Monday, December 31, 2012

The Problem w. Education...

This is now two years old, but it is nonetheless very interesting.  Sir Ken Robinson's basic thesis is that our schools are organized on an industrial model that assumes that age is very important to our students and that everyone must move at the same speed.  One of the biggest changes I am making is trying to create a classroom where I am the facilitator and the students move more at their own pace.  I still believe I need someone to write some algorithms for me so my students can get data reinforcement and learn in time segments that are best for them (Knewton is a company that does this, but only for math) but until that happens (and I am working on this) the video above is a very thoughtful piece that will make you ask why you do what you do when you are doing it.  Technology is the answer to improve our educational model. 

How the Egytpians Built the Pyramids

/> Open Culture posted this video clip about the work of French architect, Jean-Pierre Houdin on the Great Pyramid at Giza. Using 3-D software, Houdin argues that  the Egyptians used an external ramp for the lower part of the pyramids and an internal ramp for the higher parts. Egyptologist Bob Brier summarizes Houdin's theory in this short article.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wallwisher - Going Mobile

Wallwisher With Mobile Devices

(This link will NOT work on  mobile devices, so here is one that will if you are interested.) 

Wallwisher is a flexible web based collaborative tool that has been presented on an associated blog before.

In January some food for thought was provided on using Wallwisher to encourage questioning, and give voice to reluctant students. January Post

In early December there was a post advancing the idea of using the tool to encourage collaboration between students anywhere, including around the World. December Post

There is also another blog that appears helpful in coming up with ideas to use Wallwisher meaningfully.

NOW, take it Mobile:
Don't worry about Mobile apps (They don't seem to exist for Wallwisher yet.)

What is an educator to do??? GO SIMPLE!!!

Get a fully functional BOOKMARK for Wallwisher onto your ipad, and maybe onto other mobile devices (Sorry, I don’t have any Android devices to test the idea.)

Here is what you can do:
Step One: Open whichever web browser you use on your mobile device.

Step Two: Open the Wallwisher web site.

Step Three: Bookmark it.  

If you have a g-mail account you can use it to log into your Wallwisher account.

Then start collaborating from.......anywhere your Mobile device will take you.

U.S.H.M.M.- Holocaust Encyclopedia: “The World Must Know”

Why use the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum “Holocaust Encyclopedia”:
  • There are more resources than can be imagined on most any specific topic you or your students may want to research for learning purposes.
  • We all know there are some “elements” in our world that would argue that what we know as “The Holocaust” never happened. The resources accessible through the encyclopedia can put your students, and you, in the position to follow the call that “The World Must Know” the truth of  “The Shoah.”
How to locate The USHMM Encyclopedia
Go to the USHMM Web Site Then go to the History tab at the top of the page > Then go to the selection “Holocaust Encyclopedia”

Types of resources available through the encyclopedia articles
1. Explanatory text with hyperlinks to other related ; 2. Photographs; 3. Videos of Survivor stories; 4. Images of artifacts; 5. Maps; 6. Historical film footage; 7. Suggested further readings; 8. Links to related Podcasts; 9. Links to the article in various other languages: Spanish, Arabic, Russian, French, Farsi, Chinese, Korean, and several others.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Google+ Hangouts In Action - World History

As the December 23rd post from Ken about Google + states, there is more and more collaboration happening between teachers using this Google tool.  (See the example  embedded in that post made by Wallace of Wallace and Gromit.)

One such example of collaboration was when a “Civil War Soldier” was whisked through time from December 13th, 1862 to December 13th, 2012, where he met with a class of High School students after his time travel, answered their questions, and added to their content understanding

Sometimes students pay more attention to a “Show.” They hear more when occasionally someone else shares information. Think of the benefit to students of:  
  • Having  a member of a hunter-gatherer society visit with your classes
  • Ask a Phoenician about their culture, and how they came up with the Alphabet
  • Talk with someone from the early culture of Greece, China, Rome, or any other place being studied.
  • Hear from a feudal lord or serf about what life is like for them
  • Converse with Michelangelo and  Leonardo da Vinci
  • Listen to a trader working  the commerce routes linking Europe with Asia and Africa
  • Study the Reformation and Counter-reformation with John Wycliffe, John Calvin, Martin Luther, or an Inquisitor.......
  • Sit in a room where the  Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is discussed and signed
  • Hear from  a simple member of The Hitler Youth
  • Experience the story of a Holocaust Survivor, Liberator, Resistance Fighter, or even a Collaborationist
You get the idea. It IS necessary to “storyboard” this out, but you are capable, and we offer ourselves as “adjunct faculty” to help you develop a plan for this.  

ArcGIS Mobile App - FREE!!!

NO!!! Don’t skip over this because you have dealt in the past with a difficult to use ArcGIS product. This one really IS great!!!

I do not claim expert knowledge on this app, but you can get up and running effectively with just a bit of experimentation. Then, if you find the time to delve into the possibilities more deeply, share your findings with us.

Main Points
  • Can use GPS tool to locate a bookmark pin where you are located.  Bookmark still saved after closing and reopening app
  • Has a centering tool that allows you to move around a map, and then move back to view the spot where you are located.
Measure Area Tool (has a shape above a ruler):Geometric tool that makes shapes on the map and provides the area of the shape. (Can you say integrate Mathematics with Geography?)

Measuring Distance Tool (has two arrows above a ruler):
You can place your location on the map with the GPS function. Then tap the map at the place to which you want to know the distance.

Maps available: Basic map, Imagery, Imagery with labels, Streets, Topographic, Terrain with Labels, Light Gray Canvas, National Geographic, Oceans, OpenStreetMap, Bing Maps Aerial, Bing Maps Hybrid, Bing Maps Road

Interested??? - Click on THIS LINK to go to the esri web site with information on where to get the app.  There are links for those with: Apple Devices, Android Devices, and Windows Phone Devices. )

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to make an RSS Animate video

Paul Bogus, in his blog, Blogush, guides us through the process of making an RSS Animate style video. Studying the Louisiana Purchase, his class was having trouble digesting the textbook and making important connections. He thought an RSS Animate video might allow the kids to visualize the information, make connections, and retell “their facts in a story that had a very tight story line that flowed.” Bogus’s post shows us how to make an RSS Animate style video step by step, including the simple tools you’ll need. The process doesn't look that difficult and may be worth trying.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Project Glass & Never Leaving Your Mobile Device

Project Glass is a cool project that Google is working on right now where you literally can wear glasses and see what is in the video above.  It will make it hard to drive, but with a Google car, you won't have to even do that.  Of course, walking still might be an issue, especially in a hallway between class.  How might you adjust your class if all of your students had it? 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hitler is Hot in India

Increased sales of Mein Kampf, Hitler biographies, and even the production of a Hitler soap opera are common in India, yet there is no anti-antisemitism and no outrage as there is in other countries. Frances Coffey at Fairfax High School sent me the link to this NPR story which you can listen to here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Google+ Hangouts

If you follow me on Google+, you will have noticed that I have been having a number of meetings recently on Google+ Hangouts.  You can have them from your laptop. tablet or phone.  One, they are great if you and a few other teachers want to get together virtually and see each other.  Secondly, you can share your screen and/or Google Drive documents and third you can record a Hangout and have it automatically uploaded into Youtube.  Think of how great it would be to have guests who can't visit your school hangout with multiple classes at once.  You can also stream the Hangouts live on Youtube and then record them and have it automatically uploaded into Youtube.

To record check the box in the first screen where it says "enable hangouts."
Then all you need to do is to click on "start broadcast" and you will be on your way. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Using Social Media in the Classroom

I am thinking about having my religions class participate in a live blog next semester and maybe tweeting about religious issues using a hash tag I create for the class. Here are the reflections of a graduate school teacher who had his kids use Twitter for that purpose last semester. He argues that these media allow students to write across different genres and to connect the material in class to the world around them.  Overall, he thought it went well and described twitter as a “third space” for his class but noted that he would do a number of things differently if he were to use twitter again. For example, instead of asking kids to tweet a number of times each week, he would ask them to tweet on specific days so students would not wait until the last day and simply do all three tweets at once.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Vatican Library

The only thing I watch on tv these days are Redskins' games.  But I do watch some 60 Minute videos on the computer.  The one above on the Vatican's library is amazing. It talks about this incredible depository which includes (and they show all of this) writings of Michelangelo, letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn (complete w. love hearts), Columbus' best selling book, many colorful books hand made before the printing press, a map of the world 50 years before Columbus sailed to the US and more. 

Cold War Simulation

Teacher David Harms has developed an interactive simulation on how to learn the Cold War by making decision on the world's survival.  Obviously the more students participate in their learning, the more they will learn.  Above is a video explaining how it is done.  Here is a link to his site. 

The Spanish Reconquista

This Spanish website allows you to trace the routes of Jews in Spain over more than a thousand years. You can explore the site through interactive maps and chronologies like the ones above. Click on July 1492,and a history of the expulsion of the Jews by Ferdinand and Isabella pops up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Googe Drive iPad App

Starting in mid January my freshmen and I will be starting a pilot for iPads and our e-book for our textbook company.  To that end I am trying to get everything ready.  One of the apps that will be loaded on the tablets will be Google Drive.  Above is a video I found on a new site iPads For School that is a tutorial on how to use Google Drive and one my students and I will watch when we get the devices. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Google Docs Assignment Tracker

If you have trouble keeping track of all your Google doc assignments, as I do, this Google Form, should solve our problems. Here's how it works: you create a short Google Form for your in box, students then complete the form with a link to their Google doc assignment. The form automatically populates a spreadsheet with all the assignments. If you click on the picture in the story, you can see the form you need to create.

YouTube Without Ads

My colleague, Frances Coffey, sent me this link that allows you to show YouTube videos without the advertisements. Simply go to SafeShare and paste the link and click "Generate Safe Link". A new page will open with your video.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hunt for Genghis Khan's Tomb

Thanks to eagle eyes Rebecca Small for finding this article from Newsweek that discusses the hunt to find the tomb of the great Mongol leader Genghis Khan's tomb. It is a fascinating read that, among others, discusses the fight over whether he was Chinese or Mongolian in origin and if he is the father of the Y chromosome which has 16 million male descendants world wide. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Qwikis for Multi Level Summaries

View Industrial Revolution and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

Qwiki came out two years ago and has become a way to quickly edit your personal videos.  But for me it was a way to create a sound video, show pictures and have written text for most historical items.  Now you can only find the videos by going to a search engine and typing " + whatever you are looking for."  So above is one on the Industrial Revolution as an example. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 in Review

Connect Your Class to Students Oversseas

 Face to Faith is a free website that lets you set up a video conference (in a safe online conference) with students speaking to one another about religion and living with it in their countries.   To be part of the program, you do have to go through an online training through the First Amendment Center.  You can do it during any time.  So for example you could partner with schools in India for a Hinduism unit and you could have a different class.  You need to do it at least ten days in advance to set up the logistics of the conference.   You also will be given a moderator for the conference who will run the class.  The center also has five lessons you can choose to use.   The only piece you must do is a 20 minute introductory module which helps in discussing issues with the students abroad.  If you are interested register on the site, register and get going.  

Remind101 for Homework Reminders

I have done a few posts on Remind101 which is a way to remind your students using texting about their homework.  It allows you to preset a time and it is blind texting in that the teachers never see the student cell phone numbers and it is one way so students cannot text you.  Above is a how to video and here are written instructions.  

Flipping the Classroom and How to Create Screencasts

Frank and I are presenting to the high school social studies chairs today on when you might want to use a flipped classroom and how to create the screencast for it.

Above are the easy directions on how to create a screencast using Screencastomatic which is free and does not require you to have a login/password.  You will need a Youtube account (comes with your gmail) into which you can place it.

The top video and the Prezi explains when, how and why to integrate the flipped classroom into your repertoire.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Google Forms for Teachers

If you are like me and have trouble with making Google forms, then you should check out this article with links to several pre-made forms for self-grading quizzes. You can find the article and forms here at "Educational Technology and Mobile Learning."

Who Was the Real Mona Lisa?

Researchers are digging graves in an area where they believe the woman behind Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is buried.  Based on forensic evidence they should be able to reconstruct a visual of the face and come within 2% of what she might have looked like 500 years ago. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Religion in Japan

We watch this after a short lecture on Japan. It is about how Shintoism and Buddhism co-exist there. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Screenr Makes Screencast for Link or to Publish on Youtube

I love Screencastomatic, butScreenr is an alternative that allows you to keep your videos on their site or on Youtube.  This would allow students to get a link they could share with a teacher Above is a video explaining how easy it is to do.  I have been looking for something this for a while as I want to easily make my students record "flip class videos."  I found this from a Google+ post by Anne Marie Rowley

Thursday, December 6, 2012

iPad Gestures or How to Toggle

So a textbook publisher for my students' e-books has asked me to try out their new iPad e-book to see what my students think of it.  To do so they are willing to give us 30 iPads for a month of use.  Actually other than completely changing the way I teach and my students have been learning this essentially is just an opportunity for us to learn since they aren't giving the school anything!! Initially I was hesitant, but since I love learning new things, I think I will accept the offer despite the shortcomings.  Already one nice thing I have figured out is that there are gestures you can do to more easily maneuver between documents.  So if that is you, then this might be helpful as well as this to turn on the gestures.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fakebook Gallery and Project Ideas

I've done a number of posts on Fakebook which allows you to create a historical discussion between many people, put in their pictures, have friends, etc.  In fact it looks very much like the real thing, but no login/password is required (can you tell it is actually made by a real teacher!).  But I just noticed via FreeTech4Teachers that the creator of Fakebook now has a gallery of historical figures which is updated each day. If you want to show your students examples before you start a project, it is tremendous.

If you want to see how I give the assignment to my students, go to it here

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Albert Einstein Interview

We are so used to looking at pictures of Albert Einstein, but here is actual footage and you can even hear him (and his accent) talking.  I like to show kids items such as this to literally bring people alive. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Art Treasures of the Mughal Empire

The historian and writer, William Dalrymple, has an excellent article about the art of Mughal Empire in The Guardian. The British Library is showcasing their art in what Dalrymple calls a spectacular show. Dalymple notes Mughal art was unlike Persian art in that that it is much more liberal and much more colorful than traditional Islamic art. Persians disdained it because it did not conform to the geometric patterns characteristic of most Islamic art.  The exhibit is huge with 215 objects on display.

The article is full of history and I am thinking of printing it out and giving it to my AP World students as we begin our study of the Gunpowder empires this week. Dalrymple is an excellent writer. You might check out his books, the Last Mughal, or Nine Lives.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Prezi for Gupta Accomplishments

Chinese Dynasty Songs

Thanks to my fellow teacher, Beth Creech, for the top video.  Both go over the Chinese dynasties, but the top one is more detailed.  The students love learning to music so one or both of the videos would be a great way to go over the material after it has been taught.

The Cyrus Cylinder in Ancient Persia

Interesting story for those of  us about to teach Greece and the Persian Empire.

Sometimes called the "first first bill of human rights," the Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most famous objects in the British Museum and will travel to the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery next March. The cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform and is famous because of King Cyrus's encouragement of religious freedom throughout his empire.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Word to Blackboard Test Converter

If you use Blackboard and want to give tests on it, you can use this site to upload Word Documents and then instantly (and for free) convert them to an item that can be used in Blackboard.  The link also tells how to get them into Blackboard. 

Legalism, Confucianism, Taoism

Above is a student video (not mine) done giving a brief overview of legalism, Confucianism and Taoism.   I like it because it gives a visual element to the three isms and it is what I will use as an introduction for my students. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ancient China PowerPoint

So in my continuing evolution as a teacher, I am moving away from PowerPoints so in the slideshow above I will probably only use about 15 slides on the dynasties and all of them will be in a recorded video which my students will choose to watch in class at their own pace or alternatively listen to a live presentation.  But if you still like using PowerPoints, feel free to copy mine and create your own alterations (as I did with the people who preceded me). 

Intro to China - World's Most Typical Person

This is how I will begin my unit on China.  It is a great way to remind the kids that while they may be from the US, they are anything but typical.  I love that my school has a growing Chinese and Indian immigrant population which makes those students smile when they see the video (it came out last year right before my China unit). 

Twitter for Teachers: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Just found this great clip on the benefits of twitter for teachers--quite informative and engaging.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No Innocent Spice: The Secret Story Of Nutmeg, Life And Death

My colleague, Frances Coffey just sent me the link  to this NPR  story about the history of nutmeg that they just did because of the holiday season.  In AP World history, we are studying exploration and the importance of the spice trade as a motive so I played the clip in class today. The history begins about four minutes into the seven minute segment and explains the importance of nutmeg in the 16th century (for Europeans, the narrator says, nutmeg had the same status as the I-phone today).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Richard III Found?

Scholars now believe the bones of Richard III have been found in a parking lot exactly where ancient texts say his body would be found.  He, the last of the line of York, and popularized by Shakespeare, was rather controversial during his life.  As you can see from this fascinating article, the bones' DNA is being compared to one of Richard's descendants for verification.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

50 iPad Tricks for the Teacher

Apps in Education is a new site I just found as I try to incorporate the ipad for my students who have one.  The site has 50 tricks for ipad users including how to see street view for maps,  add a Google calendar and e-mail, use the air printer, find your phone, turn on VPN, create folders quickly dim or increase the reading light, and much more. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Classical Qin and Han China Web Quest

Here's a web quest on classical India and China. It covers everything from the civil service to paper-making to Qin's terra cotta army and has a couple of short video clips to break up the reading and writing. A form for the student's to complete is at the bottom of the web page.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Flipping Class Within My Class

So I just completed Sal Kahn's new book titled The One World Schoolhouse.  If you are interested in the history of his KahnAcademy or where he intends to take education, it is worth the $12, but be warned that it is woefully short on quantitative research (isn't that true of so much in education) and he assumes that all kids will be motivated simply because they can go their own speed).  But it got me to thinking...

So today I made the very simple video above which is my only lecture for my India unit.  In class today I let those who wanted to work at their own speed use ear buds to watch the video and the rest of the students listened to me give a traditional video.  The kids using the video stopped and started it numerous times and still finished well ahead of me (which is one of the major points of Kahn's book that our schools waste a lot of time in  the interest of keeping all students together.  Once students finished the lecture they started this project on Gupta accomplishments.  As with the video lecture, I included videos explaining how to use the technology for the assignment.   

Trench War Simulation

David Harms over at HistorySimulation has a free simulation on Trench Warfare which you or your students can upload onto your laptops.  Obviously the best way for your students to learn is through doing as opposed to being told what to do.  Above is a short tutorial done by the site on the benefits of simulations. The site also has simulations on WWI, WHII and the Cold War. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

How Pandemics Spread

My colleague, Frances Coffey, sent me this fascinating 8 minute TED TALKS clip about the spread of diseases. As she notes, AP World, World 1 and even AP Human Geography will find some value in it. I especially liked the different impact of disease in hunter gather societies and the impact in a more connected world.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fakebook for Historical Discussions

I showed my teacher students tonight so they could create Fakebook pages with their students.  I use it, for example, to have my students converse between different historical characters.  What I love about it is that the algorithm finds the picture of the historical figure or you can upload your own.   You can also put in a video and create friends.  Best of all is that you do not need a login or password and it will create a unique webpage for you or your students.  Here is an e-sheet explaining the assignment using Fakebook that I put together for my world history students.  

Flipping with Educreations

Several of my students have been bringing in tablets to class this fall.  Either they or I, if I want to flip the classroom can use it to create a narrated PowerPoint lecture that also allows you to draw and otherwise annotate lectures.  Above is one a student did (not mine) on the Berlin Airlift and here are other ones on social studies.  Here is how you can make an Educreation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Normandy in Color

Open Culture posted this amazing footage from the Normandy invasion (Operation Overlord). George Stephens, a film maker during the war, made the film with other cameramen hoping to use some of the footage for a documentary. They had a hand-held camera and some 16 mm Kodachrome color film which they used for some of the film. Some of the scenes are amazing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Google & the Fall of the Iron Curtain

Google's Cultural Institute has an awesome collection on The Fall of the Iron Curtain with videos, documents, and images curated by historian Niall Ferguson. You can read more about the project on Open Culture where I found this information

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chromebooks for Inexpensive Learning

I keep telling people that we are in the middle stage of converting from teaching using paper to a digital format.  As we move online, we will have cheaper and cheaper devices because all we will need is a delivery device.  If any of your students are looking for a computer that does it all, the $199 Chomebook (11.6") by Acer is made only for the cloud (although it does allow your most recent items to be stored on the laptop and run without WiFi.  Items like this makes online learning much more viable.  Definitely when my own children outgrow our own laptops, it will be the one I purchase for our kids (durable, cheap and capable of doing everything the kids need to do).  

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Use QR Codes in the Classroom

My teacher students were rather eager to learn about how to use QR codes in the classroom for homework or other uses.  So after class I created the video above to show how to use it.  I explain all the steps from creating a webpage for your homework assignments and how to create a QR generator.  Since my county requires that we put everything for our students in Blackboard, I also include that.  I started using the QR codes for homework with my students in the second or third week of school and am amazed at how many of them use it.  

The bottom video shows you how to download the QR reader on your smartphone.

Students like QR readers as they do not have to write down their homework assignments.  When combined with Remind101, it makes it tough for students to have an excuse not to complete their homework.

If your students ask, there are plenty of Android and iTunes QR readers for their smartphones. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crossword Puzzle Maker

My own kids have a standing assignment for school to make a crossword puzzle.  Here is the site for Crossword Labs which makes it incredibly easy.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

History Simulations

So far I have made very little money with this blog because it is a labor that I love and I feel as it has enhanced my teaching and based on the e-mails a lot of others as well.  But fortunately I do make some "ice cream" money and one of the sources is from History Simulations.  I like it because 1) it is a teacher made business and so you know it has been and continues to be tested in the classroom and continually is improved 2) I believe that making the students learn by doing is the best way to learn which is why I like David Harms' simulations.

Here for example is one on World War I which allows the student to change the size of the armies  to alter the scenarios.  David also has a blog with testimonials, discussions of the game improvements and more.  For those of you who are interested in his simulations, David has one for WWI, WWII and the Cold War.  Watch a few minutes of the video above and you will be impressed.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


This site, Text 2 Mind Map, allows students to create a mind map of anything such as a historical figure or vocabulary term or concept. You just type in the text and then click on "draw mind map." You can download the map or share it online.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pdf to Word

About 5-10 times a year someone sends me a pdf that I want to crack open so I can make it my own.  For most this is impossible. But if you go to Pdftoword allows you to convert short pdfs to word documents.  Go to the site, upload your document and in less than five minutes you will have the word document. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Top Posts for the World Blog in October

Thanks to you all we matched our #1 month last year (at the end of the year) of 48,000 page views for this, the government blog and the world one.  The top three posts for the world blog were


Teaching Jainism? Here's a web-quest that gives students everything they need to know. You can find a form for the web-quest at the bottom of the web page.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Living in Rome Circa 73 AD

I found this cool Ted-Ed vide on what it was like for a 17 year old to live in Rome in 73 A.D.E.  I found it on Open Culture

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why the Question is More Important for the Student

The authors of Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions, think Socrates was all wrong. Instead of using questions to get kids to think more deeply, Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, the authors and co-directors of The Right Question Institute, argue that we should ask the student to come up with the questions that speak to the core of a topic. They want us to flip the Socratic method on its head.

Here's what they say about their method: “What happens is the teacher plays a different role,” Santana said. “They lead students into thinking. The process of teaching students to ask their own questions allows teachers to communicate what they need to around curriculum. The difference is that the students are thinking and doing more, rather than the teacher.”  They offer some interesting ways to to begin the process.

Tell a Story with QR Codes

The blog, Instructional Design Fusions, has an interesting story on how to use QR Codes in the classroom. The video above is a bit long and takes a minute or so to get used to the accent, but you'll get the general idea after a couple of minutes. It's got me thinking how I might use QR codes in world history.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Rebecca Small is a fellow social studies teacher and a teacher-student in my class learning to integrate technology into the classroom.  She just made this very nice assignment for her students using FakeTweet.  You could copy it and completely change the assignment to match your needs as it has a link to a great how-to video (made by a former student of mine) as well as an example of her FakeTweet and, of course, a link to the FakeTweet maker. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Easy and Noodle Bibs

So last night my oldest daughter was working on her timeline on Richard Nixon and she said she had to citations for her pictures.  She started to login to her Blackboard site to go to the MLA maker site.  Instead I had her Google "MLA maker" and we found EasyBib which allowed her to just put in the website for the picture and come up with the citation.  Of course it also allowed her to put in an author and all of his/her books came up.  Magazines, interviews, etc. are also out there.

If you want a free site for MLA, APA or the Chicago methods of having citations then NoodleBib is free and here.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Aztec Empire Clips

Just found these neat clips about the Aztec Empire. The first is an animated overview and the second is about Aztec sacrifice and somewhat chilling. I know most World 10 teachers have already taught the Aztecs, but I think the the clips are worth bookmarking. Each clip is about three minutes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting More Out of an Essay

One of the most frustrating exercises I have had as a teacher has been to get my non AP students to write essays.  First off, I have to hear the line, "This isn't an English class."  Secondly so many students simply do not write their essays, instead choosing to take the grade hit.  Well I believe I finally have found a successful way to get the kids to write essays.

  1. Help the students find background information by setting up categories for the students or even asking questions about documents if you are doing a DBQ.
  2. Put students in groups and use Google Drive to share their background notes
  3. Go over the fundamentals of writing and then have students write lots of the essay in class and share parts of it with the students
  4. E-mail parents that the essays are due and use Remind101 to tell remind students that it is due. I even, this time, had students share the essays with partners so they could give feedback.
  5. I made the essays due by 6 pm Sunday night and then put comments (note, no grade) all over everyone's essays.  When the students got to class I actually gave them a quiz on the main points of an essay (see #3) and then let the students look at my comments and then ask questions about it.
  6. Let my many ESOL students write their essay in their native language and then translate using Google Translate
  7. Then I told the kids they can fix my comments and share them with me using Google Drive by Wednesday.

The upshot is that almost all of my students wrote their essays and wrote a substantial number of points.  

Make a Map Using Google Drawing

Today my students learned how to illustrate a map using Google Drawing.  Here are the instructions I gave them.  The next map we do (China) will include the freehand drawing of the entire map (see above as well).  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mapping an Ancient Egyptian City: Archaeology from Space

Thanks to my colleague Francis Coffey for this great clip about the search for an ancient Egyptian city. "It highlights physical processes, like rivers changing their course, the work of archaeologists, and the importance of geospatial technology."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cave Paintings, Maybe World'sFirst Cinema

This comes after the unit on pre-history but is still worth watching. French archaeologist and film maker, Mark Azema, put together this clip using paintings from the Caves of Lascaux. Below is a clip from the the radio news show, the World, about Azema's work with the cave paintings. Both the clip and the newscast are fascinating. Saw this on Open Culture here.

ITunes U and History courses

ITunes University (which you can download as an app) and access through ITunes on your laptop has scores of courses in history as well as in most other disciplines. Some of the courses (I found a couple in religion) have  embedded video clips that were quite good. Some are worth exploring. You can also access K-12 listings. To find  ITunes U, open ITunes  and click on Itunes Store, then click the pull down menu on the last tab called ITunes U.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Google Drive Presentations

Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) has its own version of PowerPoints called Presentation.  Here is a tremendous e-sheet showing you everything you ever wanted to know in terms of using it.  Above is a video showing some of the cooler features of Google Drive Presentation. 

Explore a Google Data Center

If you want to control your walk through a data center, you can go here to a Street View panorama.  Thanks to a Tweet from Alex Couros for this video. 


One of the things I teach my teacher students is how to have their students create fake Tweet streams.  You can use it to have conversations between historical figures, add in pictures and generally make your students condense their comments to a very well thought out series of concise statements.  Above is a video made by one of the teachers in my course last year, Matt Levi.  The best part about this is that while you can set up an account, you do not need to and once you are done it gives you a unique url which your students could e-mail or put on a Google Drive document to share with their teacher.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Google Cultural Institute

Google has an amazing collection of online exhibitions dealing with world history. The collection is called The Cultural Institute. The collections include exhibitions on D-Day, Anne Frank, Auschwitz, and Nelson Mandela. The images are awesome