Sunday, November 29, 2015

Putting US History in Context

If you follow my blogs you know I have been working with a group called ContextU that is putting history in context. Right now we have this great page which covers US history from the causes of the American Revolution through all of US history.   As we move to standards based learning it is becoming that much more important that students be able to connect their facts (we call them "nodes") together.  On our site for each node you will see:
  • 150 word description
  • shown on a timeline so students can see other items across time
  • the item on a map
  • its cause and effects
  • other similar nodes (facts)
As we head towards midterms, ContextU is a great way for your students to review.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

The History Behind Thanksgiving

This is a great video you can share with your students to give them the history of Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to Set up Chromebooks for Secure Exam Taking

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.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Life in Japanese-American Internment Camps

We think in images rather than words.  This is one of the reasons why I have flipped all of my classes and thrown out our textbooks (there are others too such as the videos offer different modalities if done correctly and it gives teachers much more flexibility in class). 

But I like to show as many images as possible to my history students.  Thus this series of Ansel Adams pictures from a Japanese-American internment camp is very powerful for me.  It also includes a short description of the FDR's executive order 9066 which allowed this.   Of course when you teach it, you need to go over Korematsu v. US.  

Below is a short clip about George Takei who was one of those interned in camps as "an enemy non alien."  Here is the full length video from PBS about the subject.  Below the Takei video is another one is one that combines images and personal stories. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Doctoring Our View of the US Constitution

I like to tell my students that a textbook is a point of view both in what it says as well as what it leaves out.  Of course, it is based on essential knowledge developed by key states such as CA and TX.  This brings me to this excellent WashPost article based on a new book, Madison's Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention.   The book argues that Madison's Notes of the Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 (here is a great site that breaks down each day's events as well as giving you teacher resources and giving you information on all of the delegates) that Madison changed his notes over time as his political needs changed.  Since we have few documents other than Madison's notes, his changes have a profound influence on how we view the Constitution.

Above is a long discussion of the new book or again, you could read the WashPost article

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  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 that allows you to keep a repository or your shortenings as well as Google's shortening.  

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 Cloud 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

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Video Tutorials for AP US History Writing

These are three tremendous videos on how to write the three different type of free response questions on the new revised Advanced Placement US History exam. 

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!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Mt Vernon First Person Videos

Mt Vernon has a series of short videos (one of which is above) which explain what life was like there.  Most of the people are dressed in period garb.  As you go through the colonial/post American Revolutionary life, it might be a help to your students to understand.  By the way, my school is named "Hayfield" as it was literally one of Washington's hay fields even though it would take 30 minutes to get to Mt. Vernon from here.