Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Civil War Prezi & How to Make Them

Since I know most people are getting ready to teach the Civil War I thought I would put up this great Prezi created by Sarah Olson who took my technology integration course (I will put up information about it next week).  Prezis are a great alternative to using PowerPoints.  Here is how to make one.  You can also copy Sarah's and then make changes on it to make it your own. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Add Questions to You Tube Videos

You can add questions to any You Tube video if you sign up for the Beta test Google just started.  You can sign up by clicking here.

You can add questions (only multiple choice for now) anywhere in the video. You just scan through the video to the point where you want to add the question. When you play the video back, it pauses at the question, and will not move ahead until the question is answered correctly.

Here are more explicit instructions that I found on another blog.

Here's a short how to clip from another teacher. 

The Value Added of a Great Teacher

So perhaps this is a little off the normal target of this blog, but your hard work does pay off for your students.  Right now I am reading Unchartered which uses Google books to look at how language has changed over time (or at least at the point where I am reading).  But in the introduction Raj Chetty is referred to for his landmark study on the value added of a great teacher. Chetty earned the incredibly prestigious John Bates Clark award which often comes before a Noble Prize - and he is only 34!  At any rate the paper concludes that when a high value added (VA) teacher joins a school, test scores rise immediately in the grade taught by that teacher; when a high VA teacher leaves, test scores fall. Test scores change only in the subject taught by that teacher, and the size of the change in scores matches what we predict based on the teacher’s VA .. and students assigned to such high value-added teachers are more likely to go to college, earn higher incomes, and less likely to be teenage mothers. On average, having such a teacher for one year raises a child's cumulative lifetime income by $80,000.   Best of all the study is a quantitative one so it is not based on time based case studies so you can draw the inference that by reflecting and continuing to improving your craft you are really making a difference in the life of your students. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Catching Cheating Using Technology

I like to think that when I teach I am embarking on an adventure with my students, but kids are kids and there are lots of pressures they feel from trying to impress their friends, pleasing their parents and, in some cases, not even being aware of cheating (plagiarism) - or rather never have been called on it.  There are lots of ways kids can cheat, but with technology it has also become easier to catch.

  1. Copying from the Internet remains the most prevalent cheating and the easiest to catch.  As I tell my students, most of them are paid to write and so as nicely as some of them can write, any time I suspect copying from the Internet (PowerPoints seem to be the place most likely to do this), I just paste in a line into Google and up it pops.  Usually if there is more than a line, I don't accept the assignment.
  2. Copying from friends is harder to catch, but using Google Drive there are several ways to catch offenders:
    • For each set of assignments, create a folder and drag in each assignment.  At the same time, right click on your "shared with me" stream and "remove."  The assignments will still remain in your folder.  
    • If you think you've seen a line in an assignment more than once then go to the search engine for the assignment folder (see above) any type in the "offending language."  As with searching the Internet any copied language will appear and instantly you can see where it originated.  If you partner with other students, have them create a similar folder and you can exchange lines.
  3. Use "revision history" by going to "file" and then "revision history."  
    • This will allow you to see how much your students have been working on a project which will appear on the right side under "revision history."  If there is only one entry either your students wrote it in Microsoft Word (and there you will have to decide if you want to "ban" using this or they copied it.  Either way it is a huge flag to tell that you need to copy a strand of the language into the search engine and see what you get.  
    • You can also see what time the kids were at work.
  4. If you are like me catching students is no fun and detracts from the team aspect of learning that we try to build in our classrooms.  On the other hand, make a point of nicely telling your kids how many kids have been caught.  Usually catching a few early in the year detracts from cheating the rest of the year and leads to better learning the rest of it.  Of course how you deal with cheaters is up to you and your school.  Here's to hoping these tricks detract from cheating. When my book comes out in the late spring I'll have more on these techniques, but more on that later. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin


The cotton gin changed the 19th century US.  Above is a short video explaining it and here is a cartoon graphic showing how it worked.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Lost Letter and WWII History

One of the failings of most US history textbooks is that they are dry and devoid of personal stories which is why I use lots of primary documents in teaching US history.  That is why I like the video above.

It is about a letter that took seventy years to be received.  The sender wrote the letter to his wife before he shipped out to Okinawa where all of his battalion was killed.  Play the video for the very interesting video and the impact of WWII (or any war) on its participants.

I found the video on Open Culture

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cloud Based Video Maker


A few days ago a teacher in my department asked me how to make a video.  I spent 3 minutes with him on WeVideo and came back and in five minutes he had figured it out and created his short video.  It is that intuitive.  WeVideo can be done alone on the Internet or it can be added to your Google Drive account (Create (in the upper left side of a page)...Connect More Apps...WeVideo and then synch it with your account).  WeVideo is essentially a MovieMaker that is cloud based and therefore can be worked on simultaneously by a bunch of different people in different locations.  Think about how many times you have run out of time working on a video and wished the kids could finish at home.  Well now you can! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Flipped School Clintondale's Website

The PBS video on Clintondale in the post below is excellent especially since it addresses what to do with students who are more disadvantaged.  Both George and I have to deal with that in our schools.  One of the things I do is have more fluid due dates.  In fact my flipped students only have late assignments after the test is over.  I also have lots of kids come to my class during our "flex" periods, as well as at lunch and after school.  If you want to see Clintondale's videos go here. You can look a few posts below to see how to make your own videos.  If you want more I have a book coming out in the late spring with Corwin that spends some time on flipping the classroom - and a lot more, but more on that in coming months. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What a Flipped Classroom Looks LIke

Here's an excellent clip from PBS NewsHour that shows what a flipped classroom looks like.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Flipping the Class Presentation

I helped organize a technology 1/2 day at our school today.  I am doing a presentation on Flipping the Classroom.  Here is what we are going over today:

  1. What will be taught:  We will learn how to record lectures for students to watch at home, how students can be accountable for that information and how to flip one’s classroom to do the “problem sets” in the classroom.
  2. Tutorial steps that will be finished in the class (each underlined item is linked to a tutorial)
    1. will learn  how to use Screencastomatic to learn how to record a ten minute lecture
    2. will discuss what can be done in the classroom
    3. will learn how class activities can be put on a Google Drive document and linked into Blackboard
    4. learn how to split the laptop screen so students can see the video and their notes or you could use VideoNot.es (tutorial)
    5. If you accumulate lots of videos, here is how you create a youTube Playlist 

Monday, December 9, 2013

John Green & the 1960s


Here is John Green's latest flip video that he put up last week on the US in the 1960s.  Here is all forty-two clips he has for US history

Scott v. Sanford


Hip Hughes is at it again.  You have to love a teacher who enjoys his craft so much that he keeps cranking out new flips every few days.  Here is the complete archive. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gadsden Purchase & Jimmy Fallon


One of our new teachers, Doug Zywiol, asked me if I had heard of the video above.  Of course I had, but it made me think I hadn't put it up in a while.  It is a bit from Jimmy Fallon that covers the the Gadsden Purchase perfectly and is a lot of fun for your kids. 

Google Drive Templates

My son is working on an assignment on Jamestown (4th grade history in VA is VA history) and is writing a newspaper account about 1619.   So we found this link to Google Drive documents' templates.  But it also has links to Presentations (PowerPoints), excel spreadsheets, forms and drawings (see below).

To use the templates, simply open up Google Drive and then go to the page.  Click on "use this template" (see below) and it will appear in your Google Drive under "Recent" which is on the left side of your page.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Make Your Students Real Historians

One of the benefits to living near DC is the access to so many places to highlight what we are learning.  Last year, for example, my students got to meet the US Secretary of Education and two days ago we had Robert Costello of the Smithsonian Institute come to my History Honors' Society meeting as we want our kids to actually do some historical writing.  The Smithsonian Institute has literally millions of items they have digitized - so many in fact that they do not even know what everything is yet.  But one thing they have done is make public their numerous journals, letters, etc.  But they need amateur historians to transcribe them which take a little work and sleuthing (nothing new for teachers since we are so used to different handwriting).  But if you go to their Beta site, your students can literally try their hand at reading historical documents and writing out the text which will help other historians who are doing research and make a database which will allow more analysis.  What is great is that you can create an account if you want on the site or if you do not want to you can just let your students do it anonymously.   Robert cautioned our students to not change the spelling as many of the items were written before spelling had been standardized and to remind the students that they may read something with different viewpoints and sensitivities that theirs.  But WOW what a great chance to actually let your students actively be historians.  If you want to help go to the Smithsonian Institute's Transcription Center.   Here are the projects that need transcribing. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Virtual Tours of Antietam

Here and here are virtual tours of the Battle of Antietam.  The former includes both images, battlefield as well as troop movements. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Scripts for Google Drive


Unlike apps that are added to something like Google Drive, scripts just help Google Drive further an application it already has.  For example, WeVideo is an app that one can use to collaboratively make videos in Google Drive.  But we have already discussed a script such as Doctopus that allows you to put your students' assignments in folders.  Well, here are eight other scripts that you might want to use in your classroom along with Google Drive.

The video above is one example of the scripts on the link which is called Flubaroo which makes grading exams easier in Google Drive forms.

I found the scripts on Synergyse.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Virtual Tour of Gettysburg


Dickinson College professor Matthew Pinsker has four virtual tours of Gettysburg that are all under five minutes.  While they do not off the insights of the Ken Burns' series they are pretty good and show both images as well as what the battlefield actually looks like.  Pinsker also narrates the entire four videos.  Above is one of his videos. 

Jamestown Settlement Images

I am working with my son on a project and we just found a great site with lots of pictures of the Jamestown settlement.  It is broken into categories such as the church, glassblower, stable, homes, etc. 

Inkling and Searching Online Textbooks

Inkling has partnered with Google to let readers search all of their online textbooks.  So for example if you write "Inkling + US Civil War" into a Google search engine you will find an entire chapter on the US Civil War.  Here is the next chapter on the Reconstruction.  Thus you could reconstruct an entire US history book (not that you can't find others by looking at my links). 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Another Civil War Site

If you are looking to have your students go on a webquest for the Civil War, this is a good site to use as it has all the battles, leaders, causes and even food and music. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

US History Interactive Site

Mr Nusbaum has created a very nice site for US history teachers.  He is an elementary teacher, but don't be mislead by that as there is plenty for you to use especially if you have ESOL or special education teams.  It has pictures, interactive maps, summaries, etc.  Here for example is a great site on the cause and effects of the Civil War. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

QR Generator for Google Drive

You can use a QR code generator for any of your Google Drive documents to use in your classroom, but if you want to keep a list of them, then you need to go to the Google site that will shrink your link and give you a QR code which it will keep for you as long as you want. 

Kennedy's Last Days: Presidential Library & Musuem

Here are four clips about the last days of President Kennedy from the Kennedy Presidential library.

They include“Special Release: President Assassinated” by Universal Newsreel; “The World Mourns: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963” by Universal Newsreel; “The Last Two Days” covering President Kennedy’s trip to Texas; and the funeral services of President John F. Kennedy.

My thanks to my colleague Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Everything You Wanted to Know About Thanksgiving


For those of you who are planning out next week the video above is what I play for my students the last day I see them before Thanksgiving.  It talks about the first real Thanksgiving, how it because a holiday and how it landed on its current day.  It is a "feast" of facts in 150 seconds!  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving next week. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Gettysburg Address


Thanks to my colleague Doug Zywiol for this rendition of the Gettysburg Address.  Forty years ago I learned it as part of my 4th grade US history class and proudly this year my almost ten year old son recited it on his school television news this morning. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

More on JFK & Primary Resources


The picture you see above was taken the moment JFK was first shot and includes the "grassy knoll" that has been the fodder of conspiracy theorists for so many years.  This three minute clip is good for many reasons 1) it shows how close people used to be able to get to a president 2) why the picture was every taken 3) how primary documents (a picture in this case and an interview) can color our history 4) a very interesting interview on the 50th anniversary of JFK's death.   I follow PBS on Google+ which is where I found the video.  Also, here is another interesting (for a history geek, perhaps not for your students) NYTimes story on where Jackie's pink dress now is being stored. 

75 Google Play Apps for Your Class


A few years ago I met Jaime Casap whose job it is to promote Google's Chromebooks.   I found this PowerPoint from his Google+ account.  I will be mining it over the next few months, but wanted to share it right away as it has too many amazing apps for those of you who like to jump into these things right away.   All of the apps can be used on Chromebooks and with Google Driveand are found in Google Play. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lincoln at Gettysburg in Three Minutes


This is a nice summary of the setting and the speech itself of Lincoln at Gettysburg by PBS.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Using Rubrics in Google Drive


So have you ever wanted to use a rubric with student work in Google Drive?  Sure you have.  You can create a rubric and then link it into Google Drive and have it connect to a Google Drive spreadsheet so that you can have the grades recorded and the students can see their rubric.  Above is the how to tutorial.  You can find more easy scripting on youpd

Doctopus to Manage Student Work Flow in Google Drive

One of the problem with Google Drive is that while you may want to keep all of your students' work, it becomes almost unmanageable in the shared column.  BUT Doctopus is a script that will allow you to create folders to put your students' work inside AND you will not have anything to show in your shared list.  Think about it.  You can then keep all assignments all year and check on cheating between different teachers (copy the curious language and then send a snippet to your fellow teachers and you can have them use their Google Drive search box to see if kids have copied between classes.

To use Doctopus, open up a Google Drive speadsheet and to to "Tools" and then "Script gallery"
and then use the search box to type "Doctopus' ." (steps are here). 

Next watch the video below to see how to use it. 


If you like this, there are many other items found here

Kennedy on the Morning of His Last Day

This is amazing color video of JFK on the morning of his last day from the new National Geographic special.  Here is video of the actual assassination.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Andrew Jackson Crash Course


I just noticed this on the Crash Course site.  If you want a short summary of Jacksoninan America, you could use John Green's Crash Course.  He has forty-six videos for US history on the site that you can use in your course.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

101 Objects that Made America

The Smithsonian Museum has a new exhibit, 101 Objects that Made America. As the  website says, the exhibit pulled resources from all its museums and objects "range millennia from prehistoric dinosaurs to the very first super computer."

You can see some of the objects here at Open Culture which give you a good overview of the exhibit.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Kennedy - Oswald - National Geographic

The National Geographic Society has a new movie coming out called "Killing Kennedy."  For your classes you might want to see the quite well done interactive web page showing Lee Harvey Oswald and John F. Kennedy's lives side by side.  It includes many pictures, maps, oral histories and even music.  It would make for quite a web quest on a unit. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Voice Comments in Google Drive documents


First off a clarification.  Google documents are one item in the Google Drive suite that includes things like Google forms and Google presentations, but now allow a lot of apps.  A new app is Kaizena allows you to add links (which you can already do), but also voice comments to a document so you don't even have to write anything anymore.  Above is the tutorial which I found from a Tweet from .

The Washington Post's Civil War Pages

The Washington Post has been running a series of articles on the Civil War complete with pictures and incredibly interesting articles.

The Post also has an interactive map where you can see the number of causalities over time or at any one point in history (see picture above).

Finally the Post has a blog that updates every few days on the Civil War. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Ninth Amendment Explained


Perhaps the hardest amendment to understand by just looking at the word's is the ninth amendment.  Essentially it says that not all rights could possibly be put in the US Constitution so not writing everything down doesn't mean we can deny the right.  "Hip" Hughes does a very good job of explaining it here and tying it into our modern world.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Daylight Savings Explanation

In a few hours most Americans will set their clocks back thanks to a 1918 law which suggests, but does not require the change.  In fact not all states, nor countries are on daylight savings time.  It is a concept that harkens back to Ben Franklin, but did not come into use here for nearly two hundred years to give us more time and conserve energy.  This is a fascinating article from National Geographic which gives you more details.

Above is a very good video explaining the phenomena which it does in the first two minutes before going into more discussion which you may or may not want to use in the classroom - although it will promote great discussion. 

Hermitage & Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson always returned to his Tennessee home, the Hermitage, no matter how far he roamed.  The Hermitage site has a lot to offer from an interactive view of the grounds to an extensive write-up of Jackson's life.  The bio would be great as part of a webquest as it has lots of sub titles so items (esp. if you have ESOL kids) are easy to find.  

POTUS Website

POTUS.com has a lot of very quick information for those times when you are asking your students to give brief bios.  Among the items are the election results, cabinet members, a bio, notable events, historical documents and more.  Here for example, is the one for Andrew Jackson. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Educators' Guide to Twitter

Here is the best clip I have seen on how to use twitter in education.  You can find out more about Twitter and education here. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Follow Me on Twitter and Google Plus

As always thanks for coming to this site to find information and ideas for your classroom (and if you have good ones, please e-mail me).  But if you also want to have my posts go to your Twitter or Google+ feeds then you can follow me on Twitter or Google plus by clicking on the links

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flipped Learning and Differentiation


Believe it or not the NYTimes has an opinion piece advocating the Flipped Classroom.  But it is the quasi flipped classroom which I use a lot as well which means that while my kids do a lot fo flipping at home some of it is done right in class (I recently bought ten ear phones for $5 each for the kids without ear buds.   As you can see in the video above what flipping allows (in class or at home) is for the teacher to individually work with ALL the students by moving around the room constantly and to allow for individualized student pacing which is nicely incapsulated in the video above.

The creator of the video above, Tom Driscoll, has a number of great videos on his Youtube account which are broken into flipped learning, tech tutorials and World History flips.   You can also follow him on Twitter. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Alexander Hamilton Rap at the White House


Thanks to Emily Gregory for this great rap/song Lin-Manuel Miranda done at the White House in 2009.  It is a rap about Alexander Hamilton.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chromebook Tutorials

Fakebook Tutorial


I have been using Russell Tarr's Fakebook for several years with my students.  It allows the kids to create a Facebook like page where they can have friends, put up posts and make comments.  It is not real in that the students are not sharing with others, but rather creating their own world.  They also are given their own unique url and allowed to set a password of their own.  BUT they do not have to sign up, or give a e-mail or anything else that will identify themselves.  It is a great way to have students create a conversation between historical figures or even current politicians to show that they have learned the material successfully and can apply it.

Since Russell has not yet created a new tutorial to match his newly improved Fakebook site, I have my own above. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

John Green's Civil War

If you follow this blog you know I have a number of posts on John Green's US history videos.  But I just found these from a tweet by Kevin Levin.   Green has the Civil War in two videos totaling twenty minutes.   Green now has thirty five videos in his US history collection and is up to the New Deal. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Video Notes for the Flipped Classroom


One of the apps you can add to Google Drive is VideoNote.es.  As you can see on the image above it allows you to watch a Youtube video on the left while taking notes on the right.  The e-sheet allows you to tap right beside where you are writing and it will take you to the same place on the video.  When you are done it shows up in your Google Drive suite.   One drawback is that it does not allow for bullets or numbers, but can you can copy the notes and put them into a regular document. 

Creating a New Nation


Emily Gregory took my teacher integration course two years ago and we were lucky enough to have her join our social studies department this fall.  She create the great Prezi above on the post American Revolution US with coverage of the Articles of Confederation and the current US Constitution.  You can click on it to use it in your class or make a copy and modify it to make it your own if you sign up for Prezi.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who Drew the Boston Massacre?

I like to point out to my students that history is not really as neat as it appears in history textbooks.  For example I am reading Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Ben's sister).  Halfway into the book it mentions Henry Pelham, stepbrother of John Singleton Copley, who painted the scene of the Boston Massacre BEFORE Paul Revere painted his (below).  The difference is that Revere was a much better businessman and put an ad in a Boston paper and sold lots of copies of his version which was a close copy of Pelham's.  So we remember the copier and not the originator.  For that matter, as many of  you know, three riders rode on the night of Paul Revere (Prescott and Dawes) and only Revere was unable to elude capture by the regulars (which is the word they yelled when they said "the British regulars were coming"). Here is the entire story. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

50 Core Documents That Tell America's Story

TeachingAmericanHistory.org. has put up a list of 50 core documents that they say "provides an essential starting point for students, teachers, and citizens to think more deeply about what it means to be an American." 

Thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, for sending me the link.

Positive Engagement for Challenging Students

I just learned about PBIS World at an in-service at our school.  Name the problem behavior; disorganized, hyperactive, anxious, not turning in work and on and on.  This is a great site that has lots of ways to deal with all kinds of challenging behavior.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Presidential Timeline from the National Archives

Jeff Feinstein at West Potomac sent me this link from the National Archives on presidential history.  Click on a president and you will get a timeline of important events like this.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Election of 1800 in Their Own Words


Think our current presidential elections are bad, look at attacks made in 1800. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

American Revolution Rap


This is a nice student rap found by my teaching colleague, Emily Gregory, on the American Revolution.  Sometimes students are more motivated by more than just worksheets.  This one has a ton of facts which you can control given your rubric. 

Civil War Animated Timelines

This series of animated timelines is fantastic.  It has both audio as well as pictures and even reenactments for each of the major parts of the US Civil War.  At the bottom it has a timeline so you can see the date and the title of the animation.  It is put out by the Civil War Trust.  I found it on FreeTech4Techers

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists


This is a fascinating 4 minute overview of the Federalist and Anti-Federalists.  In a sense they are examples of early interest groups.  The Federalists were better known as nationalists or centralists and the Anti-Federalists were really the federalists.  But the Nationalists thought they would be better liked if they were the "Federalists" and their opponents were just "anti-."  Furthermore it is interesting to note that the Federalist were much better organized since, by definition, the Anti-Federalists just plain didn't want to work with one another 

Virtual Tour of Mt. Vernon

I teach at a school called Hayfield, so called because even though we are ten miles from Mt. Vernon, we were once one of George Washington's hayfields.  So in living so close, I have been to Mt. Vernon a number of times, but for those of you who live a long way from here, there is a virtual tour you can take of Washington's home. 

How to Make a Flipped Classroom

Today I am doing a short in-service for my school and since I only have ten minutes I am putting these items up there for our teachers to use later or for you to do use to make your own flipped classroom.

First off below is a PowerPoint with the main points of how and why to do flipped classrooms as well as additional resources.

Next is a video which shows you how to use Screencastomatic which is a free online resource which you can use to make screencasts.  If you go to my Youtube page you can see lots of my flipped videos.

Now once you have made the screencast you will want to share it with your students.  To do this you can create a Google form and add it right in the top.  The form will allow you to have students ask questions which you can start the next class by answering.  Then you can go to the interactive you want to use in class.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Making Maps in Google Drawings


If you want to have your student make their US history maps this year in Google Drive, above is a short video I made with the help of one my students!  If your students are 100% digital, this is a nice way to keep maps in their folders - but it won't work on iPads. 

Chromebooks for Your Classroom?


While I have been unsuccessful in convincing my school district (mostly since Pearson cannot yet run their end of the year state exams in the cloud - amazing for a company as big as they are) to let me buy Chromebooks, for our students, 22% of US school districts are now using them.  I am practicing what I preach as my wife and I have bought two of them for our kids and they love them for their school work and everything else they do (except for games that require Java downloads).  The best ones are only $250 which kills the price of the iPad and other laptops and the go from completely off to fully functional in 10 seconds.  Since they are cloud based they also keep updating themselves.

If you or your school district is thinking of purchasing them, the slideshow above is very balanced on the pros and cons (pro = cheap to purchase if your students use the cloud and your school district approves the use of Chrome apps; con = no Java and no Microsoft Word).

Here and here are two great pages on using Chromebooks and the slideshow above is a perfect place to start with lots of apps. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

GIldner Lehrman

Our school is a member of Gilder Lehrman which gives us free access to their items.  They have a collection at the New York Historical Society contains over 65,000 primary source documents (and is digitized).  In addition Gildner can provide dozens of lesson plans, podcasts, traveling exhibits and 40 summer seminars for teachers. member of Gilder Lehrman which gives us free access to their items.  They have a collection at the New York Historical Society contains over 65,000 primary source documents (and is digitized). 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Take a Screenshot

I use screenshots all the time for how to items and because I believe students should have several illustrations to make them look more appealing.  Here is how you can take a screenshot on all devices. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

American Ethnicity Map in 2000

Here's what America's ethnic heritage looked like in 2000. Check it out on the Mail Online.
Here are highlights, which I just copied directly from the Mail Online.

  • Census data shows heritage of 317 million modern Americans 
  • Clusters show where immigrants from different nations chose to settle 
  • Largest ancestry grouping in the nation are of German descent with almost 50 million people 
  • African American or Black is the second largest grouping with just over 40 million people
  • Almost 20 million people claim to have 'American' ancestry for political reasons and because they are unsure of their family's genealogy Read more: 



American Revolution Site

This is a great site for the American Revolution.  It has nice information on the battles, people, events, timeline, commanders, videos, etc.  It would be great for a webquest. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Using QR Codes to Differentiate Instruction

Edutopia has a great story on how to use QR codes to differentiate instruction.  You can use QR codes to send students to the same website and create differentiated activities or you can create different codes for different groups. The article explains exactly how.  My thanks to Sharon Dickens who sent the link.

Confederate Slave Soldiers

If I wrote a textbook it would include lots of personal accounts to add to the more dry texts. Thankfully the Internet helps provides this additions.   Here is an account of slave Silas Chandler who fought with the Confederates during the Civil War.  It comes from a memoir of his owner with whom he fought alongside.  We all teach about the 54th Regiment, but here is someone who undoubtedly fought against his owner and wasn't freed by the Emancipation Proclamation (a good way to show your students that it initially freed no one).  Even if it is just for you, it is a very interesting read about a very sorry period of our history. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Digital Study Buddies to Improve Retention

Too many kids do not study for tests and still more think studying is just filling out a study guide. Sure you could argue that our students have become desensitized to them due to the incredible number they take, but I try to get them to get into groups using technology - knowing that not all my students (esp. my 9th graders) can get together with one another.  What I tell them is that studying in a group is going to force the kids to prepare (rather than risk embarrassing themselves in front of peers and then help them work on weaknesses.  Here are the sites I give my students.
  • Free Conference Call - Barack Obama made this famous in 2008.  If could use it on a winning presidential campaign your students can use it to call as many friends as they want which is especially helpful if one or more do not have laptops.  

  • Google Plus Hangouts will allow up to ten students to talk, see each other and share Google Drive documents.  Below is a easy to follow video.


  • Oovoo lets you video conference with up to 11 friends.  Here is a hot to tutorial. 
  • Quizlet and Study Blue allow kids to find already done study cards for tests.  I like Quizlet better as the kids do not even have to join to be able to search.  Both allow you to even put pictures as part of the study cards. 

Bitly Tutorial for Shortening Weblinks

I did a post a month ago on Bit.ly which allows you to shorten a url (much as Tinyurl and goo.ly allow you to do).  The advantage of this shortener is that you can tailor (as you can with Tinyurl) your link to something your students can remember (such as Bit.ly/Halla).  But with Bit.ly you can also save it to a folder in your account so that you can have it as long as you want and you can even see how many times it has been clicked on.

So I have Bitlys saved for my homework pages for my students and did another one for my Back to School night flip.  There is no limit so have at it. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Teaching with the e-book American Vision


The best part about being a department chair is helping to hire great teachers.  Six years ago my assistant principal and I hired a super brand new teacher - on her birthday, nonetheless! That teacher, Janet Babic, has already taught four preps in three subjects and been amazingly innovative including one of my favorites of teaching the 60s to the present through popular television shows.  Needless to say she is also a tech wizard and has become our county's (12th largest in the US) American Vision e-book expert.  Tomorrow she is teaching an in-service to other US history teachers.  If you use the book, you might want to use Janet's resources.
  • Before teaching with an e-book, you'll want to teach your students how to split their computer screen so they can see the online resources and do your work. 
  • If you have never had your students use an e-book, you will first want to start with the scavenger hunt
  • Here is her Learn model teaching on how to not only incorporate the e-book, but also many of its ancillaries 
  • Here are all the videos that go with the e-book (look at the drop down menu in the upper right).
  • Above is a how to video Janet made to better know how to use the many extras on the e-book.   
  • For the people in Janet's in-service go here to put your lesson plans (and everyone else will be able to see them Wednesday evening. 
  • Finally here is a folder of Janet's with several other goodies. 

Too Late to Apologize

My daughters' teacher showed this to her class last year and I loved it right away.  It covers many of the major things you will want to cover in teaching the Declaration of Independence and it's catchy. 

House of Burgesses from Hip Hughes

Here is a new flipped video (5:28) on the House of Burgesses by Hip Hughes and includes a bit on Roanoke.  Here are all of his many US history videos. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reminder Texts for Your Students


Three years ago I started telling teachers in my tech integration course about Remind101 so it was kind of cool tonight when I found out a third high school has now shown their entire school the site based on word of mouth that has been passed around by my former teacher students.  Even more interesting is that they have now secured "Series A" funding for $3.5 million to expand their operation.

While there are certainly other competitors Remind101 remains the simplest one to use to one way text your students reminders for their homework.  But don't limit it to that.  Students can use it to Remind their members about meetings, schools can use it to tell parents about upcoming events, etc.  You can also set the day and time.  If you use it not all students will sign up right away, but if you mention it a few times, it will grow.  Last year I had more signed up then I have students because so many parents wanted the reminders as well.

The video above will show you the easy to set up instructions.   

Politico's Throwback Thursday


James Hohmann of Politico has a weekly web-video where he makes connections between current events history.  They are short, but informative and are great for a U.S. History class or an AP Gov class.  Thus far he has done videos on Presidential Oval Office addresses, choosing a Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and today on Farewell Addresses.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Last Minute Edits to Gettysburg Address

Here is an interesting article on the last minute edits done on the Gettysburg Address. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Putting the US in Perspective

Thanks to my former colleague Matt Mough for this great resource. It has lots of different countries laid over the US so you can see how they compare to the rest of the world. 

Back to School Night Flipping

Stealing from Frank's idea to flip by Back To School Night, above you will find the video I am sending my parents.  I am also sending them a Google form so they can think of questions both at home and when they meet me.

To make the film I used Screencastomatic which I have featured a bunch of times on this blog

Library of Congress Launches Twitter Feed

The Library of Congress is sharing ideas on Twitter.  You can follow the library by typing in the Twitter search box, @TeachingLC. 

According to the Library, their twitter feed will be a "great venue for educators to learn from each other and to explore the primary sources and teaching resources offered by the Library of Congress.” 

My thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, for sending me the link.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tweeting Your Class Warmup

As our students leave Facebook, more and more are using Twitter, among other social media. One of our new hires, Doug Zywiol, is using Twitter as a warm-up for his students.   Most of our students have phones that can text, but for those who do not, Doug is pairing those kids up into groups.  Doug asks his students a question to begin each class (he teaches US and government) and then the kids answer using his @DougZywiol in their text (as opposed to using a hashtag which would do the same thing).  What is great is that his students have to think (key word) and then write succinctly to answer his students, but it also serves as a way to quickly see what others are thinking.  I should add that Doug has always been a tech integrating teacher, but until this year was a "phone phobic," but very quickly has grown to love it.   If you want to see what he is doing, look at the link. I might add that some of his students from when he was in North Carolina are also participating!   

Adding a Video into Google Forms


Yesterday Google added the ability to insert a video into Google forms.  All you need to do is to go to the "insert" tab and then go down to "video" and then find it on Youtube.  Alternatively you could watch this one minute video to do it.  It is a great way to give your students a flipped video and then give them multiple choice or short answer questions.

By the way it does not yet work in Google Apps.  I should add that Google Apps are always behind the free Google Drive due to the fact that Google Apps just gets things later and school systems in general have to decide whether or not to turn something on for its students/staff and there are a lot of considerations in that prospect which is why I put my materials in my personal one and correct all my students' work in Google Apps.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Jamestown and Tobacco

This is a nice short (7 minutes) on Jamestown detailing the voyage, the hope for gold and the tobacco they found.  Here are some other Jamestown items I have found over the years. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Live Twitter Chats

Cybraryman has an incredible site that has a ton of hashtags and their times if you want to follow different subjects.  These are "live" hashtags where one goes at the time they are live and discusses topics with teachers from around the world.  As with any Twitter hashtag, discussions are limited to 140 characters, but you can add urls (shrunk - look at my recent post on this).