Thursday, January 31, 2013

Digital Learning Day

Next Wednesday is Digital Learning Day.  Fourteen of my students and I have been invited by the Alliance for Excellent Education to take part in a panel discussion at the Newseum between 1-2:30 pm.  The panel is being proctored by our ABC affiliate's nightly news anchor and will include such notables as the White House Director of Internet Technology and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  ABC will be filming one of my government classes on Monday so if you are interested in doing something related to technology for the day, here is my assignment for which the students are looking at a number of different items I have detailed.  Above is a flipped class video the kids are watching tonight and then commenting on a Google Form about.  Ultimately the kids are making their own flipped class videos and using a blog page to share them w. each other. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Google Forms How To

Here is a new Google Forms how to.  I use it all the time to do the business of our department.  Tomorrow I am starting my fourth class of teachers who want to integrate technology in the classroom and Google Forms is the way I quickly collected their gmail addresses (which can then be put in the share portion of my folder for them thereby instantly sharing my items with them). 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thinglink: Linking Pictures to video and Articles

David Korfhage tweeted this link to Thinglink. Thinglink allows you to upload pictures and link them to videos and articles. And it does so in a cool way. I watched the video and think the concept is great and has possibilities for class activities, maybe a web quest or something like that. Check it out see what possibilities you can find. Here's a picture of Marx and Engle's that I uploaded to Thinglink and edited. You can hover over the picture and see links and video.

Make Google Chrome More Stable: Turn on Click to Play

Amit Agarwal who writes the blog Digital Inspiration offers a great tip on how to make Google Chrome more stable. Flash Player often crashes and the video you are watching goes blank. Argawal shows you how to make changes in Google Chrome's settings to get Flash Player to play only on demand. That way, Flash Player is not on all the time thus making Chrome more stable. You can follow the steps at his site here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An RSS Feed Reader for Google Chrome

In his technology blog, Digital Inspiration, Amit Agarwal, describes a great Chrome add-on called "Feeder". It is, as Agarwal explains, " like a mini Google Reader embedded in Chrome – it tracks RSS Feeds and offers instant notifications whenever new content is available."

It's very cool. I installed it this afternoon. Every time you land on a site, Feeder detects the feeds and you can subscribe to them by clicking on the icon in your browser. I like the way Feeder displays your feeds by showing you a list of the most recent entries. And every time Feeder detects a new entry, a little pop up notifies you. You can even add your email to Feeder and it will notify you .  Very cool!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Read, Dictionary, Pictionary and More GDrive Extension

In three weeks I am presenting to a special education classroom and have started doing some research of education technology I want to show them in my 90 minutes (which I will post here on that day).  For now I found this great extension (watch the video above) which lets Google Drive have the words be read to them (which you can do in Microsoft Word), look up words in a regular or pictionary or go straight to a search for the word. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Win a Free Novel

I don't read fiction, but the publisher of the not yet published book The Afrika Reich has offered select readers of my blogs this book it they want it.  The book will be published in the US in February, but if you give me a site that I choose to profile for the blog, I will get the publisher to send you a book (or tell you how to read it online).  Watch the video to see what it is about, but it is essentially an alternative story to WWII of whose timeline, you can see here

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Professional Learning Communities

I just taught my department about professional learning communities (PLN) last week and would have loved to have had this webpage from InformEd.  PLNs are ways that people find new information beyond their school walls.

It begins with explaining what groups you might want to join and then the protocol you would use when you join.  It also has links to a number of groups you can join.  I actually use Twitter and Google+ which are not on the group, but the author has several others to choose.  I also use Netvibes which allows me to look at updates from webpages to which I just added the InformEd page.

Next it discusses sites you can use to keep your websites.  The one I use is Diigo.  Essentially the sites that are listed are ways to bookmark your webpages in the cloud.  As with the previous section, it has lots of links.

Monday, January 21, 2013

History Channel on MLK, Jr

Here is a good, short description of MLK, Jr.  If you go to this page for the History Channel. you will see a number of people speaking about him. 

Calling Cards

One of the items that has long fascinated me as a history teacher is how great people got started and what motivated them.  Watching Obama today it is not forgotten that he lost a House race by 31 percentage points two years before he became a US Senator.  Even in that latter campaign, Obama held a fundraiser to which no one came.  How many would take that as a sign to give up?

With that in mind one of the tools I have used a great deal are primary documents.  Here are some interesting ones of now famous Americans, many of them before they became such.  Perhaps an interesting exercise would be to have students create ones for people as they were up and coming. What would be on those business cards - having seen these.  I found these from a G+ post from Guy Kawasaki.

Sign Documents wout Hassel

For years I have kept a digital copy of my signature to add to recommendations and items sent to me to sign.  Well now there is an easier way from HelloSign that you can use along with your Gmail account.  Watch the movie above to see how and thanks to FreeTech4Teachers for the original post. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kahn on Nightline

Sal Kahn was just on Nightline a few days ago.  I like this piece as it is short and hits all the highlights.  The main point is that technology can greatly enhance the classroom by using short videos (mine are now all under eight minutes) and then letting the students work on projects or webquests.  I spend most of the class either working with students who are behind or walking around and checking in on the students who are up to date.  I still haven't reached my own goal which will let students work on a self paced class.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Inauguration Speeches Throughout Time

Below is an aggregate of many recent inauguration speeches. If you want to see the actual video of Franklin Roosevelt through W. Bush, go here.  Here are the words from every single one and above is the speech from the first inauguration of Obama.

Civil War at 150

Thanks to Amanda Lombardi for this great site called The Civil War at 150.  It tells about the major battles, how people died, what the war cost, descriptions of warriors and more.  It would make for a good webquest for this site put together by the History Channel.


While I prefer Study Blue, as it allows one to add pictures and audio, it does not allow one to search and use other people's flash cards unless you have an account.  For schools that adhere to FERPA and COPPA closely this is not possible.  So for that reason studying using Quizlet is a way around.  I usually give my kids the choice of doing the study guide or creating a Study Blue or Quizlet set of cards.  Above is one for Reconstruction. 

Pictoral Gettysburg Address

Thanks to colleague Jeannine Cotner for finding this cool visual presentation of the Gettysburg Address. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Freedom Mosaic on the Civil RIghts Era

I received an e-mail tonight on the Freedom Mosaic.  It has a human rights and civil rights page.  I really like the civil rights one as it features freedom riders and others who participated in the civil rights era giving you a 1960s era photo and one from today.  It also includes video of their thoughts as well as different slides of what they went through. In a way it is like having a way to invite some speakers into your class.

Free Emancipation Proclamation Course

So I learned about Blackboard's Coursesites when I received an e-mail about this course on the Emancipation Proclamation.  It is being taught by University of Illinois-Springfield and already has 400 people signed up and oh, it is free.  Here is where you sign up for it and here is the description of it. 

Teach Online w. Blackboard's Cousesites

I have been receiving lots of e-mails about offering my technology integration course online in addition to what I do in my county.  To that end I have been doing a little research.  If you ever want to teach students online for free one way to do it is using Blackboard's Coursesites.  Here are all the amazing things you can do with it.  Essentially it is what you have if you already use Blackboard with your students and it includes the Blackboard Collaborate so you can meet your students online, can have grades, put up assignments, etc.  

Pronouncing Difficult Words

Everyone knows that online dictionaries now include pronunciations, but if you want to look up how to say the names of historical figures, go to  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

JSTOR is Free on a Limited Basis

Anyone who has been in college or grad school recently remembers JSTOR (journal storage) and the many times you used it to get information.  Well now you can register for free and get access to three articles a week for free.  Especially if you teach an AP class, this will be an invaluable tool for you and your students. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Reading Like A Historian: Stanford University

You gotta love Stanford University. Their education group has created a site called "Reading like a Historian." They created lessons for U.S. and World History, each of which revolves around a central question, and uses primary documents to analyze the question. The US site has many more lessons than the world and is organized by period. They include colonial, expansion and slavery, civil war and reconstruction, the Gilded Age, imperialism, progressivism, World War 1, World War 2, and the Cold War.

The documents are usually short and manageable for students and include a graphic organizer or guiding questions. For example, the guiding question for the lesson on sedition and World War I is--were the critics of World War 1 anti-American. Here is a link where you can see the lesson. The best thing about the site is that everything is free. You do have to register with name and email and you need to create a password. I did all that this afternoon and downloaded a nice lesson for my World 9 students on Emperor Augustus. My thanks to Jeff Feinstein for finding and sending me the link. Check it out!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Still Space in my Technology Integration Course

Starting on January 31st I will begin the fourth version of my technology integration course for Fairfax County teachers.  There still are places left in the class.  Participants will, among other things, learn to collaborate with colleagues and between students in Google Drive, better communicate with students, find and learn new technological innovations, integrate e-book into the classroom, create webquests, use mobile devices, and even collaborative video making. The course is tailored to your class and will help participants learn by doing as we look at ways to integrate various websites with social studies content.

If you are interested in taking the course, please go to MyPLT.  Once you have logged in go to the search engine and enter "Enhancing the Social Studies Classroom with Technology" into the top search box (as shown below) and press enter.  When the next page comes, you will be able to sign up for the course. 
The course will begin January 31st and will be from 4:30 to 7:30 at Woodson High School and go for ten sessions.  Please feel free to e-mail me with questions ( 

Google+ Personal Learning Community & Hangouts

Google+ was never slow to find users, but it has taken some time to get people to look at it a lot.  It now has more people using it than Twitter.  One of the reason for that is the hangouts in which you can meet with nine other people (and I know Google employees can have up to 30).  If you ever want to do a live interview of someone who can't come to your classroom you can set it so that it can be also watched on Youtube (for students in other schools) and even record it as well.  Watch the top video above to see how to do this. Above is an example of a recent interview I had with two student/atheletes who run for my alma mater William and Mary (where I still run a track blog page and help with fundraising).

If that is not enough you can also follow people on Google+.  I check the feed about three times a week as I do my Twitter and Netvibes accounts (and here is my G+ account in case you want to follow it).  One of the nicest things about G+ is that you can create groups and send them separate messages.  So for example, I sent the interview above just to my W&M friends, but make all of my education posts public so everyone following me can see them.  If you want an awesome list to start following on G+, then go to Edudemic's list here and let the learning begin. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Where the Emancipated Slaves Went

The NYTimes has a fascinating article today on where the emancipated slaves from the South went as the Union troops freed them.  Apparently Lincoln did not thing beyond issuing the proclamation (actually an executive order).  This book excerpt (p. 24) is one you might want to use in class as it describes the ordeals of the freed slaves.  It is believed that 60,000 ex-slaves died from small pox after their freedom. 

History of the Swastika

As a child I remember my great-grandfather's original edition of the Rudyard Kipling's books.  In the beginning of each book (published before WWI) that there appeared to be a symbol that looked very much like a swastika.  Knowing the German symbol from school made me wonder why it was in my books until I learned that the books predated Hitler's Germany.

So seeing George's post below, I think it is interested to consider its history originating as a symbol of peace from India.  But is has been used all over (see the Byzantine church mosaic below).  It was even used by the Coco Cola company (below) and by the Boy Scouts (above).  While the current form of the swastika is rightfully reviled, it is a good example for students of how one person can take a good symbol and make it bad.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Philosphy's Shameful Love for the Swastika

Writing for The Telegraph, the British newspaper, Alasdair Palmer, reviews a forthcoming book by Yvonne Sherrat, about the way German philosophers not only accommodated Hitler,  but enthusiastically espoused Nazi ideology. You''ll be surprised by the names of some of these philosophers. They include Martin Heidegger. He reports that Heidegggar even lectured in military uniform and was happy to oust Jewish colleagues including his own mentor. You can read the fascinating review here.

What happens when your lesson goes wrong

What happens when your lesson goes all wrong and you have to recover in five minutes. Watch as this experienced English teacher tries to figure it out. My thanks to Steve Wheeler who tweeted it.

New World Religion Blog

Here is a link to a World Religions blog that I started over the holiday break. I teach one section of World Religions and thought that it might be helpful to have a central place for all the links and clips that we come across.

There is a lot of information out there for those of  us who teach religion.  Every major newspaper, for example, has a religious section--CNN's Belief Blog, The Washington Post's On Faith, to name just a couple. Some of the stuff that I post might be useful for both world and U.S. history as well. There are stories about Confucianism and Taoism making a comeback in China. And stories about Islam are always in the news as well. Check it out when you get a chance.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Civil War in Four Minutes

This is a very popular video which you might want to show your students after you finish the Civil War. 

British Actors Read Poignant Poetry from World War I

I know that it's a little early to be teaching World War I but I just found this clip that you might want to book mark. British actors read World War 1 poetry by Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen. Open Culture, where I found the clip, notes that every year Britain remembers World War I on the Sunday closest to November 11th. For Remembrance Day this year, famous British actors read the war poetry.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, and I jumped into Twitter full steam this week. We both created  twitter feeds for our AP classes.

The purpose of the feeds is to give kids updates, reminders, and links to interesting stories about subjects we are studying. Jeff even uploaded pictures of student projects to his AP European twitter feed. We also used Twitter as an exit assignment. We each created a hash tag for the assignment so we could follow the results.

In AP World, I asked the kids to tweet the most important long-term cause of the French Revolution. Here are links to our class twitter feeds. You can find my AP World class at (@coeapworl and @coewphsreligion) and you can find Jeff’s at (@feinsteinAPUS and @ feinsteinapeh)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take My Technology Integration Course

Starting on January 31st I will begin the fourth version of my technology integration course for Fairfax County teachers.  Participants will, among other things, learn to collaborate with colleagues and between students in Google Drive, better communicate with students, find and learn new technological innovations, integrate e-book into the classroom, create webquests, use mobile devices, and even collaborative video
making. The course is tailored to individual classroom needs and helps participants become more
efficient. The goal is for participants to learn by doing as we look at ways to integrate various websites
with social studies content.

If you are interested in taking the course, please go to MyPLT.  Once you have logged in go to the search engine and enter "Enhancing the Social Studies Classroom with Technology" into the top search box (as shown below) and press enter.  When the next page comes, you will be able to sign up for the course. 
The course will begin January 31st and will be from 4:30 to 7:30 at Woodson High School and go for ten sessions.  Please feel free to e-mail me with questions ( 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

iPad Tips

The video above is one I will be using for my students when we get our iPads.  In the first three minutes, you get some great tips such as how to multi task, swipe, how to lock your view one way or the other and how to split your computer.  Around 4 min it tells you how to take a picture.  I found the video on MacAdvisorUK whose author has lots of how to videos.  

National Achives Blog & the Emancipation Proclamation

The National Archives has a blog out which you might want to consult for class.  One of my favorite things to do in a US class is to have my students read a primary document.  Since our textbooks can often be dry, the documents bring to life the realities of our past.

For example, here is a letter from Annie Davis, a slave in the norther state of Maryland, to President Lincoln written fifteen months after the Emancipation Proclamation.  It is a good way to show your students that only those slaves in the South were freed under the order and, of course, until Northern troops took over an area, the South ignored the order.  What better way to accent this for your students and to show the politics of the situation, than by showing your students this letter.

I originally found this letter on a post from a genealogy blog called The Root