Monday, July 21, 2014

Ellis Island

One of the things I teach is the contrast between old/new immigrants. Students come into 9th grade already knowing a bit about Ellis Island but I like to show them a virtual voyage as a reinforcement. We can then springboard into different activities (writing a letter home as someone on a ship coming to Ellis Island, for example).

My Book is Coming Out This Fall, But Let's Talk Now!

When I was asked by Corwin Press to write a book last April, I had no idea how long it would take.  But I can assure you that it will be well worth the wait as my editor, Desiree Bartlett and I have shaped it into quite a useful enterprise assuming you want to learn to differentiate using technology and allow your students to be more self paced.  The title is Learning and Leading in a Digital Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to Pacing the 21st Century Learner and the manuscript is now done as are all the graphics and we are soon going to production. As you will see while I have a ton of research it is a hands on book meant to be used over and over again while you teach as, from the start, I wanted a practical book. But for now I have started a Twitter hashtag (and yes the book explains how to create and use one of your own with your students) at "#pacingdigitallearner" which is where I would like to create a depository of lesson plans and ideas to build on my book.  So for the moment, if you have any lesson plans or ideas on differentiating, working with peers, using instruction, just go to Twitter, and Tweet a comment or link and include the hashtag.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Apollo 11 Landing at 45 Years

Forty-five years and one day ago my brother ate my wind-up teddy bear key and had to go to the hospital! Since we had just moved to Iran, we had no television, so my father took my brother to the hospital and the next day they got to watch the lunar landing while I sat sadly with my non functioning bear!  All three of the Apollo 11 astronauts came later in the year to Tehran where my father got me an autographed photo of all three of them.

But enough of the background.  Above is a great video showing the Saturn V rocket taking off, the landing of the lunar module and the first step of Armstrong.  By the way there are only two pictures of him on the moon as Aldrin was so mad at not being selected to be first that he refused to take many shots of Armstrong.  Thus most of the photos we have on the moon are of Aldrin such the iconic one below.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Changes to Google Drive

One of the reasons I really like Google Drive is that I do not have to wait to purchase a new suite such as with Microsoft (although to be fair, Microsoft's OneDrive does automatically update as well).  At any rate, Google Drive has some new changes which are highlighted in the video above. 

AP Redesign, Part II

Thanks to John Struck, AP College Board consultant and fellow Fairfax County teacher for his summary of the changes coming this fall for AP US History.  The long version is on my earlier post and here is John's much shorter overview which is probably the best place to start. 

How to Set Up A Standards Based Learning Classroom

One of the people who has posted the most on my blogs is Frank Franz who teaches government and World History I.  In the last year he has posted less because he was focused on implementing a standards based teaching approach.

He has written a short tutorial on how he did it last year and how you can as well, complete with lots of links.  For example he discussed

  • setting objectives
  • proficiency scoring - which he based on formative tests.  
  • summative tests 
  • re-takes of summative tests which are only given on the portion of the objective that was not proficient and were not given unless students could show proficiency in a topic
  • what goes into the gradebook (hint - only summative which he explains)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Immigration Growth in the US

Wow this is a fantastic aid for the classroom as it shows growth in each state by decade.  Since it is hard to read go here and you can see an enhanced page.  If you to to the search engine on this blog page you can see other recent posts on immigration, which when combined, would make a nice addition to your late 1800s immigration unit. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New AP US Standards

If you teach AP US History, you know there are new standards starting this fall.  If you are struggling with them, you should start with the lengthy "acorn" book put out by the College Board and then look at some of the examples of content.  There is much more emphasis on looking at different periods of time compared to other ones as well as using documents to teach the standards.  Here is one example of how one teacher will educate his students this fall.  Others are on this page. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Setting up your Social Studies course using the Standards Based Learning model. Here's how I did it last year.

Classroom Management for Dummies

I just saw this on FreeTech4Teachers from Keith Hughes' growing library of mostly content videos.  I wish I had had it my first couple of years of teaching when I played the "who wants to go to the office game!"  Now I can proudly say it has been something like two decades since I sent a student to the office.  But that fact has been because of three of the key items in the list above of ten rules - namely 1) keep engaging the kids in work that is meaningful and connected 2) don't make bad behavior a big deal (I have lightly tapped numerous kids over the years as I have walked around or worked their names into my talking) 3) be fun.  I like to tell young teachers that if you are bored in the classroom then imagine how awful it is for the kids.  If you aren't checking the clock then they probably aren't either.  But Keith has other great tips so enjoy. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

CONFIDENCE : 1933 Cartoon

Although I enjoy teaching all time periods of history, I particularly enjoy the 1st half of the 1900's because you can use cartoons, movies, etc. to bring it to life for students.

One cartoon that was popular during the Great Depression was called "Confidence", starring a popular figure from the time period named Oswald the Rabbit.  Students are always interested in what life was like during particular time periods and are intrigued by just how different the "going to the movies" experience was.

ContextU Looking for Teacher Writers

Recently I have posted about a start-up that I have been working with called ContextU.  We have our beta site up and our first area of concentration - the US Civil War.  Basically we are trying to contextualize learning as we believe that we learn best when connecting items to other, what we call, "nodes."  So we need people to write 1) 150 word descriptions 2) find cause/effect (and it is mostly from a list we already have 3) relations to other groups.  Right now we are looking for people to write on the American Revolution.  If you are interested, please email me at 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back Stories to White House Images

This is an interesting blog that I was just emailed about.  I was intrigued as the first post talked about a stroll made by Obama recently and since I had blogged on the same thing (albeit, a different walk), I was immediately drawn in.  But there is another recent one on Reagan's famous "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech and many other behind the scenes stories of historical events related to the White House. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

US Navy & the American Revolution

Here is a nice, short, piece on American merchant ships in the American Revolution pointing out, in part, that they, like the soldiers, saw action long before the approval of independence on July 2, 1776. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Google Classroom

While Microsoft's OneLive is improving, when you look at the video above, you realize how quickly Microsoft is losing the future.  Assuming more and more kids are learning with Google Drive, then, one might assume they will continue with it in their own post school lives.

The short film above shows teachers how they can easily assign assignments to their classes, or individualize them for certain students, as well as quickly see who has turned in assignments, set an assignment date and all of this is coming to anyone who has Google Apps for Education very soon.