Sunday, May 25, 2014

Toxic Culture of Education

Here high school math teacher, Johnathan Katz, talks about "the toxic culture" of high stakes testing for this TEDx talk at the University of Akron. You can read the overview of this talk at the Washington Post's Answer Sheet.

"We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students," he says.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chromebooks as an Inexpensive Alternative for Schools

It is interesting to me that schools are willing to pay a great deal of money for tablets when laptops can do more.  The problem, of course, is that many see laptops as being even more expensive.  A number of teachers in my county would love to move to Chromebooks (which is taking a while for approval as we are a huge district).  But Chromebooks, as you can see in the video above are cheap ($200-350) laptops that range from 11 to 15".  They are inexpensive because they are essentially online devices.  Yes you have some space on the laptop and yes you can now work offline on Google Drive documents, but think about what you do on your laptop.  How often are you not connected to the Internet?  If we truly want our students to be prepared for the 21st century then they all need devices in school.

Chromebooks utilize the strength of Google Drive, but you can also use Microsoft's OneDrive (which recently changed names from SkyDrive).  I have been using online documents for four years and will admit that I used to download them onto my school's server, but at some point I just stopped as I realized that Google does a better job of safely backing up my work than my school district (who also does a great job).  I also want to be able to access my work anywhere (hey I love my job and work a lot of evenings and weekends) and don't want to have download VPN on every laptop and/or have to be married to one device.

So if you are interested, here is a link to purchasing Chromebooks on Amazon.  A number of schools also lease them for three years (which is essentially the life of a computer anyway).  Since it is a web based device all of the updates are down automatically and of course improvements to Google Drive or for that matter OneDrive are also automatic. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Yikes! Students Don't Know History

American students don't know history, according to Timothy Egan in this essay for the New York Times. He says that many Americans "can’t even place the Civil War in the right half-century," and notes that others "think we fought alongside the Germans in World War II."

Egan asked Ken Burns what he thought was the problem. He believes the problem is that we don't teach civics any more. He says that civics is  “the operating system” for citizenry; if you know how government is constructed, it’s no longer a complicated muddle, but a beautiful design.

David McCullough believes that educators share much of the blame for “raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate.”

Are Egan, McCullough, and Burns right?

Monday, May 19, 2014

No Summer Vacation on the Blogs

I am almost laughing thinking that some of you will actually be out of school in a week or so whereas I go until June 25th (yes indeed) and then start summer school teaching on July 1st (but I love my job so there is no complaining here!).  But please know that our blogs will be up and posting ALL SUMMER.  So if you are refining your classes or just looking for good ideas for summer school, be sure to stop by.

If you are new here there are now five blogs in the family starting with the
US History Teachers' Blog
US (and Comparative) Government Teachers' Blog
World History Teachers' Blog
World Religions (run by the great George Coe who helps on the three above as well)
Economic Teachers' Blog which is the newest member but moving quickly with 25 posts already.

You can also use the search engine in the upper left corner to search the 5000+ posts that we have put up in the last six years.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Released AP Free Response Questions

If you follow Trevor Packer on Twitter (who is head of the AP program), he has been Tweeting out when the College Board releases the 2014 AP free response questions.  Here are the micromacro, US government, US, world and comp questions. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

The World's Simplest Cloud Bookmarker

I just discovered today and really like it to bookmark your favorite webpages.  If you just want to bookmark urls and nothing more this is an awesome site for you.  All you need to do is to type a category before "" and then the url and it will create a new category.  It is that simple.  Watch the video above to see the actual steps. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Origins of Earliest Americans: New Skeleton

Divers in the Yucatan discovered a  15 year old girl who is really 12 to 13,000 years old. They call her Naia and in this fascinating Washington Post story, they say "her remains may help determine the origins of the earliest Americans and finally solve the mystery of why they looked so dramatically different from the Native Americans of recent millennia."

In a scientific paper, scientists argue "that the discrepancy in appearance between the Paleoamericans and later Native Americans is most likely the result of recent, and relatively rapid, human evolution — and not the result of subsequent migrations of people into the Americas."

This might be great story for students to read when studying early America.

Be sure to click on the graphic in the story for some great images and charts.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Understanding Plagiarism

Here's a great short clip defining plagiarism for kids. This might be great to show at the beginning of the year. It comes from EasyBib.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review for End of Year Exams

Here are a bunch of links that I have found to help my kids for their state exam.  Feel free to use them for your history kids as well as there are plenty of tests that correct themselves, study guides, etc. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Quizlet Adds Voice Recordings

Quizlet, already a great review app, now lets you record your own voice and put recordings on your review cards.  For those who are auditory learners this will be a great help to the main great features, flash cards, games, timed races, etc. that are already features of Quizlet. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Black Death Documents (SHEG)

Studying the black Death? Here's a great lesson from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG)with two documents and two different interpretations of the Black Death. The lesson includes a chart for sourcing and contextualizing the documents.

Friday, May 2, 2014

New Theory on How Pyramids Were Built

How did Egyptians move such big stones?

According to this fascinating Washington Post story, a group of researchers from the University of Amsterdam  argue that the Egyptians simply used wooden sleds and overcame the problem of friction with wet sand.

It destroys my idea that aliens built them!