Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wizard of Oz, Part II
By far the most popular entry I've done before has been the one on the symbolism of the Wizard of Oz. Well, yesterday NPR ran a story on it as well. Here is the synopsis (and a quite good one) of the historical story behind Oz, here is an even shorter version and here is an interview with the author. This really is a great way for the kids to retain information on the gold (yellow brick road), silver standard (her shoes were silver, not ruby), the tin man (industrialists who had no heart), scarecrow (farmers who grew one crop and ruined their soil), cowardly lion (William Jennings Bryan) and more.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The name is catchy and its uses are wonderful. Every year my school's tech people reimage my computer and until last year that meant losing my bookmarks. For some of you that would mean saving them on google. But the advantages of are numerous: 1)You can access your bookmarks from any computer anywhere in the world 2)Each site you save says how many other people have saved the same site. If you click on the number of people you can go to the other people's delicious sites. When people ask me how do I find new online resources, this is one of the ways. 3) If you are like me and want can't remember all of your login codes for the various sites you visit, delicious allows one to lock the site so that no one else can see it and even gives you a notes section for you to store whatever you want (your login, for ex). If you look at the entry below this one, I found it using delicious!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Power Point Movies for Major Battles
This site has some great Power Points which show the ebb and flow of various war theaters of operation and includes sound effects. We are working on World War II right now, so here is one for the Pacific and European theaters of operation. There are other slide sets for the American Revolution, the Civil War and the Mexican-American Revolution.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hiroshima Video
This is a great video of the last minutes before the A-bomb was dropped, actual footage of the damage and dramatic interviews with some of the survivors. It is from which is an amazing site that has videos for every part of US history.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Regulars are Coming
I'm sitting here reading Sam Adams: A Life on my Kindle2 (which, if it matters, I love) and am a bit inspired as I just finished the story about Lexington & Concord. I like the book because it, again and again, shows what I tell my students - that is history is not so nice and neat. For example, as Stoll shows, there were other conflicts (albeit more minor) between the two sides before April 1775. But also we tend to pass on myths such as Revere saying "The British are coming." As Stoll and David Hackett Fisher in Paul Revere's Ride points out, why would he if we were all BRITISH. As this blog very nicely explains, he said, "The REGULARS are coming. All of which leads me to the video above. Is our history sometimes driven by our culture. Sorry to get so deep, if you don't want to read these books, show the film above to your kids to lighten the lesson plan or use any of these when you are teaching - but be sure to get all the facts (the cartoon says "the British") correct - or at least your view of them!

Videos for the Teacher
Not sure I would show this to your students, but go here if you want to see a bunch of entire courses (broken up into sections) that might help you reinforce what you know about your topics. The courses are taught (and this is all free) by college profs from pretty good universities.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Helpful Website
This is a very helpful website and includes quizzes, questions of the day, information on presidential elections, review sheets, terms to know, DBQ questions and more.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Digital Lincoln
Here is a site that has captured a number of items of interest for those of you who want primary documents relating to Lincoln. For example, there are newspapers of the time period, cartoons of Lincoln, maps from his era, photographs and even (this might work in the class) clips from the Jon Stewart show with authors (such as Doris Kearns Goodwin) discussing Lincoln.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Complete Free Online US History Book
This is a very easy to use online US history book for high schoolers. It has an easy to use toggle down bar and its pages go down rather than making you turn many pages over and over like conventional books. It was put together by two people who have published online books for years. It also has a lot of links on the side of each page. The best part is that it is put out by a non-profit and even though many upgrades are coming by summer (that will allow for teacher and student interaction) it is and will continue to be COMPLETELY FREE. If you want to consider using it in your school as your textbook and have any questions, you can free to contact me ( as I am helping with the upcoming changes. Probably by the week after next I will be giving out the urls for the companion online government and ancient world textbooks as well.
NEH Site With Teacher Lesson Plans
One of the many nice things that comes with this blog is that I get people writing me with ideas for blog entries (which is the purpose of this site!) and the site mentioned below by the National Endowment of the Humanities is one of them. They also are looking for people to write a lesson plan on the NAACP and its impact on American politics, society and culture over the past century of its existence. If you are a K-12 teacher and interested in writing for EDSITEment or if you have an appropriate lesson, please contact Joe Phelan at

EDSITEment is a free web based educational resource for K-12 teachers from the National Endowment for the Humanties and the Verizon Foundation. EDSITEment offers lesson plans, student interactives, reviewed websites and monthly features on the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture and history and social studies. We are especially strong in the area of U.S. History and Govermnent, and American literature. EDSITEment's lesson are featured on the College Board Advanced Placement U.S. History homepage. For more information on these lessons go to A complete index to all our history and social studies lessons are here

Monday, March 16, 2009

Howard Zinn's "People's History"
One of the most controversial US history books is Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." To borrow from Amazon, it is "consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People's History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency." Well here is the ENTIRE text online. Whether you agree or not with it, it would be interesting to use parts of it for discussion in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Study Stack
So first off, some of my tech ideas come from this site which is amazing an just won an Edublog award this year. The "study stack" site has allows you to help your students prepare. I have struggled with study guides for years and think this may be better than what I have done in the past. I am going to have my students create their own accounts and define each of their own words and then use it to review (or make them do part of the review guide) and then do a partner's review. The cool thing is that it allows the students to input the data and then see it in a variety of forms such as flash cards, crossword puzzles, true false, etc. Here is the US history page.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Test Prep
If (and I am looking into this in relation to an online project I am working on) all the online questions could be brought together into one database, it would make for quite a test maker (and so what if the students could see some of the questions beforehand as preparing for a test IS what we want them to do). In Virginia, where I live, we have the Standards of Learning (SOL) exams and while there are a few differences from national standards, it is pretty much your standard US history course. So go here and click on some of the units and have your students review.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How To Use Movie Maker
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: movie_maker blog)

Movie Maker
This is the most fun your students will have all year and will learn to boot! Movie makers is on all Windows computers and is very easy to make. Your students can add music, video, pictures, words, etc. and make a very nice presentation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Wizard of Oz
In case you haven't heard the history behind the children's story, here it is. I find it a great way to have the kids remember many of the issues of the Populist and Progressive era.