Tuesday, December 28, 2010


British Quartering Act

Kids Making Their Own Cartoons
I received this from one of my normal followers (feel free to leave a message with your tips or to e-mail me at kenhalla@gmail.com) if you have any. I always have my students create cartoons as I find it a good way to memorize something without having to actually sit down and say something over and over until it is in one's head. With this site, one can actually make digital cartoons much as we have drawn them in the past.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Second National Bank and Wikipedia

It is amazing to me the number of people who do not like Wikipedia.  Usually it is people who do not understand the back checking that goes on, but I believe it is a great starting point or, in many places, an adequate replacement for textbooks.  Here is one example on the Second National Bank and its fight with Andrew Jackson.  What is more interesting to me is that the state of VA has taken it off its end of the year exam - but that's another story.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Youtube Blocked At Your School?

I have been using Splicd.com to quickly show only the portion of a youtube video I want in class. It is great for schools where youtube is blocked.  But two others that you can use are ViewPure and SafeShare.tv which also give you a new url which will get you around the block your school may have.  I found these last two at a new blog I follow called "The Pursuit of Education Technology Happiness."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cliff Notes

Cliff Notes has long been one of my favorites for my US history students.  Well here and here are the entire outlines for US history.

Edublog Winners

Every year I go here to see the Edublog Winners.  If you haven't done it, you will find some amazing new resources both in blog form as well as Twitter to add to your daily RSS feeds.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Facing History and Ourselves

This site has a number of resources to add to your US history class.  This video, for example, is a video of one of the African-American students who went to Little Rock High School when it was trying to integrate.

Great Summary of Online Resources

Super Book Of Web Tools For Educators -
If you are a high school teacher skip to page 36.  There is also a section on ESOL teaching as well as online teaching. It is very definitely worth your time to go through this and see what you can find that is new to you.  Even with my great use of technology, I found it helpful.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Slavery Survey Map

This is a survey map of the Southern slave states at the time of the civil war and here is an article about it.  You can even click on different areas and get more details.  Finally, here is a timeline of the war.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Historic Newspapers Website

The "Rag Linen" is a relatively new website dedicated to giving readers access to rare newspapers.  Additionally there is a link to a blog which is a whole lot of items on the colonial period. There are also a ton of visuals you can use in the classroom.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Museum Box

Museum Box allows you to create a visual box of elements such as pictures, video, sound, files, links and text.  It would be a nice way for your students to create a box of memories of an era you are studying.

Ben Franklin Timeline

This is a great timeline of Ben Franklin's life which also links you to items that are related to him so you can get more depth.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Future of Computers

Okay, this is just pure fun - but for those I certainly hope it shows the future of our phones/computers (will there be a difference) and ipads.

Google Maps Mania & Google Earth

Here is a new blog I just found that shows how people around the world are using Google Maps.  I have used it with my students to show their own history and another person in my department uses it for "history trips."  You can add pictures and write about places (both today and historical) that you have your kids "go to."  So if you like using Google Maps, this would be a great new resource. Here is the blog for Google Earth which also would be helpful.  Above is a video explaining how you can use the new Google Earth which I found on the webpage.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Way to Capture a Historical Trip

Historvius is a quick alternative to Google Earth for having students create a trip to different places and to find out different information.  You will get an up close look at the place (any era of time) as well as information and even pertinent links.  At the end it even creates a pdf file (say for turning into a teacher!).  Watch the easy to follow short video above to learn more. Thanks for this idea from a Tweet of "dandidie".

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Google Translate Goes Audio

I have been using Google Translate to e-mail students' parents who do not speak English.  They usually write me back in their native language and then I tranlate it back to English.  Well now, if you want, you can listen to what was written.  I'm not sure the language teachers will like it, but it is still fairly cool.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Korean War in Pictures

Incredible Set of Korean War Pictures
I found this from a Tweet from "curosa." If you go here, you can find 60 pictures from the Boston Globe 60 years since the beginning of the war.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thomas Edison Film

Above is a movie made by Thomas Edison in 1894.  The color was added by painting. For more on early films, go here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Split Screen on a Mac

So whenever I go to the mall (which is not often), I like to stop by the Apple store and play with the new gadgets.  While I prefer a Mac, I have never been able to easily (yes you can drag the windows and re-shape them) split the screen in half the way you can on a Windows based computer (go here if you don't know how).  Well (and I am getting no $ for saying this), but you can try new software (for a temp fix) or pay $7 to be able to easily snap (as you can on Windows 7) the screens in half on your Mac.  It comes from PC World, so I think you can trust it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Edit Google Docs From Your Phone

Last year one of my AP students actually did her entire assignment on a smart phone when her power was out.  I, of course, praised her, but now it is even easier to do from a phone, an ipad or if you have an Android, you can do write a document simply by speaking. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Charlie Chaplin Film

If you mention him at all, you probably only pay passing attention to Charlie Chaplin in class, but you might be discussing films and culture.  Above is an entire Charlie Chaplin film (or here) that you could show a portion of in class.

Donald Duck WHII Propaganda

This film is from Open Culture (yes it is one of my new favorite sites).  It is a 5 minute Disney film which tried to get Americans to pay their taxes to pay for the cost of WWII.  According to the link, 90% of Disney employees produced war propaganda films.


Several of my students have added themselves to my Twitter (kenhalla) feed.  When I tell them that I only put up content and technology links through it, they seem somewhat saddened that I don't put up anything personal.  That, is, of course, the same belief that many educators have of Twitter when I tell them how many resources I get on it.  If you want to get free information quickly, I'd suggest setting up a Twitter account, watch minute video above (taken from web20classroom on Twitter), go here for suggestions on how to get a group of people to follow (I started by plugging in "education," "social studies," "history," and other items like this.  You can also go to my Twitter list and look at the people I follow and follow the ones you like.

Free Phone Calling Through G-Mail

If you are like me then you are having to call many long distance numbers just to reach parents who, like their kids, are increasingly keeping their old phone numbers when they move.  My school district gives us a long code we can use for long distance numbers, but now I am going to use the new feature in Gmail as it allows people to call anyone's phone (be it a land line or cell phone) for free anywhere in the US.  I used it yesterday and it is as clear as a normal phone call.  Looking at the picture above, just click on the part on the left side of the Gmail where it says "call phone" and a key pad will appear on the left side of your screen.  Just type in the number, press return and the call will be made for you.  For those of you who have no land lines, this can also save on your minutes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Learn US History Through Games

Here are a number of games (and they keep adding more) to learn US history.  There are also quizzes you can take.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Google Earth "How To" Videos

Wow, these videos are tremendous, short and informative.  Learn how to make a short Google Earth tour, add video, recording options, add place marks, descriptions, embedding, etc.  Thanks for the heads up from a Tweet from "web20classroom." Above is a video on how to make a Google Earth tour.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The History of Us

The History of Us is from a movie by PBS, but if you go here, you can get short snippets of a number of parts of US history overladen with pictures, movie scenes and interviews with historians and prominent Americans.  You can also do a search of the PBS site and find lots more short videos beyond the History of Us ones that you can use in class.   If you click on the picture above, you will get a short on the Boston Massacre as one example.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Google Docs

I had a student tell me today that he was so happy I had helped him with Google Docs and that not only does he use it in every class, he can't imagine how he existed without it.  While this video is for Google Apps (the paid version), you can do almost everything in the video for free.  For example, I have the my kids' schedules on one of my calendars, my wife's on another and mine on the last one.  About the only thing you can't do for free is to e-mail or give access to every teacher in the school or district.  Beyond that you can do all of this. If you are into Google Docs or the power of cloud computing this 12 minute video is well worth it. I found this at FreeTech4Teachers.com , but I find most of my Google Docs info at the blog for it and in the upper right hand site of my account where it says "New Features."

Edublog Awards

So, in a sense this is a shameless plug that if you like this blog, you'll go here and nominate and vote for it for an Edublog Award.  It is quite an award to get and would be a nice reward for the hard work of my fellow bloggers.  If you want mine, I like FreeTech4Teachers as a blog and "ShellTerrell" and "web20classroom" on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Origin of the Thanksgiving Day Holiday
Normally I wait until it is too late to put up my Thanksgiving post, so here it is earlier enough to consider adding to your class next week.  Did you know that the author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was behind the US making Thanksgiving a national holiday, that Lincoln was the president who initiated this, that there is no proof that turkey was actually eaten on the first Thanksgiving. So many nice tidbits in this video and more of the story here. 
This is an amazing website that looks at every aspect of the Constitution including individually breaking down each part of the document and then doing court cases and much more.

Pictures of Slavery

This is an incredible source from the University of Virginia that has over 1200 photos of American slavery.  It is sobering to see the pictures, but obviously something we have to teach our students about.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to Use Google Docs

I am presenting at the online Global Education Conference on Tuesday November 16th at 8 AM EST.  The conference has over 300 free sessions.  If you are interested, I will be doing a session on using Google Docs with your students and peers.  In a one hour session, you will be trained to create a create Google documents, Presentations (PowerPoints), drawings, folders and how to share them with your peers and how to easily grade your students work online.  To get to the session, click here and then put "Halla" in the search engine and when you get to my link, click on the Elluminate session.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NY Times & Civil War: Disunion

The New York Times has teamed up with History to write DISUNION, a blog about the lead up to the Civil War. Imagine modern web coverage of the U.S. in the early 1860s, day-by-day! I often find that our history textbooks, even the really good ones like Brinkley and Foner, fail to provide students with a sense of the immediacy and uncertainty of the historical present, often because that is exactly what makes for quality history...the distance and perspective to see things more clearly (or at least more fully). Nevertheless, imagining the historical present is a valuable skill for teachers to develop in students. In the NY Times's own words:
One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves. Disunion revisits and reconsiders America's most perilous period -- using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded.
It's a really great resource for students to see into the fog of war and the unpredictability of the future.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Treasure Chest for AP US Class

If you teach AP US, you will love this page as it has every single assignment for an entire year for you to pick and choose from. It also has a PowerPoint for each unit.

American Revolution Interactive

This is a nice interactive that is broken into 1775-78, 1778-1981 and the Treaty of Paris.  Each part is broken up into many parts, all of which start w. the kids having to identify a place on a map and then giving details on the battle.  I found about it from a tweet from "mooresclassroom."

Prelude to the Civil War

The WashPost has an amazing series of pages today on what was going on 150 years ago.  Features include what DC was like, lessons, from the Civil War, state by state electoral results of the 1860 election, a piece on Lincoln's speech to start his campaign, Matthew Brady and more.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rag Linen - Rare & Historic Newspapers

"Rag Linen is an educational archive of rare and historic newspapers, which serve as the first drafts of history and the critical primary source material for historians, authors and educators."

The Gettysburg Address Animated

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Every once in a while I look to see where people are coming from who visit our site.  While I am happy that many come because they simply type in our name, it is also nice that so many people come because someone else has put our site on a link from their webpage.  Here is one called "Top 50 American History Sites." Besides being a great resource for ideas, it also, kindly lists ours as one of the sites.  So thanks to all of you who have made our three teacher sites so visited pages.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Global Education Conference

I am presenting at the online Global Education Conference on Tuesday November 16th at 8 AM EST.  The conference has over 300 free sessions.  If you are interested, I will be doing a session on using Google Docs with your students and peers.  In a one hour session, you will be trained to create a create Google documents, Presentations (PowerPoints), drawings, folders and how to share them with your peers and how to easily grade your students work online.  In a few days I will give you the Elluminate link and you can attend the session for free.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ken Burns' New Documentary on T. Jefferson

Ken Burns has a new film out on Thomas Jefferson and you can find all that PBS has to offer on it (including ordering the film) by going here. You can also find all of his writings online here.  Below is the entire text of Notes on the State of Virginia.

Rubric Maker

When I first became a teacher one of the hardest things I found was how to grade essays and presentations.  Well if you go here, all you need to do is fill in a few parameters and gives you a rubric for literally anything you need (essays, debate, play, brochure, letter and lots more).

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google Docs on Youtube

There is now a youtube channel for Google Docs. Most people know about Google Docs (ie word documents) and Presentation (ie PowerPoint), but few know about charts and my new favorite - drawings which is better than Microsoft Paint. Above is how to make a Google Docs Drawing which I use for my map quizzes and tests.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hundreds of Multiple Choice Questions
These are five stemmed questions which your students can do on their own. It breaks US history into 32 sections and has 50-60 multiple choice questions for each.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SnagFilms for US History

Watch more free documentaries
Learning.snagfilms allows you to watch full length films or capture parts of them.  You can also embed them (as I have done above) or put them in your PowerPoint (actually it would work better in Google Presentation mode).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Changing the Education Paradigm

This is a very interesting video that essentially (in a very entertaining way) describes how our schools were created for an industrial age and asks if we are preparing them for our current world.  I laughed at part of it as I thought of someone who this week complained that I was expecting my students to work too much online - as if they won't need it after high school!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More on the Civil War Photos

If you look a few posts back, you can see some recent acquisitions by the Library of Congress of Civil War pictures.  Above is a short video about them. The pictures, by the way, are NOT copyrighted.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Test Taking Strategies

This is a nice link I just found explaining to AP US kids the ins and outs of the multiple choice section of the test. I agree with about 98% of it. It is very detailed and has lots of good info that you might want to add.  The key this year is to remember that there is NO penalty for guessing (look for four stemmed questions in two years).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Malcolm X at Oxford U

This is a short clip that I found at a new (for me at least) cool site called Open Culture.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Classzone Maps
Why pay for the expensive hanging maps when you can show these on your television or LCD. This has US and world maps and has them in political and physical ones. You can also move the maps around and zoom in and out. When you get to the site, you will need to click on your state and subject and then look for the "Rand McNally" link at the top in the middle and click on it
Did you ever want to show only part of a video.  Well go to splicd and you just enter in the start and end times as well as the url and you will be all set. Here is a how to video. It only takes one second to make your new video and you even both a new url and code to embed it.  I found this bit from this ed tech site.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Amazing Group of Civil War Photos

This is from a collection just donated to the Library of Congress from a collector in VA which has never seen photos from the Civil War.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Interview People via the Web

I have been looking for a free service for a while to interview people via the computer.  The most I have found is ones that allow a free month.  But thanks to "ShellTerrell" whom I follow on Twitter (from Germany), I found Wetoku.  All you do is give a link to the person you want to interview and get online at the same time and push "start."  Immediately you have a link and embedded code to put on a website.  The only disadvantage is that it is not as good quality as some of the other paid ones, but for the price it is excellent.

How to Use Google Docs

Yes, there are some videos (go to the browser to find them), but the item below is for those who prefer reading to know how to work Google Docs.

Google Docs - Tipsheet and Resource Guide

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Videos for all US History Topics

Here are a ton of short videos made for "The American Journey," but that can be used in any US history class.  You can't embed them, but you can link invidual ones to a site you might have.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Docs Teach from National Archives

Seems like more than a few government organizations are producing some very high quality U.S. history resources, like EDSITEment's Mission U.S. video game.

Next in line is the Docs Teach website from the National Archives.

As the American Historical Association described in a recent blog post, the site provides an integrated experience of related primary sources, activities, and tools, all of which are designed to give teachers the ability to create their own lessons.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wiki for Tech Tools

This is one of the nicest assortment of tech tools I have ever seen and since it is a wiki, it is only going to improve over time.  Some of the categories are presentation, collaboration, video, slideshows, audio, drawing, quiz, file storage and more. Each page of tools has a description and in many cases, a video explanation.  I found this from a tweet from "tbris101."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Splitting A Computer Screen
Last year my department piloted an online US history e-book.  This year it has grown to 18 schools and several different books.  Kids say that they don't like online books because it is hard to look at them and do their assignment.  The video above should help if you are promoting e-books in your school. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

One More e-book
This is the easiest e-book to get around (and it has a browser).  It has everything you will need for a non AP US course.
Rather Thorough Book of US History
Now this e-book is quite well done.  It starts with the major categories and then subdivides them.  It also has primary documents as well as outside links.
Wiki US History Book
Ok, now this really IS a quick review - but not a bad thing for the kids to do before a state exam.  As a wiki resource, it will only grow in the coming years.
Online US History Text
This is probably the length most kids would like (186), but it is not a bad overview.  It's not as great as this one from a Philly group I used to work with, but it might be a nice ancillary or review book.
Online Movie Maker
Most Microsoft based computers have Movie Maker, but go here and you will see an online movie maker that allows photos, movies and then can be downloaded to a variety of other places such as youtube if you prefer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Google Earth Tours of US History
Here are a bunch of Google Earth tours (Pre-Columbian Sites and Their Significance, The Revolutionary War, The Lewis & Clark Expedition, Indian Removal, The Path to Civil War, The Emergence of a National Park System, Conflicts in WWII: Pearl Harbor, Midway, D-Day, Stalingrad, Okinawa & Others, The Road to Civil Rights, Vietnam Conflicts: Dien bien Phu, Ia Drang, Khe Sanh, My Lai, Kent State & Others and
The 20th Century Power Grid: From Hydro-Electric to Nuclear Power).  You do need Google Earth on your computer to make them work.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Watch & Simultaneously Chat About Videos w. Friends Online
If you have students creating a video online or using clips from multiple sources, this might be helpful for you. Here is a site to explain how it works, but basically if you put the word "social" right before ".com" for any video in youtube.com, you can then e-mail that link to other people and a new screen will appear for all of you. You will be the moderator (ie only you can start and stop the video) and you can write comments on the side (much as you can in Google Docs) that your fellow video viewers can see as well. So students could "talk" online and decide what captions to put in the video as well as which clips to use. Pretty cool! Above you can see the Common Craft video I cited below and see my comments on the side between two different people.

How Great is Wikipedia?!
I am going on a limb here, but I actually do like Wikipedia and go to it all the time when I have questions. I know this bothers English teachers in my building, but they have never seen the Common Craft video above which essentially says that all entries must have be verified and unbiased (thanks to freetech4teachers.com for mentioning a similar video).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Facebook and Twitter
Right now I am struggling to find a way (pls. leave a post if you know how) to make Facebook acceptable to use in the classroom. There is Edmodo (read earlier post) that looks exactly like Facebook, but then the kids have to look at it and they are ALWAYS on Facebook. I have figured out that I can create a new organization in Facebook and then the kids can see my posts, but then I could also see their sites, which I don't want to be able to do. In the meantime I have found this post which allows one to post items from Twitter directly onto someone's wall. So the kids could sign up for your school Twitter feed and see it as a "status update" on their site. The problem would be that all of your kids couldn't ask everyone in the class questions (as they could in a Facebook organization) and therefore while it would be a great way to reach the kids, it wouldn't let them work together to answer their own questions. Thoughts on solving my dilemma would be much appreciated as a post or e-mail (kenhalla@gmail.com)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mission U.S. and Curricular Video Games

A new product from EDSITEment looks to be a promising addition to the "curriculum as video game" genre: Mission U.S.

It's only in its initial stages of rollout, so keep an eye out for the full release on September 21, 2010.

This move toward curriculum-based video games is being explored by Barry Fishman at the University of Michigan in an undergraduate course, so expect to see more high-quality, interactive gaming experiences of this sort coming down the pipe.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Changes to Google Docs
My new students just turned in their first papers via Google Docs. It was fun to watch some of them in class as they found out how they can collaborate and have a free suite of docs, excel, PowerPoint, picture editor and survey monkey. If you follow this site, just go to the search engine and type in "Google Docs" for some of my other posts or for now play the video above to see the new improvements.

Prezi Adds Live Collaboration to its Presentations
Prezi lets you build a multidimensional PowerPoint all on one slide so that you merely need to move the screen up, down, left, right, etc. Here is a student presentation of the Constitutional Convention that includes, pictures, video, graphics, links and even a worksheet all on one slide. Press the arrow to go to each part. Above is a video describing how you can create a Prezi PowerPoint with other people on other computers anywhere in the world at the same time - much as you can do with Google Docs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Great Divergence Series

For all of you who have trouble, like me, finding some common threads to pull through the last 30 years of US history in those weeks leading up to your AP Review, Timothy Noah of Slate has provided a solution. His new series, The Great Divergence, identifies, what he claims to be, the most significant trend in US history over the last 30 years: the growing income inequality gap. This compelling series should give you something interesting to discuss with your class.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Resource from National Archives

The National Archives has created an interactive site that teachers can use to create their own activities (or use ones already made) using historical documents. It's very user-friendly. The site is called DocsTeach.org.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Here is a very quick, yet thorough, look at US history in fifty seconds. Perhaps it would be a quick preview of the year for your students.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cobo Cards
I have blogged about Quizlet and Study Stack (which gives you a lot of categories for social studies) which are online flash cards. The advantage of Cobo Cards is that you can add pictures to your flash cards.