Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Congress of Vienna: BBC Podcast

Here's an interesting podcast about the Congress of Vienna from BBC Radio. How did the great powers come to Vienna?  How did they decide in it? What were the turning points.

Greece & Rome: Two Awesome Video Reviews

Here are two terrific video reviews of Greece and Rome. 

The Greece review runs 18 minutes and the Rome review runs just over 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Zheng He Voyages

Studying the Ming Dynasty?  Here's a nine minute clip from Engineering an Empire about the treasure fleet of Admiral Zheng He along with a longer documentary.

Asia for Educators also has good resources for Zheng He. They have a section that outlines the Admiral's seven voyages. I copied that section and printed it out for students and gave them an outline map of Afro Eurasia and had students trace the routes.

Finally here's an excellent colorful map from National Geographic showing the voyages.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

What Makes the Great Wall so Great? TedEd clip

Here is a terrific TedEd video that reviews the history of the Great Wall and explains what makes it so great. You can view the TedEd lesson here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Egyptian Scribes: Two Great Clips

What place in  ancient Egyptian society did scribes hold?  How did they come to write on papyrus and how did they do it?

Foy Scalf, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago,  answers all these questions in this short three minute clip.
And here is another look at ancient Egyptian scribes from Smart History, which is now part of Khan Academy. Hosts Beth Harris and Steven Zucker examine a seated scribe made of painted limestone and crystal.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

PBL: 5 Keys to Success

Here is a great introduction to PBL from Edutopia.

The video reviews five key elements you need to be successful: establish real world connections, build rigorous projects,  structure collaboration, facilitate learning in a student-driven environment, and embed assessment throughout the project.

Edutopia has a short clip for each of the five elements.

Teach Content Vocabulary With Football!

Luke Rosa, a social studies teacher in Virginia, developed an interesting way to teach vocabulary. Below, he explains how he does it.
Courtesy of Luka Rosa

Student Teams

Here’s how it works.

I place students on teams of 4 (3 or 5 also works depending on your class load), and create a schedule. There are some great simple free schedule-makers online, including Playpass and League Lobster.

Students are given sets of 10-15 vocabulary words each week. I print them out in sets of 6 to a page that I cut up in strips and have students paste in their notebooks (see the example photo to the left).

We’ll then cover those terms in our lessons that week and students are responsible for defining the words in their notebooks. They can ether get the definitions from our lesson, look them up in a textbook, or find them online.
Game Day!

Game Day

Monday is game day! To make it exciting, I’ll have the Monday Night Football or Fox Sports theme playing as they’re walking in. Students take a vocabulary quiz based on those words from the previous week.

My quizzes are very short — just 10 questions and designed to only take the first 15 minutes or so of class. I make the answer sheet very easy to grade. I start grading them as soon as the first student hands it in. The answer sheet allows me to grade them quickly, so I can and usually have most graded before the last student even finishes!


Each student’s score goes towards their grade, but they also get combined to make their team’s score.

So, if the 4 students on the Giants combine for a 32 and they’re playing the Panthers who scored a combined 31, then the Giants win! So simple, but so much fun! I knew I had caught on to something when students began to tell their teammates, “You better do all your vocabulary this week. I don’t want to lose!” They get so competitive!

These are vocabulary quizzes and my students actually looked forward to them! Students would pop back in the next period to see if they won and check the updated standings I had on our bulletin board.


Each year, I make a few changes and find ways to differentiate based on my class levels. For my team-taught inclusion classes, students can take the quiz using their notebook page with the definitions (if they did them that week). I found this is a great motivational tool. When a student who didn’t complete his vocabulary that week opens to a blank notebook page, his teammates will let him have it. It also encouraged more critical thinking on answers than just memorization of terms. For my on-level classes, I will often project a word bank, but don’t allow them to use their notebooks. My honors classes might not get the help of either.

The Super Bowl 

You can have your “season” last as long as you like. I usually go about 12 weeks then move on to the playoffs and culminate with a Super Bowl. The playoffs have teams playing against teams in other classes, which gets a lot of of fun. Teams that lose still take the quizzes, but they’ll just count towards their individual grades. I’ll get a prize for the winning team like Chipotle gift cards or pizza after school.

This VFL strategy has been a huge success for my classes and I am sure it will be for yours as well!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What is Historical Thinking

Here is a terrific clip form on the elements of historical thinking.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Breaking News Generator

History teacher Russel Tarr designed an awesome "Breaking News Generator."

Students can use it to create a profile  of an important figure in history. They will have to think about the person's location, develop a title for the news channel, a headline and a ticker which summarizes an understanding the figure.  Finally, students upload an image.

Here's a sample I designed.

Other uses: Tarr suggests that students could produce a timeline of events and then provide a screenshot for the major events.

Students could also produce breaking news screenshots with a biased tone.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Student Centered Learning with Technology--Caitlin Tucker

English teacher Caitlin Tucker gave this terrific keynote talk to a recent MassCue conference(Massachusetts Computer Using Educators).

She urges teachers to create a student centered learning environment and explains how technology can facilitate that environment.

We see a clip of  a youth TedTalk one of her students made,  and an RSS animation  students made about why the people burned the books in Fahrenheit 451.

Tucker wants a student-centered classroom where kids are at the center of learning.  For example, she noted  that students who created the the RSS animation understood the transformation of society at the end of Fahrenheit 451 much better than if they had just listened to a teacher presentation about the shift.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

White Nationalism & Charlottesville: Teaching Resources

Here are some resources that I have collected over the past few days for facilitating conversations with students about white nationalism and the events at Charlottesville this weekend.

Harvard University School of Education tweeted some of these excellent resources.

Here are three interactive websites that review the history of lynching and slavery.
  • The Police Violence Map allows you to see the number of people who have been killed by police using interesting and engaging maps and graphs.


Here are some excellent analytical news stories about the tragic events at Charlottesville, race, and white nationalism.

Professor Walter D. Greason at Monmouth University tweeted  links to a number of excellent clips about the history of lynching in America, and a number of riots like the 1919 Chicago Police Riot.  You can find more of them if you subscribe to his You Tube feed called The Conversation Starts Today: Race and White Privilege.

Finally, This Social Justice website has a great list books about social justice categorized by age--elementary school, middle school, high, and adult.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

China's New Silk Road: New BBC Series

Here's a great new series from BBC about China's huge initiative, called One Belt, One Road, to open trade channels between itself and neighbors in both the east and the west.

It will include both land and sea routes, super fast trains on the land and huge container ships on the sea.

Why is China committing close to $1 trillion dollars to this initiative?  

According to The Economic World Forum,  one incentive is to improve the economies of poorer countries to the south. Improving these economies could help maintain China's economy.

For example, in the homeland of the Uyghurs in Kashgar, an ethnic Muslim minority that has often revolted against its marginal status, China has invested hundreds of millions with the idea that involvement in profitable trade will reduce violence.

One former US diplomat called the Chinese initiative, "potentially the most transformative engineering effort in human history," according to CBS News.

Here is a clip that reviews some of China's major projects around the world from the The Dailey Conversation like Africa's transnational electric railroad that runs 466 miles from Djibouti to Addis Ababa,  to a huge power plant in Pakistan.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Blended Learning with Stations

Blended learning stations may be a great way to individualize lessons and create smaller learning communities within the classroom.

Most of us work on a 90 minute block schedule already and plan three or four activities for each class.

Why not turn them into stations?  Students can move at their own pace and you don't have to wait for the whole class to finish an activity before moving on to the next.

And its easy for you as the teacher to move between the groups to answer questions and offer suggestions.

English teacher, Caitlin Tucker, explains how the stations might work in the five minute clip below.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Online Resources for Teaching the Middle East

Here are some great online resources for teaching the Middle East that I put together on a Weebly site.

I am teaching a current events course next spring and want to include a unit on the Middle East to help students better understand contemporary issues in the region.

One of the best resources I found comes from the British Council and the Social Science Research Council. ​

Its curriculum  includes 5 units to help World History high school educators teach about the Middle East and North Africa in their classrooms. 

Curricular themes include Women & Gender, Plural Identities, Empire & Nation, Political & Social Movements, and Arts & Technology. 

These units include terrific primary and secondary sources and good lessons for students to evaluate and analyze them.

And Teach Mideast has country profiles with information on geography, history and government, and culture. You can see an overview of each country in graphic form like the one below for Algeria.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Understanding the US & Iran

Here is an awesome summary of US & Iranian relations by UNC Professor, Dr. Charles Kurzman.

You'll learn the history of Iran from the revolution in 1906 to the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 to the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Here is a link to a student video guide for the clip.  And here is a teachers guide.