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 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 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." 

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.   

Why Study History?

More often than not, the students who will walk in my classroom for the first time this coming Tuesday (yes I am getting excited for year #24) do not appreciate the reasons for studying history.  So the very first exercise we will carry out will be to consider why we should study it.  If you have a similar plan you might like the these two short clips.  The one above, your students will like best and the one above (only the first minute), you will appreciate more.