Monday, December 31, 2012

The Problem w. Education...

This is now two years old, but it is nonetheless very interesting.  Sir Ken Robinson's basic thesis is that our schools are organized on an industrial model that assumes that age is very important to our students and that everyone must move at the same speed.  One of the biggest changes I am making is trying to create a classroom where I am the facilitator and the students move more at their own pace.  I still believe I need someone to write some algorithms for me so my students can get data reinforcement and learn in time segments that are best for them (Knewton is a company that does this, but only for math) but until that happens (and I am working on this) the video above is a very thoughtful piece that will make you ask why you do what you do when you are doing it.  Technology is the answer to improve our educational model. 

Social and Cultural History - Installment #1: New Year’s Eve Celebrations Around The U.S.

Chincoteague Island, Virginia "Horseshoe Drop - 2011/2012" 

Often we do not know specifically where these traditions started.  Some of them seem to have been planned as an excuse to have fun, and others are derived from the culture of the area.

Sometimes the basis behind them can be discovered through historical research,  resulting in a greater understanding of that area and those people.

All of the following New Year’s Eve Celebrations can serve as examples your students could investigate to engage in a bit of Cultural/Social History inquiry. Just frame it with guiding questions and ideas.  They may also discover an additional  interesting avenue for historical inquiry by analyzing WHERE most of these celebrations occur.

Social and Cultural History: Do We Do This In Secondary Education???

Prepare Your Students for What They Will Face at University: Cultural and Social History

Yes, Dr. Hunt IS a real professor, and her ideas should give us pause for thought. Can we do our jobs even better by "doing" some explicit Social and Cultural History to prepare our students for University?

What might be a basic understanding of those two types of history that currently frame much of what happens in College and University History departments?:
  • Cultural History:  look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It examines the records and narrative descriptions of past knowledge, customs, and arts of a group of people.
  • Social History:  History that studies the experiences of ordinary people: "History from the Bottom Up," where you build your historical understanding from the experiences of the common people.
I know, I know, you are trying to maintain focus on your pacing guide, and do not have time to talk to your students about content in a way that takes time away from basic content investigation mandated by State Standards.

That IS important, but....A Professor of mine at George Mason University, Dr. Robert Hawkes, once said he was tired of getting students into his Freshman history classes that could not think and analyze their way out of a wet paper bag. Dr. Hawkes lamented their lack of social and cultural history analytical ability.

If you use these lenses to investigate history with your students now, Well Done!!! If not, think of integrating some Cultural and/or Social history investigation into your current units.

Stay Tuned to this blog in the coming days and weeks for posts that specifically relate to Social and Cultural History topics. Consider it a series. Hint on Installment One: It will have something to do with New Year’s Eve.

Possible Cultural-Social History Information Sources

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wallwisher - "Going Mobile"

Wallwisher With Mobile Devices

(This link will NOT work on  mobile devices, so here is one that will if you are interested. ) 

Wallwisher is a flexible web based collaborative tool that has been presented on this blog before.

In January some food for thought was provided on using Wallwisher to encourage questioning, and give voice to reluctant students. January Post

In early December there was a post advancing the idea of using the tool to encourage collaboration between students anywhere, including around the World. December Post

There is also another blog that appears helpful in coming up with ideas to use Wallwisher meaningfully.

NOW, take it Mobile:
Don't worry about Mobile apps (They don't seem to exist for Wallwisher yet.)

What is an educator to do??? GO SIMPLE!!!

Get a fully functional BOOKMARK for Wallwisher onto your ipad, and maybe onto other mobile devices (Sorry, I don’t have any Android devices to test the idea.)

Here is what you can do:
Step One: Open whichever web browser you use on your mobile device.

Step Two: Open the Wallwisher web site.

Step Three: Bookmark it.  

If you have a g-mail account you can use it to log into your Wallwisher account.

Then start collaborating from.......anywhere your Mobile device will take you.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Authentic History Center: Let History Speak for Itself

Let Your Students Make Meaning For Themselves Through Listening to:

Lead them in exploring U.S. History through the writings, images, sounds, and videos of the past. They will find sources ranging from around the 1600’s, up to and including the 9-11 attacks.

Source types include: Posters, Campaign buttons, music recordings and scores, radio audio clips, text and audio/visual speeches, various types of photographs, stamps, maps, artifacts, video cartoons, and political cartoons. All of these sources are wrapped by explanatory text that assists the viewers in gaining understanding.

You can access the site HOME PAGE by clicking HERE .

You can also see below a fully functional example from the web site. This page tells the story of December 7th, 1941.  The page is actually embedded in this post, so you can operate it right from here, or click this HERE to go to this page in another tab of your browser.

How to Make an RSS Animate Style Video

Paul Bogus, in his blog, Blogush, guides us through the process of making an RSS Animate style video. Studying the Louisiana Purchase, his class was having trouble digesting the textbook and making important connections. He thought an RSS Animate video might allow the kids to visualize the information, make connections, and retell “their facts in a story that had a very tight story line that flowed.” Bogus’s post shows us how to make an RSS Animate style video step by step, including the simple tools you’ll need. The process doesn't look that difficult and may be worth trying..

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ArcGIS Mobile App for ipads - FREE!!!

NO!!! Don’t skip over this because you have dealt in the past with a difficult to use ArcGIS product. This one really IS great!!!

I do not claim expert knowledge on this app, but you can get up and running effectively with just a bit of experimentation. Then, if you find the time to delve into the possibilities more deeply, share your findings with us.

Main Points
  • Can use GPS tool to locate a bookmark pin where you are located.  Bookmark still saved after closing and reopening app
  • Has a centering tool that allows you to move around a map, and then move back to view the spot where you are located.
Measure Area Tool (has a shape above a ruler):Geometric tool that makes shapes on the map and provides the area of the shape. (Can you say integrate Mathematics with Geography?)

Measuring Distance Tool (has two arrows above a ruler):
You can place your location on the map with the GPS function. Then tap the map at the place to which you want to know the distance.

Maps available: Basic map, Imagery, Imagery with labels, Streets, Topographic, Terrain with Labels, Light Gray Canvas, National Geographic, Oceans, OpenStreetMap, Bing Maps Aerial, Bing Maps Hybrid, Bing Maps Road

Interested??? - Click on THIS LINK to go to the esri web site with information on where to get the app.  There are links for those with: Apple Devices, Android Devices, and Windows Phone Devices. )

Google+ Hangouts In Action

As the December 23rd post from Ken about Google + states, there is more and more collaboration happening between teachers using this Google tool.  (See the example embedded in that post made by Wallace of Wallace and Gromit.)

One such example of collaboration was when a “Civil War Soldier” was whisked through time from December 13th, 1862 to December 13th, 2012, where he met with a class of High School students after his time travel.  Information was shared  in character, response was then given  to student questions that had been previously posted on a Wallwisher Wall, and student understanding of the overall chronology of conflict was augmented.

Think of the benefit to students of:  Having  multiple “remote experts” interacting with multiple classes in a synchronous environment;  Inviting in other learners around the world; Sharing the video of the experience afterwards.

It IS necessary to practice and test connections before you roll this out in front of students, but that is a small thing if you are interested in making it work.  

The Original Star Trek T.V. Series: A Window into History and Culture

Yes!!! You CAN learn MUCH from Kirk and Spock

The original Star Trek series is NOT just for geeks, as  it can be used to investigate diverse historical and societal issues. Various episodes can serve as a fun way to increase student engagement with content relevant to their learning. This series aired from 1966-1969, so many of the issues we study today as historical were current when the episodes mentioned below aired.

Through this hokey  little old TV show you can see many unique features: A Multi-racial crew when the Civil Rights struggle was still quite hot; an International crew comprised of nations then locked in high stakes Cold War brinkmanship; the first scripted interracial kiss on network TV; and concern for the forgotten populations of society.

Some of the topics addressed include: The horror of war driving a move to antiseptic conflict, Genetic Engineering, Biological Warfare, The Great Depression, 1920's Chicago Gangs, Unchecked Arms Race, Proxy Warfare, 1960's Counter-culture, International Espionage, as well as many others.

For a more complete list and episode guide open THIS document. It has links to videos of the relevant episodes hosted by CBS TV.
If you would like to discuss these ideas further, contact us by leaving a comment, or sending an e-mail to .

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Project Glass & Never Leaving Your Mobile Device

Project Glass is a cool project that Google is working on right now where you literally can wear glasses and see what is in the video above.  It will make it hard to drive, but with a Google car, you won't have to even do that.  Of course, walking still might be an issue, especially in a hallway between class.  How might you adjust your class if all of your students had it? 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Google+ Hangouts

If you follow me on Google+, you will have noticed that I have been having a number of meetings recently on Google+ Hangouts.  You can have them from your laptop. tablet or phone.  One, they are great if you and a few other teachers want to get together virtually and see each other.  Secondly, you can share your screen and/or Google Drive documents and third you can record a Hangout and have it automatically uploaded into Youtube.  Think of how great it would be to have guests who can't visit your school hangout with multiple classes at once.  You can also stream the Hangouts live on Youtube and then record them and have it automatically uploaded into Youtube.

To record check the box in the first screen where it says "enable hangouts."
Then all you need to do is to click on "start broadcast" and you will be on your way. 

See the Emancipation Proclamation

If you live in D.C. or are near it, you can come see the Emancipation Proclamation which is not normally kept in public.  If you want here are the times:

East Rotunda Gallery
Sunday, December 30, 2012 - 10 a.m. –5 p.m. 
Monday, December 31, 2012 - 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Using Social Media in the Classroom

I am thinking about having my religions class participate in a live blog next semester and maybe tweeting about religious issues using a hash tag I create for the class. Here are the reflections of a graduate school teacher who had his kids use Twitter for that purpose last semester. He argues that these media allows students to write across different genres and to connect class material to the world around them. Overall, he thought it went well and described twitter as a “third space” for his class but noted that he would do a number of things differently if he were to use twitter again. For example, instead of asking kids to tweet a number of times each week, he would ask them to tweet on specific days so students would not wait until the last day and simply do all three tweets at once.

Lady Bird's Diary: JFK Death

Lady Bird Johnson describes the hours after the assassination of JFK in this ABC news clip. Historian Micheal Beschloss notes that she says: "I found myself face to face with Jackie."

Lady Bird Johnson Home Movie #25: The Johnson Family at the LBJ Ran

Here'as a 10 minute clip about life at the LBJ Ranch in 1953 narrated by Lady Bird Johnson. It's part of the LBJ library. Historian Michael Beschloss tweeted the video.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Trail of Tears Music Video

This is a country music video which gives a great deal of  information in the lyrics on the Trail of Tears. 

Cold War Simulation

Teacher David Harms has developed an interactive simulation on how to learn the Cold War by making decision on the world's survival.  Obviously the more students participate in their learning, the more they will learn.  Above is a video explaining how it is done.  Here is a link to his site. 

Roger Williams Code is Broken

Students at Brown University have finally broken Roger Williams' code which he wrote in the margins of the book titled An Essay Towards the Reconciling of Differences Among Christians.  Williams used a series of short hand codes which, until now, had never been decoded.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

PBS Film on the Development of Religious Freedom in the US

PBS has a bunch of full length videos which you can cull to highlight points you are making.  Above is a film that was released a few days ago that looks at how our founders codified religious freedom into the Constitution.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Walt Disney WWII Propaganda Films

The film above is a propaganda film produced by Walt Disney studies during WWII.  It is somewhat different than what your students may be expecting from Disney. It actually won an Academy Award for short films.  Other wartime Disney films are Donald Gets Drafted, The Old Army Game and Commando Duck. I found the films on Open Culture

Google Drive iPad App

Starting in mid January my freshmen and I will be starting a pilot for iPads and our e-book for our textbook company.  To that end I am trying to get everything ready.  One of the apps that will be loaded on the tablets will be Google Drive.  Above is a video I found on a new site iPads For School that is a tutorial on how to use Google Drive and one my students and I will watch when we get the devices. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blank US Maps

If you ever need blanks US maps of the country, areas of it, etc. here is a page for you.  They are set up so you can just print it out for your students.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Google Docs Assignment Tracker

If you have trouble keeping track of all your Google doc assignments, as I do, this Google Form, should solve our problems. Here's how it works: you create a short Google Form for your in box, students then complete the form with a link to their Google doc assignment. The form automatically populates a spreadsheet with all the assignments. If you click on the picture in the story, you can see the form you need to create.

YouTube Without Ads

My colleague, Frances Coffey, sent me this link that allows you to show YouTube videos without the advertisements. Simply go to SafeShare and paste the link and click "Generate Safe Link". A new page will open with your video.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Qwikis for Multiple Ways to Get Summaries

View Reconstruction Era of the United States and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.
Qwiki came out two years ago and has become a way to quickly edit your personal videos.  But for me it was a way to create a sound video, show pictures and have written text for most historical items.  Now you can only find the videos by going to a search engine and typing " + whatever you are looking for."  So above is one on Reconstruction as an example. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Remind 101 for Homework Reminders

I have done a few posts on Remind101 which is a way to remind your students using texting about their homework.  It allows you to preset a time and it is blind texting in that the teachers never see the student cell phone numbers and it is one way so students cannot text you.  Above is a how to video and here are written instructions.  

How and Why to Flip the Classroom

Frank and I are presenting to the high school social studies chairs today on when you might want to use a flipped classroom and how to create the screencast for it.

Above are the easy directions on how to create a screencast using Screencastomatic which is free and does not require you to have a login/password.  You will need a Youtube account (comes with your gmail) into which you can place it.

The top video and Prezi explains when, how and why to integrate the flipped classroom into your repertoire.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Google Forms for Teachers

If you are like me and have trouble with making Google forms, then you should check out this article with links to several pre-made forms for self-grading quizzes. You can find the article and forms here at "Educational Technology and Mobile Learning."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Screenr to Record & Get Link or Publish on Youtube

I love Screencastomatic, butScreenr is an alternative that allows you to keep your videos on their site or on Youtube.  This would allow students to get a link they could share with a teacher Above is a video explaining how easy it is to do.  I have been looking for something this for a while as I want to easily make my students record "flip class videos."  I found this from a Google+ post by Anne Marie Rowley

Friday, December 7, 2012

Michel Beschloss Tweets American History

Learn US History through the pictures that presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweets. Every one, like the one above, tells a story. This is what he tweeted about it: "Jackie Robinson backed RN '60 (like many African-Amers), later shunned him for "Southern strategy" courting white Southerners." You can follow him at @BeschlossDC. You can watch the Beschloss interview on The News Hour talking about the response to his tweets.

More Teachers 'Flipping' The School Day Upside Down

Webquest on Causes of Civil War

One of the things my teacher-students learn to do is to use a multitude of places online to craft a webquest.  Here is a very nice one by Erin Wittington on the events leading to the Civil War. 

First Person Account of Pearl Harbor

Here is one very interesting interview with a reporter who witnessed Pearl Harbor.  What is fascinating is that one of her dispatches was never published until yesterday by the WashPost.  If you want your students to hear (above) or read a first person account, then this might be a nice assignment for you.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

iPad Gestures or How to Toggle

So a textbook publisher for my students' e-books has asked me to try out their new iPad e-book to see what my students think of it.  To do so they are willing to give us 30 iPads for a month of use.  Actually other than completely changing the way I teach and my students have been learning this essentially is just an opportunity for us to learn since they aren't giving the school anything!! Initially I was hesitant, but since I love learning new things, I think I will accept the offer despite the shortcomings.  Already one nice thing I have figured out is that there are gestures you can do to more easily maneuver between documents.  So if that is you, then this might be helpful as well as this to turn on the gestures.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fakebook Gallery & Project Ideas

I've done a number of posts on Fakebook which allows you to create a historical discussion between many people, put in their pictures, have friends, etc.  In fact it looks very much like the real thing, but no login/password is required (can you tell it is actually made by a real teacher!).  But I just noticed via FreeTech4Teachers that the creator of Fakebook now has a gallery of historical figures which is updated each day. If you want to show your students examples before you start a project, it is tremendous. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Albert Einstein Interview

We are so used to looking at pictures of Albert Einstein, but here is actual footage and you can even hear him (and his accent) talking.  I like to show kids items such as this to literally bring people alive. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

REAL Collaboration Made Easy

Ever thought of an activity where you would like the students to collaborate with others:
in the classroom?
 in the school?
 in the county?
in the state?
 in the Country?
in The WORLD?

Do you have a desire to use this type of activity to promote critical thinking,  either during class, or later? 

Wallwisher is an easy and safe web site that  provides a quick way to interact and share thoughts and ideas. It does not require any student sign on to use, and could serve as a class activity, or a formative assessment.

Test it out be posting a "Virtual Sticky Note" to the Wall below.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

History Channel & the Civil War

I still remember 22 years ago when I was in my first year of teaching and all the other teachers were showing a three day (one hour classes back then) film and so I just followed along.  Today I tell teachers to just show a few minutes to highlight a concept and move on.   If you agree with this, here are a bunch of clips from the History Channel on things such as the difference between Confederate and Union soldiers, women in the war, technology, the 54th Regiment, etc. 

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Word to Blackboard Test Converter

If you use Blackboard and want to give tests on it, you can use this site to upload Word Documents and then instantly (and for free) convert them to an item that can be used in Blackboard.  The link also tells how to get them into Blackboard. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Twitter for teachers: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Just found this clip on twitter for teachers: very informative and engaging.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blended/Flipped Learning - A Kids Eye View

Flipping your classroom is all the rage now, and you can get an idea of what it means by looking at the “The Flipped Classroom Explained” posting on this blog from November 10, 2012.  

One issue to consider is whether all of your students can effectually access the activities, whether they be content videos or other learning resources, at home to make a “pure” flipping approach work.  In a school where 63% of your students are on Free and Reduced Lunch the answer is probably NO.  

However the correct response to this conundrum on a valuable teaching approach is “Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in....” In other words, it is TOO valuable a teaching method to NOT find a way to make it work.
Use as many of the flipping strategies as are relevant to your situation to produce a unit that serves your students through taking an approach that centers on them, and NOT your convenience or schedule.

View this  presentation, which  will share with you some information about a “Flipped/Blended” unit on Reconstruction and Jim Crow that successfully did just that.  The unit will be described in a basic way, some observation data will be shared, but most importantly, student opinions will be shared.

Reconstruction – Jim Crow unit blogpost from msteven1
Mark Stevens is a new blogger with us (as is Scott Campbell) who will be posting from time to time. -Ken

Watch Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" for Free

Watch Episode 1: The Great Plow-Up on PBS. See more from The Dust Bowl.
As each part of Ken Burns' new series called the Dust Bowl is shown on PBS, it is put up in its entirety online (as are all their shows).  Here are the first two parts of the Dust Bowl and come back later to see the other parts after they are shown on television.  I have also embedded it above. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

50 iPad Tricks for the Teacher

Apps in Education is a new site I just found as I try to incorporate the ipad for my students who have one.  The site has 50 tricks for ipad users including how to see street view for maps,  add a Google calendar and e-mail, use the air printer, find your phone, turn on VPN, create folders quickly dim or increase the reading light, and much more. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Civil War Website

I was looking around for a site for the causes of the Civil War and found this Civil War website which has everything you would want for your students if you were doing a web quest.  It includes items such as songs (words and audio), weapons (small and large),  personal letters, information on both governments, links, battle maps and hey I haven't even mentioned half of the menu.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

American Identity Project

One project I do each year is an American Identity project in which students choose 1 of 8 famous American speeches/documents and answer the questions.

1. What does the speech/document say about what it means to be an American?
2. How does the speech/document add to the American identity and American rhetoric?

Students are given creative freedom to do lots of different types of videos.  Below are a few links to some of their products.  Feel free to email me if you would like the project rubric.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural

JFK's Inaugural
Declaration of Independence

Trench War Simulation

David Harms over at HistorySimulation has a free simulation on Trench Warfare which you or your students can upload onto your laptops.  Obviously the best way for your students to learn is through doing as opposed to being told what to do.  Above is a short tutorial done by the site on the benefits of simulations. The site also has simulations on WWI, WHII and the Cold War. 

Using Twitter for APUSH - @apushhelp

If your students are looking for helpful facts or are you looking for a possible new project to get your students engaged to review their knowledge of what you are covering?  Check out my posts @apushhelp Twitter Feed and tell your students to follow @apushhelp.  Each of my students are assigned a week and have to answer any questions relating to US history.  The students are at Thomas Jefferson High School which has been rated the #1 or 2 high school in the nation for the past decade. 

Blog Post on Explaining Assignment:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fakebook for Historical Discussions

I showed my teacher students tonight so they could create Fakebook pages with their students.  I use it, for example, to have my students converse between different historical characters.  What I love about it is that the algorithm finds the picture of the historical figure or you can upload your own.   You can also put in a video and create friends.  Best of all is that you do not need a login or password and it will create a unique webpage for you or your students.  Here is an e-sheet explaining the assignment using Fakebook that I put together for my world history students.