Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project Based Learning

The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) has an excellent site about Project Based Learning (PBL). In project based learning, students work on a complex problem or question and work collaboratively to design a solution. The BIE site has sample projects categorized by subject and grade. For example, they have 27 high school world history projects that you can read and download. Here is an example of one 9th grade project called A.D.1095 and All That.

21,000 Hits This Month and Rising

We reached a new milestone hitting 21,000 hits this month.  The top three most hit posts were the video of Apple and the Industrial Revolution,  followed by Chomp which is a search engine that allows you to more easily search for mobile apps and finally the Ted Talk on flipping the classroom

A Webinar on the Flipped Classroom

Thanks to the head of social studies in my county, Alice Reilly, who gave me the heads up on this which she found on Eschoolnews which is a daily e-mail for people interested in technology news.  On Tuesday, March 20 from 2:00-3pm ET there will be a webinar on flipping the classroom.  Go here to register this seminar.  Attendees will learn what a “flipped classroom” should look like (and what it shouldn't look like), how to develop implementation strategies for a flipped classroom model (needs assessment; selecting resources, such as Tegrity; and measuring success), best practices for using Tegrity to create content for the flipped classroom and tips for most efficient use of class time in a flipped classroom model. 

Tiny Url

From time to time I need to shorten my url.  For example if I am sending out a message using Remind101 to my  students, then my Google Docs url is too short so I get a truncated one.  For example, here is the entire url for a webquest my US government students are working on (concerning the presidential election if you are interested) and here is the tinyurl:  Both end up at the same page. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

PBS Story on Flipping the CLassroom

Google Earth Tour of the Panama Canal

One of my teacher-students, Carl Jones, found the video above of a Google Earth tour of the Panama Canal.  Carl enjoys making Google Earth tours of many of his unit destinations.  However rather than having to create a new Google Earth destination and then using Screencastomatic to create a video of it, Carl saved time by finding it (and others on youtube). 

How A Google Search Works

While this is over a year old, it still mostly holds true.  The author, Matt Cutts, is the head of quality control at Google.  He, therefore, is in charge of the search engine and for keeping it "honest" (ie not biased towards Google products).  Play the video for a fascinating look at what happens between when you push return on a search and when you get the results. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Horrible History - Rome

After I get through the Roman dictators I will play the video above for my students. 


My students do a lot of webquests where I have them answer a series of questions using their e-books as well as Internet sites and some videos.  Here is one my students just did on the Punic Wars.  I believe that webquests cater to different learning styles and thus help all students learn more effectively. is a starting point for hundreds of different webquests.  If you are like me you can take bits and pieces from others or even start with the key concepts you have to cover and start doing some searching online to build one of your own. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hindenburg Disaster on Film

I'm not sure if you will use this in your world history class, but this is a sadly fascinating film of the last few minutes of the flight of the Hindenburg and actual footage of it exploding.  I found it, on of all places The Fix, which is the WashPost's best political news page. 

Chomp and Mobile Apps

So, as you can probably tell, I am learning a lot recently about mobile apps.  Well one thing I have just discovered is that there is a company called Chomp which allows you to more easily search for apps (both Android, iPhone and iPad).  It was just recently bought by Apple who is looking to revamp its app store, but for the time being it will continue as is - namely a search engine for your apps.  So if you know what you are looking for to help with your classes, just go there and do a search.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Khan Academy and Flipping from Ted Talks

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, sent me this link to the "Ted Talk" video by one of the promoters of "flipping the classroom." Here's the blurb from the you tube site: "Salman Khan talks about how and why he created the remarkable Khan Academy, a carefully structured series of educational videos offering complete curricula in math and, now, other subjects. He shows the power of interactive exercises, and calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script -- give students video lectures to watch at home, and do "homework" in the classroom with the teacher available to help."

The Industrial Revolution and Apple

I received this from Janet Babic who is a tremendous teacher in my department who is now connecting the Industrial Revolution to our student's world today in the form of Apple. This clip is the first time that American cameras have gone into Apple factories in China and it does a great job of showing the positives and negatives of the factory work in China.  It was very effective in getting the students to make connections to the mill experience in the IR and also demonstrating assembly lines, working conditions, etc.  It’s about 17 minutes long, but it’s split into 3 parts and my students really loved it and we had some great conversation about ethics in business, etc.

Smartphone As Your Computer

Sorry to be on such a smartphone kick, but I am trying to get used to my new phone quickly.  As most of you know you can edit your Google Docs items from any mobile device.  My students who have tried it get a kick out of working on their phone (and I've lost count of how many have done it on days their Internet have gone down at home or who just plain like doing it) and seeing the changes simultaneously on their laptops.  So the video above shows a person actually working on a GDocs item from their smartphone.  I found this video on Google Operating System and ones like this that allow you use the smartphone as the guts of the computer when docked in a screen/re-charging device.  But what gets me excited is this product from Ubuntu which connects your smartphone to a screen or this one which is essentially an empty laptop for which the smartphone serves as the guts. It is one way that soon schools will be able to provide cheaper access to the Internet for their students (not to mention already inexpensive devices such as the Chromebook).  In other words a cloud based classroom for all our students is getting very close (since schools will hopefully be able to provide laptops to the students without smartphones).   Here is the Android app for Google Docs and here is the iPhone one. 

Pdf To Word

There seems to a ton of times in my life when I have wanted to convert a pdf to a word document but have been unable to do so.  While it is a feature of Google Docs, it does not work as well as Pdftoword which allows you to convert short (3-4 pages) documents.  Just enter in the document and in about an hour the word document is e-mailed to you.  If you have longer ones, you can sign up for the free two week trial or subscribe.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Saudi Aramco magazine, a product of Saudi Aramco Oil, is a bimonthly magazine that offers great articles and specials about Muslims and the wider Arabic world. They've written stories about Ibn Batutta, Indian Ocean trade, and Muslin contributions in science and medicine. And on their website, they have walking tours of the Alhambra mosque and the Dome of the Rock. On their website, you can explore past issues and specials.

History Simulations

Speaking of advertising, the first one (look at the right side of this blog for a link anytime) is for "History Simulations" which you can do online when your students are studying World War I, World War II and the Cold War.  Above is a short video explaining how to get the simulations for your students.  What I really like about this site is that it was created by a current teacher for teachers so your students should love it. 

Advertise on the Teacher Sites

After four years and 2500 posts, I have decided to earn some money from this enterprise.  With over 20,000 hits a month (and growing) this site combined with the US Government Teachers and World History Teachers sites have become one of, if not the, social studies site to visit to help your free content and technology needs.  If you are a company that would like to advertise, please contact me to talk about rates.

Likewise if you need presenters at in-services or conferences, I would be happy to discuss rates and tailor the presentations to fit your needs.

Please contact me at 

Dictionary App for Mobile Devices has a free app for Android users as well as people who like Apple's mobile devices

Google Earth for Mobile Devices

Many teachers like using Google Earth in their classroom. Now if you are short on laptops, you can get the students with smartphones to download the Google Earth app for Droid and for iPhone.  The video above shows you how to use it in an Android. 

Flash Cards for Mobile Devices

Here is an Android app that lets you create flashcards for class for free.  Here are three that use the same idea with an iPhone app. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mobile Scanner

Okay, one more before I force myself to go to bed! While I have basically shunned all paper in my classroom, people still insist on giving it to me at various in-services and what not. Well now I can scan in my documents and leave the paper behind! Here is the app for the iPhone and here is the one for the Droid

Use Your Smartphone to Control Your Laptop

Okay so one of my teachers recently asked me to buy him a remote control clicker so he could move around the classroom and show his PowerPoints (and then lost it a day after I got it for him!).  Well now he can use this iPhone app or I, my Droid app, to click my computer screen while I run around the room and teach!   

Wikipedia for Your Mobile Device

Okay, so I am a little bit on a roll.  Followers of this site know that I really like Wikipedia. So if you agree here is an app for your Droid and one for your iPhone.  

Diigo For Your Android or iPhone

Okay, here is installment #2 for your Android or iPhone which lets you save pages to your Diigo account.  If you don't have Diigo, then you might want to consider it as it lets you save urls, categorize them and then even lock them (which is nice if you have a lot of websites for which you don't want to remember login/passwords) so no one can see your url.  Otherwise you can search the open urls and find lots of other people who have saved sites that are similar to yours.  I found idea on Android 4 Schools and here is my last post on Diigo. 

Nixon in China, 40 Years Later

One of my favorite sites on the NYTimes is the Lede which has a lot of "man on the street" video from chaotic scenes around the world (think Arab Spring).  But the most recent post is a short (3 minutes) narrated video of Nixon visiting China 40 years ago.  Here is the entire story from the Lede. 

Can You Find the Historical Character

Well sure a few of the people like Bruce Lee are not that historical, but most of this pictures would make for a good review.  Thanks to my department colleague Matt Mough for this one. 

Flipping the Classroom

This article from The Economist offers a good overview of flipping and its value. It also talks about the interest of the Gates Foundation in the idea.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Relocating Your Lost Smartphone

Okay so two weeks ago my cell phone died and I went from a simple device that could only call someone (yes this is surprising for many who know me) to one who can now text (to my wife's relief) and get on the cloud from my phone.  Bucking most of my students' suggestions, I went for an Android (Verizon's 4G Razr).  So every once in a while I am going to be putting items up on the blog page for cell phones.  First off here is a NYTimes article on Lookout Mobile (for iphone and Android) that can uses a webpage to locate your phone as well as serves as free antivirus and saves your photos and contacts to the cloud in case your smartphone is destroyed or lost.  Actually the latter is one of the reasons I chose an Android as it is completely connected to the web (my contacts, for ex. are just my gmail list and I can seamlessly save any webpage to my phone using the Chrome to Phone extension.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

The History Channel and Rome

The History Channel has a number of videos and articles on Rome.  Above is one on the Appian Way.  Here are five short videos on the Punic Wars

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Great Depression In Europe/ Phenomenal Site

Studying the Great Depression in America and Europe? If so, you absolutely have to check out and explore this wonderful site that includes animated unemployment maps, short primary documents, photographs and cartoons from the period. Everything is very well organized and you will also find links to other modules in European history.

Spatial History Project at Stanford

The Spatial History Project at Stanford is an awesome site that allows you or your kids to explore the historical evolution and geographical context of the Nazi concentration camps administered by the SS. My thanks to Jeff Feinstein for sending this to me.

Reading like a Historian: Stanford University

This Stanford University site has some great resources on teaching history with primary resources. Here is a description of a new part of the site that I coped directly: Reading Like a Historian, a project developed in tandem with the San Francisco Unified School District, is a high school history curriculum that is literacy-rich and document-based. It focuses on core content, critical thinking, and improving reading comprehension. This curriculum draws on over 20 years of research on historical thinking and educational practice. Since being put on the Web in 2010, the curriculum has been downloaded over 200,000 times.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In-Service on Learning Google Docs

Today I and the head of our high school technology specialists (Yvonne Griggs) will be presenting an in-service on using Google Docs in the classroom to our middle and high school chairs.  We have created a how to sheet which includes videos for everything we are doing.  So if you are learning about Google Docs (or as we will be doing, Google Apps for Education), please click here and you can use it as well. 

How Stuff Works

I love the free (and short) videos on "How Stuff Works."  Above is one on the Vikings and there are a ton more to help you in a history class here. Look for the labels at the top of the page for the types of films. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Entire School Online

I am surprised I haven't heard about his as this school (Battlefield HS in Prince William County, VA) is just down the road from me.  If you go here you can look on the right hand side of the page and hit the "+" by "social studies" and all of the classes will pop up and then you can see all of the assignments for each teacher.  There are a few that are locked down by a code, but most are right there for the viewing.  So if you need help with AP World, World History I or World History II, you might have hit pay dirt.  Thanks for the head up from Jerry Walsh who is taking my tech integration course and showed this to me in class tonight. 

Greek Contributions

While I sometimes have to spend a lot of time showing students how to do something digital, last week I spent three minutes showing the kids how to do a Prezi.  For those who choose to do it, I got some great work such as the one above. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Quasi Flipped Classroom

Like Frank Franz, I’ve done a lot of research on flipping the classroom. I’m trying it for the first time this week in my AP World class with a short lecture on the causes of World War I. I linked the screen cast on Blackboard. The idea is that this will give me more time in class to do more hands on learning or delve more deeply into the lecture topic. For example, I might ask the kids to rank the causes and defend their ranking.

But I wonder if history classrooms are already flipped if we don’t do much lecturing in the first place. The reading gives the kids the same content as a podcast lecture. Here’s how someone on a flipped blog explained it: “But in history, if you are assigning reading for homework then they are already doing the content at home. And if you are doing discussions or other work in class that makes them grapple with what they have read then your history class is already 'flipped'. I agree but I also think that few kids in history really read the text and process what they read so discussion in class or activities designed to get the kids to grapple with the content often don’t work so well. I’m hoping that short screen casts might help. Indeed, I just got an email from a student who said the video was "super" helpful, so maybe this is a great way to go.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

World Geography e-textbook

When I first began teaching (21 years ago!), I taught a world geography course for several years (since exiled from VA and incorporated into world history) for which this book would have been perfect.  But for world history teachers the first chapter is quite good on basic geography (longitude, latitude, regions, relative & absolute location, time zones and more.  The e-textbook also has lots of pictures and videos and best of all is free. 

Europe Plunges into War; Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

This cool animated map walks you through the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in about four minutes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Teaching Channel

The Teaching Channel has a ton of teaching ideas presented in video format.  Above is one for ancient civilizations.  There are over 100 for social studies on the website.  I found out about by using my igoogle feed from FreeTech4teachers

Trench Warfare

Thanks to my colleague Sarah Whitley for sending along this terrific interactive site about trench warfare in World War 1. It's a Canadian site that gives your students a better understanding and appreciation of the natrue of trench warfare.

What Have the Romans Done?

Thanks to Jessica May who was in my technology integration course last fall for this great Monte Python snippet. It would be a good way to review the accomplishments of the Romans.   

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Newly Flipped Class

After about a week of in-depth research, I started to flip my AP Govt class this past week. I'm now posting videos (screencasts) of content that I would usually deliver at the front of the classroom and having students watch and respond to the videos before they come to class. Once in class, we can go over any confusion students may have encountered when watching the videos, then delve deeper into the topic or apply the topic to new situations.

I'll have more on my progress in the coming weeks, but the equipment/software I'm using are
Screencast-o-matic (hat tip to Ken), an external camera/mic by Logitech ($40), and Google Forms.

For more information, go to:
On Twitter: #flipclass or #flippedclass

I am putting this on the world site even though Frank (Panther fan) is doing it in his government class as I think he will have an interesting discussion in coming weeks on it. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More on the Flipped Classroom

Here's a s short clip in which a science teacher explains how he flipped his classroom. He offers a good explanation of how it works. Most flipped classrooms are in science and math but one school has flipped all core courses. The principal says that the video lectures for each course averages about ten minutes. This site lists 15 schools that use flipped classes. Some teachers use screen casting for their lectures and others use vod-casting. If you are interested, you might check out the "Flipped Class Network " here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture
I've seen a number of references to the flipped classroom and started to do a little research. It's a very interesting concept as you can see from the slideshow above, which I found at this site. You can also find more information at this site. The basic idea is that students watch and listen to your lectures and direct instruction for homework. Students can then use the class for " tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating." Here's a USA Today story about a flipped classroom in Maryland

the Cosby Show: Friends, Romans and Countrymen

If you're studying the end of the Roman Republic and rise of Julius Caesar, your kids might like this rap of Shakespeare's speech about Caesar. I'll post the more serious Marlon Brando version next.

Marlon Brando as Marc Antony Reciting: Friends, Romans and Countrymen

Couldn't embed the video showing Brando playing Marc Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar but here is the 3 minute link.

Fake Tweet Builder

I am teaching my "teacher-students" Fake Tweet Builder today and was perusing the Internet for a video or how to sheet when I found one of my students from the fall, Matt Levi, who had made a video for our class. It is actually especially good because occasionally Fake Tweet Builder makes a mistake and Matt does a great job of showing how to overcome this.  We use this for an assignment where students are learning a lot of short facts about say a battle or a number of people that we do not need to learn in depth. 
Here is a short film on the accomplishments of Alexander the Great.  I am slowly replacing all the films I used to show the kids on Discovery Education with Youtube ones since they are more entertaining and access is open to all. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wife Swap - Spartans and Athenians

Thanks to my fellow department member Tara Cook for this video on the lives of the Spartans and Athenians.  If you are using Google Docs, then you can link the video to your assignment (even if you have already done it) or if you are doing a PowerPoint (called "Presentation" in Google Docs) then you can insert it by going to "insert video" and putting in "Horrible Histories-Wife Swap: Spartans and Athenians" to the search box. Then you click on it and it will be in your presentation. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Building A Yurt

One of my students spent her first three years living in a yurt in Mongolia so this will be wonderful to show my class.  But every world history teacher studies the Mongols so this will be helpful especially when explaining that some Mongols still live in yurts today.  I found this on Open Culture

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Awesome Collection of German Documents & Images

This fantastic collection is well-organized by time period. Click on a period and the site takes you to a menu with an introduction, documents, images, and maps. As my colleague Jeff Feinstein, who sent this to me says, "it's great for classroom use."

Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Introduction to Twitter for Educators
Last week I introduced my "teacher students" to Twitter by asking what it was.  The first answer was that it lets people know what you are doing during the day.  While that is an excellent answer for a teacher who knows that is what students use it for it is also an amazing way to find out useful information for helping the teacher in the classroom.  Here are tips to set up your Twitter account.  Here is an amazing list of teachers to follow on Twitter broken down into different subjects.   A few tips I would add of my own are that it is nice when you can quickly go through the Tweets.  I use TweetDeck which I embed in my igoogle account.  Also before you add someone you can look through their Tweets to see if they use it on a regular basis and whether you like their tips.  Finally if you want to follow me go to "kenhalla." 

Print on the Cloud From Google Chrome

It is nice that when I talk to people they generally know what I am speaking about when I mention the "cloud."  Here is one great use of it.  If you have Chrome you can set up your browser to print straight to a computer, smart phone or tablet (even if you are not near your printer).  Here is how and here is Google's page on it. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rome Reborn

If you look at George's post below, it mentions that Google Earth worked with UVA to build the 3D buildings in Rome's creation. If you want to see the "Rome Reborn" site from UVA, it is here.  It has many shots that you might want to show your students after watching the short film in George's post. 

Age of Imperialism

I was just speaking with my former teaching roommate of seven years and her class (now at another school) is already doing imperialism.  So while it may be too late for her this year, it hopefully isn't for you as I have found a complete lesson plan on imperialism.  It includes about 20 helpful links to everything you will want to teach as well as seven days of lesson plans.  It also includes the PowerPoints, graphic organizers and WebQuests.  Now when you get to this era you can upload the ppts and make them your own as you can with the other items.  

An Amusing Look at the Indus River Valley Civilization

Here is the second in the series by John Green of Crash Course. &nb sp;I might show this to my students before teaching the Indus River Valley. 

Agricultural Revolution From The Fertile Crescent to the Hamburger!

This is an amusing look at how we get from the  Fertile Crescent to the hamburger we eat at McDonald's.  Kids will love it, but there is one cartoon at the 5 minute mark that you might not like.  Otherwise it will grab kids at the beginning of your world civilization course.  I found it at Mike Elgan on Google+.  This is part of an ongoing series (see above) which can be found here

Goggle Earth Tour of Ancient Rome

Here's a great goggle earth tour of ancient Rome and some its most famous buildings. See the Roman Forum, Colosseum and the Forum of Julius Caesar all in 3D.

Thursday, February 2, 2012