Monday, March 31, 2014

The Plague Was Not Spread by Rats!

The skeleton remains in London I spoke about in the post below are giving us more information.  Thanks to Rebecca Small who sent this article to me which states that the speed with which those who died in the Bubonic Plague could not have been transmitted that quickly by rats - as we have all learned.  Indeed the researchers are saying that it must have been an airborne virus.  Here is more

Samurai & Bushido


Studying Japan? Here's a great two minute clip on the Samurai and the Code of Bushido from the History Channel. Thanks to Star Wars in the class for tweeting the link.

Skeletons of the Black Plague

The WashPost has a fascinating new article on the finding of victims of the Black Plague and how one tooth from each victim tells so many secrets - such as what they did for a living, injuries during life and even if they were breast fed.  Much more is here

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Editing in YouTube


Believe it or not, but a fellow chair asked what we are doing for our end of the year project.  Some of my students will be looking at an immigrant in their family and writing an original essay on that person, but they also need to have a narrated video on the person.  So I am toying with them using YouTube to edit it since they now have access to accounts in it.  Above is a video explaining how to use it. 

Saving Twitter & Other Sites to Storify

So I am sitting in a library trying to finish the third editing of my book and dealing with a peer review comment that asked how we can save Twitter.  So to show that I too can learn new tricks, Frank Franz mentioned Storify to me and instantly you can drag in the Tweets you want as well as any website and create a story you can refer to later.  I must admit I am the kind of teacher who goes to an in-servicest and immediately comes back to my classroom and sift through the notebooks taking out only what I want to keep.  These items I scan and put in my in-services' folder on Google Drive (yes I am a minimalist and my classroom only takes 30 minutes to pack up each summer!).  So what I like about Storify is that I can essentially do the same, but even better I can delete items I do not want later.  You can collect Twitter, YouTube, Google+, websites, etc. to your hearts desire and create a storybook that you can edit later.

Above is a how to video.  If you are like me and try lots of sites online, you might want to consider having a "trash" e-mail for everything.  If I need the site to email me I can easily go to the trash site, but that way any extra email I might get because of signing up for so many things goes to the aforementioned site.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Remind101 Adds Attachments


If you follow this blog, you know I use Remind101 every day of the week to remind my students about their homework.  Simply put it is has greatly improved my students ability to complete homework, but also to communicate with them, especially this year when I had to put up with eleven snow days and ten delayed openings.

Above is a video giving you the highlights and below is one teaching you how to use it.  The latest addition to the service is that you can now text an attachment.  Of course you can use Tinyurl or Bit.ly to shrink a link to a Google Drive document which is what I often do. 

When did Humans Come to The Americas?


New discoveries suggest that humans came to the Americas as early as 22,000 years, not 13,000 as most archaeologists thought.  Talking to the New York Times, Walter Neves, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of São Paulo, said '“If they’re right, and there’s a great possibility that they are, that will change everything we know about the settlement of the Americas."' 

Low Tech, High Engagement with Primary Sources


Here's a great way to work with cartoons. My AP World kids are working on the causes of World War II and reviewed the six steps to war for homework (Rearmament, Rhineland, Austria, Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland). 

For this activity, each pair of students received one cartoon dealing with the development of the war. They had to paste the cartoon in the center of a small sheet of butcher paper, give the cartoon a title, and in one corner, provide context (circumstances surrounding the event). In another corner, students provided a short summary (what's happening, what do you see), and in a third corner, students analyzed the cartoon for meaning and symbolism. Finally, students developed a test question in the last corner. 

After students finished this part of the activity (about 15 minutes), we posted the cartoons around the room and in the hallway.  Students then did a gallery walk noting the title and event of each document.

The two samples above show different treatments of the Nazi-Soviet pact.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Germany Makes Last Reparation Payment

Wow! Germany made its last reparation payment from World War I in October 2010, according to Spiegel Online.

The Versailles Treaty originally called for a payment totaling 269,000 billion gold marks. That's about 96,000 tons of gold, according to Spiegel. That sum was reduced to "112 billion gold marks...payable over a period of 59 years."

The financial crisis of the early 1930's and Adolf Hitler led to a suspension of the payments but after the war in 1953, "West Germany agreed at an international conference in London to service its international bond obligations from before World War."

In addition to the Spiegel article, you might also consider the  resources below.
  • The Mail Online: Germany ends World War One reparations after 92 years with £59m final payment.
  • BBC: Why has Germany taken so long to pay off its WWI debt?
  • The Telegraph: First World War officially ends
  • The Guardian: Why does Germany still owe money for the first world war?
  • US Department of State: The Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, German Reparations, and Inter-allied War Debts

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Teenagers in Medieval Europe

Wow! If teenagers today think they have a rough life with high school and college, they should be thankful that they did not live in the Middle Ages.  That's because almost all teenagers in medieval times, rich and poor, were bound over to work in someone else's home for seven or eight years!

According to this interesting story in BBC News Magazine,"many parents of all classes sent their children away from home to work as servants or apprentices - only a small minority went into the church or to university."

Why did the system develop?  Historians think that the poor bound over their children for economic reasons. Some might have sent their children away because they were unruly.

The children had to behave. They signed a contract saying they would. "Many adolescents were contractually obliged to behave," notes the BBC.

This might be worth giving to my freshmen as an extra-credit project. Which teenagers had a better life?

Thanks to David Walp (@davidwalp) for tweeting the link.

The College Application Process


This post is a little different than normal as it deals with the college application process.  But all of us are involved in it whether it is in writing reference letters, giving grades, talking to our students, etc.  The video above and this WashPost article that goes in depth on the college admittance process is very revealing and might even help you counsel students in the future.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

80b Ways to use Google Forms in Classroom


This is a great slideshow of ways to use Google Drive forms in the classroom and includes links to examples.  Thanks to @rroysden for the Tweet on it. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sir Ken Robinson on Standardization

Here Sir Ken Robinson talks about education policy and the danger of standardization. Robinson is in Los Angles for the ASCD convention where he is the keynote speaker.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Socratic Seminars & Critical Thinking

Here teachers at KIPP King Collegiate High School  set up a Socratic seminar with a fishbowl in the center. I found it at Edutopia. It is part of a package that  focuses on critical thinking.

Another clip below also explores Socratic seminars in a slightly different way.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Ancient Greeks Shaped Modern Math

Here's a great animation by the Royal Institution about revolutionary Greek thinkers who shaped our ideas about mathematics. Among the thinkers reviewed are Archimedes, Euclid, Plato and Pythagoras, who show us the importance of proofs.

Thanks to David Walp for tweeting the link to the Guardian clip.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1939

The Neue Gallerie in New York City just opened a new exhibit on degenerate art. The Nazis branded modern art as degenerate and initiated a campaign against it, seizing works from museums and private collections.

The New York Times has a great review of the exhibit and a short clip of a Nazi exhibit of degenerate art in 1937. The Times also has an excellent review of the Neue Gallerie Show. It notes that when Hitler came to power, he wanted to purify German culture. In 1938, Nazis opened an exhibit of modern art and called it a freak show, even implicating Jews in the attack. According to the Times, "the whole thing ... meant to demonstrate the threat the new art posed on everything German."

The painting above is a self-portrait by Ernst Ludvig.

Thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, for sending me the link to this exhibit.

Ukraine Crisis Explained

Here's an excellent review from The Telegraph of the events in Ukraine from the February protests to the Russian invasion a few weeks ago.

Ken Halla also posted some great resources on Ukraine on the government blog here, including a great Hip Hughes clip about the crisis.

The New York Times has an excellent overview all in maps and CNN has a good review called "20 Questions: What's Behind Ukraine's Political Crisis.

Finally,  Ian Bremmer, an author and president of  the Eurasia Group, has an excellent essay in Reuters about who loses in the crisis noting that "if Russia sends its forces into Eastern Ukraine — a distinct possibility — everybody loses. We could see the outbreak of a Ukrainian civil war, crippling market volatility, extreme geopolitical shock, and unforeseeable consequences. Events to date have brought us to a point where this is a frighteningly realistic outcome that cannot be ruled out."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Snag-it and Screen Cast for Chrome

Google just released Snagit for Chrome and the really cool thing about it is that it has a screencasting feature. Although that feature is still in beta, it works very well and allows you to easily publish to YouTube. The video clip above shows you how to enable the feature, but first you want to install both the app and the extension, both of which you can get at the Chrome store.

Every time you capture a picture with Snagit, you can share it and Google deposits the picture in your google drive.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Trench Warfare Video

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I was looking for images of trench warfare and came up with this video from the Battle of  the  Somme.  But it not only has that, but actual footage of the trenches (including some dead soldiers) as well as interviews with British soldiers who were there.   You can quickly drag the circle to show your students some highlights, but it beats explaining what a trench looked like. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

If WWI Was a Bar Fight


"Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria's pint. Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit because there are splashes on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support for Austria's point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit."

"Serbia points out that it can't afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for the cleaning of Austria's trousers. Russia and Serbia look at Austria. Austria asks Serbia who it's looking at. Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone. Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so. Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that this is sufficiently out of order that Britain should not intervene. Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it?"

You can read the rest of it here at The Economist,which noted that this sort of thing can liven up history. You can also read it at the Meta Picture here.

Here's another adaption and thanks to one of my AP World students for sending me the link.



NPR Explores World War I

Studying World War I? All things Considered reviews the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in this short broadcast in advance of the centennial this summer.

The question they ask listeners and historians is: what would have happened if the archduke had not been shot? They call this a" counterfacutal" history of the war and will explore it further in two other broadcasts about the war this week.

Thanks to my colleague, Mary Anne Cohen, for sending me the link.

World History: Great Resources

What's the difference between early Christian and Byzantine art.  You can find out by watching the ten minute clip on the Education Portal. After you watch it, you can take a short quiz.

The Byzantine Empire is one part of a longer course on Western Civ with sixteen units from Prehistory to the Reformation and Elizabethan England.  For example, the unit on the Early Middle Ages has clips and quizzes on the following:
  • Feudalism: Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire, 
  • Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire and the Divine Right to Rule,
  •  Monasticism from St. Benedict to Cluny Monasticism From St. Benedict To Cluny, 
  • Carolingian Art: History, Style & Characteristics
The clips are all less than ten minutes and they are outstanding.

Thanks to David Walp who tweeted the link to this excellent site.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Russian Revolution Primary Sources/ Activities

Studying the Russian Revolution. The Digital History Reader has some great primary resources, including posters, music, and text documents. You can print them out and adapt them any way you want.

My thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, who sends me these great links.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Magna Carta: No Taxation without Representation

A Library of Congress blog has a great short essay about the importance of the Magna Carta. I might copy it for my freshmen when we cover the creation of nation states next month.

The author, Nathan Dorn, reminds us that the Magna Carta "helped give birth to representative government." He also notes that the idea of  taxation without representation has its roots "in a principle that was expressed both in the Articles of the Barons presented to King John at Runnymede and in chapter 12 of King John’s charter."

Thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, for sending me the link.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Virtual Hagia Sophia

This past summer I had the great fortune to go with my kids and wife to Turkey.  Obviously one of the places was saw was the Hagia Sophia (even if the Blue Mosque (see pic below) was more impressive). When you discuss it in class, you might want to use this virtual tour of the museum (former mosque and church) with your students.  Ignore the need to download anything.  Just click on the images and it will fill your entire screen.

Kahn Academy - SAT Prep

Time will tell if the SAT is being dumbed down or going to become a much better reflection of learning in high schools today.  Either way if kids want to do well on them, they need to use Kahn Academy's site which you can find here.  But since the changes won't occur until 2016, here is where you can find tutorials for the SAT today from Kahn.   Above is the announcement about the SAT-Kahn merger. 

Make Trading Cards Online

I'll trade you two Hitler's for a MacArthur? Make trading cards online at Big Huge Labs. You do not even have to create an account.  You can download and print the cards as well.

Thanks to Alex Glade for the link to this site. You can also look at a couple of other on line trading card sites at his blog here.