Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Silk Road Virtual Tour

Here's a great virtual tour of the Silk Road created by Professor Clayton Brown.

My thanks to Angela Lee for tweeting the link.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Virtual Tours for Your Classroom

One of my favorite exercises when we get to the Renaissance is to show them a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel as I love looking at the marvel of my students when they see what one person can do. This link will give you access to that tour as well as the Roman Coliseum (inside and out),  as well as the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids in Giza.  Thanks to a Tweet from F.C. Tymrak for this link.   Tymrak doesn't have much on his blog, but he is a prolific Tweeter and if you want to follow him, just click on the "follow" icon on the upper right hand side of your Twitter account.  By the way if you want to get lots of ideas for how to use Twitter in your classroom, I devote an entire chapter to it in my book,  Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction,  which is now less than a month away from being released and that you can pre-order here.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snag-It for Chrome & Google Drive

This is pretty cool.  I have used Snag-it at school for years, but it is almost a pain as I have to go find it most of the time on my tools and I much prefer to have apps added to Chrome.  Well now I am all set as Snag-it has a Chrome add on that adds each item into your Google Drive account.  It lets you take the entire screen, parts of it and even movies and then annotate them.  Above is a video explaining how to use it. To found about it from TechSmith on Twitter

History vs. Vladimir Lenin

Here's a great Ted Ed lesson that pits Lenin against History.

Active Learning vs. Lectures: NY Times Story

Max Whittaker for The New York Times
Here's another case for getting rid of the dull and orderly (lectures) and offering a more active approach to teaching.

That's the what researchers found out in a study of science classes in California, according to the New York Times in this story called "Colleges Reinvent Classes to Keep More Students in Science."

Multiple studies have shown that students fare better with a more active approach to learning, using some of the tools being adopted here at Davis, while in traditional classes, students often learn less than their teachers think.

Thanks to Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link.

Resources at California History Project

The History Project, developed by the University California, has some terrific resources on world history, many of which are engaging classroom lessons.
For example, here is  a interesting lesson on genocide. It includes a graphic organizer and definitions of the eight stages of genocide. You'll also find a great lesson on the Armenian genocide with primary sources.
Studying early trade?  Here's a lesson on why spices like cinnamon were so expensive and important. It includes a short PowerPoint  along with a  chart and primary sources.

Studying the silk road. This lesson shows students how Buddhist and Muslim art changed as it traveled  along  the Silk Road.

The  site is worth exploring but note that some lessons are  password protected.

My  thanks to Angela Lee ( @mrshistorylee)  for tweeting the link.

Friday, December 26, 2014

More Ideas for Good Learning

This presentation adds to the posts I have done on the book, How We Learn.  It repeats the thought that we learn best when we have breaks.  Indeed the technique Barbara Oakley mentions is 25 minutes of focused attention (no texting, looking at unrelated Internet pages) and then taking a break of a few minutes.  This, she says will increase learning retention.  As for tests, she suggest studying many times with flash cards, multiple techniques, etc.  As she points out, would you sing a song once and think you learned it - of course not.  As for underlining parts of a book, she says the most innovative to learn from a book is to read, then look away and see what you can remember.  Also, assume just reading will help you learn.  Mastery comes from repetition and interacting with what ever you are learning. 

The Atlantic Slave Trade & Impact: Awesome TedEd Talk

Here's an excellent TedEd talk on the slave trade and its impact on Africa. Thanks to F.C. Tymrak for tweeting the link.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Connecting the Industrial Revolution to Your Students

I love the post below from George Coe which talks about Crash Course joining Big History.  This video (one of ten they are making) is great as it really connects today's world to the Industrial Revolution.  For me this is important as I am constantly struggling to give my students reasons why they should study history to better understand their world. 

2000 Years and Not Much Difference

I like to say that every course uses social studies and this one is no different as it covers all four of the courses I am teaching this year.  First off it starts by saying that in 1AD the two biggest economies, based on GDP, were China and India.  Even today those two are two of the three largest economies with a "western mix" being the other one.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Crash Course & Big History Together

Big History and Crash Course have teamed up to produce ten new episodes based on Big History.

Thanks to Angela Lee for tweeting the link.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hoplites at War: Great Animation

Watch these Greek hoplites go to war thanks to the animation from Panoply. It's part of a project they created called "Every Solider has a Story."

You can read more about the project here at the History Blog where I found the video.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

William Harvey & Human Anatomy: Great Clip

Try to explain the importance of William Harvey to students and their eyes glaze over.

This great video from the Smithsonian Science Festival helps explain his significance, suggesting that he "literally wrote the book on human anatomy."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Learning Pod Needs Test Question Writers

Learning Pod has a tremendous number of resources including AP practice questions for your students.  But they are also a way for you to make extra money.  So if you go here you can apply to write questions for the AP content areas for social studies.  If you want to go to their site and see their resources, go here

Fakebook and Greek Gods

I have used Fakebook for a few years with my WHI kids to have them make comments between the gods.  Fakebook lets students create comments and posts, upload pictures (or have them chosen from the Internet) and even add in video.  If you watch my video above, it explains how to do all of this.   For what it is worth  there is also a FakeTweet and a FakeText.

The whole idea behind using Fakebook is having the kids summarize and synthesize what people might say to each other.  So here is my assignment (which you could copy and tailor to your own needs).  The kids really enjoy the assignment and the best part is that the Fakebook site creates a unique url and lets the kids add in their own password so they can work on the site on multiple occasions. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

VideoNot.es for Flipped Video Notetaking

Normally I ask my students to split their screen, but this relatively (it came out last April) new app called Videonot.es that does that for you, putting the video on the left and the notes on the right.  It is then synced with Google Drive so it automatically (if you approve it to do so) puts the notes in your Google  Drive folder.  You will also note that whenever you begin taking notes, it shows where you are in the video and if you click on that line of  the notes, it will take you back to the relevant place in the video.  

It is also available for Google Apps so your students can get it in the free or paid Google Drive.

Above is a video showing you how to use it.

WeVideo for your Video Creations

My daughter is working with a friend of a class video for tomorrow. They took their video clips using my wife's smartphone and then uploaded them onto WeVideo and very easily combined their clips into one video. You can add music, words, images, fade in/out, cut items out, etc. It also is an app in Google Drive so you can then upload it straight into your account (to add it to Google Drive, go to "more" under docs, presentation, etc. and then it will always be on your drop down for programs with Google Drive.

Join Me in Spain for an In-Service

This July 12-13 I am teaching a two day institute on the Mediterranean Sea coast near Marbella in Spain (very near Gibraltar).  The course will be two full days in which where we will be designing lesson plans to personalize learning for your students.  This means we will learn how to create a flipped video and what to do in the classroom once that is done including giving immediate feedback as well as giving formative evaluations.  Finally we will expand your own school PLC to one online so that you can follow-up the session with more collaboration and ideas well after the institute is over.  If you are interested, please go here to sign up for the course.  There is a considerable discount if you sign up by the middle of February.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Education Week Post

Way back in August Larry Ferlazzo asked me to respond to one of his reader's queries which was posted today.  The post looks at "interactives"  which allow students to work in class on "problem sets" where the teacher can walk around the room and act as a facilitator rather than as a passive lecturer.   Interactives are which are explored in my upcoming book Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction.  The quote above is from the article but it really comes from a wonderful woman who taught my methods class back when I was learning to be a teacher.  While I have long since lost forgotten her name, the charge she gave us to keep up with student learning as it has evolved as not been forgotten by me in the twenty-five years since she said it to me.  

Intellectuals who Remade Asia: Great Book

Looking for a good book over the holiday break? Pankaj Mishra's From Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia provides a fascinating study of the 19th and 20th centuries from the view point of non-Europeans.

Through the eyes of a Chinese intellectual and a Muslim journalist at the turn of the 20th  century, Mishra shows how "some of the most intelligent and sensitive people in the East responded to the encroachment of the West." He describes how they responded to major events like the Indian mutiny, Ottoman modernization, the Russo-Chinese War, the Chinese revolution, and World War 1.

What a different view Asians had of the West! In short, they viewed the West much as the West view the Mongols--as uncivilized!

For example, the Hindu thinker Swami Vivekananda  "articulated a widespread moral revulsion among Asians for their European masters."

Intoxicated by the heady wine of newly acquired power, fearsome like wild animals who see no difference between good and evil, slaves to women, insane in their lust, drenched in alcohol from head to foot, without any norms of ritual conduct, unclean, materialistic,, dependent on material things, grabbing other people's land and wealth by hook or crook...

The moral revulsion common in the 19th century turned to hope early in the 20th century. That's when an Asian power defeated a white Western  power for the first time in centuries.

Intellectuals from Sun Yat Sen to Mahatma Gandhi saw Japan's defeat of Russia in 1905 as a sign of hope, noting that  "'the people of the East were finally 'waking up from the lethargy.'"

This is a fascinating book, readable, and only $13 at Amazon.

Mastery Learning Discussion and Examples

I believe watching my own children grow has helped to make me a better teacher.  For example my son is a very good gamer, but he is also very good at failing.  By that I mean he is willing to fail as many times as it takes to master a game which leads to his mastering the material and then moving on to another one.  It strikes me that I need to emulate my son's learning with all of my classes.  By that I mean I have mostly flipped my classes and so have much more time to move around the classroom helping my students.  While we are on a unit I also allow students to correct work again and again and consequently have no late grades and have mostly moved beyond a textbook in three of my four content classes and have set up an individualized learning model (see my book about this).  So it strikes me that I need to fully move to a standards based learning model as the last part of my educational evolution.  So in that move, you are going to see lots of videos and examples of mastery learning as I teach myself and fumble through this process.

So above my musings is a video overview of how mastery learning works in any classroom.  It is a great overview to explain the process and even does something no one has ever done for me which is to define mastery learning.  Below this writing is a video my fellow blogger, Frank Franz, made for his back to school flip parent video.  Watch it closely as it has not only an explanation of flipped learning (which really is the bedrock of mastery learning), but also how he carries out mastery learning, both in terms of objectives, daily learning, grading and, finally showing mastery.  The key, as I am learning, is that if the child is motivated, he/she can redo anything and potentially show better mastery.  But this means that the child might have additional (to the videos) learning and therefore need more motivation.

Friday, December 12, 2014

US, Ukraine Students at Global Summit on Human Rights

IMG_0853 (1) 
Today, my students in the United States discussed human rights and religious freedom during a video conference with students at a school in Ukraine. Our featured speaker,  a human rights officer with the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC, spoke to us from New York. Her family fled Iran during the 1979 revolution. She discussed the history of Baha'i persecution and explained her efforts on behalf of that community.

Face to Faith, an organization developed by Prime Minister Tony Blair to bring together students of different cultures and religions, organizes the conferences through a video conferencing service called Bluejeans.

The questions from students at both schools were fascinating, as was the speaker's answers and follow-up discussion. For example, one student asked Ms. Kourosh  if  she had ever been to Iran.  She said that she had never been to the country and that it would be dangerous for her to go. Another student asked how the Baha'i are persecuted today. Ms. Kourosh explained that over 100 Baha'i are currently imprisoned in Iran and that many suffer solitary confinement and physical abuse.

Ms. Kourosh ended the conference by telling our students that  we are all ambassadors for human rights. She urged the students to educate themselves and mentioned a new documentary about  Baha'i persecution called "to Light a Candle." It premieres in February but you can see the trailer here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Studying for the Test by Taking the Test

One of the best ways for students to learn is by taking frequent tests or quizzes.

According to an interesting story in the New York Times, that's what two psychology professors found out in an experiment. One professor gave a quiz to his introductory class every day. The other professor did not.

Students who took the daily quizzes did better on a bigger  test than the students who did not take the quizzes.

According to the Times, these students did significantly better.
But they did significantly better than a comparison intro psych class, both in their grades and on a larger quiz that included 17 of the same questions that appeared both in the quizzes and on the other class’s midterm. The quizzes were especially beneficial for the type of students — many from low-performing high schools — who don’t realize how far behind they are until it’s too late.
Maybe we should all be thinking of ways to quiz our students more!

My thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, for sending me the link to this story.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Google Classroom

If you have your students work in Google Drive, a new way to do it is through Google Classroom.  It allows you to see who has turned in what and when.  You do have to have a Google Apps for Education account as do your students.  The key to the video above is that you can see both the teacher and the students accounts side by side above. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Zaption to Personalize Your Flipped Vidoes

Thanks to Scott Nichols for this tip.  Zaption allows you to take any YouTube or Vimeo video, edit them, add questions, text and images and then share it with your students using a url.  It is also free! Below is a video explaining how to do it. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Byzantine Art: Great Review

Here is a terrific review of Byzantine art, especially the development of iconoclasm.

My thanks to my colleague, Frances Coffey for finding the link.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Quizlet for Review

After each unit I talk to my students about how to review for their test - which I point out should be over several days and not just involve reading a study guide. One of the methods I also give them is a link to Quizlet which has a number of completed flashcards which can also be used as various games and even set up as a competition with members of your class. Above is one example for India.  You can also have your students create their own set of cards. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Remind Your Students Using Texts

Today I found an article on the Washington Post that goes with along with what some of my students are doing for homework.  So, today I sent them the link to the article and was able to do it because all of my students voluntarily sign up for Remind.com because they like the reminder.  You can send a simple text and even add an attachment and, if you want to, put it on Twitter as well.  Over the years I have used it I have become convinced that kids, more than not, don't do their homework because of poor planning or organization and Remind has helped immensely on this.  Above is a video explaining how to use it.  Of course the service is free and parents can sign up for it as well.  Finally it is also only a one way text. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

iPad App for Virtual Rome History

If you teach US history you might have seen the work I am doing with a California group called ContextU on contextualizing all of US (and eventually world) history.  A group that we are potentially going to be working with has produced an amazing app that takes you around ancient Rome and has a number of pop-ups to give you the history.  You can also turn things in a complete circle.  Really if you have a iPads for your students it is a great device to use during your Rome unit. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Teach Writing with the Help of Technology

Ironically, at the same time one of my classes is starting to write a research paper, I received an email from Robert Morris asking if he could write a post for my blog.  His write-up is so useful I am putting it up in its entirety.   At the top of this post I am also including a video I made last year on the mechanics of writing an essay such as what is a thesis, topic sentence(s), outline sentence(s), etc.

How to Teach Writing with the Help of Technology
If you are constantly frustrated by your students’ inability to understand what you expect from academic assignments, maybe it’s time to turn to technology tools. Teaching students how to write is one of the greatest challenges that professors face. No matter how hard they try to explain different writing techniques and help their students go through the different stages of essay writing, the results are hardly satisfactory.
Every teacher knows that some of the most important aspects of successful academic writing are organization, research, proofreading and editing, but they cannot motivate students to put enough effort in all stages of the project. The following tools will help both you and your students deal with the challenge more easily.

Tools to use during the research stage

This is the part when your students need the most help. If you want to be satisfied with the content they submit, you need to teach them how to do a proper research. Suggest these tools to help your students go through this stage:
Instead of forcing them to spend several days in the library locating proper sources for a research paper, you should suggest this online tool to your students. This is an online library that offers an immense choice of relevant research information.           
You don’t consider Google to be the right destination for finding reliable sources, but your students keep using it. Google Scholar is the compromise – it provides them with a research environment they are used to, but leads to reliable sources that can be used as a foundation for academic projects.
At this website, you can find top-quality eBooks that you can suggest as referencing sources. You can research the online library and tell your students to discuss particular books, but you can also inspire them to conduct the research individually or in teams.

Best proofreading and editing tools

Teachers are really frustrated when their students submit draft version of their papers. Instead of repeating the same things about the importance of proofreading and editing, you should suggest the following tools that will lead to practical results:
If you notice that some of your students need serious assistance during the writing and editing stage, you should suggest them to hire professional writers and editors at this website. A single investment can result with an extraordinary improvement in their research, writing and editing skills, since the students get to learn through collaborating with real experts at this website.
Although this is a basic checker that cannot lead to flawless papers, it will still help your students avoid some embarrassing mistakes. The engine corrects the most common errors in academic writing, so you can suggest it as the right tool to use when your students’ papers need a quick fix.

Plagiarism detection tools

The process of teaching your students how to write involves the issue of plagiarism. They clearly use resources to support the discussion, so the content can easily end up being too similar to something that has already been written before. These are the plagiarism detection tools you should suggest:
This simple engine detects the parts of the paper that have been plagiarized from online resources. When your students see the highlighted content, they will know which parts need to be referenced or improved with their own comments.
This website combines three useful tools: grammar check, plagiarism detection, and writing suggestions.

You can also rely on these plagiarism detection engines in order to make sure that the content your students submit is unique. When they start combining them with the research and editing tools we listed above, they will soon start completing better academic content and making you a happier teacher.    

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Entire Patterns of Interaction Textbook Free Online

It is somewhat amazing to me how often our WHI/WHII e-book goes down when students are working on it (esp. during September).  This Saturday, for example, it will be down.  But never fear one of my trusty colleagues found the entire Patterns of Interaction textbook online in a format they will not go down.  The only downside is you have to know the section as the pages are not included.

So, for example, my students are working on India which can be found here

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Learning Pod Student Review System

My two AP classes each have two exams that they will have to take in May which prompted one student to ask me the other day how we would review for both AP exams.  Well the answer, if you read my post below on How We Learn is to go back frequently, but not every day and review old material.

One way to do this is to let your students use Learning Pod which allows students to take review questions on any AP exam that are preparing for without having to even login.  However if the students want to login then they will receive an explanation for their incorrect questions.  

Teachers can also create "pods" of their own tests that they have created which they can make available for anyone or just for their own students.  There are also different ways (url, Tweets), etc that teachers can use to share a pod with students.

If you want to easily see all the AP offering questions, go here or to the logo on the right of the page any time you want.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hagia Sophia: If These Walls Could Talk

Check out this amazing and engaging five minute animated Ted lesson about the Hagia Sophia.

Kelly Wall reviews the stories behind the Hagia Sophia and tells a terrific story that starts in Constantinople and ends in Istanbul.

Thanks to David Walp for positing the link.

How We Learn

As I have noted before, it is not often that I push something that costs money, but at Frank Franz' suggestion I read How We Learn, by Benedict Carey.  Here are some of the highlights in Scientific American.  The upshot is that the author contends with quantitative backing:

  • that studying day after day is not good that we should have a day or two off after studying the first time and that there will be surprisingly more retention when one tests on the third day after studying than on the day you studied
  • that studying on multiple days, not in succession increases long term retention
  • that brief study breaks to do things totally unrelated such as checking text messages, as long as not done every few minutes help the brain make connections
  • that going back to earlier material all year again helps the learning process
  • that having students think and not just listen and write makes the long term learning better

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Internet Access for All Students?!

Each year I teach two AP classes, 2 standard ones and one online.  So of my roughly 150 students, about 5-6 start the year without a laptop and all are in my two standard classes.  What is different this year is that all but one has some Internet connection be it via a smartphone or a laptop.  So all students can watch flip videos and see links to items online so the "worst case" is that they have to write their answers on paper - which, yes, even for me works.  But there are still things that just cannot be done on a smartphone.

But a few years ago a girl in one of my classes came in beaming one day and said because of my class her mother had bought her a laptop.  When I asked if this was a bad thing (ie did I pressure her in some way) she said no and that her mother had no idea schools used laptops that much.  Well now I find a time outside of class to talk to all my non connected students and always mention Chromebooks saying that it is what I bought my own children ($250 for 11" and $300 for 14").  Kids today do not need Microsoft Windows and for that matter Microsoft now has OneDrive which allows you to do most of what you do in Word, but online.  So as it has been in the past three years, three kids have come to me so far to tell me that they now have laptops and two more are getting theirs soon.  Not only that but parents have even thanked me for suggesting it.

For me it boils down to this.  I know that students will need online capabilities when they enter the workplace and by not asking, I am helping to foster a situation where my students are far behind most of their peers.  I also stay after school 90 minutes each day and help kids learn how to be connected - as well as how to do their work.   To get to the point, not asking a student is worse than asking so see if you can't get more of your students connected. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fall of Berlin Wall Anniversary

Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. AP News has a great site about the fall with interesting  images and original news stories.

The Washington Post has "stunning" before and after pictures, along with a crossword puzzle testing your knowledge of the Berlin Wall.

Below, NBC News shows 8000 lighted balloons along nine mile length of the wall. And below that is a BBC clip clip explaining the rise and fall of the wall in 60 seconds. Finally, you can read another excellent summary from the Independent.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kristallnacht; 75th Anniversary

Here, a director from the US Holocaust Museum discusses the significance of Kristallnach, or the "night of broken glass," on the occasion of its 75th anniversary last year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

WWI From a German's Perspective: Awesome BBC site

The BBC iWonder has an awesome site about World War I from a German soldier's perspective and that of a young English soldier. The site includes great photographs, short video clips and links to read more about different events.

A timeline at the top of the page allows you move directly to specific events.
If you have never seen a iWonder site, you should. They are fun and student friendly. And this one might make for a great web quest.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Howjsay to Pronounce Words

A number of my students are either currently ESOL students or were in the program in the last year or two.  So one of the resources we use is Howjsay.com where you can input a word and it says it for you.  The other day for example, we were looking at Japan and submitted the word archipelago.  It also links the word to a Google search so you can find out more about what you are trying to pronounce.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Liberal Conservative Differences

While I am not sure I agree with everything on this image it is mostly accurate and does bring up a great way to discuss the differences between what is meant by a liberal and a conservative.  Thanks to one of Doug Zywiol's students for finding it.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

History of Halloween

The video above is great as it touches the potato famine and ancient Irish history connecting it to All Hallow's Eve and even looks at the origins of trick or treat.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Egypt and Better Learning

So one of the things I have learned is that we remember something better if we see an image - or draw it.  So here is an exercise my students carry out on ancient Egypt.  It starts with watching a short screencast I made and then students have to answer question, find and insert images about things we have learned such as hieroglyphics, identify map parts in Egypt and finally the kids watch the explanation above on how to create papyrus.   Now that is what I call using the Internet for deeper learning.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Book is Getting Closer, Pre-Order Now!

So I started my blogs in April of 2008 - which means I have been hawking free wares for quite a long time.  But no more!  My book manuscript should arrive in my in box in a few days and after I initial it, the next stop is the printer.  The publication date is the last week of January, but you and/or your school or district can pre-order it now.  

The title pretty much says it all.  I believe that technology is great since that is the world we now live in, but two terms I use in my book are "first and second order" uses of technology.  First order is just digitizing everything you normally do on paper while "second order" is using technology to do learning with your students (such as individualizing) that you could not do without it.  Not only do I give you the research, but I give you the step by step instructions for how to do this.

Over the next few months, I will be giving you more details on the book so please keep reading if you aren't yet sure if you want to purchase it yet.   If you go here, there is both a very detailed chapter outline as well as the early reviews and a way to order the book.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

East India Company: Qatar Digital Archives

Studying exploration? Here's a great summary of the East India Company.

Want to learn about slavery in Arabia in the 19th century?  Here are documents that outline the slavery that the British encountered. And its different from the slavery the British instituted in the Atlantic.

These documents and readings are part of the Qatar Digital Archives which outline the cultural and historical heritage of  Qatar and the wider Middle East region.

You can search their archives or you can search articles like the one above about the East India Company. You can also search by subject and you'll find interesting resources on Arab nationalism, the petroleum industry, or even the rights of states.

Scientific Revolution Clips

Studying the Scientific revolution? Here are three short clips from the History Channel. The first is about Galileo, the second Copernicus, and the third Newton. They come from the History Channel's Beyond the Big Bang series.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Twitter Warm-up for Your Classes

Today my colleague, Doug Zywiol asked his US history classes to Tweet him the biggest hurdle facing George Washington when he started his presidential term.  If you go to @dougzywiol you can see the student responses.  To have your students do it, they simply need to add your Twitter handle to a text and then you can project the responses on the board or simply have your students use their smartphones to look at and discuss the answers.  Alternatively you could make a hashtag (just put the "#" symbol along side any class name you might invent (such as @Zywiolclass) and then have your students add this to their text.  Then go to the newly made site to see all of the Tweets.

By the way Zywiol's government students were doing their government service hours and met Barbara Comstock (see image above) who is likely to be a new member of Congress come January and of course they Tweeted about it so Zywiol's other students could see it.

Obviously no matter the subject you teach, you can use Twitter to start your warm-up.  If you are like us and have slow laptops, it can be done while the laptops are logging in. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Middle Passage: Great Clip

Here's a great short (3 minutes) clip about the Middle Passage from Assignment Discovery. My thanks to my collegue Frances Coffey for the link

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Remind Gets Even Easier

Remind (which used to be Remind101) is getting even easier.  Stating in November all your students and parents will have to do is to text "81010" and your unique class code (which you make) and they will be signed up.  I have been using the site for the past three years and their CEO even gave my upcoming January release book (Deeper Learning Through Technology) a nice endorsement.   I can't say enough for how it has improved my students' memory to get their nightly text reminders in finishing any lingering work they may have for me.  

Oliver Cromwell & Charles II: Horrible Histories

Here's a hilarious review of Oliver Cromwell and Charles II.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Before Columbus: Zheng He - The Great Voyager

As we celebrate Columbus Day, don't forget Zheng He.

His great treasure ships sailed throughout the Indian Ocean, and maybe beyond. His ships dwarfed those of Columbus and the Chinese might have given Europeans serious competition if they had not decided to end the voyages and look inward while the Europeans looked outward.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tropical Cave Art: Older than European Art

Here's a short documentary form Nature Video about the discovery of cave paintings in Indonesia that "may change what we know about art."

That's because these paintings date back more than 39,000 years ago, which could make then older than the earliest cave paintings in Europe.

Ken has a post about them below but I thought students might enjoy this five minute documentary explaining the significance of the finding. You can also see more great photos of the paintings at World Mic

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cave Art

This is a very interesting article that you might add to when you talk about cave art at the beginning of your World History I course.   What is most interesting is that it is about cave art found in Indonesia that is at least 39,000 years old and is the oldest painting of human hands.
Above is a short video on the cave art most of show - Lascaux - which I had the pleasure to see as a child.  Below are a series of pictures I show my students and questions I ask them to consider about them.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Cargo Colossus on the Sea

Here's a cargo ship as long as the Empire State Building is tall. It contains enough steel to build eight Eiffel Towers. 

It might be interesting to show kids how much trade has changed and how much the world has become a global marketplace, as the New York Times notes in this fascinating story

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Make a Map in Google Drawings

It is rather important that our students be able to locate areas on US and world maps.  If you want to do it digitally in Google Drive, then watch the video above as it explains it in 150 seconds.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Flipping, flipping, flipping!

All three of my preps this year are being flipped so I am really getting into it which is good after four years of practicing the "craft."  Today we are having a tech in-service at Hayfield Secondary where I teach and I am teaching two sections of how to flip one's classroom.  If you aren't a teacher at Hayfield and want to watch how to do flip, above is an eight minute video detailing all of the steps and what to do in the classroom after you have done your flipped lecture.

Here is an example of a flipped video, the actual Google form we used and the interactive assignment that followed in class

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mesopotamian History Clip

Here's an excellent 10 minute clip that reviews some interesting aspects of Mesopotamian history including Hammurabi's Code, cylindrical stone seals, the use of cedar trees for building material, tar to waterproof boat hulls, and gods who symbolized Sumerians mistrust of nature.

It's an excellent clip and worth using for review.

America Before Columbus

Here's a great video that helps students understand the Columbian Exchange. Produced by the National Geographic, the video compares Europe and America on the eve of Columbus's voyage.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

We are the Mesopotamians Video Fun

We are studying the Mesopotamians so tomorrow I am showing this fun video by "We are Giants" to my students.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Flipped Videos

Hip Hughes I am not, but flipping gives me the chance to spend more time moving around the room and helping the kids.  Here are all my WHI flip videos in case you want to use any of them.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Use Preferences & Make Your Own Short Cuts in Google Docs

This comes from Caitlin Tucker who has made the short video above to show you pre-set preferences in Google Docs and how to additional ones of your own.  This comes in handy when you are grading papers and don't want to write the same comment over and over. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Who's Buried in Newly Discovered Alexander-era Tomb?

Could this elaborate  tomb hold Alexander's mother,Olympias,or his wife, Roxana? Archaeologists believe it must hold someone very very important because the tomb is so magnificent.

According to the BBC, the tomb includes "two magnificent caryatids.  Each of the sculpted female figures has one arm outstretched, presumably to discourage intruders from entering the tomb's main chamber."  

The site is located in ancient Amphipolis, a major Macedonian kingdom and dates back to the 4th century.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Recommendation: How We Learn by Benedict Carey

There aren't many books about teaching that truly excite me, but I just finished reading a book that every educator should read. How We Lean: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey details several techniques that teachers and students can employ to increase student learning. Teachers may have heard of or even used a couple of the techniques, but Carey provides the background and details that will allow teachers to say "here's what I'm doing, and here's why it works" to themselves, their students, colleagues, and administrators.
Why will I give chapter pre-tests from now on? To see how much students know? No. To have students see what they know before beginning a new unit? No. I'm going to give chapter pre-tests because studies have shown that even when students fail to answer the pre-test questions correctly, a seed is planted that changes the way a student interacts with the content of the upcoming chapter, with students who took pre-tests performing better on assessments than those students who did not take the pre-tests.
One other technique described in How We Learn relates to those of us who have year-end exams, such as state assessments, Advanced Placement Exams, and course final exams. Carey describes the "spacing effect," which calls for students to space out their studying in a unique way. He's not recommending that students study several days in a row leading up to their test, which many teachers have probably recommended to their students. Carey suggests that non-study days be inserted between study days leading up to a test. Research has shown that retention of information for the long term increases using this method, thus student performance on cumulative tests, such as year-end tests, increases.
Read How We Learn so you can apply the rest of what Carey presents in order for your students to learn more effectively.

Frank Franz
Madison High School
Vienna, Virginia

Triangular Trade: Hip Hughes

Keith Hughes reviews the triangular trade and mercantilism in this excellent three minute clip.

Cornell Notes: Everything you Wanted to Know

The True Size of Africa

Unfortunately we just did map distortions a week ago, but this is a great way to show students the problem the Mercator map which still dominates most of our classroom walls.  Here is a short Economist article on the topic.  Thanks to a Tweet from Conrad Hackett for this one. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You Can Now Pre-Order My Book!

We now have a definitive early January release date for my book, whose name has changed to "Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction."  The name pretty much says it all as I relate research, examples and explanatory tutorials to show you how to effectively use technology for both primary (technology being used in ways similar to paper and secondary (more of the book and ways to allow you to do things you cannot do without technology).   There are also five "teacher challenges" per chapter so that you and your PLCs could set goals for your teams to integrate the techniques into your classrooms and school.    

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Write an AP World DBQ

Not only does the author of this video know how to write a DBQ for AP World, but he also knows how to technology to illustrate his points. 

Human Evolution Timeline

Here is a very nice human evolution timeline from the Smithsonian Institution.  As you move over it, you can click on items to get more details.  When teaching early man, or anything for that matter, context and relations to other items helps so this should be effective in teaching early man.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Flipping My Back to School Night

If you follow my blog you know I flip my classes and will be doing the same for my WHI class this Thursday.   Honestly I do not get a lot of parents for my standard classes so I will have my students text this  bit.ly/btsn20145whI to their parents so that those who cannot come can still get the information. I have, as you can see, done a number of translations for the document, but, am still waiting for someone to be able to create an instant translator for recordings!  

Tank Man Video From Tienanmen Square

I am reading The People's Republic of Amnesia which is about the 1989 Tienanmen Square Massacre (or incident as it is taught in China).  For those of us in the West, the image of the tank man is what we think of.  Interestingly enough it came after most had already been killed and the question is always, "I wonder what happened to that person."  Well, in the video above he didn't die, but he did show a lot of courage.  It is entirely appropriate to show your students.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014


My students just started prehistory and are watching a flipped lecture for homework on the Neolithic and Paleolithic periods.   This short film is something we will watch in our next class as it not only talks about the Paleolithic monument, but also talks about the burial grounds surrounding it.  It is a nice video to highlight archeologists, artifacts and how they are collected to create history.    

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ninety Second VIdeo of the Great Pyramids

There are several startling things about the great pyramids.  First off the center one isn't the tallest, but is built on higher ground to look that way.  Secondly the Sphinx is missing his nose because Napoleon's troops blew it off with a cannon.  Third, and this video shows it, the city of Giza goes right up to the pyramids.

I found the video from Google in Education on Google+.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Map Projections' Assignment

Today my students are going to look at different types of map projections.  I made this assignment with my combined ESOL/mainstreamed students in mind.  I have a site with pictures and descriptions of map projections and one for types of maps (ie climate, political, etc.).  Above is a clip from the West Wing which is a great introduction on why we should study maps. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Remind Now Allows You To Record Homework Reminders

This is a pretty cool addition for those of you who have Remind on your smartphone (iTunes, Android).  You can, as the video shows, record your student assignments for your kids to hear rather than read.  You can also attach assignments if you like.  If you look at this video you can set up and use Remind with your students.  

How Europe's Borders Changed Over 2000 Years

This is a great, and very quick video, to perhaps show at the beginning and end of your course to show your students how country borders have changed so much.  I found it from a Tweet from FC Tymrak.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Free Online Ancient World Civ eTextbook

We are in our fifth year of using an online textbook with our students and so it never ceases to amaze me that Pearson still isn't ready for prime time.  Every year at this point, when everyone is logging in their books, they can't handle the traffic.  Or the one that was really amused with was McGraw-Hill servicing their online books from Thursday - this morning after having had the entire summer to work on their shells.

Having said all that, I still believe that online books are the way to go, but not just because they are online.  Really I hope we are moving towards the days when books will be used as a resource and not the main source.  There are so many videos, links, images, documents online that a book should fill in the gaps or be the starting point.

But if you do want a book, here is one I worked on years ago called USHistory.org/civ and it is not going to go down on your students and it is complete through about 2000.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Big History Project & Putting Learning in Context

Bill Gates seems to like getting involved in the way we are teaching our students.  He has helped bank roll the Khan Academy, Common Core and now, from his personal money (as opposed to the Gates Foundation), he is helping to promote a connected type of learning called the Big History Project.  It is interesting to me as it is similar to the project I have been working on called ContextU (which has our Civil War unit up and in a few days will have our American Revolution up as well). The central thesis of both is that we do not live in a fish tank and that one thing is connected to others (as is becoming more and more obvious in our modern world).  The Big History project pulls back and keeps looking at a timeline where as ContextU also adds in location, cause and effect and group connectivity.

With Bill Gates' funding the Big History Project has spread to a number of schools in the US as you can see from this article.  You can go to the Big History Project and see six units of the course.  To say the least I am always intrigued with a better way of teaching and since I have long believed that we all learn best when we can connect our subject matter to what we already know, I am curious about this course which has now even started to replace some schools' World History courses.  

Mesopotamia: From Nomads to Farmers

Here's a great 13 minute overview of Mesopotamia from "Nomads to Farmers." Thanks to Randa Hendricks for tweeting the link.

Remind to Text Your Students

I have been using Remind (used to be called Remind101) for the past three years (in fact their CEO even wrote a nice blurb for my book which is coming out in a few months).  Students today do not use email very often, but cannot text enough to save their lives!  So when I started using Remind I found that the amount of homework among my standard (non AP/IB) students improved dramatically.  If you have students who do not have smartphones, the service also allows emails.  Additionally you can send a message to as few as three students.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Why the West? Neil Ferguson's 6 Killer ApsExplain

Why did the West surge ahead of the rest of the world in the fifteenth century creating the great divergence? Was it geography? Or was it empire? 

Niall Ferguson argues that it was neither. He finds six reasons why the West surged ahead and calls them the six killer apps. They include, competition, the Scientific Revolution, property rights, medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic. 

These six characteristics set the West apart from the rest, according to Ferguson.  It's a fascinating argument.

Twitter Warm-up

So I always have a meet and greet on our first day of school, but tomorrow, thanks to @dougzywiol I am going more high tech (imagine that!) and having the kids Tweet their answers.  To do that yourself you can either create your own hashtag by putting a number a hashtag symbol besides a name (make sure others are using it first) and then have your kids add it in of their Tweets which is what I am going to do.  Alternatively you could just have the students write your Twitter handle in their Tweets.  I will then have the kids go to our hashtag and we will go through them.  For the kids who don't have Twitter, we'll just do it orally.