Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iowa (Shift) Happens

This video reminds me of the Shift Happens ones.  It has a little bit on Iowa's digital age (first 53 seconds), but it is still fine.  You can skip the last part.  I found it today and showed it to my class of teachers as I believe it shows why it is so urgent that we use as much technology as possible with our students.  I then showed the video on this video (first 3 minutes) as it shows where we are going (and some lucky few schools already are in terms of customizing classes for their students. 

Short Videos on Key Legislation

Here are twelve short videos on key legislation put together by the Center on Congress from Indiana University. It includes such key items as civil rights, the Marshall Plan, Morrill Act, Social Security and the ADA.    

Thanks for the Hits - All 20,000 This Month!

When I began this blog (and its companion ones on world history and US government) in April 2008 I had no idea how many hits it would start getting (not to mention the opportunities it would bring me).  Thanks to your interest we should hit 20,000 hits this month which is a new record.  Indeed in the last several months we have been really increasing.  Thanks also for the e-mails giving me information for the site and for posting your ideas on the comments (and for all the great thank you notes I receive).

If you want, you can sign up for an e-mail for each of the new posts (no more than one a day) by putting your e-mail address in the box above "submit" on the right side of the blog and pushing enter.  Alternatively you can look for me on Twitter under "kenhalla" or under Google+, also under "kenhalla."

In case you were curious about the fourth name, I raise money for William and Mary's track/cross country teams and do an alumni blog for them called the Spiked Shoe Society

A Wonderful Short Film on James Madison

Above is a History Channel film on James Madison, our smallest, quietest and yet one of the more accomplished presidents. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gaming & The American Revolution

Here is one way to learn about the American Revolution through a free online game.  As the site says it "asks students to make hard decisions (sides of the war, for ex.) and looks at economic frustration, political indifference and the mundane everyday life.  Developed as a multi-player 3D games, it is designed for a 45 minute period class."

Basic and Advanced US History e-textbook

I am getting to the point where I hate to use the word e-textbook as it implies a paper version online (which is what the following two books are).  A teacher (or an e-textbook provider) should supplement it with many interactives (which is like I our Patterns of Interaction world history books).  At any rate if you need to save money on books or want to supplement them, I have a few listed on the side of this blog.  Here is a basic US text and here is a more advanced one from C-12. 

Sharing iGoogle Links

I've written about the weblinks' aggregator page called igoogle (see how to video below).  It is great as I can quickly see a number of blogs that I follow.  If you have an igoogle page and want to see what I follow, then go to this link (I did take off the Tweetdeck, Google Docs, etc.).  To allow others to do the same for your page, go to the "home" tab in the upper left side and then hit the "share this tab" on the drop down (see picture above).  Then you can send an e-mail to whomever you want to share your page.  WARNING: If you do this, it will create a new homepage for you, but yours will still be intact.  Both of them can be seen if you look on the left side of the igoogle page where each will have a "home" tab.  If you then want to get rid of mine, you could right click on the "home" for mine and then "delete the tab." Or you could just look at the things you like from my account and add them to your page. 

Beyond the Hole in the Wall

Oddly enough I have found that kids are exactly LESS inclined to move off task than if they were a digitized class than a traditional paper and pen one.  To that end I just finished Beyond the Hole in the Wall (only $2.99) which looks at kids in very impoverished areas and how  much they were able to intuitively learn using laptops. Here are his quantitative papers and here is his blog. Yes, it is a long way from just giving a kid a computer to learning our mandated content, but I believe we are in the early stages of an educational revolution where teachers are moving more to facilitators and students will be doing more work at the higher end of Bloom's and then (and this is the one that is still in the very early stages) have a way to reprocess information they did not learn well as they move ahead (Knewton is one company working on this).  

Westward Expansion

Here is an Education World wesbsite with ten links to different sites on western expansion and here is another one with even more links.  Some include the Oregon Trail, American West, Native Americans, the Cherokee Trail and tons more.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Declaration of Independence Song

My daughter showed me this video which has 2.7 million hits on the Declaration of Independence. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lots of PowerPoints

One thing I like to do when we hire brand new teachers is to give them as many resources as possible so that they can focus on learning the content, getting to know one's students and to grade creative assignments. Here, then, are a number of PowerPoints for world history including the Cold War, Civil Rights, Great Depression and much more.

Online Project Rubrics

I have written on some rubrics, but here is another one from Effective Online Teaching and Training. There are a variety of categories including blogs, wikis, e-portfolio, Twitter, online discussion and more.  I found the item from a Google+ post from Eric Sheninger

Still Room in my Social Studies Tech Class

I am teaching a technology integration course (p. 42)  for  7-12th social studies grade teachers (despite the heading above) for Fairfax County, VA teachers.  It will start January 31st (so sign up soon) and run for 10 Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7:30.  It filled up very quickly in the fall, so please sign up early. To sign up go to MyPLT, then put "social studies" in the search box and look for the title "Enhancing the Use of Technology in the Social Studies Classroom." 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WWI Animated Battle Maps & Much More

Here is an animated map of each of the years in WWI that show the major movements of both sides.  But there is much more on this BBC site including the human experience, international view, virtual tours of the trenches, Versailles and more.  While we are at it, there is also a WWII and Cold War page

Stickies on a Virtual Wall

Just the other day I was at an in-service where the presenter suggested one technique where students could write one question on a wall and others could answer it.  Then he said that during a test students could look at the wall for a minute or so.  Obviously the point was that kids who are less reticent to ask a question would feel more inclined to do so.  Well, while Wallwisher has been around for a few years, it allows students to put stickies on a wall and others can edit (i.e. answer it).  So in the case of my kids who often take e-tests, this would be one way to get a lifeline.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Library of Congress and Its Primary Resources

One of my colleagues Cynthia Szwajkowski "retired" last year and is now working full time for the Library of Congress in their primary resources division.  One of the things she does is send out a regular e-mail with pictures that match the date.  For example above is one I received a few days ago on the Chinese New Year.  If you want to be on her list, you can e-mail cynthia@tpsnva.org

A Student's Constitutional Convention on Prezi

Monday, January 23, 2012

Digital Textbooks & A Little Self Promotion

Today the DC metro affiliate of NBC news came to my classroom (and one other) to talk about digital textbooks which you can guess that I have been pushing for years up until this year when our entire county (27 high schools) went digital from 6-12th grades.  If you want to be an advocate I should say that it started with my getting  a few teachers and 1/3 to 1/2 of their students on board, then an entire grade pilot and that led to 18 middle and high schools doing it with a great deal of help from our curriculum great teachers, curriculum specialists and other administrators.  

Tremendous Study Guide

We just had our January re-testing for the students who failed the state exam over the summer or last spring.  I gave the kids outlines found here for US.  While they are for VA tests, they are a great review for any US history class

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tuskegee Airmen

I sometimes like to use movie clips of famous movies to connect material that we are learning to my students' lives.  For example above is a clip from the new George Lucas movie about the Tuskegee airmen.  To show your kids that this history is still "alive," you could show them this article detailing that 100 of the original 990 are still alive (unfortunately the article is about one who just died).  Here is a lesson plan on the subject from PBS.  PBS will also be airing "For Love of Liberty" starting on February 1st which will look at African American service people.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Building a Student Assignment Online

While I am at it one of the things I try to teach other educators is how to meld an e-textbook, its ancillaries and what you can find on the Internet.  For example here is a lengthy student assignment I am presenting for a county wide in-service for our US teachers.  It starts with the text (which you can also find in Wikipedia) and then goes to different ancillaries.  The cool thing about most ancillaries is that unlike the text they are not locked down.  So you can see such items as reading outlines for students to fill in, quizzes, summaries, etc.  The assignment looks at farmers and industrial workers at the end of the 1800s and compares them to what is being said by Frank Braum in the Wizard of Oz (which always helps my students remember the concepts).  

Progressive Era

I love to intersperse Internet assignments with e-book ones.  One site that you might want to use for the Progressive Era is the Digital History site.  Here is what it has on the Progressive Era.  It includes background, electoral maps, timelines and images.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

WeVideo Online Editor

Ever since Jaycut was bought by Blackberry, I have been looking for a cloud based editor where one can edit videos in the cloud.  Finally I have found it with WeVideo.  Wevideo gives you two options (see video above) to either edit it in your own youtube account or to use their editor.  If you want to collaborate (think student projects) then you can have others collaborate in real time from other locations and computers.  There is a limit to the space, but students could make one video and put it on youtube and then have plenty of space for others.  Cloud based video editors (or any tool) have the advantage over MovieMaker as it can be done on any computer and not lost.  Thanks to Freetech4teachers for the heads up. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wizard of Oz

I always wish I had been told this story when I took AP US history in high school, but alas I had to wait until I was teaching.  It always helps my students tie together a bunch of facts from the time period (Jennings Bryan, workers in the industrial north, westward travel, gold and silver standards and so much more). Here is one interpretation that I like, but here are more are others.  

Monday, January 9, 2012


One of the things I love about running this blog site is that people e-mail me sites they like.  This one about three lesson plans comes from Edsitement (run by the National Endowment for the Humanities) and it comes with links, rubrics, lesson plans and more on Reconstruction.


Qwiki is a search engine I found about a year ago that lets one get a visual (video), written and pictoral definition.  In other words, you could put this link for Antietam on your student site and have your students answer questions.  Above is the embedded Qwiki search for it. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Want to Take My Course?

I am teaching a technology integration course (p. 42)  for social studies teachers for Fairfax County, VA teachers.  It will start January 31st and run for 10 Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7:30.  It filled up very quickly in the fall, so please sign up early. To sign up go to MyPLT, then put "social studies" in the search box and look for the title "Enhancing the Use of Technology in the Social Studies Classroom." 

Site on the Presidents

Here is a site that has a lot of review sheets about each of our 44 presidents in addition to a short bio for each.  For example, here is Barack Obama.  I found this link at Notanotherhistoryteacher.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ten Tea Parties

In a few days Alan Brinkley is coming to speak to your AP US students (he wrote our textbook).  My question for him is how and why does he decide what is history.  Take the new book (disclaimer, I received it free from the publisher)  Ten Tea Parties which comes out in a few weeks.  The book discussed fifteen "tea parties," one of which actually burned the ship of tea, several which collected the tea and stored it away, another which had their colonists dress as Native Americans and throw the tea overboard (sound familiar)?  Indeed one "party" had Redcoats kill an American colonist and even the Boston group copied their resolved from Sons of Liberty in Philadelphia who had their own "party" three days after the one in Bean Town.  In short, it's a quick short, enjoyable read and it begs the question why do we only remember Boston?

While I am on it, my wife read another book that was sent to me Destiny of the Republic about Garfield, his killer and the incompetent doctors who botched his possible recovery.  My wife who normally only reads fiction found it enthralling as did the NYTimes who put it on their annual "best of"books of 2011.