Wednesday, November 26, 2014

iPad App for Virtual Rome History


If you teach US history you might have seen the work I am doing with a California group called ContextU on contextualizing all of US (and eventually world) history.  A group that we are potentially going to be working with has produced an amazing app that takes you around ancient Rome and has a number of pop-ups to give you the history.  You can also turn things in a complete circle.  Really if you have a iPads for your students it is a great device to use during your Rome unit. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

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.    

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Entire Patterns of Interaction Textbook Free Online

It is somewhat amazing to me how often our WHI/WHII e-book goes down when students are working on it (esp. during September).  This Saturday, for example, it will be down.  But never fear one of my trusty colleagues found the entire Patterns of Interaction textbook online in a format they will not go down.  The only downside is you have to know the section as the pages are not included.

So, for example, my students are working on India which can be found here

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

Hagia Sophia: If These Walls Could Talk


Check out this amazing and engaging five minute animated Ted lesson about the Hagia Sophia.

Kelly Wall reviews the stories behind the Hagia Sophia and tells a terrific story that starts in Constantinople and ends in Istanbul.

Thanks to David Walp for positing the link.

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

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 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. Finally, you can read another excellent summary from the Independent.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Kristallnacht; 75th Anniversary


Here, a director from the US Holocaust Museum discusses the significance of Kristallnach, or the "night of broken glass," on the occasion of its 75th anniversary last year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

WWI From a German's Perspective: Awesome BBC site

The BBC iWonder has an awesome site about World War I from a German soldier's perspective and that of a young English soldier. The site includes great photographs, short video clips and links to read more about different events.

A timeline at the top of the page allows you move directly to specific events.
If you have never seen a iWonder site, you should. They are fun and student friendly. And this one might make for a great web quest.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

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 Howjsay.com 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.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Liberal Conservative Differences

While I am not sure I agree with everything on this image it is mostly accurate and does bring up a great way to discuss the differences between what is meant by a liberal and a conservative.  Thanks to one of Doug Zywiol's students for finding it.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

History of Halloween

The video above is great as it touches the potato famine and ancient Irish history connecting it to All Hallow's Eve and even looks at the origins of trick or treat.