Every year as my 11th grade World Cultures class approaches the Israel/Palestine unit, I ponder how best to introduce the historical aspect of the region and this year was no exception. I determined long ago that lecturing about the early history does not capture the interest of my juniors; I cannot really say I blame them – I don’t think I really paid much attention to those types of lectures in high school either. So this year I decided to put together a computer-based activity where for the first part, students visited the BBC’s website about the Middle East and the history of Israel; it has a timeline with a written explanation of Israel’s history and another section with the history shown via maps and captions. Students were asked to explore one (or both if they so chose) and design their own timeline that helped them understand the background information of Israel/Palestine. First, it was interesting to see who selects the written timelines and who selects the maps, but it was not as interesting as my next observation: the use of Gliffy.
I cannot remember where I read about Gliffy, but whatever I read intrigued and inspired me to try it with my students so, earlier in the semester, I introduced them to Gliffy. It was still in beta and we had free access to a very user-friendly webbased diagram creator. At that point, all of my students were required to use Gliffy to create an illustrated timeline of events in Rwanda and Burundi. At the quarter break, I took a survey and several of my students said their Gliffy creation was the thing they were most proud of from that quarter.
Today I gave the option to my students to either create their timeline notes in their notebooks or use Gliffy. As I scanned the room, I could not help but to notice, the guys were the ones using Gliffy while the girls ( all but one) were writing in their notebooks. Interesting as in the survey, an equal number of girls stated they were proud of their Gliffy creations. Even so, today, the guys liked Gliffy.