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Make History Come Alive with Alexa

by Diana Benner
Alexa

Voice-controlled devices like the Amazon Echo are here to stay, so why not embrace them in the classroom to make history come alive? Studying history is important because it allows us to understand our past, which, in turn, allows us to understand our present. Now with Alexa, Amazon Echo’s virtual intelligence assistant, you can transform your classroom into an interactive learning space so students can learn history in every subject.

This Day In History

The This Day in History Alexa skill has broken into the Top Enabled categories of the Alexa Skills Marketplace. By saying “Alexa, launch This Day in History,” you can hear facts about the top historical events for that day and on any other day of the year. You can also ask Alexa for a historical event for any other day by saying “Alexa, ask This Day in History what happened on May 5th”, for example. The facts come from history.com, which lists dozens of historical events every day.

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Getting Started

To get started, make sure you have This Day in History enabled in Alexa’s skills. To do this, launch the Amazon Alexa app and access the menu. Next, select Skills from the menu and search for This Day in History. When it appears, click the Enable button.

When using Alexa, it very important to speak clearly. Many times, students will have to rephrase or repeat what they say. However, this can be great for practicing enunciation. In addition, it’s important to set expectations for using Alexa in the classroom (When can they use it? Are there questions they should not ask?) and practice, practice, practice.

In the Classroom

Aside from learning important history facts, there are other ways to incorporate and expand on the This Day in History skill in the classroom. Below are a few suggestions:

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  • Writing prompts
  • Bell ringer activities
  • Study famous scientists, mathematicians, poets, etc.
  • Create classroom timelines that highlight the events and connect them to other historic periods
  • Reinforce routines by using it daily
  • Learn another language by switching Alexa to another language

The Future

Voice-controlled devices are popping up everywhere. In the future, our students will buy homes or rent apartments that already have these devices built in. The cars they will drive will have them, too. Therefore, why not incorporate them into the classroom and start with something that is incredibly important . . . history.

If you don’t have an Amazon Echo or an Echo Dot, you can purchase one at http://smile.amazon.com.  Be sure to select TCEA as your favorite charitable organization so that we can continue to provide benefits to thousands of educators and students across the United States.

 

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