Friday, November 30, 2012

Prezi for Gupta Accomplishments

Chinese Dynasty Songs

Thanks to my fellow teacher, Beth Creech, for the top video.  Both go over the Chinese dynasties, but the top one is more detailed.  The students love learning to music so one or both of the videos would be a great way to go over the material after it has been taught.

The Cyrus Cylinder in Ancient Persia

Interesting story for those of  us about to teach Greece and the Persian Empire.

Sometimes called the "first first bill of human rights," the Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most famous objects in the British Museum and will travel to the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery next March. The cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform and is famous because of King Cyrus's encouragement of religious freedom throughout his empire.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Word to Blackboard Test Converter

If you use Blackboard and want to give tests on it, you can use this site to upload Word Documents and then instantly (and for free) convert them to an item that can be used in Blackboard.  The link also tells how to get them into Blackboard. 

Legalism, Confucianism, Taoism

Above is a student video (not mine) done giving a brief overview of legalism, Confucianism and Taoism.   I like it because it gives a visual element to the three isms and it is what I will use as an introduction for my students. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ancient China PowerPoint

So in my continuing evolution as a teacher, I am moving away from PowerPoints so in the slideshow above I will probably only use about 15 slides on the dynasties and all of them will be in a recorded video which my students will choose to watch in class at their own pace or alternatively listen to a live presentation.  But if you still like using PowerPoints, feel free to copy mine and create your own alterations (as I did with the people who preceded me). 

Intro to China - World's Most Typical Person

This is how I will begin my unit on China.  It is a great way to remind the kids that while they may be from the US, they are anything but typical.  I love that my school has a growing Chinese and Indian immigrant population which makes those students smile when they see the video (it came out last year right before my China unit). 

Twitter for Teachers: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Just found this great clip on the benefits of twitter for teachers--quite informative and engaging.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No Innocent Spice: The Secret Story Of Nutmeg, Life And Death

My colleague, Frances Coffey just sent me the link  to this NPR  story about the history of nutmeg that they just did because of the holiday season.  In AP World history, we are studying exploration and the importance of the spice trade as a motive so I played the clip in class today. The history begins about four minutes into the seven minute segment and explains the importance of nutmeg in the 16th century (for Europeans, the narrator says, nutmeg had the same status as the I-phone today).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Richard III Found?

Scholars now believe the bones of Richard III have been found in a parking lot exactly where ancient texts say his body would be found.  He, the last of the line of York, and popularized by Shakespeare, was rather controversial during his life.  As you can see from this fascinating article, the bones' DNA is being compared to one of Richard's descendants for verification.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

50 iPad Tricks for the Teacher

Apps in Education is a new site I just found as I try to incorporate the ipad for my students who have one.  The site has 50 tricks for ipad users including how to see street view for maps,  add a Google calendar and e-mail, use the air printer, find your phone, turn on VPN, create folders quickly dim or increase the reading light, and much more. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Classical Qin and Han China Web Quest

Here's a web quest on classical India and China. It covers everything from the civil service to paper-making to Qin's terra cotta army and has a couple of short video clips to break up the reading and writing. A form for the student's to complete is at the bottom of the web page.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Flipping Class Within My Class

So I just completed Sal Kahn's new book titled The One World Schoolhouse.  If you are interested in the history of his KahnAcademy or where he intends to take education, it is worth the $12, but be warned that it is woefully short on quantitative research (isn't that true of so much in education) and he assumes that all kids will be motivated simply because they can go their own speed).  But it got me to thinking...

So today I made the very simple video above which is my only lecture for my India unit.  In class today I let those who wanted to work at their own speed use ear buds to watch the video and the rest of the students listened to me give a traditional video.  The kids using the video stopped and started it numerous times and still finished well ahead of me (which is one of the major points of Kahn's book that our schools waste a lot of time in  the interest of keeping all students together.  Once students finished the lecture they started this project on Gupta accomplishments.  As with the video lecture, I included videos explaining how to use the technology for the assignment.   

Trench War Simulation

David Harms over at HistorySimulation has a free simulation on Trench Warfare which you or your students can upload onto your laptops.  Obviously the best way for your students to learn is through doing as opposed to being told what to do.  Above is a short tutorial done by the site on the benefits of simulations. The site also has simulations on WWI, WHII and the Cold War. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

How Pandemics Spread

My colleague, Frances Coffey, sent me this fascinating 8 minute TED TALKS clip about the spread of diseases. As she notes, AP World, World 1 and even AP Human Geography will find some value in it. I especially liked the different impact of disease in hunter gather societies and the impact in a more connected world.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fakebook for Historical Discussions

I showed my teacher students tonight so they could create Fakebook pages with their students.  I use it, for example, to have my students converse between different historical characters.  What I love about it is that the algorithm finds the picture of the historical figure or you can upload your own.   You can also put in a video and create friends.  Best of all is that you do not need a login or password and it will create a unique webpage for you or your students.  Here is an e-sheet explaining the assignment using Fakebook that I put together for my world history students.  

Flipping with Educreations

Several of my students have been bringing in tablets to class this fall.  Either they or I, if I want to flip the classroom can use it to create a narrated PowerPoint lecture that also allows you to draw and otherwise annotate lectures.  Above is one a student did (not mine) on the Berlin Airlift and here are other ones on social studies.  Here is how you can make an Educreation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Normandy in Color

Open Culture posted this amazing footage from the Normandy invasion (Operation Overlord). George Stephens, a film maker during the war, made the film with other cameramen hoping to use some of the footage for a documentary. They had a hand-held camera and some 16 mm Kodachrome color film which they used for some of the film. Some of the scenes are amazing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Google & the Fall of the Iron Curtain

Google's Cultural Institute has an awesome collection on The Fall of the Iron Curtain with videos, documents, and images curated by historian Niall Ferguson. You can read more about the project on Open Culture where I found this information

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chromebooks for Inexpensive Learning

I keep telling people that we are in the middle stage of converting from teaching using paper to a digital format.  As we move online, we will have cheaper and cheaper devices because all we will need is a delivery device.  If any of your students are looking for a computer that does it all, the $199 Chomebook (11.6") by Acer is made only for the cloud (although it does allow your most recent items to be stored on the laptop and run without WiFi.  Items like this makes online learning much more viable.  Definitely when my own children outgrow our own laptops, it will be the one I purchase for our kids (durable, cheap and capable of doing everything the kids need to do).  

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Use QR Codes in the Classroom

My teacher students were rather eager to learn about how to use QR codes in the classroom for homework or other uses.  So after class I created the video above to show how to use it.  I explain all the steps from creating a webpage for your homework assignments and how to create a QR generator.  Since my county requires that we put everything for our students in Blackboard, I also include that.  I started using the QR codes for homework with my students in the second or third week of school and am amazed at how many of them use it.  

The bottom video shows you how to download the QR reader on your smartphone.

Students like QR readers as they do not have to write down their homework assignments.  When combined with Remind101, it makes it tough for students to have an excuse not to complete their homework.

If your students ask, there are plenty of Android and iTunes QR readers for their smartphones. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crossword Puzzle Maker

My own kids have a standing assignment for school to make a crossword puzzle.  Here is the site for Crossword Labs which makes it incredibly easy.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

History Simulations

So far I have made very little money with this blog because it is a labor that I love and I feel as it has enhanced my teaching and based on the e-mails a lot of others as well.  But fortunately I do make some "ice cream" money and one of the sources is from History Simulations.  I like it because 1) it is a teacher made business and so you know it has been and continues to be tested in the classroom and continually is improved 2) I believe that making the students learn by doing is the best way to learn which is why I like David Harms' simulations.

Here for example is one on World War I which allows the student to change the size of the armies  to alter the scenarios.  David also has a blog with testimonials, discussions of the game improvements and more.  For those of you who are interested in his simulations, David has one for WWI, WWII and the Cold War.  Watch a few minutes of the video above and you will be impressed.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


This site, Text 2 Mind Map, allows students to create a mind map of anything such as a historical figure or vocabulary term or concept. You just type in the text and then click on "draw mind map." You can download the map or share it online.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pdf to Word

About 5-10 times a year someone sends me a pdf that I want to crack open so I can make it my own.  For most this is impossible. But if you go to Pdftoword allows you to convert short pdfs to word documents.  Go to the site, upload your document and in less than five minutes you will have the word document. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Top Posts for the World Blog in October

Thanks to you all we matched our #1 month last year (at the end of the year) of 48,000 page views for this, the government blog and the world one.  The top three posts for the world blog were


Teaching Jainism? Here's a web-quest that gives students everything they need to know. You can find a form for the web-quest at the bottom of the web page.