Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Truth about flipped Learning

A flipped classroom is not simply about watching a video at home and then doing a worksheet in the classroom, Aaron Sams and Brian Bennett argue in the article "The Truth about Flipped Learning" for eSchool News. Although video is often used, they argue, it is not a prerequisite. Video can be used to pose questions, generate conversation or provide instruction for projects. You may have to create a free account to read the entire article. I did.

History Simulations

In some respects teaching never ends.  Think about it.  Most of us are tired and excited about the end of the year.  But if you are like me a few weeks after the room has been packed up, you are eager to start thinking about next year.  When you get to that point you might want to think about doing a simulation for both world wars and the Cold War.  Teacher David Harms has developed these three simulations which you might want to consider for your classroom (and he has a pretty cool webpage as well).  

Identifying Unknown Images

I have spoken before about Tineye which allows you to identify unknown images either by uploading the image or pasting in the url to find it.  Well now you can also do it using a Google search.  Simply go to the "image" line at the top of the search page and then hit the camera icon and enter in the url or upload the picture.  You can even use images that are NOT on the Internet.  Above is a short video showing how both are done.  I found the information on Google at Mindshift

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Using Google Apps for Grading

As you can see from my and George's posts, we are letting our inner geek out, but don't fret more content posts are forthcoming.  I was just sent the video above by fellow blogger Frank Franz.  If you teach with me in FCPS (Va), you have probably started using the "Data Sorter" to better analyze test results, but for the rest of you, you can do aggregate test/quiz/assessments using Google Apps and even let new scores (for re-tests) replace old ones.  The video begins with a short segment showing the power of Google Apps for grading and then shows you how to explain Andy Schwen's (@MrSchwen) work or actually his student's idea for how to use Google Apps. 

Collaborize Classroom

 “CollaborizeClassroom” is a really neat site that’s a little like Black Board’s blog or assignment feature, but much more intuitive and it’s free.  Their platform allows students to engage in conversations, ask and answer questions, collaborate on projects, and vote on issues and ideas.  Here's how it works.
  1. Create a class, give it a name and add your students.
  2. Create an assignment.  You can embed a video from You Tube, attach a pdf file, or paste in photographs.  
  3. You can also choose assignments from a library of topics by discipline and copy it to your class. 
Here's an assignment from the Topics Library on feudalism and here's another collaborative assignment I found on Rome in the Topic Library.  This assignment asks students to watch a video clip about Roman engineering and comment on the similarities of Roman housing to housing today. The platform allows for student comments. 

Next, the assignment asks students to choose another  achievement of the Roman Empire to research from a menu provided. They post their response and read the responses of their peers who researched different topics.  I like Collaborize because it gets kids to do something with their reading or viewing without simply answering a few multiple choice questions.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

If you Flip, Read this

Caitlin Tucker, a Google certified English teacher, in this excellent post suggests that flipping can be about more than videos. She also wishes that the conversation " focused more on what actually happens in a flipped classroom."

 She thinks there is lot of stuff out there we can use instead of or in addition to a flipped video. She'd like for us flippers to get the kids to DO something with the video they see instead of simply answering some questions to verify they saw it. " Lessons come from doing," she says "So why not pair the content with an activity that gets them “doing” then imagine where you could start the actual class activity?"

Tucker raises some very good points that we might discuss in our PLCs if we don't have to spend the time talking about testing and data, as Les Foltos, argues in the video in the post below.

Teacher Collaboration

“The biggest obstacle in the US is the single-minded obsession with testing and accountability with little or no effort to help teachers improve.”

Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed, a Seattle, Washington based educational training company, makes a compelling case for real teacher collaboration, not the kind that focuses on testing or assessment, or data, but one that focuses on what's happening in the classroom between the teacher and the student (the kind of collaboration that usually happens after our PLC or CLT meetings that focus on everything but real collaboration and reflection among teachers).

Foltos says that he grew up on a farm and that if all he did was weigh his cows every day, rather than feed them to fatten them, he'd probably have lost his farm. He argues that administrators should connect teachers with purpose focusing on common problems in classroom. In one study with about 70 teachers, he found that only two teachers had a class project replicated and that was by the teachers who graded it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview with Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong has remained fairly quiet since leaving the US military a year after his landing on the moon.  But here is an amazing four part series from a recent broadcast on an Australian television.  The last of the series has some nice footage of his landing on the moon along with his explanation of the landing.  What is really interesting is that there are only two photos of Armstrong on the moon as Aldrin was so mad he wasn't first on the moon and refused to take many shots.  The money shots are all of Aldrin! 

Research and Citation Pane Within Google Documents

As you can see from the short video above you now have the option of doing research right inside of your Google Drive document and then adding a link or even a citation automatically to the page you are writing. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Johnathan Bergman on the Flipped Classroom

 Anthony Salcito, Vice President Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector Education, interviews Jonathan Bergmann, pioneer in the Flipped Class Model of Education. I especially like  his idea that the flipped video is just one more resource for the student. He or she can use it or the textbook or whatever to learn the material. The teacher is no longer the disseminatorr of material.  More on the flipped classroom here.

Dos and Don'ts for Flipped Videos

Great story here at Eschool News about the best ways to make flipped videos for class. Some of the advice includes: keep the videos short, less than 10 minutes, add humor, inflect your voice, work with another teacher on the video,  and don't waste the student's time.

Knowledge Graph

Today is the beginning of Google's Knowledge Graph.  Not everyone will see it initially and it is beginning first for those who use English in their searches.  But it is an attempt to better help you find what you are looking for.  Think, especially of when kids look up dictionary words out of context.  Now they will be able to get a frame of reference on the right column, which if they use it, should help them see which definition, event, etc. should be the correct one for which they are searching. Be aware that this search engine is being rolled out slowly and will not work for everyone and even in every search for people in which it is working.  For example, while you can see above and here that it did work for "Abraham Lincoln," it did not work for "Civil War" or even "American Civil War."  The upshot that the first column is what you are looking for and the second, items Google thinks that based on your previous searches you might also be interested in using. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Famous People Painting with Zoom IT

This is a cool painting called "Famous People Painting - Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante." If you go here, you can use your mouse and scroll over the people for their names. Kids love figuring who the people are. The other cool thing is the zoom effect. You can go to zoom it and plug in the URL for any picture you like, from Picasso or Flickr, and it will create a zoomable photograph like the one here. You can embed it in a blog or website. You can also read more about it here.   And here, you can see the painting above on a bigger screen with the zoomable effect. You can also click the far right icon on the bottom left to toggle to a full page view of the picture.  My thanks to teacher Richard Byrne for alerting me to this site.

Monday, May 21, 2012

School's Not Out For Summer!

Some of my students just took their state exam today and others took their AP one last week, but our last day for students is not until June 15th (at which point I will be grading AP exams).  This summer I am working with our online campus so, as I have for the past four years, I will be continuing to post updates all summer whether summer starts now for you or in mid June.  So, please take a little time each week to see what is new online both with technology and content. 

US Map App

I just found this iPhone app on maps of the US at different time periods in my daily e-mail Eschoonews. The author also has maps of Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the US. Unfortunately there is no Android app at this time.

If you follow this blog you will see that I have featured a number of apps - all of which are free.  To see them all type "app" in the search bar. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

E=mc2 As Explained By Einstein

Above is a brief sound recording of Albert Einstein talking about the theory of relativity.  Everyone knows E=mc2, but now your students can hear it. I found this on OpenCulture.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Here is a nice site that gives an overview of each president as well as lots of links. For example here is the page for Obama and includes links to each of his cabinet members, Biden, his two appointees to the US Supreme Court, historical documents, CSPAN video, 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Big Blue Button and Teaching/Meeting Online

My county uses Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) for our online classes (and will soon be letting teachers use it for their own purposes).  But you can use Big Blue Button for free to teach your students (as I tell my students it could mean the end of snow days) online.  Not only that, but think about how you could have meetings with teachers from across your county, state or the US.  For example my county has an annual meeting between AP teachers and this would be a good way to do it.  As you can see from the video above you can record your screencast, see the other participants (if you choose), have a whiteboard, can share your desktop or just show a PowerPoint.  There are also a bunch of tools, such as being able to mute students, an IM board for the entire group or for one on one and more.  Oh and best of all it is entirely FREE! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Search Engine Within A Document

I split my screen a great deal so I can look at websites and complete my project ideas for my students (or have a gradebook on one side and student work on the other).  Well now Google is making it easier to avoid having to do this.  When you open a document in Google Docs and the go to "tools" and "research," a new screen will open up on the right (see above).  If you run your cursor over the bottom of each link, you will see three choices (preview, insert link and cite).  Now the preview will set up a new column (again look above at the one in the middle) and that column will give you a smaller version of the page including videos.  The "insert link" will, if you drag the cursor over the chosen words), add in the link from the webpage.  Finally the "cite" will put a citation at the bottom of each page.

Father Sarducci on the the Five Minute Diploma

Father Sarducci offers ways to solve the educational problems today. It's hilarious. Found it on Open Culture

Monday, May 14, 2012

SOL State Exam App

In my state of Virginia our annual exams are called the Standards of Learning (SOL - and no, apparently we did not vet that acronym).  I haven't tried it yet (and there unfortunately is no Andoid version), but here is the app for our SOL exam review, called "Pass the Past." 

QR Reader App

We have seen a bunch of QR symbols everywhere.  Well here is the Android App to be able to read it (thanks to Android4Schools) and here is the iPhone app

The Challenges of Returning Disabled Vets

This is an inspiring piece from 60 minutes on "Captain Dan."  More importantly it shows the challenges faced by Afghanistan and Iraq veterans and to a lesser extent, Vietnam vets and would be a good use of fifteen minutes of class time.  Thanks to my colleague Janet Babic for finding it. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

High Tech vs. No-Tech

The Washington Post has a fascinating story about the sometimes deliberate technology divide in education. The Post highlights two area private schools. One embraces technology, the other eschews it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Historical Misconceptions

Here's an interesting 3 minute clip I found on Open Culture about a number of historical misconceptions like Viking horned helmets, Lady Godiva's nude ride, Napoleon's height, Roman vomit, and Columbus.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chromebooks and our Changing Schools

Okay, so you may have noticed that I rarely advocate for something that costs money on this site (other than perhaps these world war simulations and a few free books I get from time to time), but Google is onto something with Chromebooks.  They aren't perfect yet (I used to get a few pages closing if I had too many open and it won't run Java files), but their price keeps dropping and the 11.6" version is now just $299.  Now think about that for a minute.  It is small and light enough (3 lbs) to fit in a backpack.  It has a camera and best of all you get routine updates.  Yes, rather than waiting for a new computer to get improvements, these are pumped through the Internet.  If you search the Internet on Chromebooks, the knock is that they are useless without Wifi, but if you are like me, then you too are useless without an Internet connection on any device.   If you do buy one, here is a blog page for them and here is are 100 tips to use one.  Now I should add that I have used one for months, but I prefer my Macbook Air only because I can do every application on it (and no I store anything on the laptop).  But the difference in price is $700 and for a student (or a parent) this is prohibitive.  I know when my kids are ready to take one to school (probably in two years), I'll probably get them Chromebooks and won't worry too much about their being stolen or broken and will know that all their work will be safe on the cloud.  My hope is that within two years some laptops will be so cheap that, like Smartphones, students will not mind bringing them to school. Food for thought - take it or not!  

NYTimes US History Page

Somehow I missed this, but this, but the NYTimes has a page where they weave their stories into US history.  For example, here is one on the how US teachers go over the Civil Rights era (see picture above) and here is one on living on a Native American reservation and here is one on Pearl Harbor and more and more! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pinterest and Collaborative Teams

I know that Ken made a post about Penterest a couple of months ago but I've just started using it and love it  as a resource for our teams.  For example, I am developing boards for each unit that we study in World 1.  The one above is for the Middle Ages. I want to pin all the video clips associated with each unit. Once populated, any member of  my World 1 team can easily see all the video clips associated with the unit.  You can also pin charts, graphs, and pictures making the board or boards a great resource for each unit.

It's really easy to pin videos and images. Once you register, and you do that through either Twitter or Facebook, you can drag a "pin it" icon to your tool bar.  Every time you see a video clip or image that you like, you simply click the "pin it" icon on your toolbar and the video or image will appear on your board. The  Middle ages board above  includes a 25 minute clip on the Black Death from the History Channel, a seven minute clip from Sister Wendy about Bernini and Michelangelo, a chart comparing the the Black Death to deaths in WWI and WWII, and a ten minute clip about Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. I can also annotate every video or image telling the viewer something about the video or image.

Over time, I hope to have a board for Greece,  Rome, Islam, etc.

e-Book Statistics

E-book Nation

This was sent to me by  I remember when I bought my Kindle a few years ago everyone looked at it like it was a moon rock and now a large percentage of our population (as you can see above) has e-readers.  The question is what are you doing to prepare for the day when your students (like mine) have e-books and all digital assignments. 

Remind 101 iPhone App

One of the sites that I have loved this year is which lets teachers text (without ever knowing the kids' phone numbers) reminders for assignments, tests, etc.  I always set it at the time I make the assignment as you can set the time and date.  But now if you forget to do this and you have an iPhone, you can send the reminder on the go.  Best of all this service is free! If you want to follow their updates, go to their blog.  Their co-founder tells me that the Android app is coming this summer. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

WWII Britain and Cultural Propaganda

During WWII, Britain produced over 120 short films to combat the Nazis. These examples of cultural propaganda are now available on the internet for free. You can read more about the films here at Open Culture.

David Thornburg and the Evolving Classrom

Here is another interesting clip about the use of technology and inquiry based learning from futurist and author David Thornburg. Edutopia has a story about Dr. Thronburg here. Add this video to the one Ken posted about gaming your class and the one I posted about the Virginia tech professor and you start to see a pattern. Technology can change the way we teach!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gaming Your Class & Facilitating Your Students' Learning

My son, who is in second grade, loves his math game that he plays at school to perfect his adding, subtraction, multiplication and division.  I like looking at him playing games at school or home because he is fully engaged and doesn't mind failing - over and over - until he beats everyone - even some of the people in my department. Well that has been one of the things I have been doing this year is having a ton of teacher facilitated class.  But I still wonder if I could add some games in the future.  The video above has some great idea and while it is from a science teacher, but it works for almost all of us.

Some of the items he covers is the fact that he re-organized his class over the summer (which is why now is a good time to post this) and created a class which had podcasts (I would use videocasts), activities to apply in the real world inquiry labs, mastery quizzes (which could be taken over and over) and a leader board which is the most popular item to log onto.  He even offers suggestions for improvement such as more reading, scaffolding and thinks he should make his game more social since that is the most enjoyable element for students at school.

But the main point is that students were able to go at their own pace and that the learning was key and the grade less so.  Think about it as you think about your improvements for next year!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Google Search Tips

Google has a great page that will help you with any multiple searches on Google from basic to advanced ones.  Some of the tips include spelling, web history, less is more, searching by file type, advanced image searching, converting measurements, calculations, currency conversions, flights schedules, weather and even a number of searches for your phone.  Finally here is a page that lets educators help their students search and includes live webinars and updates on a regular basis. 

The Lost Colony, Found?

This is a fascinating article in the NY Times (originally posted as a G+ from Larry Ferlazzo) describing a 16th century watercolor painting and its hidden markings which might indicate where the Lost Colony (NC) built a fort.  According to the article, James Horn of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation says that it gives them reason to excavate a new area.  If you want more, here is the scientific article published by the British Museum.   Also, here is the entire watercolor of which the above picture is just a part. 

450 Fonts Now in Google Docs

My wife has not yet seen the wisdom of being completely on the cloud, one of the reasons being that she has more fonts in Microsoft Word.  Well, it is almost ridiculous, but according to Docs Blog, as of May 2nd, you now have 450 fonts to choose from in Google Docs.  All you need, as you can see above, is to click the fonts tab in a Word document and at the bottom hit the tab that says "Add fonts" and then start scrolling for as long as you can take it! 

Saigon Evacutation

If you are my age (48), the picture above is one you well remember of the last helicopter to leave the US Embassy in Saigon.  Well today at lunch, one of my colleagues, Ed Christ, told me he searched Youtube for some footage and then showed it to his students.  Loving the idea I found the same great news footage of a reporter was there at the end.  It shows the chaotic scenes of downtown Saigon and then the reporters climbing the walls of the US Embassy and the Marine helicopter coming to rescue them.  What a great way to make one's e-textbook come alive. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Top Hits For April

Sorry I am a little late on this one.  Despite the fact that most of you had spring break this month, we still had 47,000 pageviews for the USWorld and Government blogs during the month of April.  The most hit posts were: