Friday, May 31, 2013

Using YouTube in Your Classroom

I found this great slide show on Crash Course for Educators which I found from one of the communities I follow on Google+.  Soon I will do a post on all the amazing new teacher and technology posts you can follow as they are growing quickly.  The video above is ten ways you can use YouTube to improve your classroom from ways to have stations, to flipping your class, to posting message to students and parents and more.

Monthly Most Hit Posts for World History Teachers' Blog

Thanks to all of the new visitors to the three blogs (US, world and government) as we now have a new monthly record of 65,000 page views.  The most hit for the world history teachers' blog are:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

AP Summer Institutes

The best summer institute I have ever attended starts on June 10th in Salt Lake City where I will be grading AP US Government exams, but I have gone to a number of great summer institutes (World, US, Comparative and US Government) over the years and always came away much richer for the experience.  They are great chances to get lots of assignments (I got tons this year for AP Comparative last summer) from both the presenter and others are the in-service, video clips, how to to understand free response and multiple choice questions.  Generally the presenters also make you go through and answer the multiple choice questions at night which is important as you have to get to know all of the released questions (essay and mc).  It is also a good place to make new friends and connections that can help your teaching in the coming years.In case you can still swing getting the money from your school district, go here and plug in the appropriate institute you'd like to attend. 

Around the World in 80 Treasures: An End of the Year Project

Here's an idea for an end-of-the year world history project. In Virginia, we still have a couple of weeks of school although we have completed the AP tests and the end of the year state tests. The project is based on Dan Cruickshank's BBC documentary, Around the World in 80 Treasures. Students have to find 13 objects that represent the time periods of history that we have studied, the six themes of history, and the different regions. So each object must represent a time period, a theme, and a region.  Here's a link to the the World 9 assignment and here's a link to the World 10 assignment. I usually show the kids one or two clips from the video to show them how the objects can tell a story. And there is also the great book, A History of the World in 100 Objects.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tip Sheet for Google Hangouts

Here's a follow up on Ken's post on Google hangouts. Here is a great tip sheet  showing you how to start using the program.  The tip sheet was developed by Chicago school tech innovator, Jennie Magiera

MacWorld Writes About Our iPad Pilot

Macworld just did a piece on the new iPad e-books which my students piloted for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  If you are interested in the "books," it is a lengthy piece that goes into great deal on benefits of the iPad e-book   MacWorld is decidedly pro Apple so if you want a little more balance see my earlier post

Follow the Blogs on Google+ and Twitter

If you want to follow the blogs other ways, I also post all of them on my Twitter ("kenhalla") and Google+ (also "kenhalla") accounts which you can follow by going to the links.  What is also nice about Twitter is that you can see who I am following and follow them as well if you choose.  In Google+ you can create your own circles and start following lots of people.  I have lots of explanations for Google+ and Twitter on this blog to explain how to use them. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tremendous Review for World History I

A few posts ago I put up a WHI-WHII video you could use for review.  Well here is an even better one that is five minutes for WHI. 

This Blog Continues All Summer

Virginia does two things that I'd love to see changed.  1) We have our state end of the year exams several weeks before the end of the year and 2) Our state legislature (both parties) consistently say they are for "education first," but refuse to let schools start before September because businesses want the high school kids to work after the college kids have left for school.

At any rate while schools around the US have already started closing for the summer (and while we are on it should we even be wedded to an agrian calendar?), my kids still are going to the 18th  of June (and yes they are done with their AP and state exams).   This is a long winded way of saying that this blog will, as always, will continue posting all June, July and August.   After all I have a new crop of students to teach this summer and need to find some new things for them. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How to Use Google Hangouts

I am starting to feel as if Skyping is an old fashioned way to communicate online.  If you have a Gmail address you can Hangout with up to nine others (and more are coming as Google employees can already do up to 40).  At the bottom of the screen are the people not talking and the one who is will be in the main part of the page.  You can also share your screen and, if you use Google Drive, show your documents and even work collaboratively with the others in your Hangout.  You can also post a link to a Hangout in case you want others to watch in which case you can also have it saved to your YouTube account.  Here is everything you need to know to be able to have a successful Hangout.  Thanks to Matthew Faber for the heads up. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

NEA Story on This Blog

The NEA just put out a piece on our blogs and will have another one later in the summer on ways to use different devices in the classroom.  The picture above is from a week ago.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pedagogy Wheel for Technology

I found this great Bloom's while from a Google+ post from Edudemic.  If you click here, you can see a much bigger post.  You could almost spend an entire year using the technology above.  

Great WHII (Renaissance to Present)

Every summer I teach WHII which in VA is the Renaissance to the present to online students.  One of the resources my colleagues Matt Mough and Jeannine Cotner just found for me which I will be using this summer is this great collection of PowerPoints and map reviews

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ethiopia's Salt Trade

The African salt trade has gone on for centuries and its trade for gold formed the basis of wealth for some of Africa's most famous kingdoms: Mali, Ghana, and Songhai. The Washington Post has an excellent annotated photo collection of  Ethiopia's salt trade in the Danakil Depression. There,  salt is collected from the surface, shaped into slabs, then loaded onto camels for trade.  These photographs might be great to show, or insert into a PowerPoint,  when we cover the African kingdoms next year.

Ancient Greek Vases Made by Modern Artists

The Art Institute of Chicago released a series of videos showing how artists still use ancient methods to create products. Above, modern artists show the similar methods they use to make a Greek vase. You can find more of the series on Open Culture.   You'll find one on ancient glass blowing and one on ancient Greek coin production. The clip might be interesting for students when we cover Greek culture  in the late fall.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Amazing Collection of Flipped Class Ideas

I am writing a book right now and one of the items I found in my research is this amazing research on flipped videos.  It gives research, Twitter handles, examples of flipped teaching, sites to go to learn about flipped learning, digital tools explaining how to make the videos.  If you are flipping or thinking about it, it is amazing so thanks to Dan Spencer for putting it together. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

63,000 Page Views Last Month & 4200 Posts to Search

We had a nice bump up last month from a previous high of 48,000 page views to a new record of63,000 (in part thanks to this article that was reproduced in a ton of news sources and school districts).   So to our new viewers please know that between the US history teachers' blog, the US government one and the world history teachers' page, we have nearly 4200 posts in the five years since this blog started.  So go to the search engine on the upper left and look up any content field of our subjects and look at what we have posted.  We also have a ton of technology to show you how to integrate the content. If we are missing something please e-mail me ( and we'll get it up or alternatively if you have a good idea or a great lesson plan, please contact us. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What is a Cookie?

Developed by Lou Montulli in 1994 when he worked for Netscape, cookies help direct what we see on the Internet.  Cookies are being downloaded on your laptop all the time and are collected by the web browsers you use.  Essentially they are individual ID numbers that a website assigns your computer and it collects information on how you used their page.  Some have even better "third party cookies" that collect information from multiple sites that you visit.  Indeed apps that you might add to your webpages often collect this information which is why they can be free as they might sell your information to a group that is trying to reach people like you.  For example I recently visited the Republican and Democratic Virginia party websites and within one day I started getting ads for lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Aneesh Chopra who the microdata thought I might like to select in our upcoming primary (as not surprisingly he was the tech czar for my former governor Tim Kaine and Barack Obama).  The good is that you see what you want to see (ads for your needs) and the bad is that you may not go beyond your own needs (check out this post on the Filter Bubble).  Of course you can go here if you want to delete all of your cookies, but that will also mean when you start to type in a webpage it will not finish out for you as it will know know that you were there before.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Our Two Month iPad e-Textbook Pilot

Last November Houghton Mifflin Harcourt asked me to pilot their new iPad e-textbooks which we did for two months ending just this past Monday.  The pilot was for Patterns of Interaction and I must admit the first day we had them there were some collective groans especially when I told the kids they could no longer make their maps using Google Drive drawings.  But the groans very quickly turns to glee when they saw how the iPads came on instantly and after I had taught them a few procedures to make their iPad life easier we were up and running.  Most of the kids were decidedly unhappy Wednesday when they had to pull out the slow starting netbooks.

So what did I like?  To begin with there are two different versions of the Table of Contents which you can get in landscape or portrait modes.  Secondly you can scroll through entire chapters, the individual pages or using the contents go anywhere in the book you want.  There also is a search box which is not present in our format online.  You can also manipulate all of the pictures flipping them around, looking underneath for objects such as an oracle bone or Viking ship.  Each section also has five multiple choice questions (not available on the page).  There were also movable features such as putting the levels of the Caste system in order.  I actually asked that they do the same for historical maps so students could drag and drop (and be rejected if they are wrong) all the maps the kids have to study.  As with the online version there are also videos in each section, links, etc.  I must admit as the pilot progressed I stopped using my  laptop during the class and just plugged into the LCD or walked around the room with it as I was working with the kids.  Finally we used the four finger method to scroll between open webpages, the ibook, Google Drive and even music which made it very easy to manipulate.

My only beef - and this is with Apple, not HMH, is that the e-book can only be accessed on the iPad it was downloaded on.  So if you forget it at home, you are out of luck.  I should also add that if your district, school, etc. is looking to purchase the iPad book or the online versions of any textbook, you will have to consider restructuring your purchasing plans (easier said than done with state and school board mandates now somewhat obsolete, but still very much unchanged) as the e-textbooks are constantly changed and if you want the newest and latest, you have to put that in the contract (which is probably going to increase the cost).  At the same time textbook companies have to consider "Google Driving" their e-textbooks meaning as changes occur, why not just give them to the school districts.  This would also mean they would not have to service multiple platforms.  With changes coming so quickly today (HMH is also working with Kno for other innovations, but not the ones described in the previous paragraph) the traditional 5-6 year contracts means your e-textbook will be obsolete 3-4 years before the end of the its run in your district.  Of course as is argued in The Tyranny of the Textbook, teachers hate changing textbooks and have to learn (hey isn't that what we teach students every day) to adapt to ever changing textbook formats and  multiple methodologies of delivery (and yes those reading this blog, I know, agree with me - it's the ones who don't that have to be convinced!).

If you go to the iTunes store, you can get a free chapter download for the Patterns of Interaction, The Americans and United States government iPad books and check them out for yourself.

I should add that I wasn't paid a penny, nor received an iPad or e-textbook to do the pilot so these are my unvarnished thoughts.  In if I had my way I'd have a laptop that has a manipulative screen and could access the iPad textbook on any device (smartphone, laptop, etc. and any system (Apple or otherwise) which means you get to decide what works best with your students.  If you already have iPads, you'll certainly love the books. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Knowmia for Video Search

Keith Hughes who has a tremendous Youtube channel for US and government (and 17 videos for WH) just told me about Knowmia.   Keith's Knowmia page is here. There is a search engine and you can set up your own page (for free) where you can house videos or tag ones from other people.  For graded K-12, they claim to have 13,000 lessons. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Escape the Death Valley of Education

Here is Ken Robinson at his best, which I found on Open Culture. In this 20 minute talk, Robinson takes on the test-centric culture of American education and argues that it is destroying creativity and curiosity.

Lucid Charts for Chart Creation

A couple of months ago I wrote about a great flowchart maker called Text2MindMap.  Well now you can add Lucidchart to your Google Drive account.  As you can see from the video above it lets you create complex flow charts of different types.which are then added to your Google Drive account.  Thanks to Ken Martin for giving me the heads up on this one. 

World History Review in 12 Mintues

Great review of World History in 12 minutes. An AP World teacher made it but it's also good for world 9 and World 10. It also has some great mnemonic devices for world religions!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Flipped Learning Network Interview

Okay so perhaps only my mom will really want to listen to this entire thing.  But there are a lot of websites mentioned, ways my classes work and more in this 50 minute podcast on the Flipped Learning Network interview I did a few weeks ago which was posted today.   

WHI Outline w. Pictures

This great review was put together by the social studies teachers at Annandale High School.  It is geared to Virginia's Standards of Learning exam, but is in an editable format if you wanted to make some changes.  What I like best is that it also has pictures to go with each major standard which is important in VA as our released exam has fully 50% of its questions with some kind of graphic. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Example of Flipping Using Cave Art

Here is an example of a flipped class found on TedEd.  You can use any of their videos and upload multiple choice questions, lesson plans, links, etc using their pre-made formula.  But for those of you who have never done one it is a great start.   I like this one as it has art from Lascaux and asks that the student know about homo sapiens and Neanderthals.  Here is how you create the lesson so get flipping! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Movie Map of Europe's Changes Since 1000

Thanks to my county's head of social studies, Alice Reilly, for this one.  It is a map movie showing Europe and its changing country boundaries from 1000 to the present. 

Individualizing Education Using Technology

There were many reasons why I had a great day yesterday when Richard Culatta, who is the Director of Educational Technology for the US Department of Education, spent the day in my classroom.  In between my two classes, we spent several hours sharing ideas so I will be sharing some of them in the next week.  Since I am writing a book on using technology to individualize education I was very interested in his Ted Talk above. He mentions great innovations around the country such as an elementary school that has students report to different places in the school depending on how they did the day before, giving three questions at the end of the class to decide how to teach tomorrow, Arizona State U that has figured out how and when students should learn new items and what makes them hesitate to answer a question as well as new innovations the Dept of Ed is doing.

He ends his short talk with something called #PencilChat which is a way to counter anti technology people.  The idea is that you need to put the word pencil in to replace every item of technology such as "Why should we give students computers pencils when they can wait until they get to a job to learn how to use them" or "What should I do if a computer pencil breaks in the middle of my class, how should I be expected to work with such a disruption?"  The video below is a funny collection of many of the pencil chats.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Keyboard Shortcuts

My children always ask my wife and me how we type so quickly to which I tell them that their time will come.  But if you want to type more quickly than you already are, you might want to consider using shortcuts
.  Here are one hundred+ of them from everything starting from how to cut and paste to how to do subscript, to finding a word in a document to adding footnotes and basically anything on the drop down menus without go to them. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Roman Water Supply

Excellent clip on the Roman water supply and aqueducts  from the Science Channel. Thanks to Rachelle Lamoureux for tweeting the link.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The World as 100 People

So, piggy backing on George (and I know I did a similar one a couple of months ago) it would be nice to show your students the map below and then have them look at this graphic of if the world were 100 people. 

World Population Distribution

More than half the world's population lives inside the circle, and yes, most of the circle is water. But it also encompasses China and India. Thanks to Ryan Folmer for tweeting the link. You can read more about the map here.

Review for World History II Exam

Here are a bunch of items I have collected for your review of the Renaissance to the present.

  1. Curriculum for Virginia
  2. PowerPoints
  3. Tests and answers
    1. This has many Regents' exams and lets your students take it in a similar fashion to the way they might receive it for an online exam - except it also lets them see the answers when the kids are done.
    2. Virginia (includes answers)
    3. Pearson practice tests

Review for World History I Exam

The only part of reviewing for our state exam is seeing the kids' eyes glow when they get review questions or remember the information.  But I wish we could be doing a more fun project that could bring all the information learned together in an application project as we will be doing after the SOL project.

But we have six class days to prepare (which is more than I had last year) and in case you care here is what we are doing each day.  Otherwise here are a lot of review materials

  1. Curriculum Framework
  2. PowerPoint review
  3. Matching/Word Bank Review for all WHI
  4. Eleven Maps to WHI Success
  5. Exams to take (all with answers)
  6. Images (200+ of them and corresponding slides stating what they are)
  7. Quizlet review cards (200 of them)

How Paper Was Invented

Since Ken just posted a clip about the invention of writing, I thought it appropriate to add a short clip about the invention of paper.

Who Invented Writing?

This is a great, short, Ted Talk on who invented writing.  It brings together the Sumerians, Egyptians, Chinese and Mayans and how they independently developed writing.  If I haven't convinced you to sign up for Google+, perhaps now you will as this was also found on a G+ post by Larry Ferlazzo.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ted Talks Education Coming to PBS

This is interesting as television is moving more towards online, anytime.  But Ted Talks, perhaps showing how big it has become, will have Ted Talks Education this coming Tuesday on PBS at 10 pm.  The show is dedicated to education.  Of course if you miss it, I would assume you can find it on my link or on the PBS teachers site.

Thanks to the G+ post from Larry Ferlazzo

Become an AP Grader

When I tell people that I grade exams their first reaction is to say that grading is the worst part of their job, so why would anyone want to go.  Well 1) I am a much better teacher because of the work I have done as an AP grader in two different subjects.  After all if I know how to grade an exam, then I know how to better prepare students for future essays.  2) The people I met give me both great friendships, but also colleagues near and far to exchange ideas and assignments.  3) You get to go to great places.  This year I will be in Salt Lake City and even though, yes, you do work 8-5 (with lunch and AM/PM break) we did have time to go hiking one day, go to the Great Salt Lake, on another and see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir practice in their 20,000 person arena and usually we catch a baseball game.  4)  I am so much more a proficient grader and can very accurately whip through lots of free response questions - which means I can assign more and better prepare my students (who this year wrote 12 for grades and another 3-4 for practice in my class).

Basically it works like this.  Day 1 - fly to AP grading site  Day 2 - learn the rubric.  They give you all the answers and truthfully most of my AP students could grade given the training.  By the end of the day you will be very accurately grading exams and giving them the identical grade to everyone at your table Day 3-7 - grade all day in 4 quadrants and yes it can get hard at times Day 8 - Finish the grading which means you only get about 50-75.  Only once have I ever graded beyond noon on this day and then you get the rest of the day to do things like do real sightseeing. Day 9 Fly Home.

So if you are interested, here is the place to sign up. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

DOE Director of Ed Tech Coming to my Classroom

So I was asked a few weeks ago if I wanted a member of the US Department of Education to come to my class.  They picked well and I ended up with the Director of Educational Technology, Richard Culatta, who will be spending the day in my class this coming Thursday.  That night we also get to meet with Arne Duncan (for the second time in as many months).  So, my question to you is do you have any questions that you would like me to address?  Culatta's DOE page says he is interested in individualized student learning so I have lots to speak to him already, but would love any feedback or thoughts if you would e-mail me (  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Holland vs. The Netherlands Explained

C.G.P Grey explains the difference between Holland and the Netherlands in this four minute clip. Thanks to Richard Byrne for posting it on his blog, Free Technology for Teachers.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Top Hits for the Month of April

Thanks for all the pageviews.  George's top post for the month was our big vote getter.  You can see the video above.