Sunday, January 21, 2024

A Silken Web: How Weaving has Shaped Human History

 Here is an excellent essay by the historian, Peter Frankopan, for AEON Magazine about the significance of silk from its accidental development in China to its use as a "symbol of extravagance and decadence" in Afro-Eurasia.

It's a great story and the excerpts are for great for the classroom.

The Middle East’s Growing Conflicts in Six Maps


Here is an excellent overview of the conflict in the Middle East in six maps from the Wall Street Journal. Each of the six maps has a short annotation.

The maps include:

  1. The Hamas attack on Israel Oct. 7
  2. Gaza and the West Bank
  3. Lebanon-Israel Border
  4. Red Sea
  5. Iran
  6. Iraq

Friday, December 22, 2023

Awesome YouTube Channels for World History

Here is a terrific list of YouTube channels from a history site called History Skills that specializes in different periods of history. 

One channel that I particularly like specializes in World War 1. Another channel specializes in Islamic empires like the Mughals and the golden age of the Ummayad empire. 

Here's a list of the first few channels.


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Generate Leveled Resources with this AI App: Diffit

Have you tried the new AI app called Diffit.

I love it—you can take primary sources that you find on the internet, paste in the URL and the program will generate the source with questions, both multiple choice and short answer. 

You can adjust the length of the source. If it looks too long, just click "shorten."  Once you're satisfied, you can open it in google docs.  Some primary sources are just too long for our kids, so the "shorten" function really helps.

You can also adjust the level of reading. Maybe you need the reading for 9th graders instead of 11 graders.

Here is a short clip about the app.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Social Effects of the Industrial Revolution

 Here is a website with terrific resources for the social effects of the industrial revolution.

Ohio State University developed the website which includes both primary and secondary sources to help students understand the impact on family life because of the shift from a rural lifestyle to an urban lifestyle.

One of the resources is a  graph showing the wages for both women and men at a textile mill in Halstead, England in 1825. The chart includes questions to help students understand the difference in the nature of work by gender.

Another part of the website examines the social tension that industrialism created through three sources- one is a petition from the Leeds Woolen Workers in 1886, a short explanation of the Luddites, and a letter from Leeds Cloth merchants in 1791.

Here is a short hyperdoc I developed using the resourcs..

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Using GIS Story Maps in the Classroom

Esri's GIS Systems has developed a terrific spatial technology for the classroom. 

Their software includes story maps for over a dozen titles in World History, including the Age of Exploration, the First  Crusade, Ancient Greece, and its geography, the Black Death, the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire, Egyptian Funerary Practices, and many more.

The story maps are engaging and include images, maps, graphs, and primary sources presented in an engaging manner like the excerpt below from the First Crusade story map.

I looked at a story map about the First Crusade and was impressed with the layout, images, maps, and primary sources which include an excerpt from Pope Urban's call to crusade and the Muslim view of the crusade pictured above.

In addition to the Black Death, I looked at ancient Greece. This story map is called "A Civilization shaped by Geography," and has lots of maps, amazing images,  and even video of a drone flight over the Acropolis.

Student worksheets are included with each story map and include charts and questions for students to complete as they move through the story map.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The First 20th Century Genocide

Almost 50 years before the Jewish Holocaust in World War II, another holocaust, equally tragic and devastating, took place in Nambia in the early 1900s.

In 1904, German colonizers in Nambia attempted to wipe out the Herero people who were fighting for their land. In order to defeat the Herero, German General von Trotha issued an extermination order.

Any Herero found inside the German frontier, with or without a gun or without cattle, will be shot. I will no longer accept women and children. I will drive them back to their people or I will let them be shot at. Such are my words to the Herero people.

In a fascinating essay for Al Jazeera, Hamilton Wende, author and journalist based in Johannesburg, outlines this first holocaust in an essay called "Our Auschwitz, our Dachau."

Wende notes that some estimates say that over 65,000 Herero were killed.

In May 2021, the German government acknowledged what happened in Namibia was genocide and agreed to pay the Namibian government 1.1 billion euros in aid over the next 30 years.

Thanks to Bram Hubbel for sharing the link. I plan on adding this essay when we study 20th-century genocides. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Becoming Human- Lucy, Ardi and Ida

Studying the early development of humans?  

National Geographic has a great interactive website with short stories about Lucy, Ida, and academic disciplines in archeology and paleontology.

I created a short web activity based on the site

And Nova has a great documentary about the origins of humans, called "Becoming Human." and a  terrific interactive website aligned to the video.

Timbuktu Manuscripts: Really Cool Google Arts and Culture Site

Here is a really cool interactive Google Arts and Culture site all about the Timbuktu Manuscripts.

Once you open the site, click "learn more about the manuscripts" in the lower right corner and it will take you here, where you can learn everything about the manuscripts.

I especially like this section, called "Surprising Things you can read in the Manuscripts" which reviews how the manuscripts were first threatened and some of the material they cover.

In another section, you can click on the different topics that the manuscripts cover and read a summary of what they say. Click on the history volume and you can learn the history of empire from Ghana to the Sultanate of Massina.

Learn about the Mosque of Djenne here and its importance as a library for manuscripts.

The theme of Mali Magic is the subject of another interesting section, where you will learn about the four marvelous M's- Mali, Manuscripts, Music, and Monument.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Egyptian Book of the Dead: Two Excellent Clips

Here are two excellent clips about the Egyptian Book of the Dead,  a book written mostly in hieroglyphics with vignettes and stories about the deceased and their journey into the afterlife.

And here is a short activity students can complete after the videos. It includes some of the entries in the Book of the Dead and asks students to create categories for the entries.

One of the clips comes from TedEd.

The second clip comes from the World History Encyclopedia.

Monday, August 15, 2022

New Podcast: British Imperialism in India and More

William Dalrymple, the author of numerous books about India, including "The Anararchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire," is starting a new podcast called "Empire."

Anita Anand,  author of the Patient Assassin, will cohost the podcast with Dalrymple. 

You can listen to a trailer and the first episode on Apple Podcasts and on Spotify.

Dalrymple says the first season will focus on India. "This week," he notes, " is the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence, so the first season is about British imperialism in India 1600-1947."

After that, he says, "we'll branch out:  Cholas, Khmers, Ottomans, Tang China."

Dalrymple has written two other great books about India, White Mughal: The Fall of A Dynasty, 1857, and the Last Mughal: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Hiroshima: OSU Video and Essay

Here is an excellent review of the events that led to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the Ohio State University (OSU). You can also read an essay about the events written by Professor Craig Nelson.

I was not aware that one of the important considerations in dropping the bomb had to do with the pending participation of the Russians in the Pacific War.  The Truman administration feared that if the Russians entered the war, they would want a zone of occupation in Japan just as they had in Germany.

Another interesting observation from the video was that by 1945 the United States had "fully embraced" killing civilians in its bombing campaigns.  Examples include the American firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden, Germany.  Between 75,000 and 200,000 civilians were killed in Dresden.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Cairo in 1321: Coptic Christians & Mamluks

What was life like in Cairo in 1321?  

Coptic Christians and Mamluk Muslims did not get along. 

In fact, in 1321 violence broke out and spread throughout the city.  According to this fascinating essay on the Medievalistsnet website written by Peter Konieczny,  "over a couple of weeks, eleven Christian churches would be damaged or destroyed in Cairo, and another 49 in other parts of the country."

Violence continued and grew.  Some of it had to do with anger over the Crusades and the belief that Coptic Christians supported them. 

In addition, many jobs in Cario seemed to go to Christians at the expense of poorer Muslims. Konieczny compares this to the way Jews were treated by Christians in parts of Medieval Europe.

In an engaging and fascinating embedded 17-minute video, Princeton Professor, Marina Rostow, explains how people lived in medieval Cairo. One interesting occupation was the carving of rock crystal, which is a kind of quartz and valued for its transparency.  Shopkeepers who dealt in rock crystals learned the trade at a very young age and had to pay traders to get the crystal. They had to travel to mines in Africa or East Asia, which was no easy feat in 1321.

The second half of the video clip is fascinating. Professor Rostow explains that she is a social historian and looks at history from below. She also questions the term medieval. "Are we forgetting," she says, "that the bloodiest century was the 20th century?"  She notes that 
only in the 20th century have states employed industrial violence in the service of coercion. Neither medieval Europe nor the medieval Middle East  produced anything close to a totalitarian regime.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Silk Road Acitivities

Here are some excellent resources for teaching the Silk Roads, especially to younger students. They come from Professor Peter Frankopan and are based on an illustrated adaptation of his best-selling book by the same name. 

The resources include a timeline activity, a travel guide that focuses on the ancient city of Baghdad,  and a chart and map activity that focuses on the ideas, people, and religion that moved along the Silk Roads.

A fourth activity introduces the Silk Roads with a short reading and a map.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Civilization or Religion: Which Came First

Did civilization arise before religion or did religion arise before civilization?

History books teach us that civilization arose with the Neolithic Revolution when hunter-gatherers first settled down because of the discovery of agriculture.  Settled life then led to cities, writing, and religion. The discovery of Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey several years ago may change that story.

Göbekli Tepe contains a series of circles with limestone pillars carved with bas-reliefs of animals like gazelles, foxes, and wild boar. The tallest pillars are 18 feet high and weigh 16 tons.  It looks like a temple "reminiscent of Stonehenge," according to the National Geographic.

But Göbekli Tepe is much older than Stonehenge and over seven thousand years older than the Pyramid at Giza. It was built before the Neolithic Revolution, 11,600 years ago. As the New Yorker Magazine noted, most historians believe that hunter-gatherers did not have the "complex symbolic systems, social hierarchies, and the division of labor, three things you probably need before you can build a twenty-two-acre megalithic temple."

 According to the online magazine, Archaeology, Klaus Schmidt, of the German Archaeological Institute and the chief archaeologist at Göbekli Tepe, believes that the animals on the pillars "probably illustrate stories of hunter-gatherer religion and beliefs, though we don't know at the moment.  The sculptors of Göbekli Tepe may have simply wanted to depict the animals they saw, or perhaps create symbolic representations of the animals to use in rituals to ensure hunting success." 

Does Göbekli Tepe mean that the need for religion or for a scared site led hunter-gatherers to organize themselves into a workforce, settle down for a long period of time, and eventually discover agriculture?

Here's a clip from the History Channel about the discovery of Göbekli Tepe.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Root of Haiti's Misery From The New York Times

Haiti gained independence from the French in 1804,  becoming the first independent black republic in the world.  

But self-rule did not mean economic independence. That's because France forced Haiti to pay reparations to descendants of slave masters or face another invasion. 

According to a fascinating essay in  The New York Times, those reparations helped enrich the French bank, Crédit Industriel et Commercial, and even lured  Wall Street,  "delivering big margins for the institution that ultimately became Citigroup."

How was Haiti able to pay reparations?  The French forced the Haitian government to accept a loan out of which they could pay the reparations. According to the New York Times, this loan was called the "double debt--the ranson and the loan to pay it — a stunning load that boosted the fledgling Parisian international banking system and helped cement Haiti’s path into poverty and underdevelopment."

The essay is an ideal assignment for world history students studying the unit on revolutions in the 1700 and 1800s.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Transatlantic Slave Trade Ships

Here is an interesting interview with Professor Marcus Rediker about the transatlantic slave trade. One of Professor Rediker's books is about the slave ship itself. He discusses the characteristics of those ships and types of resistance. This interview would work well with a unit about the time period between 1450-1750.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Magellan & Elcano- First Voyage Around the World

The history department at OSU (Ohio State University) tweeted this excellent 10-minute clip about Magellan's voyage and its importance to Spain and to world history. 

The voyage led to the beginning of global trade and generated new scientific knowledge about global time and the earth's circumference. 

OSU includes an accompanying reading about Magellan's voyage here.

This clip is ideal for the unit on the beginning of global trade.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Tibetan Buddhism & Imperialism

Teaching Buddhism or imperialism? 

Here is an excellent Twitter thread by the art-crime professor, Erin Tompson, at John Jay College.

Thompson notes that in 1903 the British led a force into Tibet and killed over 600 Tibetian soldiers with Maxim machine guns. The forces looted monasteries and then burned them to the ground.

Examining primary sources about the looting, Thompson notes that one soldier wrote his mother that in one monastery "I got rather a nice gong which no doubt you will find useful when I am able to get it home."

Another soldier, a captain, wrote that 'his wife had secured a few trifles' from the monastery, including paintings that fetched high prices when auctioned at Christie's later in 1904.

The British force that killed the Tibetan soldiers and looted several monasteries was known as the Younghusband Expedition.

You can read more about this expedition and the looting here at Jstor here and at History Extra here.

The Swahili City States: Awesome Video Clip

Here is an excellent 10-minute clip about the Swahili city-states by Stefan Milo. He outlines the origin of the states and how they eventually adopted Islam. He notes three reasons: traders became familiar with Islam, some may have converted because it gave them protection from slavery, and finally it offered major political, legal, and commercial benefits.

A commercial advantage was that Islam gave Swahili a written alphabet. Milo notes that the states grew wealthy by facilitating and controlling trade between mainland Africa and Eurasia.