forgettable websites. It isn’t overly visually appealing, it isn’t even really obvious how to get started. I nearly skipped it. History Buff has something going for it though: thousands of primary source newspaper made available digitally. Students can search through newspapers from the 1700 all the way until 2004 and see the scanned version of it digitally. I have to admit, it is pretty cool to be able to “hold” history in your hands that way. To interact with the “actual” newspaper is pretty neat…worth the lack luster of the site even. To search for articles, students just need to choose a time period folder, choose a subfolder and go to exploring these primary source documents. History Buff also boasts historic panoramas. Students can view a virtual tour of Colonial America, the Henry Clay Ashland Estate, the William Henry Harrison Homestead, Daniel Boons gravesite, Davy Crockett’s childhood home, Anna Jarvis Home, the site that marked the end of the Civil War, historic sites for Abraham Lincoln, the national historic site for James Garfield, the William McKinley monument, the birthplace of Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding’s Tomb, and the homestead of William Howard Taft. A reference library on History Buff contains articles and audio on a variety of events and even hoaxes in the news. Students can also find facts about any state and interactive quizzes.
How to integrate History Buff into the classroom: History Buff is a website that can help history come to life through story, virtual tours, audio and primary source news papers. I suspect that most students fall into the judge-a-site-by-it’s-cover category like me. For this reason, if I was using it in my classroom, I wouldn’t send students directly to the website to do a lot of digging on their own. Instead, I might direct them to the portion of the site I knew we would be using through a classroom website, wiki, blog or use a Weblist or Symbaloo to link to them. It is amazing how changing something as small as the entry point into a site can change a students attitude about the site (heck, I’m like that too!).
Once I got into History Buff, I really appreciated the connection to primary sources and the way that the “actual” newspapers bring history to life. I REALLY liked the hoaxes in news section and suspect that students will get a kick out of it to. Your kids will be asking, how can people be SO gullible? These kinds of stories are wonderful discussion starters and will make students think critically about their own news media. As a fun extension, have your students write their own hoax news stories.
Okay, now for demystifying the navigation of this site. See the itty bitty brown words in the left sidebar that are all squished together? That is the navigation. For real. I didn’t notice it at first either! Go ahead and click on one to test it out…not so bad when you know what you are looking for, right? Right. For your convenience, I’m linking to each page of the site below so you can easily find what you are looking for. 🙂
Tips: History Buff has a newsletter you can subscribe to if you are, you know, a history buff. Just enter your email in that box under the header and click “subscribe” and you are on your way to becoming even history buffier…or something like that.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using History Buff in your classroom!