Saturday, May 31, 2014

Video Blitz for US History

Kim Belknap took my technology integration course a few years ago and really took it to heart.  Here is her playlist for all of her "blitz" videos for US history.  Above is one on the US revolution. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Putting History in Context

About a year ago I jumped at the chance to work with a Palo Alto based group that wanted to contextualize learning.  The thought behind our work is that we learn most items in a vacuum and do not make connections between items.  So we decided that to learn better we need to have four relations 1) a timeline 2) a mapped location 3) cause and effect 4) relationship (connection) to other like groups/people.  Each of our "nodes" (people/place/things, etc.) also comes with a 150 word description.  So if you go to ContextU, you can see our 60 nodes that cover everything you need to know for the Civil War.  Later we will have all of US and then world history.

Our model has four levels; middle school, high school, college and "scholar" that allow you to see more or less of the mater.  You can also set it up for your class or just yourself.   You can also bypass the teacher/student role and just hit the "enter" button.

If you have feedback, there is a button for that or feel free to e-mail me.  Likewise if you want to send it to friends there is a way you can do it on via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Toxic Culture of Education

Here high school math teacher, Johnathan Katz, talks about "the toxic culture" of high stakes testing for this TEDx talk at the University of Akron. You can read the overview of this talk at the Washington Post's Answer Sheet.

"We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students," he says.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chromebooks as an Inexpensive Alternative for Schools

It is interesting to me that schools are willing to pay a great deal of money for tablets when laptops can do more.  The problem, of course, is that many see laptops as being even more expensive.  A number of teachers in my county would love to move to Chromebooks (which is taking a while for approval as we are a huge district).  But Chromebooks, as you can see in the video above are cheap ($200-350) laptops that range from 11 to 15".  They are inexpensive because they are essentially online devices.  Yes you have some space on the laptop and yes you can now work offline on Google Drive documents, but think about what you do on your laptop.  How often are you not connected to the Internet?  If we truly want our students to be prepared for the 21st century then they all need devices in school.

Chromebooks utilize the strength of Google Drive, but you can also use Microsoft's OneDrive (which recently changed names from SkyDrive).  I have been using online documents for four years and will admit that I used to download them onto my school's server, but at some point I just stopped as I realized that Google does a better job of safely backing up my work than my school district (who also does a great job).  I also want to be able to access my work anywhere (hey I love my job and work a lot of evenings and weekends) and don't want to have download VPN on every laptop and/or have to be married to one device.

So if you are interested, here is a link to purchasing Chromebooks on Amazon.  A number of schools also lease them for three years (which is essentially the life of a computer anyway).  Since it is a web based device all of the updates are down automatically and of course improvements to Google Drive or for that matter OneDrive are also automatic. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reading Like a Historian: The Teaching Channel

Here a teacher reviews why Americans began to oppose the Vietnam using documents from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) . The teacher, recorded by the Teaching Channel, models how she sources the documents and helps the students contextualize the documents.

Yikes! Students Don't Know History!

American students don't know history, according to Timothy Egan in this essay for the New York Times. He says that many Americans "can’t even place the Civil War in the right half-century," and notes that others "think we fought alongside the Germans in World War II."

Egan asked Ken Burns what he thought was the problem. He believes the problem is that we don't teach civics any more. He says that civics is  “the operating system” for citizenry; if you know how government is constructed, it’s no longer a complicated muddle, but a beautiful design.

David McCullough believes that educators share much of the blame for “raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate.”

Are Egan, McCullough, and Burns right?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Summer Doesn't Come to the Blogs

I am almost laughing thinking that some of you will actually be out of school in a week or so whereas I go until June 25th (yes indeed) and then start summer school teaching on July 1st (but I love my job so there is no complaining here!).  But please know that our blogs will be up and posting ALL SUMMER.  So if you are refining your classes or just looking for good ideas for summer school, be sure to stop by.

If you are new here there are now five blogs in the family starting with the
US History Teachers' Blog
US (and Comparative) Government Teachers' Blog
World History Teachers' Blog
World Religions (run by the great George Coe who helps on the three above as well)
Economic Teachers' Blog which is the newest member but moving quickly with 25 posts already.

You can also use the search engine in the upper left corner to search the 5000+ posts that we have put up in the last six years.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Released AP Free Response Questions

If you follow Trevor Packer on Twitter (who is head of the AP program), he has been Tweeting out when the College Board releases the 2014 AP free response questions.  Here are the micromacro, US government, US, world and comp questions. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

PBS Discusses Brown v. Board of Education

Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case. The PBS News Hour had an excellent segment tonight about how far we have come in eliminating segregation. The segment also excellent background about the case.

60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

With the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, you might want to show this short video by HipHughes.  Here are all of his videos now numbering 300+.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Anatomy of the Decline of an Historical Figure

From afar foreigners must wonder why we seem to revere Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, etc. more than the man who brought the victory - Ulysses S. Grant.  Indeed between one to 1.5 million people went to his funeral, but today he is more remembered as a drunk and an unsuccessful president.  Here is a great WashPost article you might share with your students as you ponder why and who makes it into history books and who ultimately is responsible for the legacy of American icons. 

The World's Simplest Cloud Bookmarker

I just discovered today and really like it to bookmark your favorite webpages.  If you just want to bookmark urls and nothing more this is an awesome site for you.  All you need to do is to type a category before "" and then the url and it will create a new category.  It is that simple.  Watch the video above to see the actual steps. 

The Century: Americans at War

Those of you who follow this blog know I am not a fan of long movies in class.  But The Century: Civilians at War has a great deal of footage that you can show in bits and pieces to your students to highlight your teaching. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Letter from 9/11 Plane

This is fascinating and goes with the 9/11 museum post below.  One of the items in the 9/11 museum is a letter that literally fell from one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Towers.  It fell through the fire to the ground in Manhattan and was picked up by a businessman and sent to its addressee.  Above is the story and a great way to teach about primary documents. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Santa Maria Found!

The Santa Maria accidentally ran aground off the coast of Hispaniola (Haiti) and was partly dismantled to create a fort.  Now one discoverer believes he has found the lost vessel and is asking Haiti for permission to study it more.  The short video above does have some footage of the sunken ship.  

Ground Zero Museum

It is amazing to me that talking about 911 is almost ancient history for our current US history students.  But with thirteen years behind us, it really is history and the NYtimes has a fantastic look at the new 911 museum which obviously has a lot of "primary artifacts" on the event. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Understanding Plagiarism

Here's a great short clip defining plagiarism for kids. This might be great to show at the beginning of the year. It comes from EasyBib.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review for End of Year Exams

Here are a bunch of links that I have found to help my kids for their state exam.  Feel free to use them for your history kids as well as there are plenty of tests that correct themselves, study guides, etc. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

AP US Review in Two Videos

I wouldn't pony these up in class, but it might be useful to make your students who learn better visually about these two videos.  They could certainly drag the circle to the places they want to concentrate on with their review. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Quizlet Adds Voice Recordings

Quizlet, already a great review app, now lets you record your own voice and put recordings on your review cards.  For those who are auditory learners this will be a great help to the main great features, flash cards, games, timed races, etc. that are already features of Quizlet.