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 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Twitter In-Service

Tomorrow I will be doing an in-service on using Twitter in the classroom.  My colleague, Doug Zywiol, joined my department last year having never used it before and attended my Twitter in-service. Now he is a force and will show you how to do warm-ups using Twitter while I will have a hands on demonstration on using Twitter for your PLN and how to use a hashtag for discussions.  We will be in room 228 during session A.  If you are not a FCPS teacher, use the video above to learn how to use Twitter.   If you prefer seeing it all written out, here is a great set of written instructions and below is a summary of them:

For your PLN, a great group to follow is listed below:
Ken Halla @kenhalla
Cool Cat Teacher @letytijerina
We Are Teachers @WeAreTeacher
Larry Ferlazzo @LarryFerlazzo
Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal
Richard Byrna @rmbryne
Shelly Terrell @ShellTerrell

For hashtags, go to this link to see how my classes use it for government discussions returns, presidential debates and reviewed for the exams.  Below is a list of hashtags you might want to follow.  Some other useful ones are #SSChat (social studies), #HistoryTeacher and #GeographyTeacher.  To find a hashtag, type in the # symbol plus the name in the search engine in Twitter and the conversation will appear.  If you want to be really blown away go here for the 300 most popular hashtags for educators.
Educational Chats: #edchat, #schools, #lrnchat, #TT (Teacher Tuesday), #GlobalEd
Technology Chats: #edtech, #elearning, #mlearning (mobile learning), #edapps, #gbl (games based learning), #islide2learn (iDevices & learning), #vitalcpt (effective use of tech in the classoom)

If you want to both follow a hashtag and Tweet at the same time, I'd suggest you use TweetChat.  Below is a video on how to use it.  

Flipped Classroom In-Service

Tomorrow I am teaching two sections of how to flip your classroom to Fairfax County (VA) teachers.  If you are coming, I will be in room 228 during sessions B and C.  If you aren't a teacher in Fairfax or if after our session, you want to watch how to do it again, above is an eight minute video detailing all of the steps and what to do in the classroom after you have done your flipping.  

The PowerPoint below has a number of great resources for more information on flipping.

Finally here is an example of a flipped video, the actual Google form we used and the interactive assignment that followed in class

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Flipped Videos

Soon I am doing an in-service on flipping for the social studies teachers in my county (which I will post later).  For now if you want to have flipped videos for US history above are two versions from the French and Indian War, one from John Green and the other from Hip Hughes.  Green is the award winning tween author and Hughes teaches in Buffalo.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Teaching Thoughts

One of the more interesting education books I have read recently is "The Smartest Kids in the World."  Above is a very interesting interview "excerpt" where she mostly says Finland closed down its education schools and then only opened them again in the prestigious universities.  She even notes that technology is often missing in Finland and Korea (although I argue in my book that it is being used improperly as effectively a way to just digitize paper).

But what you might want to do is to look at the author, Amanda Ripley's blog which has a lot of stimulating articles.  You can also follow her on Twitter.  Food for thought to improve our craft.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

British Burn Washington,1814: NPR Re-enacts

NPR re-enacts the burning of Washington in 1814 with this broadcast in which reporters around the city tell listeners what's happening.

Become an AP Reader

I have been grading different AP exams for well over a decade and have found it one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life.  Yes it does get hard the fourth and fifth day of grading the same exam over and over (well some subjects like US train you in two), but the rewards are many.  I have a national network of friends whose collective brains I pick throughout the year, learn how to master an AP rubric and generally enjoy the places where we grade (San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Lincoln, Daytona Beach).  Perhaps the best thing, and the reason I go is so I can help my students "beat" the AP exam.  I must also say I am very efficient in grading throughout the year as being a grader has greatly improved my speed and the ability to find the exact mistakes the kids are making (which unlike the real AP exam I mark).

If you are interested, apply here by the end of September.  If you decide to go and they generally look for people in their third year - but last year government took people who had taught fewer - you will have your plane, hotel and food paid for the week and you will get an "honorarium." You will spend your first day learning the rubric, the grade for five full days and part of the a sixth one.  You work from 8 to 5 with two 15 minute breaks and an hour lunch.  Even if you think it would be miserable, I think you owe it to your students to try it once. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take Our Online Class

Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers and I are going to be leading an online course.  In "Teaching History Using the Web," we take you through the process of developing engaging, web based history lesson plans.  The course features three interactive online meetings along with a discussion forum in which you can further interact with me and Richard and your classmates.  The course meetings are August 27th, September 3rd and September 10th at 8 pm EST.  Click here to register today or read on for more information. 

For $97 you will:
  • Learn how to develop a Google Plus community for professional development and instructional purposes
  • Develop an online Professional Learning Community
  • Learn how to draw virtual maps
  • Learn how to locate and help students find online primary resources
  • Find and use virtual tours on the Internet
  • Find and use flipped videos
  • Create your own flipped videos
Click here to register.  

If you are a FCPS teacher this is a different course than my "Enhancing the Classroom Using the Internet" which will I will be teaching on Thursdays starting Sept. 25th (more the last week of August when registration opens)

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Thanks to Amanda Mecke for the tip to try out the hashtag #twitterhistorians.  It is filled with resources from other "history geeks."  For those of you who haven't used hashtags, just get a Twitter account and then type in the hashtag (including the "#") into the search engine and then you can add items simply by typing a message with the hashtag title in it. 

Digital Vaults

The National Archives has an amazing site where you can look at tons of images and then find related ones to help create a lesson plan.   For example above is one from the Great Depression. It is a letter from a number of men essentially asking that the women be fired to make room for unemployed men.   If you go to the search engine, you can find lots of primary resources for any US topic.  

I heard about the site from Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers.  If you like it, you might want to consider taking our three session class.  Go here for details.