Sunday, September 30, 2012

Twitter, Part II

Once you get on Twitter (to follow George's post), you will want to know who to follow.  If you want some suggestions, you can go to my account and then click on "following."  For each person you can see some of their recent Tweets and decide if you want to follow them.  If you want a really long list of social studies teachers, go here. 

World History PowerPoints

I was looking for the Patterns of Interaction e-book and found this great set of PowerPoints to go along with the book.  If you are using Google Drive, you can instantly make copies and them tailor them to your needs.   Otherwise, download the ones you want in PowerPoint and then upload them into PowerPoint.  

Ancient World History e-Book

A few years ago I worked with some people at the Independence Hall Association in Philly to try to get some interactive e-books up and running. We never did get funding, but thanks to the precursor today we still have some great e-books left online.  One of them is this ancient World History e-book.  I have my students go to it when our book is occasionally down. 

Mesopotamia Unit

I was amazed at how many people looked at my pre-history webquest.  So here is my one for Mesopotamia.  While I use our e-book, Patterns of Interaction, all of the links are unlocked so you could use them as well.  If you need an e-book whose text is unlocked on the Internet, this one would work.  Also above is the PowerPoint I use to start the unit.  You will notice I have a couple quick videos in it as well.  

How Twitter is Reinventing Collaboration Among Educators

Interesting article at MediaShift about how to use Twitter for collaboration. It includes lots of links to various education chats. There are, according to the article, over 150 Twitter chats on education-related topics. And Edutopia has a story about how to use Twitter to"grow your PLN." Here is another article about the value of Twitter in education from NovemberLearning.

To set up a Twitter account, here's all you have to do (fyi--I copied these instruction directly from the Edutopia story.)

1) Go to and click Get Started Now. Fill in the fields. Where they ask for your Full Name, we suggest using your real name if you want to use Twitter as a professional networking resource. This way, people can recognize you.

2) Once you've completed the registration process, click Create my account. It will ask you to enter some text to ensure you're not a robot.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Pyramids Deconstructed

Just when I think I have my entire course figured out and ready, along comes a new something or other on the Internet and it's back to figuring out what is best.  Above is a short fascinating video deconstructing the pyramids at Giza (which I have been fortunate enough to visit twice).  One interesting tidbit is that with the largest built in 23 years, it would have mean setting in place a block every 2.5 minutes, 7 days a week noting that each weighs an average of 7 tons!

Here are ones on the Acropolis and the Taj Mahal

Thursday, September 27, 2012

QR Codes for Homework

So I am starting a little experiment with QR codes.  While I had seen them before I was introduced to them in a big way this summer when I was working on apps for teachers and students. So now my students see the code below when they log into Blackboard.  Once they download a QR reader, they scan it and then every time they open the app they just click on my title and it will take them to the newly updated app where they can see the newest homework first.  So scan the icon below and you can see the homework for my world history students.
To generate a QR code simply enter your page (Google Drive or web) here. There are many different QR readers, but here is one for Android and iPhone

Map Drawing Using Google Drive

My students are doing their first map of the year, this one of the Fertile Crescent.  If you want to know how to have your students "free hand" a map using Google Drive then watch the video above.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hieroglyphics' Typewritter

First off the link below by George on scribes is excellent - and short.  Secondly if you want to have a little fun, here is a hieroglyphics' typewriter (do you students even know what that word means?).  Above is my name. 

Into the (Actual) Cloud

I have put up a cartoon of how the Internet works, but here is a short video of the actual cloud (re: data centers).  It discusses the costs and why it is very hard for it ever to go down.  

Web Quest for Ancient Egypt

Our former librarian, Emily Platz, made this great web quest on ancient Egypt that covers all of our "essential knowledge" as well as map items.  It also includes all the resources students need as well as Microsoft documents which you can copy and give your students or you could just have them go to the page and e-mail you the answers. 

QR Codes for Homework

Probably today I am going to put three QR codes on a sheet of paper (people who know me will laugh at me using paper) and put it up in my room.  Each one of the codes will be tagged to a homework page for each one of my preps.  The students will have to download a QR reader once and then they will never have to write down their homework again. Then if they open the QR reader on their phone and go to the linked page they will see their new homework without having to do anything else.

One way to create the QR codes on a piece of paper is to use TagMyDoc which will put it on any document when you print it out.  I learned about the tagger at FreeTech4Teachers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

John Green's Renaissance

Here is a great video that summarizes the Renaissance.  If you want more John Green review films, go here

We Are the Mesopotamians

One of the great learning rock bands out there is They Might Be Giants which has performed on Letterman.  Above is their song for going over Mesopotamia and here are the lyrics. Thanks to Rebecca Small for reminding me to put it up. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Standard of UR

My colleague, Frances Coffey, sent me this site on the Standard of Ur and this one from the BBC. She has a great idea about how to use the images--have the kids analyze it and try to apply the characteristics of civilization to it. At both sites, you can enlarge the image and study smaller parts of it. The Standard of UR is one of the BBC's greatest objects in the world and shows the earliest depiction of a wheeled vehicle.

Mesopotamia and Trade

Great 10 minute clip from Lost Civilizations about Mesopotamia and trade. It shows how seals were made to record transactions and even Hammurabi's Code. Then, it outlines Sumer's trade with Lebanon and Syria for cedar and other building materials.

Ancient Egypt at the British Museum

The British Museum has a great site on Ancient Egyptian life. I created a simple web-quest that allows students to work through the different levels of the site from geography to pyramids to writing to mummification.

Scribes in Egypt

This four minute clip does an excellent job of explaining the job of an Egyptian scribe and how he plied his trade using papyrus.

History Simulations for WWI, WWII and the Cold War

I love it when history teachers come up with their own ideas and put them online (how could I not love it considering this blog's existence).  A fellow teacher, David Harms, who has almost as much teaching experience as me (at 20, he is just two shy of me!).  David has come up with some great simulations for teaching WWI, WWII and the Cold War.  As you know the more your students do, rather than hear, the better they will learn.  For that reason I would encourage you to check out David's simulations at History

Cuban Missile Crisis Website

This site has everything you would want on the Cuban Missile Crisis including lesson plans.  Thanks to fellow Hayfield teacher, Jeannine Cotner for the heads up on it. 

John Green's Review of World History

Author John Green has come up with some amazing review videos for all of world history.  Above is the first in the series on Egypt.  Your kids will love them.  Word to the wise on some of the earlier ones, he has a vague cartoon implying people having sex that you could skip over or decide if it is appropriate enough for your students.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Qwiki Search Engine

If you follow this blog, you know I found out about Qwiki a couple of years ago.  They used to have a browser on their homepage, but after coupling with Bing, they took it down.  It though is a great tool for your student as it incorporates video, a written description and pictures for pretty much anything you will be discussing.  Since there is no longer a search engine, just type something you want to show your students in a browser and then add the word "Qwiki" and the search tool will appear.  If you want to create your own, go to the Qwiki site, create a free account and go to town.  Above is a Qwiki on Otzi the Iceman which we studied today.

Using Google Drive to Grade Assignments & Collaborate with Colleagues

Today two of the teachers in my department printed out essays that were turned in digitally and sheepishly said to me that they just could not grade them online.  About five or six years ago I was with them, but I am not one to give in easily.  I committed to a year of online grading.  My first foray was with my summer school students at George Mason University where I had a number of research papers to grade.   I still remember the first batch coming in and thinking I did not like grading them online and almost feeling as if I couldn't get ahold of their thesis digitally.  But I hung in there and of course now I find grading paper (as little as I do) inefficient as I can write so much more and more thoughtfully when I am typing.

So if you are game to have your students turn in work digitally then above is a video of how to have the kids turn it in and how you can grade.  In addition to your students you can always use it collaborate with your colleagues.  My department does all of our collaboration together and save oodles of time by doing it on Google Drive. 

First World History Unit on PreHistory

Finally I feel as if my world history freshmen are hitting their technological stride as they can now  make folder, documents, move them about, share with someone else, copy my documents in Google Drive.  Since I put so much technology on them early I try to be a bit traditional early on in other places. For example for part of the first unit I do a traditional PowerPoint and have outline notes (titles, and subtitles) for them to fill as we go.  Above is the first PowerPoint of the year on pre-history. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Webpage for Tons of How To Documents/Videos

Thanks to Craig Perrier, who is our county's head of high school social studies curriculum for this one.  Here is a magazine like format called Educational Technology and Mobile Learning which has a ton of links to how to.  How to do Google Docs, Skype, use of the iPad, Evernote, QR codes, social learning and so much more.  It also has a bit of a news feed so it is certainly not a static webpage. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Did Jesus Have a Wife?

This is a fascinating article which discusses the fact that a piece of papyrus written in the 4th century refers to Jesus as discussing his wife and the fact that he had a female disciple.   Of course, this has been a matter of conjecture for centuries.  So how can you use this in class?  First off we teach the students about papyrus as well as where it was made?  Then we teach about the different major world religions.  Last we discuss, or at least I do, how history is not always so nice and neat and that we change our conclusions over time.  Finally this is nice because it brings up the word artifacts and who gets to decide what we study at school, from textbook companies to  the state boards of education who make up our tests.  The Smithsonian channel will have more on a special on September 30th

Demotic - Language of Everyday Egyptians

As teachers, I believe, we teach a very neat history in our class.  Our textbooks have made history very neat, almost, in some cases, different than what the every day people of the time would remember.  I like to ask my students why, and how we decide what should be left out of our books.  A case in point is hieroglyphics which, according to this article, was the language of the elite (re: pharaohs).  Did you know, for example, that on the Rosetta Stone both Greek and Demotic, the language of the everyday Egyptians was also found.  This is a fascinating article on a now completed dictionary of that ancient Egyptian language. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lascaux France Cave Drawings

I still remember, as a kid, going to Lascaux (which is now closed to the public), France which has some amazing cave paintings.  If you want to take your students on a virtual tour (as I did today), go here

Flipping and rising student scores

Technapex did a survey of some 453 flipped educators in June and found that (a) teachers (88%) reported that they were happier with their jobs because of flipping and (b) students (67%) performed better on tests as a result of flipping. These are the first statistics that I've seen about how much flipping actually improves scores.

Time Maps

A relatively new site out there is TimeMaps which uses maps to connect different areas of the world together, puts topics in context, helps give a survey of the western world.  There are also different lesson suggestions on the website. So, for example, you could put in the name of the era you want to look at such as the Shang Dynasty and you will get this page. Then click on a map and you will see both a map and a description of the time period (below).  Thus you have many more maps, in one nice neat place that you do not have in your textbook.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


This is one of six videos showing how far we have come in terms of globalization. Edudemic has all six on its site, including the original "Shift Happens" from 2006.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What is the Cloud?

In two weeks I am going to start teaching my tech integration course for teachers and one of the first things I will discuss is the meaning of the cloud.  The video above explains it well, but in summary it is when your pictures, music, documents, PowerPoints, etc. are stored on a server somewhere in the world and you are therefore able to access it from any device and from anywhere in the world.  It also means that the devices can get cheaper (check out Amazon's $199 tablet), thinner and more accessible to more people around the world.  It also means your classroom will change as well.  Is it easy? NO.  I struggle to get my students, esp. the freshmen used to e-books, Google Drive, Blackboard, etc.  But once they learn it, they don't want to go back to the old ways.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Carbon Dating

This is from a great site called How Stuff Works (if you use Discovery Streaming, most of their stuff is actually free on this site).  The above video comes via my across county team buddy Rebecca Small. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Glencoe Video Clips by Textbook Chapter

McGraw Hill Companies has a Video Library for its Glencoe World History Textbook with short 3 to 5 minute clips for every chapter. The textbook closely parallels our Patterns of Interaction. For example Chapter 2 of the Glencoe book covers early river civilizations and you can watch short clips on Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Invisible Hand - 60 Second Adventures in Economics

The fundamentals of economics in 60 second animated segments. This one is about the invisible hand. Five others include the Phillips Curve, rational choice theory, the impossible trinity, and the paradox of thrift. They come from the Open University and I saw them on Open Culture.

Guns, Germs, and Steel in 18 Parts

Above is the first of eighteen parts of the Guns, Germs and Steel.  Thanks to my Hayfield colleague Jeannine Cotner for it. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

West Wing - Why Have Different Maps

Why explain why there are different types of maps, when this short piece from the West Wing does it so well?!
In case you care to see it, here is my simple assignment for my students for maps.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WeVideo Couples with Google Drive

Wow, this is great news.  Google Drive keeps adding small companies that it is partnering with on Google Drive.  Wevideo is essentially a MovieMaker for Google Docs.  In other words you can collaborate with other people in other locations to make a video.  Above is a video that explains how easy it is to integrate it into your Google Drive.  Here is a great video on how to use WeVideo. I found about the new partnership from FreeTech4Teachers

Monday, September 3, 2012

Explain and Send (Chrome Extension)

Explain and Send is a really cool extension to your Chrome browser that allows you to snag any part of a web page, annotate it, and send it to someone. It's like the application "snag it" but you have to pay for "snag it" and Explain and Send is free,  and I think a lot easier to use.  Once you capture the image or part of the web page you want, you are prompted to save it as an image, to copy it to your clipboard, or to share the link. I found this on Richard Byrne's blog, Free Technology for Teachers.

Prehistory Web-Quest

Here is a Web Quest on prehistory that I made for the first unit in World 9. It focuses on cave paintings, human origins, Ardie, Laetoli footprints, Lucy, Stonehenge and the Ice-Age. It also includes a link to a quia quiz on the material.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Prehistory Activitry

Creswell Crags is a limestone gorge in the British countryside. "Stone tools and remains of animals found in the caves provide evidence for a fascinating story of life during the last Ice Age between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago." The museum has a great site where students can test their survival skills, explore stone age tools, or prehistoric art. The site is interactive. For example, you can take a survival test to see how well you'd survive without modern conveniences.