Sunday, September 30, 2012

Twitter, Part II

Once you get on Twitter (to follow George's post), you will want to know who to follow.  If you want some suggestions, you can go to my account and then click on "following."  For each person you can see some of their recent Tweets and decide if you want to follow them.  If you want a really long list of social studies teachers, go here. 

How Twitter is Reinventing Collaboration Among Educators

Interesting article at MediaShift about how to use Twitter for collaboration. It includes lots of links to various education chats. There are, according to the article, over 150 Twitter chats on education-related topics. And Edutopia has a story about how to use Twitter to"grow your PLN."  Here is another interesting story about the value of Twitter in education from NovemberLearning.

To set up a Twitter account, here's all you have to do (fyi--I copied these instruction directly from the Edutopia story.)

1) Go to and click Get Started Now. Fill in the fields. Where they ask for your Full Name, we suggest using your real name if you want to use Twitter as a professional networking resource. This way, people can recognize you.

2) Once you've completed the registration process, click Create my account. It will ask you to enter some text to ensure you're not a robot.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Great Awakening

I am starting to teach my course next week on technology integration.  One of the things we will cover is creating webquests.  For example for the Great Awakening, one could use this site which has several links and affords the teacher a bunch of questions to answer. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

QR Codes for Homework

So I am starting a little experiment with QR codes.  While I had seen them before I was introduced to them in a big way this summer when I was working on apps for teachers and students. So now my students see the code below when they log into Blackboard.  Once they download a QR reader, they scan it and then every time they open the app they just click on my title and it will take them to the newly updated app where they can see the newest homework first. So if you scan the icon below, you will see how my homework looks for one of my classes.
To generate a QR code simply enter your page (Google Drive or web) here. There are many different QR readers, but here is one for Android and iPhone

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Constitutional Convention

I feel like I am slowly starting to hit my groove now.  I have almost all of my students' names down, know something about a lot of them, am getting into the groove with our CLT meetings, the teaching is going well and finally getting lots more up on the blog.

Speaking of the blog, here is a site that has a ton of links, write-ups, pictures, etc. on the Constitutional Convention.  

Into the (Actual) Cloud

I have put up a cartoon of how the Internet works, but here is a short video of the actual cloud (re: data centers).  It discusses the costs and why it is very hard for it ever to go down.  

QR Codes for Homework

Probably today I am going to put three QR codes on a sheet of paper (people who know me will laugh at me using paper) and put it up in my room.  Each one of the codes will be tagged to a homework page for each one of my preps.  The students will have to download a QR reader once and then they will never have to write down their homework again. Then if they open the QR reader on their phone and go to the linked page they will see their new homework without having to do anything else.

One way to create the QR codes on a piece of paper is to use TagMyDoc which will put it on any document when you print it out.  I learned about the tagger at FreeTech4Teachers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dec of Independence Song

Play this to your students and I bet they will watch with rapt attention.  More to the point, have them write down the main points presented in the video and be able to tell you why it is too late to  apologize. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

History Simulations of WWI, WWII and the Cold War

I love it when history teachers come up with their own ideas and put them online (how could I not love it considering this blog's existence).  A fellow teacher, David Harms, who has almost as much teaching experience as me (at 20, he is just two shy of me!).  David has come up with some great simulations for teaching WWI, WWII and the Cold War.  As you know the more your students do, rather than hear, the better they will learn.  For that reason I would encourage you to check out David's simulations at History

Cuban Missile Crisis Website

This site has everything you would want on the Cuban Missile Crisis including lesson plans.  Thanks to fellow Hayfield teacher, Jeannine Cotner for the heads up on it. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Qwiki Search Engine

View John Adams and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.
If you follow this blog, you know I found out about Qwiki a couple of years ago.  They used to have a browser on their homepage, but after coupling with Bing, they took it down.  It though is a great tool for your student as it incorporates video, a written description and pictures for pretty much anything you will be discussing.  Since there is no longer a search engine, just type something you want to show your students in a browser and then add the word "Qwiki" and the search tool will appear.  If you want to create your own, go to the Qwiki site, create a free account and go to town.  Above is a Qwiki on Otzi the Iceman which we studied today.

Using Google Drive to Grade Assignments & Collaborate with Colleagues

Today two of the teachers in my department printed out essays that were turned in digitally and sheepishly said to me that they just could not grade them online.  About five or six years ago I was with them, but I am not one to give in easily.  I committed to a year of online grading.  My first foray was with my summer school students at George Mason University where I had a number of research papers to grade.   I still remember the first batch coming in and thinking I did not like grading them online and almost feeling as if I couldn't get ahold of their thesis digitally.  But I hung in there and of course now I find grading paper (as little as I do) inefficient as I can write so much more and more thoughtfully when I am typing.

So if you are game to have your students turn in work digitally then above is a video of how to have the kids turn it in and how you can grade.  In addition to your students you can always use it collaborate with your colleagues.  My department does all of our collaboration together and save oodles of time by doing it on Google Drive. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Website for Tons of Video and Written How To Explanations

Thanks to Craig Perrier, who is our county's head of high school social studies curriculum for this one.  Here is a magazine like format called Educational Technology and Mobile Learning which has a ton of links to how to.  How to do Google Docs, Skype, use of the iPad, Evernote, QR codes, social learning and so much more.  It also has a bit of a news feed so it is certainly not a static webpage. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flipping and rising student scores

Technapex did a survey of some 453 flipped educators in June and found that (a) teachers (88%) reported that they were happier with their jobs because of flipping and (b) students (67%) performed better on tests as a result of flipping. These are the first statistics that I've seen about how much flipping actually improves scores.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


This is one of six videos showing how far we have come in terms of globalization. Edudemic has all six on its site, including the original "Shift Happens" from 2006.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Diplomatic History at the State Department

The Office of Historian at the Department of State has an excellent website with a section called milestones which covers diplomatic events from the colonial period to the present day. Each time period, (there are 18) includes an essay with an introduction that reviews the historical context of the event. All you do is select a period from the side bar to get to get to the event. If you click on the side bar for 1750-1775, you'll find a short essay on incidents leading to the French and Indian War, the Treaty of Paris, and the Quebec Act, to name just a few. My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, sent me the link and uses it for his AP US History class.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What is the Cloud?

In two weeks I am going to start teaching my tech integration course for teachers and one of the first things I will discuss is the meaning of the cloud.  The video above explains it well, but in summary it is when your pictures, music, documents, PowerPoints, etc. are stored on a server somewhere in the world and you are therefore able to access it from any device and from anywhere in the world.  It also means that the devices can get cheaper (check out Amazon's $199 tablet), thinner and more accessible to more people around the world.  It also means your classroom will change as well.  Is it easy? NO.  I struggle to get my students, esp. the freshmen used to e-books, Google Drive, Blackboard, etc.  But once they learn it, they don't want to go back to the old ways.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Constitution Day

I love that I work with a lot of people who are connected to online sites and technology use in the classroom.   Tim Busch, who is a few doors down from me, is one of those who sent me the above picture and link for facts about the Constitution that you can use on September 17th.  This Constitution Daily site also gives you a lot more information including daily e-mail updates. 

VA Company Song

Thanks to my colleague Janet Babic for this fun video on the Virginia Company. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cliff Notes US History

Whenever I teach something I always do a Google search to see what is out there.  This means I am continually adding and subtracting to what I have done in the past.  So in searching for items on colonial America, I found that Cliff Notes actually has a cliff notes version of American history, part I and part II.  Here is what I found on colonial US history.   This is why it is becoming more and more necessary for US teachers to come up with more than just definitions for student homework since there are so many resources.  Of course, one could always use something like Study Blue for orignal notecards, if you want to go that way for review. 

Antietam (Sharpsburg) Article and Pics

The WashPost is continuing its series on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  Here is a lengthy article on Antietam (Sharpsburg) including a number of pictures.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WeVideo Couples with Google Drive

Wow, this is great news.  Google Drive keeps adding small companies that it is partnering with on Google Drive.  Wevideo is essentially a MovieMaker for Google Docs.  In other words you can collaborate with other people in other locations to make a video.  Above is a video that explains how easy it is to integrate it into your Google Drive.  Here is a great video on how to use WeVideo. I found about the new partnership from FreeTech4Teachers

Monday, September 3, 2012

Explain and Send (Chrome Extension)

Explain and Send is a really cool extension to your Chrome browser that allows you  \to snag any part of a web page, annotate it, and send it to someone. It's like the application "snag it" but you have to pay for "snag it," and Explain and Send is free and I think a lot easier to use.  Once you capture the image or part of the web page you want, you are prompted to save it as an image, to copy it to your clipboard, or to share the link.  I found this on Richard Byrne's blog, Free Technology for Teachers.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Virtual Jamestown

Here is a great virtual Jamestown.  If you move the circle and hit each pop-up your students can find out lots of information about the fort and the area.