Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nearpod vs. Powerpoint

Maybe you saw Jeff Feinstein's post about Nearpod a few days ago. I just tried it and love it.

The cool thing about Nearpod is its interactivity. You simply upload a powerpoint presentation to Nearpod, add video clips, quizzes, polls or graphs and publish it. Students access your  presentation with a pin and then see it on their phones. You control the presentation on your computer and advance the slides with your lecture.

I created an introductory lesson to Islam. It includes three short video clips (each less than 3 minutes), links to three different websites for research, and three short formative quizzes.

Here's how I did it. I took an existing powerpoint about Islam, uploaded it to Nearpod and then began editing it by adding video clips in strategic places (for example, a clip about the Five Pillars after a slide outlining them).  Next I added a couple of short multiple choice questions about the video.

In another area of the powerpoint, I added a link to a webpage about jihad, then another video clip about it.

You can see my effort below. Just remember it's my first one and not by any means perfect.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why so many Syrian Refugees? Watch this Drone Footage

This is from British News Channel Four. My thanks to Matt Busch for posting it on Facebook.
Drone footage over Homs

After years of war, parts of Homs, Syria, are crumbling and deserted. New drone footage shows the extent of the devastation.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Really Cool WWI Simulation from BBC Three

Here's a really cool World War 1 simulation from BBC Three. It runs about 20 minutes and you are asked to make decisions that are often life-threatening. For example, do you send up a flare or send out a runner? It's all part of the Battle of Somme in 1916.

Thanks to Deb Skadden for posting the link on Facebook.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Get Formative Results Live

Formative is a lot like Socrative. Both  use real-time questioning to assess student learning. You compose questions using the program, project a key for students to log in and answer. Instantly, you can see who knows the material.

The big difference between the two programs is that Formative allows you, as the teacher, to instantly provide feedback. While both programs allow students to see their results, only Formative allows the teacher to write feedback to specific students. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How I keep my students informed about schedule changes when school is closed

We've missed lots of school because of the blizzard, which means that I've had to make changes to my schedule.  How do I inform my students of these changes?  It's easy if you use these tools.

My official class schedule is on Google Calendar.
I put a link to that calendar as a tab ("Assignment Calendar") on my class Blackboard page.

Before I had settled on Google Calendar I had tried to use the calendar on a previous version of Blackboard.  That Blackboard version was far inferior because it would not allow for events to have start times.  In appears that the newest version my district uses solves that problem, but for now I'm going to stick with Google Calendar.

When I need to make changes to our schedule I just make them in Google Calendar, and the changes appear for my students when they check the Assignment Calendar on Blackboard.

To inform my students about these changes I use these three tools:

1st: I post an Announcement in Blackboard that I have updated the Assignment Calendar.  Blackboard then gives me the option to email that Announcement immediately to my students.
2nd: I use Remind to send a text message alert about the changes.  I really like Remind because I can send the text immediately, or schedule it for a later time.  (This is especially good if I'm working at odd hours; I don't want their phone to beep or buzz too early or too late with a text from their teacher!)

3rd: I update the changes on the WhatsDue app.  WhatsDue creates a class calendar for my students that resides on the app on their devices.  Any change I make automatically generates a text alert to my students.  I like WhatsDue because students can use it to send themselves text reminders of upcoming due dates and deadlines.

Monday, January 25, 2016

3D Tour of the Roman Colosseum

This is really cool! the ancient Roman Colosseum in 3D.  It comes from Unimersiv, which has other 3D clips but require you to download software, which only work on window devices.

Why did the Ottoman Empire Decline?

Why did the Ottoman Empire decline?

This Caspian Report explains that despite failures in some important battles like the Battle of Lapanto and the Battle of Vienna, economic problems over time weakened the empire.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My New eLearning Blog

I am stuck at home with two feet of snow, but thankful that I can still do my job as I have recently changed from a classroom teacher and chair to the eLearning Coordinator of our 4000 student, 53 course strong Online Campus.

To that end I have, as you might have noticed found some other to help continue my other blogs and have continued adding posts myself to them.  But my new site - "eLearning Blog" is where I am putting anything related to learning online.  You can also receive the posts using Google+ and/or following me on Twitter.  Recent posts have included

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Summer Programs in Japan & Korea for Teachers

These summer programs, sponsored by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) and the Program for Teaching East Asia at the University of Colorado are open to secondary teachers nationwide.

Teachers selected for the programs will receive a travel stipend, room and board, and resource materials. Participants in “Japan’s Olympic Challenges” qualify for a Summer 2017 study program in Japan. Full details and application information are provided in the linked flyers. Application deadline for both institutes is March 18, 2016.

Japan’s Olympic Challenges: 20th-Century Legacies, 21st-Century Aspirations. July 10-15, 2016. As it prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, Japan is focused on national renewal, even as it continues to negotiate postwar legacies that impact how Japanese people and the world see that nation.

Open to secondary social studies teachers nationwide, this 5-day institute on the CU-Boulder campus will consider how the past and the future intersect as Japan prepares to showcase its accomplishments to the world.

The institute will explore the impact of enduring issues on contemporary Japanese society, government, global and intra-Asian relations, and Olympic goals and aspirations. Here is a  detailed flyer and application, available now here.

For questions, contact

 2017 study in Japan: 

As a follow-up to this institute, participants will have the opportunity to apply for a 10-day residential seminar in Tokyo in July 2017, pending funding. Korea's Journey into the 21st Century: Historical Contexts, Contemporary Issues. July 24-28, 2016.

In this 4-day residential summer institute, secondary teachers will consider modern and contemporary South Korea's distinct history, geography, intra-peninsular and international relations, and transnational cultural transmissions (e.g., K-pop, film, and design).

Participants will work with specialists to learn about the Korean peninsula beyond the media coverage, drawing on Korean narratives and texts to enrich their teaching about contemporary South Korea in the classroom.

Click for detailed flyer and application, available now. For questions, contact

The Israel-Palestine Conflict Explained

Here's a terrific clip from Vox explaining the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cave Art: Great Ted Talk

Here, Genevieve von Petzinger, a student of ancient cave art, examines the abstract art of European caves, specifically the geometric signs common to many sites.

She sees 32 signs across a 32,000 year time span, the same ones across space and time. She argues that the signs meant something to the artists, something specific. It's a fascinating and engaging talk.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

WWI Mandate System Reviewed by NPR

Here's a great review of the Sykes Picot agreement in which the West divided up the Middle East into spheres of influence after World War I. That agreement was superceded when the League Nations established the mandate system.

Human Cost of World War II: Great Clip

The huge number of deaths in World War II are so great that they often seem meaningless to students.

This awesome clip from Neil Halloran, a film maker, helps them to see the human cost for the different countries and different battles.

The Washington Post says that video has gotten a lot of attention since it was first published and calls it a "stirring presentation."


Monday, January 18, 2016

Another Great World History Podcast

The 15 Minute History Podcast from the University of Texas is awesome!

I just listened to one about The Russian Empire on the Eve of World War 1. The narrator discussed Russian concerns on the eve of the war with Dominic Lieven, a professor at London School of Economics and Political Science. Interestingly, one of Russia's major concerns prior to the war was Ukraine, which Russia saw as critical to its empire because of coal.

Other topics include the Trans-Pacific Slave Trade; Race, Slavery, and Abolition in Iran; and February Revolution of 1917. You can see a subject guide here.

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or Stitcher.

My thanks to AP World teacher, Bram Hubbell, for tweeting the link. He writes about other good podcasts in his blog which you can access here.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Head Coverings of Different Religions

Remind your students that Muslims are not the only ones to wear head coverings.  Look at all the religious traditions below in which women often wear some kind of head covering.

You can read more about the different religions at my religion blog here.