Friday, May 29, 2015

Moonshot Application

So I just applied for Google's "Moonshot" project which will bring teachers together in July in Amsterdam to tackle projects that will transform education.  The application is woefully short which makes me wonder if an algorithm will knock out the first group (esp. since it is due June 26th and winners will be contacted just three days later).  Either way I am always up for doing something that could be a game changer.  Not applying means you can't go and applying means you have more than a moonshot!

Here is the application.  Good luck.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Add Sound and Annimation to a Google Presentation

One of our teachers just asked me how to add sound to a Google Drive presentation. I like this tutorial explaining the answer as it shows how you can actually go to a specific spot in a video. Therefore when you click on the spot on a slide it will play exactly what you want.  For example, if you click on this link, you will go exactly to the part of the video above that tells how to get to a specific spot in the video.

While we are at it the teacher also wanted to know how to add in animation which is done in the video below.

Quizlet for SOL US Review

Our kids are taking the state exam (SOL) in US history next week.  For them, Quizlet is a big asset such as this comprehensive review or this one.  Here and above are some great map Quizlet questions. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

School is Not Out for the Summer!

So most of you would laugh that my seniors are not finished until June 10th and my undergrads not until June 18 - yes the 18th!  But I also teach during the summer so this blog is always being updated all summer, so if you want to keep finding out new things then keep coming all summer.  

My Online Class is Filling Quickly

Richard Byrne (FreeTech4Teachers) and I are teaching a virtual class this summer on July 16, 23 and 30 from 5:30 to 6:30 EST.  It is filling fast, so if you are interested, please sign up soon. We will have you work to
  • have an interactive lesson for your students - no matter what social studies subject you teach
  • learn about a number of virtual field trips
  • learn about the National Archives' Digital Vault
  • how to flip your classroom
  • how to connect to people on Twitter, find people to follow and how to 
  • meet with others through Google+ Hangouts 
To sign up go here

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Virtual Tour of Mt. Vernon

Here is a brand new virtual tour of Mt. Vernon that I was just emailed about.  While my students are able to go to Washington's home (my school is named "Hayfield" as it was just that for Washington!) virtual tours are a super way to let your students see places they are studying.  It is one of the things that Richard Byrne and I will be teaching using virtual tours as one of the parts of our online class

Monday, May 18, 2015

Study for State Exams By Putting the Facts in Context

Now that many of you are beyond the AP US History exam, we are now turning our attention to the state finals (in VA they have the unfortunate acronym of SOL).  If you want a way for your students to study, I might suggest using ContextU which is a project that I have been working on for the last couple of years.  ContextU does what all great teachers do - namely puts the content in perspective.  It has a

  • 150 word description
  • puts the item on a timeline
  • shows it to you on a map
  • connects it to other items (we call them nodes) that it has caused and effected
  • shows you groups that it is part of
  • has tremendous graphics
For example, here is Shays' Rebellion and the Anti-Federalists.

If your students can see the context of a fact, they will be much better able to retain it and perform better on your state exam. 

Search for Ideas on my Blogs

I was on a Facebook page for teachers the other day and one of the educators mentioned using my site to search for lesson plans and ideas.  It made me smile as that is exactly one of the uses for this page.  Consider that between my four blogs (US history, World history, US and Comparative Government, Economics) I now have over 6000 posts since 2008.  Even the "baby" among my blogs, econ, has 250 posts in the last year!  So if you are looking for content, technology or pedagogy, hopefully I have it.  If not, write me and I'll look into it.   Otherwise look in the upper left side of this page and put what you are looking for in the search box.

Next up will be summer assignments (which you can already search for and see what I posted for last year).  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Join Me on EdChat on Tuesday at 3 PM EST

I am going to be presenting on EdChat on May 19th from 3 to 4 pm EST.  I will be focusing on individualizing instruction in the classroom using technology (yes, focusing on some key concepts from my book).   You can sign up for the class for free by going here.   You will then be sent a link for our online platform where we will meet.  At the appointed time, you'll just need to sign in and then I will make a short presentations, we'll break into groups and then I'll also take your questions.

All three of my preps this year are being flipped so I am really getting into it which is good after four years of practicing the "craft."  If you joined me for the #edchat, then the eight minute video above detailing all of the steps and what to do in the classroom after you have done your flipped lecture might be of help to you.

Here is an example of a flipped video, the actual Google form we used and the interactive assignment that followed in class.  Below is the PowerPoint I am using for my presentation. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ken Halla's Summer In-Services (so far)

If you want to take a summer in-service with me this summer, there are a number to choose from below.  Click on the links to sign up and email me at if you want me to help you with one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

America Goes to War

NEC Online Masters in Public Policy
I just received this from the New England College here and above.  For US students it shows all of the US wars and for government students differentiates between declarations of war and war resolutions, which is a huge difference.  It should help your students see the differences graphically,

Saturday, May 9, 2015

@TrevorPacker for AP Updates

Most people who teach and AP course know that Trevor Packer is the head honcho for all AP subjects.  If you follow him on Twitter he will Tweet when the College Board has released the FRQs for your subject.  Laster in the summer (late July) he will release the statistics on each exam such as passing percentage, percentage of 5s, 4s and more. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Wright Brothers

I am knee deep in David McCulloch's new book, The Wright Brothers which, naturally, has gotten me looking for ways to show them to students.  Above is a fantastic video of one of their early flights along with audio explaining it.

Here is the Smithsonian's page on them which includes another of artifacts on them.  If you read the book, they go together well as it has some things like the brothers' magazine, pictures from the house where they spent part of their childhood, etc.  If you want or need more, here is the PBS site on them. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Join Me on EdChat

I am going to be presenting on EdChat on May 19th from 3 to 4 pm EST.  I will be focusing on individualizing instruction in the classroom using technology (yes, focusing on some key concepts from my book).   You can sign up for the class for free by going here.   You will then be sent a link for our online platform where we will meet.  On the appointed time, you'll just need to sign in and we can chat.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Study Aide for US History

One of my side projects, if you follow this blog, is with ContextU.  ContextU is a great way for your students to prepare for their state exams in US history as we have pretty much every piece of essential knowledge your students need from Colonial US all the way up until imperialism (and will have the complete course done before you start summer school).

ContextU is a superior methodology for your students as it

  • has every item (we call them nodes) on your essential knowledge in 150 words 
  • shows each node on a timeline so students can see what else was going on at the same time
  • what the item's location on a map
  • shows the node's relation to other like groups
  • shows the both the influence and the impact of each node.
Here is an example for George Washington.