Sunday, April 28, 2013

Flipped Ghana, Mali, Songhai

The teacher in this video knows his technology as he keeps moving around his flipped classroom and does close-ups of maps and places in western Africa.  This is a nice (just five minutes) overview of the three western African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhail

Europe/Middle East from 1000 CE to 2000

Here is a chronological, animated atlas of Europe between 1000 and 2000 CE. I saw it on historian  Juan Cole's blog,  Informed Consent.

10 Tech Tips from David Pogue

Here are some very useful and cool tips from New York Times tech columnist, David Pogue.  Did you know for example, that in a text on any phone, all you need to do is press the space bar twice and a period will appear?  Instead of using the scroll bar to move up on any page, just hit the space bar to scroll down a page and the shift key to scroll up. Watch the 5 minute clip for 8 other cool time saving tips.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

AP World Review

Here are some review pages for AP World History. Some are teacher pages with unit notes, others are notes based on some of the AP World textbooks like Stearns. One of links is a nice PowerPoint reviewing the DBQ. Another good link is a quizlet with almost 1400 terms.
  1. AP World Flashcards on Quizlet
  2. Ms. Burnett's AP World History page with notes on each chapter of Stearn's AP World textbook. 
  3. Another nice page with notes from each era of history. Another great site with notes grouped by the five units in AP World 
  4. Essay Writer's Handbook from McGraw Hill. This is supposed to be very good.
  5. Slideshare on how to nail the DBQ

Friday, April 26, 2013

Notes & Video on one Screen

From a G+ post by Craig Nansen that I found within the Google Certified Discussion community in G+ (which anyone can join) something brand new called which, in Google Drive, splits your screen and puts the video on the left and the notes on the right.  As you take notes, it records where you are in the video.  You can then save the video and the notes in Google Drive.  If you just want the notes, drag your cursor over them and paste it into a regular Google Drive document.  Above is a short video on how to do this. 

Hitler's Food Taster Tells of Poisoning Fears

She's 95 and only now telling her story. She was one of Hitler's food tasters during the war. The shame and fear of persecution forced her to keep it secret all these years. But now, according to the story on WTOP's page, she's spilling the beans. Hitler was a vegetarian so she got to taste great vegetables but was always fearful that the next meal would be her last. It's a great story our student's might love.  Thanks to my colleague  Maren Hoover for sending me the link.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Age of Exploration Rap

Thanks to my fellow teacher Ryan Mrowka who found this Age of Exploration rap.  It not only is catchy, but the girl in the video covers all of  the major rappers and has props to illustrate her points. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Twitter and Your PLN

Today I am doing a presentation about Professional Learning Networks to the other social studies' chairs in my county.  I am going to focus on Twitter.  So to start off on top above is how to set up a Twitter account and below that is a great video on how to use Twitter (no, it has nothing to do about getting married).  I would suggest your watching it as it tells you how to do everything you'd want to do in Twitter such as set sending Tweets, direct messaging someone, following lists, getting help and on and on.  If you prefer seeing it all written out, here is a great set of written instructions and below is a summary of them:

To see everyone you are following (and your own Tweets), hit the “Home” button.  If you want to see your own Tweet, tap on the “Me” link.  If you want to see if people are enjoying and passing on your Tweets, go to “@Connect.”  If you hit “#Discover,” an algorithm will promptly deliver you some people on Twitter to follow.  When you are in the “Home” tab, just below your picture it says “Compose new Tweet.”  

Secondly we are going to look at lists of educators to follow.
Ken Halla @kenhalla
Cool Cat Teacher @letytijerina
We Are Teachers @WeAreTeacher
Larry Ferlazzo @LarryFerlazzo
Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal
Richard Byrna @rmbryne
Shelly Terrell @ShellTerrell

Finally we are going to look at how to set up a hashtag and how to use it in class.  As you might remember from my posts, my students have Tweeted the election returns, State of the Union, presidential debates and reviewed for the exams using hashtags.  Below is a list of hashtags you might want to follow.  Some other useful ones are #SSChat (social studies), #HistoryTeacher and #GeographyTeacher.  To find a hashtag, type in the # symbol plus the name in the search engine in Twitter and the conversation will appear.  If you want to be really blown away go here for the 300 most popular hashtags for educators.
Educational Chats: #edchat, #schools, #lrnchat, #TT (Teacher Tuesday), #GlobalEd
Technology Chats: #edtech, #elearning, #mlearning (mobile learning), #edapps, #gbl (games based learning), #islide2learn (iDevices & learning), #vitalcpt (effective use of tech in the classoom)

If you want to both follow a hashtag and Tweet at the same time, I'd suggest you use TweetChat.  Below is a video on how to use it.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Islam Resources: Saudi Aramco Magazine

Studying or reviewing Islam? Saudi Aramco Magazine is an excellent resource. You can read it online and you can also order a print subscription for free. Articles feature all aspects of historical Islam. You can take walking tours (virtual tours) of some of the most important Muslim mosques including Alhambra, Dome of the Rock, Suleymaniye, and Al Aqsa. The archives include articles on Ibn Batutta, the Indian Ocean trade network, Muslim science, and the minaret, to name just a few of the past topics. You can find other resources on Islam on my World Religions blog.

A Very Improved Quizlet for Class Review

Quizlet and StudyBlue are two online flashcard sites. A year ago I was very high on StudyBlue but it requires one to have a login/password to see and while I still think, that aside, it is a great review device since it allows for pictures and sound recording, I now prefer Quizlet for the following reasons: 1) it allows everyone to see it whether they have a login/password, it now allows you to upload or search for images 3) you can write in a word and it will give you several choices of definitions or, of course, you can write your own. 4) it even allows you to play a few games with your words/definitions 5) it comes in a number of different languages so would help your ESOL students, 6) it will create short quizzes for you and 7) it can be used on an Android or an iTunes device.

Above is a short video showing you some of the features for Quizlet and below is one telling you how to use it.  Followers of my blogs know that my students now use it a lot to study for our tests as you can put in virtually any test in the search engine and get a fairly good review set of virtual cards that someone has done.  If you want to make a few changes, it will let you make the e-cards your own and then you can make the changes and share that link with your students.  Of course you can also have your students make the cards as well.  

Google+ As Part of Your Professional Network

On Tuesday I will doing an in-service for my fellow social studies chairs.  Time permitting (and it will be tough since I am also showing them Twitter), I will be discussing Google Plus (also known as Google+).

To begin with Google+ came into existence in 2011 as an invitation only social network.  As of January 2013 it surpassed Twitter as the second largest (to Facebook) social network in the world.   As of December 2012, it had 500 million users with over half of them active users.

The left side of the page has a stream listing the user's "friends."  As with Twitter you can follow anyone who either allows you or has a public stream.   To send a message, enter in whatever you want (unlike Twitter which is limited) in the box by your picture where it says "Share what's new...".  You can also add pictures, video, video links, etc.

On the rights side of the page you will see your name and a number besides it.  The number signifies how many people want to have you accept them as a friend.  The "+ Share" allows you to click on it and place a message in your feed.  If you look at name in the middle of the photo it signifies that I have a camera on my laptop.  If I click on the names below that I could either text or have a video conference with others in Google+.  Here is how to do all of these things.  

If you want to follow others, you need to first have a group of people to follow. Below is a list of people and groups you might want to follow.   To add a person or group, you simple go to the search box at the top of the screen and enter in a name or a topic.  When you find someone, simply add it to your circles.  To create a circle look for the symbols with three circles and click on it.  You can then quickly add friends, create circles, etc.  The advantage of the circles is that you can create feeds that only some people can see.  So, for example, you could create a feed for your students and they could set it so you could not see all of their private messages.  is how to use it.  Here and here is how you can create your circles.  Some of the people and groups you might want to include are noted below.  
Eric Sheninger (Principal)
Larry Ferlazzo (ESOL, US History)
Ken Halla (Yours truly)
Phil Wagner Google Education
Richard Byrne (FreeTech4Education)
Jordan Pedrazza (Google Apps)
Shelly Terrell (Noted Teacher PLN Person)
Teaching World History (Group of Teacher)
US History Teachers (Group of Teachers)

Next you can also have Hashtags such as are done in Twitter.  You can create your own or follow others.  Use the same symbols as Twitter as in "#HistoryTeachers." 

The coolest part, though, is a Google Hangout.  This allows you have a conversation with up to ten other people.  While you are conversing you can share text messages and urls.  You can also share your entire desktop and anything you have in Google Drive (here is how).  You can also record a Google Hangout and put it straight onto Youtube.  Here is how to do this. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Voice Comments in Google Documents

So this is pretty cool.  Watch the short video above to learn how you can embed recorded voice comments in Google Drive documents.  This will add a nice dimension to your overall comments for student paper in addition to the inserted comments you probably already use. I found it on a G+ comment from Judy Arzt about Jen Roberts' video.

Horrible Histories - All of Them

Maren Hoover and I spent five years sharing a room earlier in my school career (back before we had our combined six children!).  At any rate, Maren was the first one who told me about Horrible Histories which are a collection of short films with typically British humor over a variety of historical subjects (best suited for world history).  Here are all of them.  Above is one on Henry VIII and his wives. 

Horrible Histories on Leonardo da Vinci

This comes from our student teacher Marissa Zoretich.  It is a great overview of Leonardo da Vinci.  It shows a playful back and forth between him and his mode, Lisa Gherardini, l for the Mona Lisa

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How to Become a Connected Educator

Three well-known educators, Angela Maiers, Stephen Anderson, and Tom Whitby explain the importance of using Twitter to become a connected educator and discovering new ideas in education, even before school systems begin to consider them. Thanks to Stacey Roshan for twitting the link.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Virtual Sistine Chapel

I just showed my students this virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.  It always blows the kids away and this year with the iPads it was great to let them see it up close as well and easily move around.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gliffy for Easy Way to Make Venn Diagrams

You can create some great shapes from Google Drawings, but one thing you cannot do is overlapping Venn diagrams.  Well enter Gliffy to save the day!  Gliffy allows you to create all kinds of overlapping diagrams.  Not only can you easily manipulate the shapes, but you can also move the words around easily. Either you can sign up for an account or you can have your students make their diagram and then take a screen shot of it and paste it into their Google Drive drawing (or dare I say Microsoft Word).

I found Gliffy on the slideshow below.  Yes it is lot of slides.  I'd recommend going through it quickly and stopping at the interesting ones and know that ones that I find interesting I will feature in the next few days as well.  I found it on Google+ post from Eric Sheninger.

An Update to Flipping Your Classroom

Frank Franz and George Coe developed the slideshow above for a presentation they made on flipping the classroom back in August.  Frank has updated it as he recently did another presentation on it.  Not only does this short Google Drive Presentation go through how to do it, but he also gives a number of urls you can use to get more information and training on it.  I should add that when I started flipping two years ago the kids gave me more resistance, but now they almost universally like it (perhaps I have improved my craft too!).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Identify an Image

Fully half of our just recently released state exams have images attached to questions.  Not surprisingly one thing I like students to do is to identify images as part of my assignments.  To do this I have them use TinEye which allows you to put in the url of the photo and it tells you what it is. 

World Wars I and II

Here is a great site to help you teach World Wars I and II.  There are links to images, a comprehensive site on trench warfare, the PBS companion website for the wars and primary source interviews.  Now what might you do with it.  You could look at what you need to cover and then add in the sites here as well as parts of your text or other sites and create a more meaningful webquest (than a standard worksheet) complete with images, video and primary documents. 

Cheat Sheets for World History

Frank Franz and his dept met with a team from another of our schools in Jan so their teachers could exchange ideas and get some human contacts.  I liked the idea so much that my school (Hayfield Secondary) and another one (West Potomac) did the same thing today.  One of the great things I picked up was from Iris Cox who found a website of World History I "cheat sheets."  It breaks the entire class into the normal units and its sheets are very well organized and include pictures. 

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

This is an awesome clip showing the changes in the wealth of countries between 1810 and today. Rosling uses logarithmic scales in a novel way to illustrate the changes. The clip is a great introduction to globablization.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How to Determine the Reading Level of a Document

I am thinking ahead to next year and how I will use the reading tests I give my students at the beginning of the year.  Since I have technology for them all my next goal is going to differentiate for them.  I see differentiation as going two different ways: 1) learning type which I also have a test for if you look below 2) reading level.

The reading level tests are also in early posts.  But then what.  Google Documents, before it was Google Drive had a very early way to determine readability, but it is now gone.

So for example here is an article on Obama and his consideration of his legacy from the WashPost and here are the results for the reading levels and here is what grade it is at level 8 which means it is appropriate for 13 and 14 year olds. For comparison I entered in an article from the Economist and it said it was a reading level of 7 or could be read by 12 and 13 year old students.   The truth is that generally any article or news magazine other than scholarly articles are going to be appropriate for your high school students - unless they test below reading levels and that is where you will have to have them look up key words.  If you follow this it will also impact state exams - or at least mine which give a lot of our ESOL students problems. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Meograph for Mapping Your Story

Now suppose you want to have a video or picture as you can do in the post below.  But you also want to narrate as you go from place to place.  Well Meograph will allow you to do just that so in the end you end up with a video of your location and your other items.  You can even stop the video and click on links.  Above is a video on how to use it. 

Scribble Maps

My students draw a lot of maps in Google Drawings, but if you want to do more than just labeling, you might want to consider Scribble Maps.  Scribble maps allows you to put pins in locations, but then to add descriptions as well as Youtube video and even to have different fonts, etc.  Best of all it creates a unique url (or you can create your own) and lets you set the password so you can have your students do an assignment on it without having to worry about the site getting any e-mail addresses for the students. Above is a video showing how to use Scribble Maps.  

Reading Strategies

One of the teachers in my department correctly pointed out that while I had a good post on judging reading levels, I did not have a way to help solve the problem since most of us cannot just send a student to a reading specialist without missing the content in our classroom.

So Pearson has a succinct description of how to improve reading many of which you might know such as pre-reading, reading groups, organizers (I love this one) and more.  If you want more details here is a longer description of how to integrate reading strategies in your classroom go here

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reading Comprehension & Learning Styles

At my school we are working on Tier 1, 2 and 3 learning which essentially asks the teacher to differentiate learning with your students who are not meeting all of your objectives.
Two main items that we are looking at are learning styles and reading comprehension. Sure we think we know our students after a year of being with them, but isn't most of it anecdotal.  Next year I am going to talk to my department about having our students complete this learning style test (no login/password required).  
Secondly I want our teachers to consider reading comprehension using this test (or similar ones later).  Of course the hard part is once we know how learning style and reading comprehension the hard part is taking the information and putting it into action (more on that later).  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Decolonization: Kwame Nkrumah

Excellent short clip on decolonization in Africa, specifically Ghana. And here is a nice BBC blurb on Nkrumah, from "On This Day."

Crash Course: Decolonization

Starting decolonization in AP World tomorrow and thought I might show this.   It seems John Green now has one for just about every topic.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review Sites for World History Students

I collected a bunch of sites for my school to use for world history students.  There are both practice tests you can take as well as study guides and a link to the NYRegents exams (which I like to use as practice as they are harder than most of our state exams).   As we start getting closer to the end of the year, perhaps the page will be a help to your students.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I recently posted about Text2mindmap, but in my teacher class tonight we were looking at it and so I decided I wanted to make a how to film for people.  If you every want to have a great way to create a flow chart about something this is a great tool.  One of the drawbacks is that it does not allow you to add a photo or a link, but if you go to your Google Drive drawing, you can download your Text2mindmap and then upload it there and add photos.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

World HIstory I Review

So it is about time that I put up some review assignments.  I wish I knew who to credit for the two I am posting now, but the minute I became dept chair I created a digital folder for all of our subjects and it has been added to and used by all of that no one could rightfully claim credit.

So in VA our state exam is called the Standards of Learning (yes that is SOL for short and no the Board of Ed was not thinking when.  This then is a tremendous review of everything from pre-history through the Renaissance.  It has pictures, maps, everything.

So how do you make it work to get kids to read the material.   Well our CLT today decided we will break it into parts and then have the kids work on these 150 multiple choice questions.

By the way if you want to get lots of multiple choice questions the best place is the NY Regents that seems able to power out two different tests each year in each subject.  Here is the most recent WHI and WHII for VA which, in 15 years, has only released two sets of tests! 

How to Use Twitter

This is a great video on why and, more importantly, how to use Twitter.  If you want to see different items to follow for social studies teachers, put "Twitter" in my search engine and you will get some great posts.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Middle Ages Resources

If you are covering the Middle Ages as we will be doing in a week, then you might take a look at my Pinterest Board for the Middle Ages. It has a pretty good collection of video clips and links.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My View of the World, Part II

Microsoft's VP of Education Anthony Salcito asked me to pen my thoughts on education which you can find on his blog here.    I talk a lot about where I believe education is going in the next decade as well as who are some of my educational influences and what it is like in my classroom.  As with anything online, there are lots of links to help follow my discussion.

By the way the quote above is one that I got from a woman (long since forgotten her name) who taught my methods class when I was working on my teaching certification and has been my governing rule since I started teaching, hard has it has been at times to break the mold.