Your personalized timeline

I learned about this new resource from Larry Ferlazzo’s post “The Atlantic’s New “Life Timeline” Could Be An Engaging Social Studies Tool” and have been playing it all morning.  I would take issue with his word “could” and would replace it with “absolutely will”.

And I think you can take it even further than that.

The timeline is available here:

The premise is rather simple.  Enter your birthday and get a timeline of some things that have happened during your lifetime.

So, I entered my birthdate and found out that they discovered dirt in my lifetime.

More realistically, I thought “How could you use this in class?”

So, I flipped forward to the year 2000.  What’s happened since then?

Now it gets more classroom relevant.

Of course, there are more things returned than these two stories.  It was interesting to scroll though and see them all.

The results are returned in the form of past, at the time, since then, and a prediction for the future.  Each result feature a link to a story from the Atlantic’s archives.

But that’s not where it stops for the classroom.

Why not use any one of the stories as the starting place for some internet research for students?  Have them pick a story that plops into their timeline and do some digging.  There are a multitude of options for the summarizing of the research.  You could have students write a research report or, I’d be more inclined to have them put their results into a presentation and then show the results to the class.  You’d have text documents, images, and media available for so many of the topics.

And, in this day and age of false facts, how can they verify that the facts that they’ve researched are true?  Can you find a Canadian source?



  1. Love how you connected this to classroom use. When I see a timeline, I also think about “elapsed time.” While not being used in its traditional sense, I wonder if looking at years between events could help students understand how to determine elapsed time. When I taught Grade 5, I remember this being a difficult concept for many students to understand, and I wonder if the timeline connection would help. Curious to hear how others might use it.



  2. The other concept this fits into beautifully is one of the core understandings in history, which is “historical significance”. Why are these the events that were chosen? What is it about their connection to other events/people that makes them important?


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