Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Recommendation: How We Learn by Benedict Carey


There aren't many books about teaching that truly excite me, but I just finished reading a book that every educator should read. How We Lean: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey details several techniques that teachers and students can employ to increase student learning. Teachers may have heard of or even used a couple of the techniques, but Carey provides the background and details that will allow teachers to say "here's what I'm doing, and here's why it works" to themselves, their students, colleagues, and administrators.

Why will I give chapter pre-tests from now on? To see how much students know? No. To have students see what they know before beginning a new unit? No. I'm going to give chapter pre-tests because studies have shown that even when students fail to answer the pre-test questions correctly, a seed is planted that changes the way a student interacts with the content of the upcoming chapter, with students who took pre-tests performing better on assessments than those students who did not take the pre-tests.
 
One other technique described in How We Learn relates to those of us who have year-end exams, such as state assessments, Advanced Placement Exams, and course final exams. Carey describes the "spacing effect," which calls for students to space out their studying in a unique way. He's not recommending that students study several days in a row leading up to their test, which many teachers have probably recommended to their students. Carey suggests that non-study days be inserted between study days leading up to a test. Research has shown that retention of information for the long term increases using this method, thus student performance on cumulative tests, such as year-end tests, increases.

Read How We Learn so you can apply the rest of what Carey presents in order for your students to learn more effectively.

Frank Franz
Madison High School
Vienna, Virginia

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You Can Now Pre-Order My Book!

We now have a definitive early January release date for my book, whose name has changed to "Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction."  The name pretty much says it all as I relate research, examples and explanatory tutorials to show you how to effectively use technology for both primary (technology being used in ways similar to paper and secondary (more of the book and ways to allow you to do things you cannot do without technology).   There are also five "teacher challenges" per chapter so that you and your PLCs could set goals for your teams to integrate the techniques into your classrooms and school.    

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ken Burns' The Roosevelts Airs

PBS will begin airing The Roosevelts: an Intimate History tonight on most PBS stations and continue throughout the week, at least at WETA in Washington, DC.
Here are the first eight minutes of the 14 hour documentary.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Resources for Helping Students Understand ISIS

I've been surprised (shocked even) with how much my 9th graders know/want to know about ISIS. It's a difficult task because not only does includes history that is often overlooked but geography of a region that many adults are unfamiliar with as well.

In searching for resources to use in my classroom, I found this site from the NYT.  I also found and used this video with my students which talks about many of the basics and highlights areas of control. It also talks about Al-Qaeda, too.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flipping Back to School Night


I started this last year and had a great deal of success with my AP courses.  I create a tinyurl (http://tinyurl.com/btsnapeconand ask my students to text their parents in class the video.  Most of my parents watched it beforehand and then came to class with their questions.  If you look at my World History Teachers Blog, I have suggestions for those of you who have non AP classes.

If you want to create your own flipped back to school night presentation, here is how to do it. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Remind Now Allows You To Record Assignments


This is a pretty cool addition for those of you who have Remind on your smartphone (iTunes, Android).  You can, as the video shows, record your student assignments for your kids to hear rather than read.  You can also attach assignments if you like.  If you look at this video you can set up and use Remind with your students.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Free Online US History Textbook

We are in our fifth year of using an online textbook with our students and so it never ceases to amaze me that Pearson still isn't ready for prime time.  Every year at this point, when everyone is logging in their books, they can't handle the traffic.  Or the one that was really amused with was McGraw-Hill servicing their online books from Thursday - this morning after having had the entire summer to work on their shells.

Having said all that, I still believe that online books are the way to go, but not just because they are online.  Really I hope we are moving towards the days when books will be used as a resource and not the main source.  There are so many videos, links, images, documents online that a book should fill in the gaps or be the starting point.

But if you do want a book, here is one I worked on years ago called USHistory.org/us and it is not going to go down on your students and it is complete through about 2000.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Remind for Texts to Your Students


I have been using Remind (used to be called Remind101) for the past three years (in fact their CEO even wrote a nice blurb for my book which is coming out in a few months).  Students today do not use email very often, but cannot text enough to save their lives!  So when I started using Remind I found that the amount of homework among my standard (non AP/IB) students improved dramatically.  If you have students who do not have smartphones, the service also allows emails.  Additionally you can send a message to as few as three students.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Jamestown Lesson Plan

Living only a few hours from Jamestown I am more versed in the lore of Jamestown (for example, the actual site is now under water).   So naturally I really like this lesson on the Jamestown settlement as it looks at a number of primary documents and then requires the student to write why the "starving time" occurred.   I found the lesson on TeachingHistory.org

Monday, September 1, 2014

Colonial Video and Lesson Plan


My son just showed this video to me.  It is a nice overview of colonial American history.  There is also a link at the beginning of the video for a lesson plan to go with the video.   

Twitter Warm-up

So I always have a meet and greet on our first day of school, but tomorrow, thanks to @dougzywiol I am going more high tech (imagine that!) and having the kids Tweet their answers.  To do that yourself you can either create your own hashtag by putting a number a hashtag symbol besides a name (make sure others are using it first) and then have your kids add it in of their Tweets which is what I am going to do.  Alternatively you could just have the students write your Twitter handle in their Tweets.  I will then have the kids go to our hashtag and we will go through them.  For the kids who don't have Twitter, we'll just do it orally.   

Why Study History?

More often than not, the students who will walk in my classroom for the first time this coming Tuesday (yes I am getting excited for year #24) do not appreciate the reasons for studying history.  So the very first exercise we will carry out will be to consider why we should study it.  If you have a similar plan you might like the these two short clips.  The one above, your students will like best and the one above (only the first minute), you will appreciate more.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to Interview Someone Using a Google+ Hangout


If you are like me and all of your classes have a state or national exam at the end, you often feel somewhat pressed for time so bringing a speaker is not always something you can do until the end of the year.  But if you use a Google+ Hangout, you can bring someone in, limit the time they are "in" your room and share the live broadcast and or have it recorded to YouTube for later broadcasts. Above is a short video telling you how to do this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

27 AP US Flip Videos

Here are twenty-seven flipped videos to go with AP US history.  You could use them to "give" your lectures and then do something more interactive in class or as a review site.  

Take My Tech Integration Course

I will be teaching the seventh version of my technology integration course with Fairfax County Public Schools this spring.  We will learn about such items as webquests, pacing your students individually using technology, flipping the classroom, using electronic textbooks, collaborating online, how to use Google Drive and lots more in a ten week course.  You can get more details here on page 43.  To sign up go to MyPLT (if you need help go to page 68) and put either the title or just a few words from the title or even e-mail me and I can add you to the class.  The sign-up period is from August 27th at 4 pm until September 10th.

The class will be on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7ish at Woodson.  It is free to FCPS employees, but if you live in the areas and are not in FCPS you can take it, but you have to pay for it (page 9).  The class fills up quickly, so if you are interested I would sign up sooner rather than later.  If you have questions, please e-mail me at ken.halla@fcps.edu.