Saturday, November 29, 2014

Quizlet and Studying for Tests

Admittedly one needs to know a lot more than just vocabulary in economics, but it is certainly a place to start.  So one thing you can do is to have your students use Quizlet to see if they know all of their vocabulary.   Quizlet allows students to use traditional flash cards as well as a number of learning games.  You can even set it up for your class and each student can compete against one another.   Above is an example of the Age of Jackson.  You can choose to make the cards yourself, have your students do so or even just use someone else's as I have done here.  But if you go with the last choice, make sure you like each card.  Alternatively, if you set up an account, you could make a copy of someone else's cards and then make them exactly the way you want them.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Richard Frethorne Letter

One of the devices I like to use with US history students is primary documents as I find the liven up what is often a boring textbook.  One of my favorites is Richard Frethorne's letter to his parents as an indentured servant in Virginia in 1623.   He describes wanting to trade his arm for being back in England, but instead died a few months after he wrote the letter. 

Remind Your Students Using Texts

Today I found an article on the Washington Post that goes with along with what some of my students are doing for homework.  So, today I sent them the link to the article and was able to do it because all of my students voluntarily sign up for because they like the reminder.  You can send a simple text and even add an attachment and, if you want to, put it on Twitter as well.  Over the years I have used it I have become convinced that kids, more than not, don't do their homework because of poor planning or organization and Remind has helped immensely on this.  Above is a video explaining how to use it.  Of course the service is free and parents can sign up for it as well.  Finally it is also only a one way text. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

How the Government Impacts US History on Thanksgiving

I have put this on my blog before and will show it to my students on Wednesday and it is so perfect in describing the interplay between government and US history.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

History vs. Andrew Jackson

Here's great five-minute Ted talk about Andrew Jackson and his place in history.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Teach Writing with the Help of Technology

Ironically, at the same time one of my classes is starting to write a research paper, I received an email from Robert Morris asking if he could write a post for my blog.  His write-up is so useful I am putting it up in its entirety.   At the top of this post I am also including a video I made last year on the mechanics of writing an essay such as what is a thesis, topic sentence(s), outline sentence(s), etc.

How to Teach Writing with the Help of Technology
If you are constantly frustrated by your students’ inability to understand what you expect from academic assignments, maybe it’s time to turn to technology tools. Teaching students how to write is one of the greatest challenges that professors face. No matter how hard they try to explain different writing techniques and help their students go through the different stages of essay writing, the results are hardly satisfactory.
Every teacher knows that some of the most important aspects of successful academic writing are organization, research, proofreading and editing, but they cannot motivate students to put enough effort in all stages of the project. The following tools will help both you and your students deal with the challenge more easily.

Tools to use during the research stage

This is the part when your students need the most help. If you want to be satisfied with the content they submit, you need to teach them how to do a proper research. Suggest these tools to help your students go through this stage:
Instead of forcing them to spend several days in the library locating proper sources for a research paper, you should suggest this online tool to your students. This is an online library that offers an immense choice of relevant research information.           
You don’t consider Google to be the right destination for finding reliable sources, but your students keep using it. Google Scholar is the compromise – it provides them with a research environment they are used to, but leads to reliable sources that can be used as a foundation for academic projects.
At this website, you can find top-quality eBooks that you can suggest as referencing sources. You can research the online library and tell your students to discuss particular books, but you can also inspire them to conduct the research individually or in teams.

Best proofreading and editing tools

Teachers are really frustrated when their students submit draft version of their papers. Instead of repeating the same things about the importance of proofreading and editing, you should suggest the following tools that will lead to practical results:
If you notice that some of your students need serious assistance during the writing and editing stage, you should suggest them to hire professional writers and editors at this website. A single investment can result with an extraordinary improvement in their research, writing and editing skills, since the students get to learn through collaborating with real experts at this website.
Although this is a basic checker that cannot lead to flawless papers, it will still help your students avoid some embarrassing mistakes. The engine corrects the most common errors in academic writing, so you can suggest it as the right tool to use when your students’ papers need a quick fix.

Plagiarism detection tools

The process of teaching your students how to write involves the issue of plagiarism. They clearly use resources to support the discussion, so the content can easily end up being too similar to something that has already been written before. These are the plagiarism detection tools you should suggest:
This simple engine detects the parts of the paper that have been plagiarized from online resources. When your students see the highlighted content, they will know which parts need to be referenced or improved with their own comments.
This website combines three useful tools: grammar check, plagiarism detection, and writing suggestions.

You can also rely on these plagiarism detection engines in order to make sure that the content your students submit is unique. When they start combining them with the research and editing tools we listed above, they will soon start completing better academic content and making you a happier teacher.    

Help with the Common Core

One of the weaknesses I have noticed that seems to be ever increasing is the ability for students to read at a higher level. The Common Core challenges students to do just that and, if I'm being honest, intimidates me a bit.

In looking to update my lessons on the Industrial Age I stumbled across The information and lessons that this site has is extremely helpful and I found a lesson that breaks down Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" through a close reading assignment. Yesterday in class I started the lesson and it went very well.

If you're struggling with how to integrate the Common Core Standards in your classrooms, it's worth a look.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Contextualizing US History

As most people who follow this blog know I have been working for a while with a group in Palo Alto, CA with the goal of contextualizing learning.  Our first "domain" has been to do this with US history and actually some of the readers from this blog have been helping to write the material.  So far we have done all of US history through the Civil War which means that we have about 200 "nodes" of information.

A node is a entity that would be studied such as Andrew Jackson, or the spoils system or the Trail of Tears.  For each we have a 150 word description, a map, a timeline location, cause/effect and other nodes that are related.  We call our site "ContextU" and do so because we believe that the more one contextualizes learning the better learning retention will be.  So below are the four sub-domains of learning (and the Gilded Age will be out in mid December.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Flipping with John Green

If you are a middle school teacher (two of my own children are seventh graders) you know that John Green is one of the most prolific early teenager authors.  But he also has a prolific flipped video series with his brother, that are extremely well produced and packed with lots of facts.  If anything, they have too many and move a bit too quickly.   But here are forty-eight US history videos that are either a good intro (think about the main points that I blogged about a few days ago) or a review.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Learning Pod Student Review System

My two AP classes each have two exams that they will have to take in May which prompted one student to ask me the other day how we would review for both AP exams.  Well the answer, if you read my post below on How We Learn is to go back frequently, but not every day and review old material.

One way to do this is to let your students use Learning Pod which allows students to take review questions on any AP exam that are preparing for without having to even login.  However if the students want to login then they will receive an explanation for their incorrect questions.  

Teachers can also create "pods" of their own tests that they have created which they can make available for anyone or just for their own students.  There are also different ways (url, Tweets), etc that teachers can use to share a pod with students.

If you want to easily see all the AP offering questions, go here or to the logo on the right of the page any time you want.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Gold Rush

When you get to the American gold rush, the video above as well as this link from the History Channel on its history will be an immense help for you and your students.  

How We Learn

As I have noted before, it is not often that I push something that costs money, but at Frank Franz' suggestion I read How We Learn, by Benedict Carey.  Here are some of the highlights in Scientific American.  The upshot is that the author contends with quantitative backing:

  • that studying day after day is not good that we should have a day or two off after studying the first time and that there will be surprisingly more retention when one tests on the third day after studying than on the day you studied
  • that studying on multiple days, not in succession increases long term retention
  • that brief study breaks to do things totally unrelated such as checking text messages, as long as not done every few minutes help the brain make connections
  • that going back to earlier material all year again helps the learning process
  • that having students think and not just listen and write makes the long term learning better

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How to Write the New APUSH Free Response Questions

Last year I created a video for my government students on how to write an essay and was surprised by how much it helped them - without me - while they were at home.   Of course after four years of flipping I shouldn't be surprised by the strength of flipping.

At any rate above is a video from this summer on how to write the DBQ for AP US history.  The key, of course, is to remind your students that they are writing an essay with both facts they know and ones they get from the documents.  Kids like to say "According to Doc 1" as opposed to putting the name in parentheses (as in (Doc 1) and using the information in a sentence.

Below are two videos on how to write the other two.  All come from Jocz Productions.  

Internet Access for All Students?!

Each year I teach two AP classes, 2 standard ones and one online.  So of my roughly 150 students, about 5-6 start the year without a laptop and all are in my two standard classes.  What is different this year is that all but one has some Internet connection be it via a smartphone or a laptop.  So all students can watch flip videos and see links to items online so the "worst case" is that they have to write their answers on paper - which, yes, even for me works.  But there are still things that just cannot be done on a smartphone.

But a few years ago a girl in one of my classes came in beaming one day and said because of my class her mother had bought her a laptop.  When I asked if this was a bad thing (ie did I pressure her in some way) she said no and that her mother had no idea schools used laptops that much.  Well now I find a time outside of class to talk to all my non connected students and always mention Chromebooks saying that it is what I bought my own children ($250 for 11" and $300 for 14").  Kids today do not need Microsoft Windows and for that matter Microsoft now has OneDrive which allows you to do most of what you do in Word, but online.  So as it has been in the past three years, three kids have come to me so far to tell me that they now have laptops and two more are getting theirs soon.  Not only that but parents have even thanked me for suggesting it.

For me it boils down to this.  I know that students will need online capabilities when they enter the workplace and by not asking, I am helping to foster a situation where my students are far behind most of their peers.  I also stay after school 90 minutes each day and help kids learn how to be connected - as well as how to do their work.   To get to the point, not asking a student is worse than asking so see if you can't get more of your students connected. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fall of the Berlin Wall Anniversary

Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. AP News has a great site about the fall with interesting  images and original news stories.

The Washington Post has "stunning" before and after pictures, along with a crossword puzzle testing your knowledge of the Berlin Wall.

Below, NBC News shows 8000 lighted balloons along nine mile length of the wall. And below that is a BBC clip clip explaining the rise and fall of the wall in 60 seconds.

Jimmy Fallon and the Gadsden Purchase

I just noticed that the video on my previous posts had been disabled.  When you get to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase, the kids will really enjoy this clip from Jimmy Fallon. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Women in the Civil War

If you look at many state exams women are overlooked in wars, but if you want to make sure you do a good job of teaching about them, this is a great site that you can use with your students to see what kinds of occupations they filled during the American Civil War. 

Howjsay to Pronounce Words

A number of my students are either currently ESOL students or were in the program in the last year or two.  So one of the resources we use is where you can input a word and it says it for you.  The other day for example, we were looking at Japan and submitted the word archipelago.  It also links the word to a Google search so you can find out more about what you are trying to pronounce.