Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Chilling History of How Hollywood Helped Hitler

A controversial new book suggests that Hollywood courted Nazi Germany in an effort to retain its business.  It let Nazis censor scripts, took away film credits from Jews, and, according to this excerpt in the Hollywood Reporter forced one MGM executive to divorce his Jewish spouse.  Why?  According to the book's author, Harvard post doctoral candidate, Ben Urwand, Hollywood acquiesced to Nazi demands in order to retain its business.

This is an interesting story with links to movies that the Nazis loved and hated.  Here's an interview with the writer.  My thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link.

Interactive National Geographic Maps

Tomorrow my students are looking at their connections to the world starting with the clothes on their backs.  To that end I have been trolling the Internet for something that is interactive to show them.  But in doing so I found this amazing world map which at the touch of a navigation button lets you see topographical, seas, satellite, National Geographic's map for a total of eight levels.  But you can also get a tool to measure distances (across continents if you want) and draw with a pen or market all over the map.  Once you are done with the map you can then download it.  You can also mover your cursor anywhere and the longitude and latitude will pop up.  In the lower part of the map, you can also see the entire world and the subset of what you are working on.  You can also send someone a link of exactly what area of the map you are looking at, but I haven't figured out if you can save your work to that link.  Here is the interactive site.  If you figure out how to save your drawings on the map and have it on a url, please add it as a comment to this post.

So in the fall I may have my students use this to understand longitude and latitude as well as different types of maps. 

How Scientists Solved the Longitude Problem

Open Culture put these videos on their site showing how scientists in the 18th century finally solved the longitude problem. In 1714, Open Culture notes, the British government opened an office to study the problem and offered an award to the first person to solve it.  If you go the Open Culture site, you'll find a couple of more videos describing how the problem was eventually solved.  This might be interesting for AP Human Geography and even  World History.

Incan Child Sacrifice Victims Fed Drugs and Alcohol

Get Adobe Flash player Incan child sacrifices were fed alcohol and drugs months and weeks before death, according to tests on mummies. You can read the story here at this BBC Science and Environment site. Thanks to F.C.Tymrack for tweeting the link.

Today's Meet for Large Class Discussions

Today's meet is a great resource if you are having a presentation in a larger group as it lets people type in a question which you can instantly see and respond to when appropriate.  It also might be good to use it if you have a combined course and want students to get their questions out in a timely fashion. 

Stephen Colbert, MOOCS, and the Head of Edex

Saw this entertaining clip on Open Culture

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reading the Bhagavad Gita Today

Here's a great essay about the value of the Bhagavad Gita today, written by Charles Martin who co-authored a new translation of the Hindu classic. The Gita is part of the great Indian classic, the Mahabharata and Martin sees a number of lessons from the story that are still valuable today.

The Gita is a drama that pits Arjuna in battle against his cousins and teachers for control of the kingdom of Bharata in northern India. The moral dilemma that this causes Arjuna is the subject of the book as he debates what he should do with his charioteer, who also happens to be the god, Krishna, in mortal  form.

Arjuna ultimately decides to wage war against his relatives. Martin suggests that "Krishna’s reasons are deeply set in Hindu doctrine and practice: as a member of the warrior class, Arjuna has a duty to wage war, and it would be shameful for him to turn away from his responsibility."

Martin sees a number of lessons that Gita still has to teach us.
  • One is that we should always live our lives deliberately. “Better to do one’s duty/ ineptly than another’s well,” Krishna tells Arjuna. 
  • One must act without concern for loss or gain
  • Don't follow. Instead lead with responsibility and not out of fear
Here is  a link to a lesson I usually do with Hinduism that asks students to think about the moral dilemma Arjuna faces and what he should do.

You can find other posts about religion on my World Religions blog here.

NBCT Media Relations Webinar

Tomorrow (Wed) from 3-4 pm EST the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is hosting a webinar on how to work with the media to get press for your school.  I am first up and 3pm sharp followed by  Dan Brown who is finishing up as a fellow with the Dept of Education, Brian Crosby a long time teacher and author and Jeff Scheur who started NoRedInk which helps students with writing.  Here is the url to go to if you want to listen.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Flipped Learning Network

For those of you who are flipping their classes a great resource is the Flipped Learning Network which has over 5000 teachers signed up to discuss items, links to tons of groups of teachers such as math, social studies, forums, videos, and a lot more.  Above is a short video tour of the site. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wiki Summarizer

Here is something interesting which you might find some use for in the classroom.  If you go to WikiSummarizer, you can type in anything and get a summary, longer version and then a number of subsets of the subject that you can click on to get more information.  It might be useful to use the summary at the top of an assignment to give your students a quick overview before they go learn more information. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion

Can propaganda be considered great art, or is it by its very nature inferior?  Nazi Germany did a lot to promote the idea that it is inferior. "As minister of propaganda in Adolf Hitler’s government," notes Alastair Sooke writing for BBC Culture, "Goebbels did more than most to make that aftertaste as bitter as arsenic."

Sooke thinks propaganda may be getting a bad rap. He notes that much of the ancient art around today is a form of propaganda. He cites several examples including Trajan's column, the Parthenon Marbles, and the solid-gold mask of Tutankhamun.

How different are these examples of propaganda from the modern art commissioned by the US government during the Cold War?  The State Department bought paintings from artists like Ben Shahn and Georgia O’Keeffe. "Art is rarely the unadulterated expression of an individual genius such as Picasso: usually it is ensnared within the agendas and demands of others, such as patrons who are also political rulers. In my heart I know that good art is a vehicle for self-expression. But my head tells me that art and propaganda do not have to make uneasy bedfellows."

You can see a great slide-show of propaganda like the example above and a link to the British Library’s exhibition "Propaganda: Power and Persuasion."  And here is an excellent teacher site (Bill Chapman) on propaganda with great links.  Thanks to F.C. Tymrak for tweeting the link.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WW I Soldiers Perfectly Preserved in Trench Given Mitary Burial

Archaeologists recently discovered 21 World War I German soldiers who were buried alive in 1918 when an Allied shell exploded above their shelter near Alsace. According to The Mail Online, the bodies were in the same position they were in when the shell exploded 95 years ago. Germany recently gave the soldiers a full military burial. The Mail has lots of interesting pictures.

This might be a great story for students when we study World War 1.  Thanks to Shawn McCusker for tweeting the link.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another Ramadan Live View

I know I just put up something similar a week or so ago, but this is a close up of the throngs of people in Mecca going through the month of Ramadan that I found on NPR. 


Geodia is a resource for Ancient World History (Mediterranean area) teachers and students. The site integrates maps, timelines, and artifacts.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Android app: MightyText, Text from your computer synced with phone

I love MightyText!  It allows you to text messages from your computer. Download the software to both your computer and android device.  Type your text message on your computer and click send. The message goes to your android phone and sends it. You can also read all your text messages on your computer, in addition to your phone. Works great when you don't want to pull out your phone to read a message or want to text a long message but don't have fast thumbs!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Signing into Multiple Google Accounts in the Same Browser

So I know I am late to do this, but for the few of you who also haven't figured it out, if you click on your name when you are in Google Drive, a new browser will appear and you simply add the "Add account" and a new tab will open up where you can then sign in and toggle between the two tabs.  Of course if you want them side by side you could just grab one of the tabs and pull it away thereby opening a new browser and then you could show them side by side

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy was first utilized back in 1956 and more recently updated in 2000.  We have been using it every day this past week (and next) as my peers and I develop assessment questions for my county.  But when you develop your lesson plans, you might want to use this digital wheel which allows you to click on the different parts to give you suggestions and visuals to consider when getting ready for your students.

If you want a poster of the wheel, here are several alternatives.

If you want to see how to integrate technology, then here is a great set of technology wheels. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Great Social Studies Site: Go Social Studies Go

Awesome world history site, organized by unit, from prehistory to the Iranian Revolution.  Thanks to Ed Casey who tweeted the link.  Check it out and save it.  You'll see sub units with short histories, good maps.and even short video clips.

Live Feed of the Kaaba During Ramadan

Here is a live feed of the Kaaba.  If you have students this summer it is great to show them what the Hajj looks like during Ramadan. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Texas Released Tests

In the past I have mentioned the Regents exams for released test questions in case you are looking for new ones.  But Texas also has three released exams for US and world history which you can find here

History Channel Video for Chichen Itza

There are a lot of videos on the History Channel including this nice short one on the Mayan pyramid Chichen Itza. If you are having your students do interactive searches where they have to get information, this would be a nice one to add. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Farming Got Hip In Iran Some 12,000 Years Ago, Ancient Seeds Reveal

Wow! You have to love it when archaeologists make discoveries which deal with one of our first units of study in World History--Mesopotamia.

According to this NPR story, archaeologists have discovered evidence of a stone age farming community at the foot of the Zagros mountains, closer to Iran than the Fertile Crescent.  Seeds suggest that farmers 12,000 years ago grew plants like barely, peas, and lentils."It's allowing us to push back our picture of early agriculture to these very, very initial stages, when people are beginning to play around with plants and their environment," notes a Smithsonian archaeologist.

You can read the story here and you can listen to the three minute NPR clip below.  Thanks to Angela Hamblin for tweeting the story.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Citations Made Easy

I will probably be referring to this a few times several weeks ago I signed a contract with Corwin Books to write a book (paper and digital will be available).  After three months draft #1 is almost done (yeah!).  But one tool that has been immensely helpful to me has been Easybib to create citations on the fly for me.  Even when the site can write them (and sometimes it can't) you can cut and paste in the relevant parts.  You can also use the free version of Noodle Bib to do the same thing which is good if you want to keep all of your items for later (I just have been pasting them directly into my chapters).  Either way it certainly makes it easy to do citations. 

Tips on Taking the AP World Essay Exam

This week and next Frank Franz and I will be spending part of our week writing world history test questions.  So in true geek mode I was just looking for ideas for good test writing and came up with this great overview of how to answer the different types of questions on the AP World exam. It is very through and something a newer AP teacher or all AP World students might want to read before starting writing the three essays.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Printing from I Pad and Android

Printing from your phone or I Pad is not easy, and often not possible.  You need Google Cloud Print or Airprint. Not any more!  New software for Android and IOS devices allows you to print on any printer or copier to which your computer is connected.

For your I Pad or I Phone, Presto, which you can download from Colobros software allows you to print to any printer on your network. You download the software onto your computer and then your devices automatically find  printers on your computer.  You don't have to install anything on your device, only your computer. My I Pad found my home printer and all the printers and copiers at school.   I tested it with a webpage on my I Pad.  Printing worked like a charm.   

For an Android device, you need ThinPirnt. You have to register and create an account and then ask the program to connect your printer.  You also need to install the app on your device.  I tested it with my Samsung phone.  I went to a picture on my gallery and clicked share and "Print with ThinPirnt."  It also worked like a charm.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

San Francisco High- School Teens Interview Last WWI Vet in U.S.

San Francisco history teacher, Frank Mazzi, and students from his elective history course on World War 1, scored an interview they will never forget. They traveled from San Francisco to West Virginia to interview the 107 year-old WWI veteran, Frank Buckles. He is the last surviving veteran of that war. The San Francisco Chronicle has a great two-page story about the interview, which they say the Library of Congress now wants.

It's a great story and shows, as Bill Chapman notes, that teachers are amazing. My thanks to Bill for tweeting the link to the story.

Riddle of the Script: The Story of Linear A & B

Linear B, the script discovered in 1900 by English archaeologist Arthur Evans, (he's the archaelogist who discovered the great palace he called the Palace at Minos) was never deciphered until the mid 20th century. Margalit Fox, writing for the Telegraph, details the fascinating story explaining how the script was deciphered by a 21 year-old graduate student, Alice Kober, who worked on the problem for years.  Fox says "over the years, Kober cut and annotated 180,000 cards, storing them in empty cigarette cartons, the one paper product of which, sadly, she seemed to have no shortage."

Kober died before completely deciphering the script.  But her work helped another young student, Michael Ventris, figure out how the script worked.  Fox just released a book about the discovery called "The Riddle of the Labyrinth". My thanks to Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link to this story.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Voice Thread

I am working with a group this summer that is coming up with lesson plans and ideas for VoiceThread.  VoiceThead is a collaborative tool used to have students comment on a picture, PowerPoint or document. One can comment by typing, using your cell phone, talking or even video recording.  It is a good way to have an asynchronous discussion with your class.  Perhaps you want to get their opinion on a recent event in the US or the world or you want them to provide additional research.

Here are 26 interesting ways to use VoiceThread in the classroom and here is a great introduction page with lots of links for teachers.  Here is VoiceThread's how to page with lots of written how to sheets complete with pictures to guide you through the process. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Animated Atlas of Africa History

Here's a cool animated map of Africa's changing borders and conflicts between 1880 and 2002. Toggle buttons allow you to select which thematic layers to activate like territory names, boundaries, conflicts, and demographic trends. You can advance or reverse the chronology. This will be great for students when we study imperialism. Thanks to Frances Coffey for sending me the link.

Confucian Virtue Now Law

If you are teaching World 9 this summer or next fall, your kids might enjoy this NY Times article about the legalization of filial piety in China. Filial piety is a key Confucian virtue and, according to the Times, the Chinese enacted a law this week "aimed at compelling adult children to visit their aging parents."  It even urges companies to give employees time to visit their parents or send them greetings.

The new Chinese law updates the original folktales about respecting one's elders called "The 24 Paragons of Filial Piety" with a modern twist--buy your parents health insurance and teach them how to use the internet. Thanks to Melissa Seideman for tweeting the link.

Monday, July 1, 2013

To Flip or Not to Flip

The Social Studies twitter chat (#sschat) discussed flipping the classroom tonight. Keith Hughes (Hip Hughes History) moderated. I storified, some, though  not all of the tweets from the chat. The discussion gives you a good definition of flipping and how some teachers use it and even why some teachers question its value.

Gaming and History

This is a fantastic talk about how gaming can transform the study of history.

Mahyad Tousi, a young Iranian cinematographer and historian, argues that history is a story, that through emotion, our brain connects the narrative. Consequently, we remember facts and begin to think critically. Through gaming, we can explore historical events and turn passive students waiting for a test into engaged and active participants. His company, Boomgen, is working on a game called Ajax, about the CIA and Iran,  but Tousi thinks that his platform can work for any historical event.

What is an illuminated manuscript?

BBC Religion and Ethics has an excellent slideshow about illuminated manuscripts. And the British Library, as I noted last year, has an excellent interactive site in which you can actually open and turn pages using your mouse and shockwave.  Both sites are excellent resources for the Middle Ages.