Friday, August 28, 2009

American Revolution Map in 8 Minutes
This is put together by a Grolier and is a nice way to review what you have just done in class after you have studied the revolution.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Douglas Brinkley
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Wilderness Warrior
Okay remember I may be a bit bias since I received the book for free from the publisher. I'm almost done now and REALLY like it even though I have no deep interest in the environmental movement. The book by Douglas Brinkley, looks at not only Theodore Roosevelt's environmental legislation and personal stories, but all of the players at the time. If you read a lot, then this book is a good choice. If you are a plodder, you might want not want to read it since it's just over 800 pages. Above is the Jon Stewart interview with the author.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Notes on the State of Virginia - by Jefferson
This is considered one of the pivotal books written by a founder. It includes references to Jefferson's views of race relation and does a great job of talking about why we should have free education for everyone, the need to revise the VA Constitution and more. It is a good read for any teacher who likes information beyond the textbook and you can read it all above (every page of it!). I actually just learned from "Wilderness Warrior" that Roosevelt feel in love with my home state of VA when he read the book.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's a catchy word and it probably would be better served if it had a listing of everything in chronological order, but your students will find this is a great resource (and another reason why the traditional book is going the way of the Dodo bird! Just enter the item you are looking for and you will get the following: intro, in-depth, timeline (where appropriate), best of the web, citations and test review (which is essentially a nice outline). By the way, when you see the word "beta" above, it just means that it is new and it is still being tested.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Transcribe Your Voice Into a Student Text Message
Yes, you heard it. You can use this free service to record a message for your students which will then be converted into a text message. If your parents are wary of giving a phone number to this site, you can always use the post a couple of days ago where I showed you how to e-mail a text message (and for that matter students can text you back to your e-mail!).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cell Phones Uses - Podcasting
Go here to see a presentation on ways to use cell phones in class. The video takes you through each step and could easily be followed by you or your students. It is quite lengthy so I have put the highlights. But if you want to use the cellphone this is really an excellent how to video. All of the examples could be done at home if your school won't allow cell phones. Here is what is covered in the video

1. Record video or audio. You can use;;; (all of which are free). These sites also allow students to use landlines to make the podcasts. Gabcast will allow you make a podcast of up to one hour for each entry. It will also give you html which can then be put in your blog. Uses would include
a. getting authors to read their works
b. having students explain concepts that you are teaching
c. read poems
d. put clips from famous speeches and have kids explain them
e. radio broadcasts
f. audio interviews
g. sound clips from trips
h. ESOL students working on their language skills and integrating it with subject matter.

2. A second use of free phone conferencing is which actually allows you to have a conference call of up to 200 people! The advantage of using a cell phone is that you will not be charged long distance charges. Another is

3. You can have free online voice mail which are at and These will give you your own phone number and for those who don't want to give out your own number, this is perfect and better yet you can get the messages via your cell phone or online.

4. Audio e-mail are found at and These allow you to speak your message and it will be transcribed into a text message and even be set as an

5. Taking Movies: Using you can use your phone to make pictures and then will allow you to make a slideshow. You can have all the students in one class send pictures to the same site or have invidual sites for each student. You can edit the pictures, record audio which would allow you to make a digital storybook. You can then e-mail the slideshow, add it to a blog or even to download it. Imagine going on a field trip and having an instant slideshow created by the kids.

6. If you want kids to make movies, you can use the free site of They allow you to take movie clips with a phone and immediately upload it to the sites where you can edit the fim online and then publish it to a blog page.

7. This video also goes through

8. Sending free textmessages. textforfree allows you to send free text messages.

9. To create surveys you can go to

Friday, August 7, 2009

Empirical Support for Cell Phone Usage in the Classroom
I have put some of my ideas for cell phone usage on a list serve and have gotten some flak saying 1)our rules prohibit 2)the kids will abuse it if we have it. I really believe as with passing paper notes when I was a young teacher, that good teachers will 1) find a way to get kids not to look at cell phones (interactive teaching and interesting material) and over time will find good uses. At any rate International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) has a report out that looks at technological use in the classroom. Since I have a Ph.D., I am all about support (and for that matter questioning what you read), but this report cites empirical research that states the obvious. 1) we have always known that the best way to teach is to be interactive and to use tools that kids enjoy 2) that tool today is technology. As the study states (money pages are 6-8) , 10-17 year olds spend an average of 3:45 a day on cell phones and that 87% of 12-17 year olds are online EVERY DAY. Right now, unlike online activities, ideas for cell phones in the class are certainly limited, but that will change over time (see my next post for another idea for cell phones). So I am only advocating limited use and certainly NEVER to text friends.

Just in case you need more convincing, here is Sec of Education Arne Duncan advocating the use of cell phones.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wilderness Warrior
For me this year has been a bonanza of reading. It helps that I finally finished my Ph.D., but I also have several sites that I use to find new books to read. They have helped to break me out of my normal genre (mind you I still only read non-fiction) and learn a whole lot. In case you're interested I use the the WashPost's blog page, the one on the NewYorkTimes and the HistoryBookClub (which has the amazing offer of 4 books for $15 basically as many times as you want!).

At any rate one of the many perks of doing this page is that I get offers from publishers to read their books free. To date I have turned them all down - until now. Douglas Brinkley has a new 800 page book on the environmental side of Teddy Roosevelt. If you have never heard of Brinkley, he has become the new Stephen Ambrose in that he seems to have a new really well written and researched book come out almost every year.

Honestly the scary thing about Wilderness Warrior is its size (unless you get the Kindle edition), but once you start reading it the story grabs you. This surprises me because I didn't know I cared about bird watching, going to national parks, etc. But this book (I'm 3/4s done) is VERY interesting even when it webs into other people's lives twice removed from TR. Here is a rather descriptive review from the HuffingtonPost and here is an intelligent interview from FoxNews.(how's that for balance?!).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Text Your Students with E-mail
I always get my students' e-mails and will occasionally send them a message. It is frustrating that half of them never check. In fact even after they e-mail me, they don't look for a reply. But here is a way to use cell phones, but not in the classroom. You could set up a database with their cell phone numbers and then add the code below depending on their cell phone and then they will receive a text. Certainly this way the kids will get the message. (Obviously this is one you'd want to check with the parents first to make sure they don't mind)









Just replace [10DigitNumber] with the ten digit phone number you are trying to reach (area+ local number).