Friday, June 29, 2012


I love getting e-mails about the many projects out there that are going online.  For example a new one I just heard about is the World Wonders Project which uses Google's StreetView to look at cities around the world as well as archeological sites in a 3D format.  There are many interesting historical locations available to explore on the site, including the Palace of Versailles, the Historic Centre of Cordoba, Stonehenge and Hiroshima.


Above is a shot from the site featuring downtown Prague near to where my father went to college and spent much of his youth and I had the good fortune of seeing for the third time last summer. 

Today's Meet: Develop a Virtual Classroom

Today's Meet is a way to get students into a virtual classroom for a discussion. The developers call it "a microblogging backchannel that empowers computer classroom teachers to generate a discussion, without the interference of raised hands or student disruption."

It's a little like Twitter or Edmodo "as it gets students chatting, using a 140-character limit and an easy-to-use interface. Todays Meet is a backchannel, which helps teachers conduct online discussions, while channeling the results onto one web page or an Interactive White Board."  My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, learned about it in his AP US workshop and sent me the link. Looks like a very interesting and usable application.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blog Contributors Grow By One

When I started this blog 4+ years ago I wanted it to be a way to communicate between schools in my district - something beyond the traditional collaborative teams that were then being implemented - as I did not feel lesson planning and great ideas to be limited to just a few people in one's individual CLT.  Well, quickly, this blog became a national one and your e-mails and comments have given me lots of ideas and plenty of inspiration and motivation to keep it going.

While I have had some guest bloggers off and on, Frank Franz, who teaches at Madison HS, was there at the inception and continues to be a regular on the US Government blog, but also occasionally on the world blog.

Late last fall, I asked one of my students in my technology integration course, George Coe, from  West Potomac HS, to join me.  As you can see he has been prolific and enthusiastic in adding posts to all three blogs.

Soon you will start seeing posts from Scott Campbell, whom I met in the airport a year ago on the way to an AP reading and who is now teaching at Thomas Jefferson HS.  Scott will be adding primarily to the US and government blogs.

As you might expect all of us use technology a great deal in the classroom and hope you continue to enjoy and utilize the posts to enhance your teaching.  

Make Your Own Qwiki



Their name, Qwiki, is certainly enjoyed by my students, but when I want an audio, visual and written overview of something I am teaching, it is the best source I can find on the Internet.

Now, though, you can create your own Qwiki, narrated, links, video, you name it.  Above is a quick video explaining it and here is how you can get started.

If you have been using Qwikis, you may notice that you can no longer go to the homepage to run a search, but instead will have to be using Bing and then will see a Qwiki with every search you run on the right margin.    If you have some old Qwikis, as do I, then your url will still work.  There is also an ABC News page for Qwikis. 

Great Professional Development Workshops in World Religions

Just completed a week-long certificate program in world religions and interfaith study at the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. The center also offers religion workshops up and down the east coast during the school year. They usually come to Fairfax County in the fall. Their programs are outstanding and will add to your knowledge as you teach the different world religions in world history.

During the week long program in Rochester, we went through the major religions, one each day and then went to their place of worship. For example, on Monday, we listened to a lecture on Hinduism, went out to eat at an Indian restaurant, then went to a Hindu temple where the Hindu professor explained the service and rituals.

When we did Buddhism, a Zen Buddhist talked to us and then taught us how to meditate, with proper posture, and concentration on breathing. We saw an orthodox synagogue, a Sikh temple, a Mormon church, and a Muslim Mosque. The director of our program, Dr. Muhammad Shafiq, used to be the Imam at the mosque and did a great job explaining the rituals in the prayer service, even showing us how the Muslims make ablution before prayers.

We also heard a lecture from an Episcopal priest who talked about some interesting trends in Christianity today like the emergent church and the growing division between the Protestant north and the evangelical south in South America and Africa. A Sikh father and son explained their religion with the son even showing us the dagger that he and every Sikh must carry every day.

The Interfaith Center offers this certificate program every summer to 15 to 20 interested teachers. They also offer workshops during the year which you should consider.

Sal Khan and John Hennessy on Online Education: The Full D10 Interview

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein sent me this link to Walt Mossberg's interview of Sal Khan and Stanford President, John Hennessy about the cost of higher education and the use of technology in education.  It runs about 37 minutes and is quite interesting.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stitcher: Radio & Podcast app

Great free app for smartphone, Ipad or Android tablet.. You can program all your favorite radio shows and podcasts to play in whatever order you want but the cool thing is that you can also plug in courses of university podcasts. The more stuff you listen tp, the more stuff  Stitcher will find that you like.  I downloaded Stitcher today and found a series on the History of Rome and another one on the Middle Ages. I might even listen to a couple of them on a road trip this weekend. Here's Walt' Mossberg's review of Sticher.

Donors Choose

So we recently interviewed (I am a dept. chair) candidate for an opening we have.  Beyond the many great things one of those interviewed said, she mentioned a website called Donor Choose which even my co-English chair knew about - but apparently not me!  Well the candidate had gotten chairs for all of her students, her own desk, a printer, pens, pencils, etc. from the website.  The way it works, is if a teacher has a need, he/she puts it online and can either solicit funds and matching corporate ones as well donors from around the Internet.  So with some effort an enterprising teacher can get some much needed supplies.  

Classroom Lectures Go Digital

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, sent me this Interesting NY Times article about how  the move to digital lectures in both high school and college are changing the face of  traditional education. "Thanks to digital media like video-on-demand broadcasts, or VODcasts, lectures that students would normally receive in the classroom are migrating outside of brick and mortar schools."  

Monday, June 25, 2012

CIA Factbook App

The CIA has a great factbook that many of us use for our teaching.  Well now there is an iPad/iPhone app (which unfortunately costs $2.99), but would allow students to quickly look up information on their mobile devices. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Free Conference Call

It dawned on me this morning that if Frank and I had needed to speak to more than each other last night I could have shared my screen with lots of people and we could have gotten a free conference call using FreeConferenceCall.  I first heard about it in 2007 as Obama's campaign was using it to save money in the early days.  The only catch, if you can call it that, is that you get an e-mail when you are done.

If you want to share documents and doing a video conference, you can use a "HangOut" in Google+ which lets you video conference with up to 10 people and share your Google Drive (used to be Google Docs) documents.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Share Your Screen

So Frank Franz (Panther Fan) and I were just doing some work with test questions for our county and when I couldn't figure something out I went to Screenleap and in two seconds it created a code I sent him and he was able to see my screen as I moved around and together we were able to solve our problem. The Screencastomatic people also have a screen share application called Quick Screen Share that can do the same thing.  

The Myth of Data Driven Schools (Alfie Kohn)

This is a must read for all of us who are asked to collect data for all our assessments. Just click on "full screen" to view the document.
  What does the data show us

Remind Your Students to do Homework During Summer School

With summer school starting shortly I wanted to tell you about one of the reasons why my students turned in their work at a higher level than ever before. I love it when a student e-mails me and asks the next day if I received the message.  My answer is usually, "Yes, I answered you a minute later."  But students typically do not use e-mail and I can't blame them. But remind101 has figured it out.  You give instructions to your students (and I do it for parents as well) and they can opt to sign up for the free text.  You do not see anyone's cell phone and all of your messages are recorded for you.  My students loved it as did their parents.  What is also wonderful is that you can set it to go anytime.  So I would usually do it during the day when I put the assignment on Blackboard and set it for 4 or 5 pm.  There are 5 such services out there, but this is the only FREE one and you can have a different one for each of your classes. 

If you aren't allowed to use such a site, you can always have your students put in their cell phone numbers into a device such as Blackboard or any other device that delivers homework.  Here is how to do it.  If you do this you will need to make sure other teachers aren't also using it as you will be limited (as you are above) to 140 characters.

Now it is hard to limit oneself to 140 characters all the time.  So there are ways around this.  For example if I wanted students to see an assignment I put in Google Docs, I went to tinyurl and put in the long address.  Then you can put that tinyurl in your text and your students can connect to the larger message.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In-Service for e-books & Online Interactives

Believe it or not, we are still in school - or at least the teachers are.  So tomorrow I am doing an in-service on using Patterns of Interaction's e-book version.  But the in-service will also include how to use Google documents as well as how to create class assignments that combine the e-books with online links.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Time Maps


I just received an e-mail from TimeMaps.  They have a pretty neat new site out that lets you go to different time periods and different groups and see where they were in history.  While they do have other things that you can buy, the above mentioned part is entirely free.  Here for example is Europe during the Roman Empire.  Here is their atlas.   The site already has a ton of map items and is growing so as I get updates I will put more items on the blog. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pecha Kucha: 20 slides x 20 seconds each

Pecha Kucha is a Japanese presentation format that allows you to present 20 slides in 20 seconds. It forces you, as the speaker, to move your presentation along and not sit on one slide too long. You can download the PowerPoint template at this site. and here is the Pecha Kucha site. It's pretty cool and works best with graphics rather than slides laden with text. It's a perfect format for flipped lectures.  Here's another site you can check out for answer to questions.

Free Online Course

Summer's finally here. If you get bored or want to improve your knowledge in history, check out one of the 50 free online course that Open Culture has compiled. There is the History of the World to 1500 with Columbia textbook author Richard Bulliet. You can take an introduction to Greek History with the well-known Yale author, Donald Kagan. Or,my favorite, A History of the World since 1300 with Princeton Professor, Jeremy Adelman (but that doesn't begin until the fall). You'll also find course in European History and even American History.

The Story of Sanscrit

In this excellent four minute clip from the PBS documentary, The Story of India, Michael Wood, discusses the origin of Sanskrit.

Here is a site that shows everything you need to know about ancient Rome.  It breaks it down into a bunch of categories (videos, emperors, kings, republic and so on. It even has a bunch of videos such as the one above. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Website for the Egyptian Pharaohs

This is a very nice site for all of the major New Kingdom Egyptian pharaohs.  It has a series of links and lots of images   

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Chrome Book Review

Great review of the new Chrome book by Samsung  from The Verge. It has a new Intel Celeron chip. Found it on Amit Agarwal's Pinterest board.  Agarwal also has a great tech blog. With their long battery life and instant on feature, they would make great computers for the classroom.

Photo Story onto Google Apps/Drive


The best way to do a digital presentation is by using Screencastomatic (here is how). It does not require an account and can immediately be uploaded into Youtube.  The only problem is that some schools do not allow use of Youtube.  If that is the case you have a free alternatives:

About two months ago I posted a video George Coe did on how to save a video within Google Apps.   But the video did not show you how to create an audio presentation.  So if you go to the video above I used Photo Story which is on any computer that uses Microsoft.  Once I show you how to create the presentation I also show you how to upload it into Google Apps or Google Docs, if you do not have access to Youtube. 
Here is a nice series of maps of each of the Chinese Dynasties.  Simply click on each individual image on the website and it will take you to the appropriate map. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What is the Cloud?

This, for me is a nice display of what is meant by "the cloud."  Notice as one action is done on the Smartphone a similar one is done elsewhere such as on a tablet or a computer.  

Rubbish and the World

My world history kids are wrapping up their paper and digital reports on how the world impacts them.  One interesting way I might do it is by showing them the picture above from the Economist on where we create our most trash as a thought provoking exercise of why and where and what that reflects on those countries.  No surprises - the US leads the way and interestingly (not in the article) my own state is the second leading importer of it (after NJ).  Thanks to a G+ post from Larry Ferlazzo for it. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ancient Egypt site from the British Museum

If you liked Ken's site on the Indus river below, you'll also like this site on ancient Egypt developed by the British Museum. Students can explore the stories of a nobleman and farmer, or play an ancient Egyptian board game called Senet. Other menus include geography, pyramids, mummies, trade and writing to name a few. It's a really cool site. I'll probably make a web quest with it to use use next fall or in summer school.

Site for the Harrapans

Each summer I work with my county's online campus and this year will be no different.  Right now I am going through and checking to make sure our links work.  So in the next few days you will see a lot of items from our courses.  Thanks go to Zak McNamara and our World History I guru Tami Odgen.  Here is a link to a site dedicated to the Harrapans.  It includes images, video and written documents and also has a link to information on Mohenjodara.  What I like is that you can see images of how it looks today around the ruins. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

Great Assignments for any unit

Mr. Roughton, a teacher I found on the internet thanks to a link on Twitter from Jerry Blumgarten, has a great website with terrific assignments for world history divided into three categories based on what skills you’ll need to complete them. For example, there is list of 5 point assignments, then one of 10, then 20, then 40. The assignments are imaginative and tap into different learning styles and different levels of motivation. Other parts of his site offer good ideas well. It’s definitely worth bookmarking for next year.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Top Stories for May

Despite the fact that school is out for some (I still have three weeks), we had 45,000 pageviews and from 21,000 unique visitors.  Our top posts this month were

Maps and Empires

This and above is thanks to our collaborative learning team leader Bob Labadie and is a short overview of the major maps and empires of world history through the Renaissance. 

Images


Images are very important to world history.  Again for world history up through the Renaissance, here and above are 450 images and in the successive slides what each of them are. 

World Wonders Project


A lot of us use Google Earth to show our students important historical sites.  Well now Google Earth has put 132 historical sites into one location called the World Wonders Project. which includes Google Earth images as well as information abou the site.  The site lets you find places by continent as well as type of site.  Look at the video above to see a bit of what you can find on the site.  I found out about from the Google Earth Blog