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).