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.  

Flipping with Educreations

Several of my students have been bringing in tablets to class this fall.  Either they or I, if I want to flip the classroom can use it to create a narrated PowerPoint lecture that also allows you to draw and otherwise annotate lectures.  Above is one a student did (not mine) on the Berlin Airlift and here are other ones on social studies.  Here is how you can make an Educreation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

This is a great 2:38 film on about all the cool facts about Thanksgiving such as what really was eaten (and not eaten) on the first Thanksgiving, why we started celebrating it and why it is on the date it now is.  Here are other short films on it from the history channel and here are other posts I have done on it in the past.  

Normandy in Color

Open Culture posted this amazing footage from the Normandy invasion (Operation Overlord). George Stephens, a film maker during the war, made the film with other cameramen hoping to use some of the footage for a documentary. They had a hand-held camera and some 16 mm Kodachrome color film which they used for some of the film. Some of the scenes are amazing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Following the Frontier Line and more

The US Census Bureau has a couple of cool interactive graphs. The one above allows you to follow the movement of the frontier between 1790 and 1890 by moving the slide bar at the bottom. Another graph allows a student to follow the shift of population to the west and  to south by moving the slide bar at the bottom. Thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, for sending me the the links.

Google & the Fall of the Iron Curtain

Google's Cultural Institute has an awesome collection on The Fall of the Iron Curtain with videos, documents, and images curated by historian Niall Ferguson. You can read more about the project on Open Culture where I found this information

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chomebooks for Inexpensive Learning

I keep telling people that we are in the middle stage of converting from teaching using paper to a digital format.  As we move online, we will have cheaper and cheaper devices because all we will need is a delivery device.  If any of your students are looking for a computer that does it all, the $199 Chomebook (11.6") by Acer is made only for the cloud (although it does allow your most recent items to be stored on the laptop and run without WiFi.  Items like this makes online learning much more viable.  Definitely when my own children outgrow our own laptops, it will be the one I purchase for our kids (durable, cheap and capable of doing everything the kids need to do).  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Flipped Classroom Explained

Check out more on the flipped classroom at User Generated Education.

Miller Center on US Presidents

UVA's Miller Center also has a nice site on US presidents.  Start with this page with each one and then go to the individual presidents.  Like the post below, there are lists and links to more about each Cabinet members, a short history of each man.  If you want more in depth there are links as well as links to important documents from each.  


The POTUS (Presidents of the US) site gives you a very concise overview of each president with plenty of links.  It begins with each president and who they beat in the electoral college.  It also has the Cabinet (and links for each member), political offices they held, family (check out number of children the Tyler had above), links to biographical information.  The only negative is that you have to go through each president one by one from links at the bottom. 

Virtual Tour of Mt. Vernon

Even though this is just a few miles away (my school is called Hayfield as it was actually one of Geo. Washington's hayfields), this is a fantastic tour of Washington's Mt. Vernon and the grounds around it.  It really is getting to the point that if you Google something and write in "virtual tour," there is a good chance once exists. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Create and Use QR Codes in the Classroom

My teacher students were rather eager to learn about how to use QR codes in the classroom for homework or other uses.  So after class I created the top video above to how how to use it.  I explain all of the steps from creating a webpage for your homework assignments and how to create a QR generator. Since my county requires that we put everything for our students in Blackboard, I also include that.  I started using hte QR codes for homework with my students in the second or third week of school and am amazed how at how many of them use it. 

The bottom video shows you how to download the QR reader on your smartphone. 

Students like QR reader as they do not have to write down their homework assignments.   When  combined with Remind101, it makes it tough for students to have an excuse not to complete their homework.  

If your students ask, there are plenty of Android and iTunes QR readers for their smartphones. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crossword Puzzle Maker

My own kids have a standing assignment for school to make a crossword puzzle.  Here is the site for Crossword Labs which makes it incredibly easy.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

History Simulations

So far I have made very little money with this blog because it is a labor that I love and I feel as it has enhanced my teaching and based on the e-mails a lot of others as well.  But fortunately I do make some "ice cream" money and one of the sources is from History Simulations.  I like it because 1) it is a teacher made business and so you know it has been and continues to be tested in the classroom and continually is improved 2) I believe that making the students learn by doing is the best way to learn which is why I like David Harms' simulations.

Here for example is one on World War I which allows the student to change the size of the armies  to alter the scenarios.  David also has a blog with testimonials, discussions of the game improvements and more.  For those of you who are interested in his simulations, David has one for WWI, WWII and the Cold War.  Watch a few minutes of the video above and you will be impressed.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


This site, Text 2 Mind Map, allows students to create a mind map of anything such as a historical figure or vocabulary term or concept. You just type in the text and then click on "draw mind map." You can download the map or share it online.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pdf to Word

About 5-10 times a year someone sends me a pdf that I want to crack open so I can make it my own.  For most this is impossible. But if you go to Pdftoword allows you to convert short pdfs to word documents.  Go to the site, upload your document and in less than five minutes you will have the word document. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Top Posts for the US Blog in October

Thanks to you all we matched our #1 month last year (at the end of the year) of 48,000 page views for this, the government blog and the world one.  The top three posts for the US blog were