Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mercator Map Puzzle

Every year one of the projections we have to teach in the Mercator Map.  But it is one to explain that as one moves north or south the continents get bigger.  It is another thing all together to drag continental piece, as you can do here, up and down and see them grow or get smaller.  Thanks to a Google+ post from Larry Ferlazzo for this tip. 

Digital Learning Day

Next Wednesday is Digital Learning Day.  Fourteen of my students and I have been invited by the Alliance for Excellent Education to take part in a panel discussion at the Newseum between 1-2:30 pm.  The panel is being proctored by our ABC affiliate's nightly news anchor and will include such notables as the White House Chief Technology Officer and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  ABC will be filming one of my government classes on Monday so if you are interested in doing something related to technology for the day, here is my assignment for which the students are looking at a number of different items I have detailed.  Above is a flipped class video the kids are watching tonight and then commenting on a Google Form about.  Ultimately the kids are making their own flipped class videos and using a blog page to share them w. each other. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Google Forms How To

Here is a new Google Forms how to.  I use it all the time to do the business of our department.  Tomorrow I am starting my fourth class of teachers who want to integrate technology in the classroom and Google Forms is the way I quickly collected their gmail addresses (which can then be put in the share portion of my folder for them thereby instantly sharing my items with them). 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thinglink: Linking pictures to video and articles

David Korfhage tweeted this link to Thinglink. Thinglink allows you to upload pictures and link them to videos and articles. And it does so in a cool way. I watched the video and think the concept is great and has possibilities for class activities, maybe a web quest or something like that. Check it out see what possibilities you can find. Here's a picture of Marx and Engle's that I uploaded to Thinglink and edited. You can hover over the picture and see links and video.

Timbuktu: A Rich History: PBS News Hour

Watch Timbuktu on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.
Fred de Sam Lazaro, a reporter for the PBS News Hour, just aired a story, produced for Religion and Ethics Newsweekly about the history of Timbuktu that is being destroyed by fighting today. It's a great story about the fabled history of the city and worth showing your kids when you study Africa.

And here's a great story from NPR about Timbuktu. My colleague, Frances Coffey, just sent me the link. So, between the video and NPR story, the kids should get a great overview of Timbuktu's rich history.

Make Google Chrome More Stable: Turn-on Click to Play

Amit Agarwal who writes the blog Digital Inspiration offers a great tip on how to make Google Chrome more stable. Flash Player often crashes and the video you are watching goes blank. Argawal shows you how to make changes in Google Chrome's settings to get Flash Player to play only on demand. That way, Flash Player is not on all the time thus making Chrome more stable. You can follow the steps at his site here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Father Guido Sarducci and the Five Minute Universtiy

Father Guido Sarducci and the Five Minute University from Saturday Night Live in 1977. Sarducci is no Ken Robinson but he is very funny. I found this on Open Culture.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An RSS Feed Reader for Google Chrome

In his technology blog, Digital Inspiration, Amit Agarwal, describes a great Chrome add-on called "Feeder". It is, as Agarwal explains, " like a mini Google Reader embedded in Chrome – it tracks RSS Feeds and offers instant notifications whenever new content is available."

It's very cool. I installed it this afternoon. Every time you land on a site, Feeder detects the feeds and you can subscribe to them by clicking on the icon in your browser. I like the way Feeder displays your feeds by showing you a list of the most recent entries. And every time Feeder detects a new entry, a little pop up notifies you. You can even add your email to Feeder and it will notify you.  Very cool!

Rotton Romans

My good friend Maren Hoover gave this to me a few years ago.  It is a very humorous look at Roman leaders. 

Rome PowerPoint

Since I only use a few slides (and they are flipped) for presentation, I have told my students they can use my PowerPoint (which I have decided to leave attached in their Blackboard page) for their review guide.  You can use it for that purpose or to take parts of it for your own class. 

The Byzantine Empire Introduced by Eugene Weber

Here's a ten minute clip from Eugene'Weber's "the Western Tradition" in which Weber introduces the Byzantine Empire. He compares its longevity to other empires, the origin of its name and its connection to the Roman empire.

Fall of Rome

He's no John Greene of Crash Course, but this guy, Jeffrey Lewis, is almost as effective as he sings about the fall of the Roman Empire.

Friday, January 25, 2013

World Migration

Peoplemovin shows the migration flows in and out of countries in a very interesting and engaging graphic as of 2010. The United States is still the top destination for migrants and Mexico tops the chart for people leaving or emigrating.

 Peoplemovin, according to its website, "is an experimental project in data visualization by Carlo Zapponi."

Google Drive Extension for Reading, Dictionary, Pictionary and More

In three weeks I am presenting to a special education classroom and have started doing some research of education technology I want to show them in my 90 minutes (which I will post here on that day).  For now I found this great extension (watch the video above) which lets Google Drive have the words be read to them (which you can do in Microsoft Word), look up words in a regular or pictionary or go straight to a search for the word. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Win A Free Novel

I don't read fiction, but the publisher of the not yet published book The Afrika Reich has offered select readers of my blogs this book it they want it.  The book will be published in the US in February, but if you give me a site that I choose to profile for the blog, I will get the publisher to send you a book (or tell you how to read it online).  Watch the video to see what it is about, but it is essentially an alternative story to WWII of whose timeline, you can see here

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Professional Learning Communities

I just taught my department about professional learning communities (PLN) last week and would have loved to have had this webpage from InformEd.  PLNs are ways that people find new information beyond their school walls.

It begins with explaining what groups you might want to join and then the protocol you would use when you join.  It also has links to a number of groups you can join.  I actually use Twitter and Google+ which are not on the group, but the author has several others to choose.  I also use Netvibes which allows me to look at updates from webpages to which I just added the InformEd page.

Next it discusses sites you can use to keep your websites.  The one I use is Diigo.  Essentially the sites that are listed are ways to bookmark your webpages in the cloud.  As with the previous section, it has lots of links.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sign Documents wout Hassel

For years I have kept a digital copy of my signature to add to recommendations and items sent to me to sign.  Well now there is an easier way from HelloSign that you can use along with your Gmail account.  Watch the movie above to see how and thanks to FreeTech4Teachers for the original post. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Ancient Olympics

This is a very interesting and fairly short overview of the ancient Olympics from the National Geographic magazine covers everything from why the athletes wore nothing at all, the opening ceremony, the origin of the Olympics and the female Olympics.  

Kahn on Nightline

Sal Kahn was just on Nightline a few days ago.  I like this piece as it is short and hits all the highlights.  The main point is that technology can greatly enhance the classroom by using short videos (mine are now all under eight minutes) and then letting the students work on projects or webquests.  I spend most of the class either working with students who are behind or walking around and checking in on the students who are up to date.  I still haven't reached my own goal which will let students work on a self paced class.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013


While I prefer Study Blue, as it allows one to add pictures and audio, it does not allow one to search and use other people's flash cards unless you have an account.  For schools that adhere to FERPA and COPPA closely this is not possible.  So for that reason studying using Quizlet is a way around.  I usually give my kids the choice of doing the study guide or creating a Study Blue or Quizlet set of cards.  Above is one for Greece. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teach Online w. Blackboard's Free Online Coursesites

I have been receiving lots of e-mails about offering my technology integration course online in addition to what I do in my county.  To that end I have been doing a little research.  If you ever want to teach students online for free one way to do it is using Blackboard's Coursesites.  Here are all the amazing things you can do with it.  Essentially it is what you have if you already use Blackboard with your students and it includes the Blackboard Collaborate so you can meet your students online, can have grades, put up assignments, etc.  

Pronouncing Difficult Historical Terms

Everyone knows that online dictionaries now include pronunciations, but if you want to look up how to say the names of historical figures, go to  We are using it right now for the people who gave us so many of our Greek contributions

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Capitalism & Socialism

Every time I forget to look for new films from John Green, he somehow comes up with several new ones.  Above is one on capitalism and socialism.  Here are all of his videos. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

JSTOR is Free on a Limited Basis

Anyone who has been in college or grad school recently remembers JSTOR (journal storage) and the many times you used it to get information.  Well now you can register for free and get access to three articles a week for free.  Especially if you teach an AP class, this will be an invaluable tool for you and your students. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Reading Like a Historian: Stanford University

You gotta love Stanford University. Their education group has created a site called "Reading like a Historian." They created lessons for world history, each of which revolves around a central question, and uses primary documents to analyze the question. Their World History site is divided into three periods (ancient, medieval, and modern). Because I teach a section of World 9, I clicked on Ancient and downloaded a lesson on the Roman Emperor Augustus. Other lessons include the Dark Ages, the First Crusade, the Black Death,  and Martin Luther. The modern period includes the Reign of Terror, Factory Life, Battle of Adwa,  Battle of Somme, Appeasement, Invasion of Nanking, Nazi Propaganda, India Partition, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

The lesson I downloaded asks students to figure out what kind of leader Augustus was and includes 6 documents, two of which are images. Students complete a chart with three questions for each document--based on the document, what kind of leader was Augustus, what evidence supports these reasons and is the document reliable. The documents are short and manageable for 9th graders.

The site is free but you have to register. This stuff is really great. Check it out. Below is a quick view of the Alexander lesson. My thanks to Jeff Feinstein for finding and sending me the link.
Augustus Lesson Plan

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Buried treasure. An emperor's booby-trapped tomb

Ancinet records suggest that Qin Shi Huangdi's tomb is filled with treasures. They also suggest that the tomb has an extensive security system possibly with pools of mercury and loaded crossbows. Sounds like they might need Indiana Jones to get in there. World 9 kids might enjoy this short article. .

Still Space in my Technology Integration Course

Starting on January 31st I will begin the fourth version of my technology integration course for Fairfax County teachers.  There still are places left in the class.  Participants will, among other things, learn to collaborate with colleagues and between students in Google Drive, better communicate with students, find and learn new technological innovations, integrate e-book into the classroom, create webquests, use mobile devices, and even collaborative video making. The course is tailored to your class and will help participants learn by doing as we look at ways to integrate various websites with social studies content.

If you are interested in taking the course, please go to MyPLT.  Once you have logged in go to the search engine and enter "Enhancing the Social Studies Classroom with Technology" into the top search box (as shown below) and press enter.  When the next page comes, you will be able to sign up for the course. 
The course will begin January 31st and will be from 4:30 to 7:30 at Woodson High School and go for ten sessions.  Please feel free to e-mail me with questions ( 

Walking Out of Africa

One of my former teacher students Gregg Komitsky found this using his Twitter PLN.  It is an interesting story about Pultizer Prize winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is undertaking an ambitious expedition to retrace on foot the path our ancient ancestors traveled as they migrated across the world. Equipped only with what he can carry in his backpack, Paul's goal is to cover the major global stories of our time by walking alongside the people who live them on a daily basis: cattle nomads, artists, traders, villagers, farmers, and scientists. The end result? A global mosaic of stories, faces, sounds and landscapes that highlight the pathways that connect us to each other.

Google+ Personal Learning Community and Hangouts

Google+ was never slow to find users, but it has taken some time to get people to look at it a lot.  It now has more people using it than Twitter.  One of the reason for that is the hangouts in which you can meet with nine other people (and I know Google employees can have up to 30).  If you ever want to do a live interview of someone who can't come to your classroom you can set it so that it can be also watched on Youtube (for students in other schools) and even record it as well.  Watch the top video above to see how to do this. Above is an example of a recent interview I had with two student/atheletes who run for my alma mater William and Mary (where I still run a track blog page and help with fundraising).

If that is not enough you can also follow people on Google+.  I check the feed about three times a week as I do my Twitter and Netvibes accounts (and here is my G+ account in case you want to follow it).  One of the nicest things about G+ is that you can create groups and send them separate messages.  So for example, I sent the interview above just to my W&M friends, but make all of my education posts public so everyone following me can see them.  If you want an awesome list to start following on G+, then go to Edudemic's list here and let the learning begin. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Great Teacher Site for Rome and other units

This teacher's world history site is great for our World 9 curriculum. If you click on his Rome unit, you'll find links to a number of History Alive projects, links to video clips, and interactive maps. His other units follow along with ours. It's definitely worth checking out.

37 writing prompts for social studies / history

My colleague, Frances Coffey, just sent this cool link with 37 creative writing prompts, like the one above, for history. A few others include: make five merit badges from people or groups of people in history and explain them, or, if they had you tube in 1912, what videos would they post.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Athens vs. Sparta

This is a film that kids like to see on the differences between Sparta and Athens.  I do tell the kids that there should not be an apostrophe in the word Athens, but other than that it is helpful. 

History of the Swastika

As a child I remember my great-grandfather's original edition of the Rudyard Kipling's books.  In the beginning of each book (published before WWI) that there appeared to be a symbol that looked very much like a swastika.  Knowing the German symbol from school made me wonder why it was in my books until I learned that the books predated Hitler's Germany.

So seeing George's post below, I think it is interested to consider its history originating as a symbol of peace from India.  But is has been used all over (see the Byzantine church mosaic below).  It was even used by the Coco Cola company (below) and by the Boy Scouts (above).  While the current form of the swastika is rightfully reviled, it is a good example for students of how one person can take a good symbol and make it bad.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Philosophy's Shameful Love for the Swaastika

Writing for The Telegraph, the British newspaper, Alasdair Palmer, reviews a forthcoming book by Yvonne Sherrat, about the way German philosophers not only accommodated Hitler,  but enthusiastically espoused Nazi ideology. You''ll be surprised by the names of some of these philosophers. They include Martin Heidegger. He reports that Heidegggar even lectured in military uniform and was happy to oust Jewish colleagues including his own mentor. You can read the fascinating review here.

When your lesson goes all wrong

What happens when your lesson goes all wrong and you have to recover in five minutes. Watch as this experienced English teacher tries to figure it out. My thanks to Steve Wheeler who tweeted it.

Five Historical Misconceptions

The five misconceptions include Napoleon's height, the Vikings' helmets, Lady Godiva, and Roman vomitoriums.

New World Religion Blog

Here is a link to a World Religions blog that I started over the holiday break. I teach one section of World Religions and thought that it might be helpful to have a central place for all the links and clips that we come across.

There is a lot of information out there for those of  us who teach religion.  Every major newspaper, for example, has a religious section--CNN's Belief Blog, The Washington Post's On Faith, to name just a couple. Some of the stuff that I post might be useful for both world and U.S. history as well. There are stories about Confucianism and Taoism making a comeback in China. And stories about Islam are always in the news as well. Check it out when you get a chance.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The World in 1300

University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole decided to see what the world was like in 1013. In his blog post, he outlines the main players and some of their contributions.  Here's a quick summary of what he found:  the Umayyads in Spain, the Song dynasty in China, Mahmoud of Ghazni, the Turkis Muslim conqueror, in India, and Twelver Shiism in Iran.

British Actors Read Poignant Poetry from World War I

I know that it's a little early to be teaching World War I but I just found this clip that you might want to book mark. British actors read World War 1 poetry by Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen. Open Culture, where I found the clip, notes that every year Britain remembers World War I on the Sunday closest to November 11th. For Remembrance Day this year, famous British actors read the war poetry.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, and I jumped into Twitter full steam this week. We both created  twitter feeds for our AP classes.

The purpose of the feeds is to give kids updates, reminders, and links to interesting stories about subjects we are studying. Jeff even uploaded pictures of student projects to his AP European twitter feed. We also used Twitter as an exit assignment. We each created a hash tag for the assignment so we could follow the results.

In AP World, I asked the kids to tweet the most important long-term cause of the French Revolution. Here are links to our class twitter feeds. You can find my AP World class at (@coeapworl and @coewphsreligion) and you can find Jeff’s at (@feinsteinAPUS and @ feinsteinapeh)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take My Technology Integration Course

Starting on January 31st I will begin the fourth version of my technology integration course for Fairfax County teachers.  Participants will, among other things, learn to collaborate with colleagues and between students in Google Drive, better communicate with students, find and learn new technological innovations, integrate e-book into the classroom, create webquests, use mobile devices, and even collaborative video
making. The course is tailored to individual classroom needs and helps participants become more
efficient. The goal is for participants to learn by doing as we look at ways to integrate various websites
with social studies content.

If you are interested in taking the course, please go to MyPLT.  Once you have logged in go to the search engine and enter "Enhancing the Social Studies Classroom with Technology" into the top search box (as shown below) and press enter.  When the next page comes, you will be able to sign up for the course. 
The course will begin January 31st and will be from 4:30 to 7:30 at Woodson High School and go for ten sessions.  Please feel free to e-mail me with questions ( 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Big History Project

David Christian, who helped create the site, World History For Us All, has created another site for World history teachers and students called “The Big History Project.” It is still in its beta form but teachers can still register and explore the site.

Christian divides history into big 10 big periods with timelines, images, animations, infographics, and even comic books for many of the periods. He begins each unit with big questions. For example for unit 9, which covers revolutions and the creation of the modern world, Christian asks which factors contributed to the acceleration of change since 1500 and why these factors were so critical?  If you like World History for us All, then you will also like the Big History Project.

In his blog, Getting Smart, Tom Vander Ark, describes the project like this:  "Teaching Big History as a course or using it as the central idea for block or an academy currently takes a lot of teacher initiative. Over the next couple years, archetypal uses, lesson plans, professional development opportunities, and other supports will emerge. Big History is a big idea. More precisely, it’s a set of big questions. It’s a set of question that I’d like to see every young person have the chance to ask."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

iPad Tips

The video above is one I will be using for my students when we get our iPads.  In the first three minutes, you get some great tips such as how to multi task, swipe, how to lock your view one way or the other and how to split your computer.  Around 4 min it tells you how to take a picture.  I found the video on MacAdvisorUK whose author has lots of how to videos.