Friday, June 29, 2012

Todays Meet: Develop a Virtual Classroom

Today's Meet is a way to get students into a virtual classroom for a discussion. The developers call it "a microblogging backchannel that empowers computer classroom teachers to generate a discussion, without the interference of raised hands or student disruption."

It's a little like Twitter or Edmodo "as it gets students chatting, using a 140-character limit and an easy-to-use interface. Todays Meet is a backchannel, which helps teachers conduct online discussions, while channeling the results onto one web page or an Interactive White Board."  My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, learned about it in his AP US workshop and sent me the link. Looks like a very interesting and usable application.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Books That Shaped America

This coming fall we are starting an American Civilization course which will combine AP US History and AP Language.  The English teacher will provide the readings and the US teacher the history. One thing they might want to look at it is the new exhibition at the Library of Congress titled Books That Shaped America.  By the way the image above is from the original copy of The Wizard of Oz

Blog Contributors Growing By One

When I started this blog 4+ years ago I wanted it to be a way to communicate between schools in my district - something beyond the traditional collaborative teams that were then being implemented - as I did not feel lesson planning and great ideas to be limited to just a few people in one's individual CLT.  Well, quickly, this blog became a national one and your e-mails and comments have given me lots of ideas and plenty of inspiration and motivation to keep it going.

While I have had some guest bloggers off and on, Frank Franz, who teaches at Madison HS, was there at the inception and continues to be a regular on the US Government blog, but also occasionally on the world blog.

Late last fall, I asked one of my students in my technology integration course, George Coe, from  West Potomac HS, to join me.  As you can see he has been prolific and enthusiastic in adding posts to all three blogs.

Soon you will start seeing posts from Scott Campbell, whom I met in the airport a year ago on the way to an AP reading and who is now teaching at Thomas Jefferson HS.  Scott will be adding primarily to the US and government blogs.

As you might expect all of us use technology a great deal in the classroom and hope you continue to enjoy and utilize the posts to enhance your teaching.  

Make Your Own Qwiki

Their name, Qwiki, is certainly enjoyed by my students, but when I want an audio, visual and written overview of something I am teaching, it is the best source I can find on the Internet.

Now, though, you can create your own Qwiki, narrated, links, video, you name it.  Above is a quick video explaining it and here is how you can get started.

If you have been using Qwikis, you may notice that you can no longer go to the homepage to run a search, but instead will have to be using Bing and then will see a Qwiki with every search you run on the right margin.    If you have some old Qwikis, as do I, then your url will still work.  There is also an ABC News page for Qwikis. 

Sal Khan and John Hennessy on Online Education: The Full D10 Interview

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein sent me the link to Walt Mossberg's interview of Sal Khan and Stanford President, John Hennessy about the cost of higher education and the use of technology in education.  it runs about 37 minutes and is quite interesting.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stitcher: Radio and Podcast app

Great free app for smartphone, Ipad or Android tablet.. You can program all your favorite radio shows and podcasts to play in whatever order you want but the cool thing is that you can also plug in courses of university podcasts. The more stuff you listen tp, the more stuff  Stitcher will find that you like.  I downloaded Stitcher today and found a series on the History of Rome and another one on the Middle Ages. I might even listen to a couple of them on a road trip this weekend. Here's Walt' Mossberg's review of Sticher.

Classroom Lectures Go Digital

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, sent me this Interesting NY Times article about how  the move to digital lectures in both high school and college are changing the face of  traditional education. "Thanks to digital media like video-on-demand broadcasts, or VODcasts, lectures that students would normally receive in the classroom are migrating outside of brick and mortar schools."  

Donors Choose

So we recently interviewed (I am a dept. chair) candidate for an opening we have.  Beyond the many great things one of those interviewed said, she mentioned a website called Donor Choose which even my co-English chair knew about - but apparently not me!  Well the candidate had gotten chairs for all of her students, her own desk, a printer, pens, pencils, etc. from the website.  The way it works, is if a teacher has a need, he/she puts it online and can either solicit funds and matching corporate ones as well donors from around the Internet.  So with some effort an enterprising teacher can get some much needed supplies.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Free Conference Call

It dawned on me this morning that if Frank and I had needed to speak to more than each other last night I could have shared my screen with lots of people and we could have gotten a free conference call using FreeConferenceCall.  I first heard about it in 2007 as Obama's campaign was using it to save money in the early days.  The only catch, if you can call it that, is that you get an e-mail when you are done.

If you want to share documents and doing a video conference, you can use a "HangOut" in Google+ which lets you video conference with up to 10 people and share your Google Drive (used to be Google Docs) documents.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Share Your Screen

So Frank Franz (Panther Fan) and I were just doing some work with test questions for our county and when I couldn't figure something out I went to Screenleap and in two seconds it created a code I sent him and he was able to see my screen as I moved around and together we were able to solve our problem. The Screencastomatic people also have a screen share application called Quick Screen Share that can do the same thing.  

Remind 101 for Your Summer School Students

With summer school starting shortly I wanted to tell you about one of the reasons why my students turned in their work at a higher level than ever before. I love it when a student e-mails me and asks the next day if I received the message.  My answer is usually, "Yes, I answered you a minute later."  But students typically do not use e-mail and I can't blame them. But remind101 has figured it out.  You give instructions to your students (and I do it for parents as well) and they can opt to sign up for the free text.  You do not see anyone's cell phone and all of your messages are recorded for you.  My students loved it as did their parents.  What is also wonderful is that you can set it to go anytime.  So I would usually do it during the day when I put the assignment on Blackboard and set it for 4 or 5 pm.  There are 5 such services out there, but this is the only FREE one and you can have a different one for each of your classes. 

If you aren't allowed to use such a site, you can always have your students put in their cell phone numbers into a device such as Blackboard or any other device that delivers homework.  Here is how to do it.  If you do this you will need to make sure other teachers aren't also using it as you will be limited (as you are above) to 140 characters.

Now it is hard to limit oneself to 140 characters all the time.  So there are ways around this.  For example if I wanted students to see an assignment I put in Google Docs, I went to tinyurl and put in the long address.  Then you can put that tinyurl in your text and your students can connect to the larger message.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Docs Teach from the National Archives

The National Archives allows you to create an assignment using their documents.  All you need to do is to create a free account and get to work.  You can also look at the work of other teachers.  For example, here are a bunch of items from the Revolutionary period.  Thanks to my fellow Fairfax County teacher, Maggie Tran, for the heads up on this great site. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Michelle Obama's Ancestry

When I first started teaching I had the kids read a then controversial article on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings.  Now, of course, we are 99% sure of the liaison and the controversy has died down.  But the video above (and this article) is also very compelling as it tells of the story of story of two families - Michelle Obama's and the Tribles and the relationship the Obama's great great great grandmother and the slave owner's family that owned them and the slave-owner relationship that produced the Obama forebear.  It is interested how the white family had buried that part of their past.  It would be a good way to introduce 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

American Vision e-book In-Service

Tomorrow a few of us are doing an in-service on using e-books in the classroom.  Here is the one done by Janet Babic who teaches next door to me using American Vision.  She has a lot of items other than just the e-book such as a scavenger hunt, splitting the screen (so you can have an e-book and work open) as well as two assignments she gave this past year which incorporated the e-book and other online resources. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


A New History Book Online
If you have been following this site, you know about Hippo Campus which has text and video for AP US and US history (among other subjects). McDougell Littell site which has primary documents, quizzes and more. Now, though, there is a potentially better site in the making. The site titled, US History, Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium," already has a great text online, and links to first person accounts, other related webpages and some video with the promise to continuously evolve to include interactive displays, video streaming, simulations or dynamic versions of the text, and opportunities for collaboration by students and teachers (all of which makes you wonder what textbook companies are going to start offering to compete with free sites like this). Really this is what a textbook should be in today's world, a growing "organism" which changes as new items are added to the internet.

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Chrome Book Review

Great review of the new Chrome book by Samsung  from The Verge. It has a new Intel Celeron chip. Found it on Amit Agarwal's Pinterest board.  Agarwal also has a great tech blog. With their long battery life and instant on feature, they would make great computers for the classroom.

Photo Story onto Google Apps/Drive

The best way to do a digital presentation is by using Screencastomatic (here is how). It does not require an account and can immediately be uploaded into Youtube.  The only problem is that some schools do not allow use of Youtube.  If that is the case you have a free alternatives:

About two months ago I posted a video George Coe did on how to save a video within Google Apps.   But the video did not show you how to create an audio presentation.  So if you go to the video above I used Photo Story which is on any computer that uses Microsoft.  Once I show you how to create the presentation I also show you how to upload it into Google Apps or Google Docs, if you do not have access to Youtube. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What is the Cloud?

This, for me is a nice display of what is meant by "the cloud."  Notice as one action is done on the Smartphone a similar one is done elsewhere such as on a tablet or a computer.  

Long Lost Report on Lincoln's Doctor at Ford's Theater

Here is a story about a long lost report from Dr. Charles Leale who was the first to treat Lincoln at Ford's Theater.   It might make for a fascinating look at how history changes with new research - not to mention cool primary documents.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

JFK's Body Returns Home

As I have mentioned before I am reading Caro's new book on LBJ.  It is amazing to read a book that describes the hours after Kennedy's assassination and then be able to see his return to DC.  For example in the footage above, much to the surprise of LBJ who had figured out how he was going to come off with the casket, RFK jumped on board and walked his sister-in-law off with the casket. I even found an interview with Lee Harvey Oswald (warning it ends with Ruby shooting him). 

Top Posts for May

Even though much of the teaching world is getting out for summer, we still had 45,000 pageviews between the three blogs with 21,000 unique visitors.  While my last day is June 20th I work most of the summer so keep coming back all summer.  Here are our top hits for May:

NYTimes US History Page
Historical Misconceptions