Thursday, December 31, 2015

A really cool online micro-polling, brainstorming website

The website is called AnswerGarden, and it's similar to PollEverywhere and some online quiz-games. But it has some important differences.
Image result for answer garden
Both AnswerGarden and PollEverywhere let you pose questions to poll your students and get instant feedback.  What makes AnswerGarden so cool is that it can tabulate the responses and display them in a word cloud.  That means that it could be most effective as a brainstorming tool because it would reflect the frequency with which specific answers were given.  You will pose questions to your students and then display their responses using an LCD projector on a screen.  AnswerGarden's Moderator Mode lets you manually approve student responses before they are displayed to the class. (Phew.)

The reason that AnswerGarden is a micro-polling application is that student answers must be limited to just a few words.  So it would not replace review games like Triventy, Quizizz, or Kahoot.   Here's a sample AnswerGarden question ("What makes you happy?) and resulting word cloud:
And here's a tutorial (4:34) on how to use AnswerGarden:
As of now, AnswerGarden operates just with computers, laptops, and iPads.  That's a deal breaker for me because it won't operate on iPhones.  (Our school has laptops but they're not reliable and have other problems.)  I've written to AnswerGarden's developers  about when they might have an iPhone app and am awaiting their reply.

T/H to @rmbyrne for his post on AnswerGarden.

Question: What else ends tonight at midnight? (Hint: Think Hitler)

Answer: The copyright owned by the German state of Bavaria on Mein Kampf, Hitler's manifesto first published in 1925 and 1927.  That copyright expires on Dec. 31.
 Image result for mein kampf
Consequence: The book, whose publication has been banned in Germany since the end of World War II, may now be published there.  A German scholarly academy plans to publish a two-volume, 2,000-page edition of Mein Kampf early in 2016.  That edition will put Hitler's own version into historical context (and will refute its outright lies and expose its half-truths) with approximately 3,500 annotations.

Classroom Connection: Three stories (from New York TimesDeutsche Welle, and The New Republic) discuss the controversy that still surrounds the book.  These stories (and subsequent ones sure to be published soon) would be excellent to share with our students.  They explain the book's history and significance in the period of Hitler's rise to power.  And they address the question of how modern Germany is dealing with its past, both in its decision to allow publication of the book, as well as the scholarly interest in publishing such a detailed and heavily-scrutinized edition.

Set-up for a jigsaw activity: Divide the class into expert groups of three-students each (1s, 2s, and 3s), and give each expert group a different article.  Ask the students to read their assigned article and summarize it.  Then create three-student report groups (made up of students who read different articles) and ask them to collaborate and create one set of common notes, on loose-leaf paper or newsprint.

Then ask your students: Do you support or oppose publishing a new edition of Mein Kampf?  Will its publication promote a deeper understanding of the past, or give more fuel to intolerant views in the present?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Your Teachers' Tool Kit for your lesson on the Arab Spring

Here's all the materials you will need to teach your lesson on the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring movement began in Tunisia in 2010.

The movement was sparked when 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze as a protest against government repression.  That action resulted in widespread protests and unrest, until the country's president was forced to resign.  The actions in Tunisia inspired other pro-democracy movements throughout the Arab world.

This video (2:21) serves as a good introduction to the Arab Spring reform movements.
NPR's report on the one-year anniversary of Bouazizi's death is located here, and you can see the Guardian's terrific interactive timeline here.

A recent report in the online Cipher Brief provides historical context to the Arab Spring movements.  That article concludes that the once-promising movement for reform and democracy has all but failed, except for in Tunisia, the nation in which this all began.  The report summarizes the history of the Arab Spring Movement generally, then focuses on developments since it began in five Arab nations.  Noting the rise of Islamic State terrorism and the resulting refugee crisis, the author concludes her report by discussing current steps being taken to bring stability to the region.

Google Drive Tutorial


This is a nice overview of Google Drive and its power.  If you are like me, you have almost completely (I recently found my first use for Microsoft Word in the last year).  The video above shows you many of the highlights and how to use them in just a few minutes.

You can find technology tips you can use in the classroom on my new blog called eLearning Blog which is designed for students, teachers and administrators who want to learn using technology. 

Who Wants to be a Cotton Millionaire?

Studying the Industrial Revolution? The BBC has a good simulation about the role of cotton in industrializing Britain.

Players have to make decisions about where to locate machinery, who to employ, and what investments one should make.

Another good simulation is Muck and Brass, also from BBC. Like "Who Wants to be a Cotton Millionaire," students have to make decisions as the game progresses. For example,  students have to decide what to do about polluted rivers as the game begins. Clean up the rivers or hold your nose and do nothing.

Islamic Golden Age of Science

Al Jazeera recently produced several short documentaries about science in Islam's golden age between the 6th and 9 centuries. Some of the programs include contributions in engineering, optics, and astronomy.

The series also features a story about Al-Khwarizmi: The father of algebra.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Periodic Table of Education Technology

The writers at DailyGenius, an online chronicler of educational technology news, have created a fantastic graphic that summarizes the EdTech products and events that they think are most valuable to teachers.
periodic table of education technology
The graphic is in the form of the periodic table of the elements.  Just like the real elements table, this graphic divides the best EdTech into color-coded categories like social networks, online learning, and hardware.  They also use abbreviations just like the elements table, so Twitter is coded Tw, Dropbox is Db, and ISTE is Is.

Clicking on the graphic opens it into a pdf format for easy printing.

Kudos on the cleverness of the design.  A suggestion for the future would be to make the graphic interactive, so that by hovering over and then clicking on a box would open a new window for that tool.

They say that they'll be updating the graphic several times a year.  That's good to hear.  You can follow DailyGenius @DailyGenius.

A new window into a painful collaboration

After invading France during World War II on May 10, 1940, Nazi leaders set about controlling its government.

Parts of France were ruled by a Militärbefehlshaber (military commander) and occupied by the German army.  The remainder of France, however, was ruled by a French collaborationist government headed by Marshall Henri Philippe Pétain, a French hero from World War I.  The capital of that government was the city of Vichy, and consequently the region of France it controlled was called Vichy France.
France during the Second World War
Divided and occupied France.
Many atrocities were committed by the Vichy government, including helping the Nazis deport tens of thousands of Jews to Eastern Europe for their extermination in death camps.

Just yesterday, the French government declared that it would open access to archives containing records of that past.  The national conversation France will have as it confronts evidence of its past association with Hitler's regime can be simulated in our classrooms later this spring.  Show them yesterday's news story and the other articles linked to this blog post.  Ask them to consider these questions: What was the moral thing for ordinary French people to do during Vichy France's rule?  What was the practical thing to do?  What would you have done if you lived in Vichy France during World War II?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Another online game platform (but this one may be the best one yet for promoting mastery learning)

In a perfect world, we would monitor each student's learning and growth by name and need.  One student may need help with mastering causes of the War of 1812.  Another can't remember the 3/5 Compromise.  How to structure instruction so that each student's individualized needs are met?

A free online game platform that could certainly help is called BrainRush.
BrainRush allows you (or your students) to create learning games that adapt to the learning skill of each player.  To learn about BrainRush I took one of the activities that they had prepared on the Civil Rights Movement.  Whenever I answered a question incorrectly (whoops), that question was pushed back into the deck of upcoming questions.  It was then repeated in a different way several times, giving me extra chances to become confident in the correct answer and demonstrate my mastery.

This video (1:23) gives you a good short introduction to how BrainRush works.
BrainRush has four learning-game formats:
  1. Cards Template: Just like flashcards.  Great for vocabulary; students match the front to the back of cards.
  2. Buckets Template: A categorization activity; students drop and drag text, images, and/or audio into the correct bucket.
  3. Sequencing Template: A chronology or list-order activity; students drag and drop items in order.
  4. Hotspots Template: Students are presented with one image containing 10-15 hotspots, each one corresponding to a different concept to learn.  They match the concept to the hotspot on the map.  Hotspots Templates are best for diagrams and maps.
The last template was the most fun to create and play.  For my practice I uploaded a blank outline map of the contiguous 48 states, and created four hotspots.  I then associated a concept (like the Missouri Compromise Line) to each hotspot.

Playing my activity as a student, I was first shown the image (the map) with the four hotspots I had created.  My first concept was in the left margin, and in the first round, I had to click on the correct hotspot to demonstrate mastery.  Later in the Round 2 I was shown a hotspot and asked to type the correct concept in a dialogue box.

What was great was that I could not complete the activity until I gave correct answers to every concept.  And the activity was personalized for my learning.  Every time I made a mistake, questions about that topic were repeated (several times, interspersed with other questions) until I got it correct several times in a row.

Once you create your activity you post it to the online classroom that you create for your students.

One thing that's great about BrainRush is the amount of online teacher support it gives.  It currently has 9 general video tutorials and three other describing BrainRush's game templates.

BrainRush makes creating engaging and effective activities that promote individualized mastery learning that much more achievable.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

PBS is looking for America's most innovative, tech-savvy educators

PBS sponsors a program that recognizes teachers who use digital media in their classrooms and are educational technology leaders.  It's called their PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program, and you can apply to participate in this program for the 2016-2017 school year.  Applications are due by February 8 at 9:59pm EST.
The application process is easy.  Just create one short video, answer two short essay questions, and complete an application.  And here's the best part: if you submit a complete application by the deadline, you will automatically be invited to join the program!  Benefits of applying include one year of free PD opportunities, invitations to special events, and other benefits.

From that self-selected group, PBS LearningMedia will select 54 teachers to serve as Lead Innovators.  This group will receive a 3-day, all-expense paid trip to Denver to participate in a conference on June 25 and 26, and to attend the ISTE conference on June 27.  They will also receive a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Here's a video one Digital Innovator submitted last year as part of his application.

Rise of ISIS in 6 Minutes


Here's a good overview from Vox explaining how ISIS came to power.

Links for Teaching about Asia


Here are some great links to fascinating stories about Asia. All but one are from historian Gordon Stewart, a senior research scholar at the University of Michigan’s Center for South Asian Studies.

Stewart examines Asia in more detail in his 2009 book, When Asia Was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the "Riches of the "East."

The stories are engaging and terrific for student assignments. Two come from Saudi Aramco World and one came from the Wilson Quarterly.

My thanks to Jeremy Greene for posting the links on Facebook.
  • Suitable Luxury from ARAMCO World:  Following in the footsteps of Ibn Batutta, Gordon discovers an interesting robing ceremony with ancient roots. In a bazaar in western Afghanistan, a group of women gave his wife “an antique, fully embroidered black cloak,” the patterns of which “signaled that the wearer was under the protection of one of the most powerful border tribes of western Afghanistan, and thus anything less than courtesy might provoke retaliation.” Gordon searches for the roots of this robing ceremony as he continues through Asia in Batutta’s footsteps and discovers all sorts of things about textiles. 
  • The Game of Kings: Also from Saudi Aramco World. Another story by Gordon. In this story, he looks at the origins of chess and how it spread so quickly throughout Asia. “What was this game that crossed boundaries of language, religion, culture, geography, ethnicity and class, and was woven deeply into the fabric of the greater Asian and wider world?” 
  • The Dawn of Global Trade:  In this essay, Gordon explores the ways in which Asia dominated trade in the post classical period between 600 and 1450. “But it was its networks that made the great Asian world unique. Bureaucrats, scholars, slaves, ideas, religions and plants moved along its intersecting routes. Family ties stretched across thousands of miles. Traders found markets for products ranging from heavy recycled bronze to the most diaphanous silks.” 
  • The Dawn of Global Trade II: How did Asia dominate the world 1000 years ago? Stewart examines the political, economic and social ways Asia dominated much of the world. In politics, for examples, Gordon notes “states experimented with bureaucracies and taxes…and developed currencies and defined new legal status for conquered peoples.” In science, Asians dominated with new innovations, while entrepreneurs experimented with new textiles. Poets and artists focused on love and “the fleeting nature of beauty.” 
  • "Rediscovering Central Asia" from Wilson Quarterly: Here’s a engaging review of the contributions and achievements of Central Asia during the post classical period. The author, S. Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, reviews achievements in chemistry, math, science, and the movement of central Asians to intellectual centers in Bagdad under the Abbassid Caliphate

Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2015

Right now there are about 1-billion websites, give or take 50-million.  Which ones are most engaging and rewarding for our students?  Thankfully, a highly-respected authority has already done the scouting for us.

The American Association of School Librarians publishes an annual list of its best websites for teaching and learning.  The sites it recognizes
foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration.  They are free, web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover. 
One particularly cool website on the list is called WhatWasThere.  That site uses Google Maps to explore what a location used to look like.  I used the site to compare one intersection near my home.  It displayed a photo taken during the 1860s with a Google Street View of what the intersection looks like now.  It was fascinating to compare the two.  WhatWasThere also offers an accompanying iPhone app.
All told, this year's AASL list has 25 sites on it.  With a list that comprehensive it's hard to know where to start.  But by focusing on just one new site per week we would be able to introduce our students to a new type of engagement weekly, almost until the end of this school year.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A free app that nicely complements Remind.com

I use Remind with my students and I love it.
Image result for remind.com
Remind creates a whole new communication stream with my students that transcends the 90 minutes we have face-to-face with each other every other day.  When I send them a text message I know that they received it on their phone instantly.

I use it sparingly, however.  I want my students to be responsible to check our class Assignment Calendar (a Google Calendar linked from our class Blackboard site) on their own initiative.  For that reason I use Remind only to announce that I've posted a new assignment, or have made changes to previously-posted assignment deadlines.

The consequence of my policy is completely foreseeable: Students forget (or neglect) to check the Calendar, and consequently forget that they have a project due at the end of the week or a quiz tomorrow.

The ideal solution would be to push to the students the obligation of monitoring their due dates using a more efficient and effective platform.  The WhatsDue app just might be that ideal solution.
Image result for whatsdue app
WhatsDue is a free app for students (and their parents).  WhatsDue lets teachers create a to-do list of upcoming due dates that students can access from their devices.

Teachers register with WhatsDue and share a join-code for each class with their students and parents.  From the teacher dashboard, they then record each assignment and when it is due.

Registered users then get push notifications of upcoming due dates that are added to a clear display on their devices.  This picture shows an example of how that looks:

In this example, the student has six assignments due.  One (the Homework to "Do Assignment 3") is marked in red because it is due tomorrow.  The other assignments are listed in the order in which they are due.

I'll keep using Remind to alert my students to schedule changes.  But WhatsApp seems to go further in helping my students manage their assignments than simply using Remind alone, so I'm going to roll this out on the first day back from winter break.  Even better: Could you imagine how cool it would be if all teachers throughout your building used WhatsDue?  I'll work on promoting that as well.

Another alternative to PowerPoint

This might be the coolest presentation package that I've seen yet.

I have already blogged my thoughts about this topic on the US History Teachers Blog.  If you want to stick with your existing PowerPoint presentations, you can make them interactive by uploading them to nearpod and then your students can watch them on their devices and respond to questions that you embed.

If you want alternatives to PowerPoint entirely, you can make presentations with either prezi or emaze.

But this presentation package was entirely new to me.  It's called PowToon.  PowToon's banner says that "It's free and it's awesome."  I concur as to both.

PowToon makes animated videos and presentations.  I could write paragraphs describing what it does but it would be much better for you to see two short examples.  Both were created with PowToon.
Want more more encouragement about PowToon's awesomeness?  PowToon was named one of the best websites for teaching and learning by the American Association of School Librarians in 2014.  Here's what they said:
Powtoon is ideal for those seeking a nice alternative to more traditional presentation tools. Simple to use, it makes creating engaging, interesting, and exciting animated videos extremely easy. Users can create and show presentations straight from the Powtoon site, or opt for the export to Youtube option, or even download a MP4 video format for use offline.
PowToon has a set of tutorials on its QuickStart Guide page.  I also like this tutorial (6:55).

The PowToon animations are so cool that I will be assigning them to my students to use.  Why should I have all the fun?

A new online quiz-game platform

Which online quiz-game platform do you use with your students?

Kahoot is very popular, and recently I've been experimenting with quizizz.  Both are easy to use and engaging for students.

But I just recently learned of a new platform called Triventy.
I've been giving Triventy a test-drive over the break and have been favorably impressed.  Creating a game is easy, the template for writing questions is straight-forward, you can add images to your questions, it has sound effects as you play, you can limit the time to answer each question, and it's easy to share your activities with your students.  And did I mention that it's free?

My friend and teaching colleague George Coe (Twitter: @ggcoe) also adds that teachers can invite others (like our students) to write questions for a game.  Great idea to increase student engagement.

How new is Triventy?  As of this writing they have just 15 followers on Twitter.  It's so new that there are no video tutorials yet.  But here's a link to Triventry's very easy-to-read printed instructions.

I'm sure that Triveny's Twitter followers will grow and that more help materials will become available soon.  You can follow Triventry on Twitter: @Triventy


More Reading on Martin Luther


Well as long as we are talking books, let me add on on Martin Luther, called Brand Luther which is about how he uses the printing press to spread his indulgences.  So far I have already learned that two months before he put up another set of theses that he thought would be far more controversial.   Also while the Catholic church, of course, was against the 95 Theses, so were printers who made money on the receipts that were given to people when they paid for their sins.

Above is a short video on Martin Luther and here are the actual ninety-five theses.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reading for Winter Break

      
Here are two terrific books,  one about Cleopatra  from the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Stacy Schiff, and the other about the development of nationalism, called Imagined Communities, by the recently deceased writer, Benedict Anderson.

I'm reading Anderson's book now.  The New Republic calls it "far and away the most influential study of nationalism."

Anderson does not see nationalism as an entirely negative force. He says that it inspires love, poetry, and fiction.

He traces the development of nationalism to the convergence of capitalism and print technology in the 16th century.

Print technology made it easier for people speaking different languages to understand each other and it fixed language so it was not subject to change by scribes. Print language also created what Anderson calls "languages of power." For example, he notes that there is "High German, the king's English, and, later, Central Thai"  which were ... "elevated to a new politico-cultural eminence."

According to this fascinating obituary by The New Republic, Anderson led an interesting life. He spoke five languages and lived in Ireland, China, the United States, and Indonesia.

Cleopatra promises to be an equally fascinating study. Schiff won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, Great Improvisation, about Benjamin Franklin.

According to this excellent review in the New York Times, Schiff "strips away the accretions of myth that have built up around the Egyptian queen and plucks off the imaginative embroiderings of Shakespeare, Shaw and Elizabeth Taylor."




Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How bad (in comparative historical terms) is the Syrian refugee crisis?

That's the question addressed in an essay and interactive graphic published in yesterday's Washington Post.

The graphic image above is static, but the graphics attached to the linked page are dynamic.  Refugee crises are grouped into three historical periods: the post-WWII era (1940 to 1960), the end of the colonial and post-Cold War eras (1960 to 2000), and the era the Post titles "Instability in the Middle East" (2000 to present).

Bubbles (whose size reflects the number of displaced refugees) represent each separate refugee event (like the 14-million people displaced starting in 1947 after the partition of India and Pakistan.)  Clicking on a bubble gives the crisis start and end years, the number of refugees displaced, and a short explanation of what caused the crisis.

We will certainly discuss these issues with our students this spring.  Bookmarking this link will be a useful guide to understanding and comparing each post-World War II refugee-displacement crisis.  Its clarity and interactivity will make it particularly engaging and informative for our students.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Making Your Own History Videos


So this is a great video that I found from one of my long ago students. It is a Ken Burns type look at Star Wars.  It would serve as a fun back drop for your students to make their own videos about various wars you are studying.  To do so you might want to use the collaborative video maker called WeVideo which also can be added as an app to Google Drive.  Here are videos showing how to use WeVideo. 

"The Walls of Constantinople" from TedEd

Here's an engaging clip from TedEd about the cultural legacy of Constantinople.

The creator, Lars Brownworth, reviews the the building of the city's walls, the development of its system of moats, and libraries, and the numerous attacks, one of which included the use of Greek fire.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Animated Map Showing Expansion of Major Religions


Thanks to my awesome colleague, Caitlin Kimak for finding this video showing the spread of the world's major religions.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Egalité for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution

Here's an excellent and engaging documentary about Toussaint Loverture from PBS.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Way to Incorporate Technology in the Classroom


I like the video above as it talks about how you can incorporate technology into your classroom and even gives you an example of the higher level of application technology can allow.  I like the blog that it was found on as it address a recent WashPost editorial (which I might add has made it clear that it is against technology in the classroom).  The author of the editorial stated that she didn't like her iPads as it made the kids quiet, but the blog author notes that so does reading a book!

Really it is time we stop attacking technology and stop citing all the biased findings that it hurts student retention.  Are we really serving our students if we fail to prepare them for an increasingly interconnected world?  If we use paper and pencil and paper for everything and continue to teach our students in rows and in concert how are our pupils going to be ready for the working world.  We need to adjust our teaching and work with our students in the highly connected and technological world in which they live. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Flipping and Grouping to a Better Learning Environment

Two days ago my county's deputy superintendent spent part of a period with one of my classes.  He was curious how we were doing with our Chromebooks.  One of my students said something like she really liked the class because "We live in an interconnected world and that is how we operate in class from working constantly in groups to having access, using multiple modalities (my word meaning Chromebooks and smartphones), to a world of information." I am not doing her justice, but tomorrow I am teaching social studies chairs how "Flipping and grouping" can change the way they teach.
  • We start class with five questions which are the overarching points for the day.  The kids can use their notes and if they do poorly, they can stay after school to take the quiz again.  After all don't I want them to learn the most important points?
  • Next we go through a "problem set."  To do this we are grouped in mixed ability groups that change from time to time or even can change (such as with a jigsaw) multiple times in a day.  Problem sets grew out of my economics' classes, but now has spread to all of them.
  • As students work, I move around the classroom, listening and helping.  What I have found out is that all students talk with small groups and ask questions and are willing to give feedback to their peers. When a few groups have the same question, I stop everyone and address it with the greater group. Depending on the assignment and the class we also go over it when everyone is done with it. 
  • I get multiple times a day to talk to each student.  Every other day or so I even call up kids who are missing work.  As long as I haven't gotten to the test, I will accept any assignment without a penalty and even let kids redo work to raise their score.   Crazy I know!  But the goal is to as well as possible on the assessments.
  • Also students to not need to be in the same place, but rather can be behind or even ahead depending on their needs.  
  • So formative assessments can be done as many times as a student wants and all of my summative tests allow for second chances - as long as the kids go through and understand their failings on each question.  
Getting rid of my large teacher desk has forced me to move around the room much more than in the past.  Creating pre-made groups fosters better discussion and, in turn, learning.  Simply doing it has made me change how I teach or, in many cases facilitate learning.  In a nutshell this grouping in fours and flipping has changed the way my students learn.  If Facebook's new open campus is a bellwether my kids will be better ready for not only assessments, but also future jobs. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Secure Test Taking for State Exams on Chromebooks.

For those of you investing in Chromebooks the video above show you how to use them for secure test taking.  We use TestNav (Pearson) and fortunately this is one of the ones that can be used.   When you secure a Chromebook, the kids cannot get to any other sites except the one you are using for the exam.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

China Webquest


George Coe posted this China web quest a couple of years ago (hard to believe my blogs are 7.5 years old) and it is still a great one as it goes through all of the dynasties and has great images as well as a couple of videos such as the one above.  

Syria's War: 5-Minute History

Here's a great 5 minute overview of all the players in the Syrian War from Vox. It helps us to better understand the mess inside and outside of the war-torn country. Thanks to David Houston for sending the link.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Personalized Urls

We normally start my classes with a five question quiz where my students can use their notes from their flipped video to answer the questions.  It serves a few purposes.  First I won't count the quiz grade if the notes aren't good enough as I want the kids to have a repository they can use later (which is easy with the search function in Google Drive).  Secondly the questions are the main points for the day so it tells the kids what their exercise is going to be about.

But to the point.  I very rarely use the LCD in my classroom other than for when I am giving our opening quiz.  But the other day the my LCD lightbulb went kaput.  So I had to improvise by taking the url from the Google Drive document into a Tinyurl which I also personalized.  For example I am doing the fifth and sixth units in my for AP microeconomics called tinyurl.com/apmicro56.  So I wrote the url on the board and didn't worry that we didn't have a LCD.  It also is nice when kids want to redo a quiz, I just give them the url and we are all set.

In addition there is bitly.com that allows you to keep a repository or your shortenings as well as Google's shortening.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Comparing the World's Major Religions (chart & video)


Above is a great Ted Talk video on the world's five biggest religions and if you need in simpler terms for your kids, here is a chart.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Education Week Column

Along with the interview I did with Larry Ferlazzo last week, he had me write a column in June which he just published in his Education Week column.  Above is a summary of my thoughts, but here is the entire article.  Of course if you want my detailed thoughts and how to implement them, they are in my book: Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction

Monday, November 9, 2015

How Does the Internet Work

Most people now have heard about the cloud, but few understand it.  The top video above shows where the actual cables are in the oceans that transport our messages across the Internet.  The bottom one shows how webpages are broken up and transported.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Force Fitting Technology into the Classroom

Last week Larry Ferlazzo interviewed me and Susie Boss for his radio show.  Ferlazzo is a leading innovator in tech education, a writer for Education Week and a classroom teacher.  We discussed the topic of which comes first, technology or content.  Perhaps you would be surprised with my answer.   Here is the interview

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Who was Confucius: Terrific Ted Ed Clip

Here, Bryan W. Van Norden outlines Confucius's life and contribution to philosophy in just four minutes.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Changing the Face of Instruction


I am a member of several Facebook teacher sites and am in the midst of adding to one where a teacher said his administration has banned front of the room teaching.  A number of the teachers are saying how awful that is.  Truth be known I have a few minutes in front of the room, but have mostly moved away from it.  Consider today's lesson in my economics' class

  • The kids watched a flipped video on graphing perfect competition
  • We started with a quiz where the kids had to draw four graphs and could use their video notes. 
  • In my class I won't count the quiz unless the notes are acceptable and occasionally make them redo it - but I always let them redo it and always give full credit even if it is late and most of the work is turned in on time as the kids know I will call parents if 2 or more assignments aren't done in a two week period - and I rarely have to call!
  • Then four different kids went to the board to draw the graphs.
  • Next the kids worked on their problem sets.
  • I walked around the room and answered questions from the previous day's work and the current ones.  
  • Oh I should say that my room is set up in 8 pods of four desks so the kids can easily help each other.  Each group is set up with different levels of students.  
  • Should I add that we have not opened a book this year either so it is not only cost efficient, but videos are how kids teach themselves now.  
  • We took our second test of the year last week and my average score is up 10% over last year's kids. 
  • I use this format (flip video, quiz, interactive, walling around the room) in all of my classes now and wish I had figured this out years ago!  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Standards Based Learning


On the 5th, one of my educational collaborators, Frank Franz, is coming to my school to discuss standards based learning.  In my county, we are slowly moving there and I want my department to start implementing parts of it, if not all of it so we aren't blindsided in 1.5 years when we have to do it.

First off I have never been told adequately what is meant by "mastery," but the video above helps. After all standard based learning says we should be working towards mastery, so best to start with a definition.

Frank's video below is excellent for explaining how his classes are run and while we're at it, he uses it for his flipped back to school night.  It is definitely worth five minutes to look at it.

Finally, here is Frank's dog (literally as he loves his three dogs) and pony show!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Freeman-Pedia resources for World History

Run, don't walk, to this site, especially if you teach in Virgnia.

Feemanpedia has great resources for each unit in World History and for each unit in AP World history.

In World History, Benjamin Freeman, the site's curator, reviews what the SOLs want you to know, then includes a list of the people the state wants you to know along with video clips for enrichment.

Freeman does the same thing in AP World history but with key concepts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

World History Through Songs


Over the years I have put a number of videos up on using songs to teach history.  Well here is another one, Mr. Nicky, who uses popular current songs to teach ancient world history.  Above is his video on Greece. 

30 Ways to Use Chromebooks in the Classroom

Thanks to Stacy Delaney, our school based technology specialist for finding this document titled "30 Ways to Use Chromebooks in the Classroom." Ours continue to be the best thing for my students. When you add in that they now sit in pods of four and help each other, it has been a great start to the school year.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

EasyBib for Citations

My son is working on his research paper (on how the brain works) and wanted to know how to cite his resources.  The best free source is EasyBib which asks you to input the url, press enter and then you will have the citation.  You can find many free items like this in my book Deeper Thinking Through Technology: Using the Cloud the Individualize Learning.