Friday, May 31, 2013

Using YouTube in Your Classroom

I found this great slide show on Crash Course for Educators which I found from one of the communities I follow on Google+.  Soon I will do a post on all the amazing new teacher and technology posts you can follow as they are growing quickly.  The video above is ten ways you can use YouTube to improve your classroom from ways to have stations, to flipping your class, to posting message to students and parents and more.

Monthly Most Hist Posts for the US History Teachers' Blog

Thanks to all of the new visitors to the three blogs (USworld and government) as we now have a new monthly record of 65,000 page views.  The most hit for the US history teachers' blog are:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Digital (US) History - Free Textbook & Resources

The Digital History page is awesome and proof that you can sometimes get away with even purchasing a history textbook if you are willing to do a little leg work.  Look above at the richness of the choices from a textbook which you can see above from the blue links to primary documents, events, people, multimedia and so much more.   This site has really improved in the last few years since it first appeared.  Also for those of you who might be preparing your students for a state end of the year test, you could easily use this resource to differentiate the learning amongst your students. 

AP Summer Institutes

The best summer institute I have ever attended starts on June 10th in Salt Lake City where I will be grading AP US Government exams, but I have gone to a number of great summer institutes (World, US, Comparative and US Government) over the years and always came away much richer for the experience.  They are great chances to get lots of assignments (I got tons this year for AP Comparative last summer) from both the presenter and others are the in-service, video clips, how to to understand free response and multiple choice questions.  Generally the presenters also make you go through and answer the multiple choice questions at night which is important as you have to get to know all of the released questions (essay and mc).  It is also a good place to make new friends and connections that can help your teaching in the coming years.In case you can still swing getting the money from your school district, go here and plug in the appropriate institute you'd like to attend. 

Evolution of Immigration to the US

Here's an interesting graph from the Washington Post showing the changes in immigration to the US from 1900 to the present. You can see a larger version of this graph here as well as charts that show where the different immigrants settled in the United States.

Redstone Misslie in Grand Central 1957

Here is a 1957 Redstone missile model that was installed in Grand Central by the US Army & Chrysler to awe New Yorkers. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted it last night.  He tweets great historical images almost on a daily basis.  You can follow him here: @BeschlossDC 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Follow us on Google+ and Twitter

If you want to follow the blogs other ways, I also post all of them on my Twitter ("kenhalla") and Google+ (also "kenhalla") accounts which you can follow by going to the links.  What is also nice about Twitter is that you can see who I am following and follow them as well if you choose.  In Google+ you can create your own circles and start following lots of people.  I have lots of explanations for Google+ and Twitter on this blog to explain how to use them. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

This Blog Continues All Summer

Virginia does two things that I'd love to see changed.  1) We have our state end of the year exams several weeks before the end of the year and 2) Our state legislature (both parties) consistently say they are for "education first," but refuse to let schools start before September because businesses want the high school kids to work after the college kids have left for school.

At any rate while schools around the US have already started closing for the summer (and while we are on it should we even be wedded to an agrian calendar?), my kids still are going to the 18th  of June (and yes they are done with their AP and state exams).   This is a long winded way of saying that this blog will, as always, will continue posting all June, July and August.   After all I have a new crop of students to teach this summer and need to find some new things for them. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Military Records by War

Fold3 has an awesome collection of primary documents about military records by war. For the War of 1812, for example, you can search Pension Files,  Prize Cases for the Southern District Court of New York, and Service Records.  In addition to the War of 1812, Fold3 has a Revolutionary War collection, a Civil War collection,  and a Viet Nam War Collection, to name just a few. My colleague Jeff Feinstein, who teach US History, sent me the link and plans to use it next year. You can register for free, which gives access to most of the documents, which total over 390 million.

How to Use Google Hangouts

I am starting to feel as if Skyping is an old fashioned way to communicate online.  If you have a Gmail address you can Hangout with up to nine others (and more are coming as Google employees can already do up to 40).  At the bottom of the screen are the people not talking and the one who is will be in the main part of the page.  You can also share your screen and, if you use Google Drive, show your documents and even work collaboratively with the others in your Hangout.  You can also post a link to a Hangout in case you want others to watch in which case you can also have it saved to your YouTube account.  Here is everything you need to know to be able to have a successful Hangout.  Thanks to Matthew Faber for the heads up. 

Primary Documents to Study Lincoln

Amy Jackson of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation just wrote me with her great site called Under His Hat: Discovering Lincoln's Story from Primary Sources. It is the life behind Abraham Lincoln's public one.  For example this link shows you what was on his deak with pictures of each items and links to them.  Here is his Cyclopaedia and above is the desk upon which he wrote his first inaugural address.  It is the life behind Abraham Lincoln's public one.  For example this page shows you what was on his desk with pictures of each item and links to them.

This link is of an effigy doll (see below) that was used to mock Lincoln.  Shown in 3D it tells how beneath the face is a second one that is black as in the reference to his being a "Black Republican" which was how his enemies referred to him.  There is also a podcast with an historian talking about the doll.  There are many other items you can see which tell how the Lincolns made it through their daily lives, letters written and more. 

31 Charts That Will Destroy Your Faith in Humanity

The Washington Post has a series of charts that they say will destroy your faith in humanity. The one above shows trends in armed conflict. Another in the Post shows global democracy and autocracy. There are 31 charts but not all are political. Some show life expectancy, firearm deaths, global poverty,even the rate of electrification in US homes. 

The First Rosa Parks

I have long been interested in what gets people to make historic steps knowing that history has not judged them and lots of people might be against them.  For example Mary Beth Tinker only wore her armband for a few hours and no one has reported that after coming back to school she (and the others punished) wore black clothing for the rest of the year to get around the armband "rule."

But one story I have told for years, but had no name until Tinker mentioned it, was the one of the "first Rosa Parks."  Her name is Claudette Colvin and she was only 16 (Parts was in her 40s) when she was arrested for the same "infraction" as Parks.  Her case made it all the way to the Supreme Court (Browder v Gayle), but the Montgomery NAACP did not push her case forward since she became pregnant soon after being arrested and the group did not want her adolescent pregnancy to be the issue.  The video above is excellent, both with the interview but also revealing that Parks was the THIRD African-American person to be arrested for refusing to give up her seat.

Here is a NYTimes story on the case and above is an interview with Colvin above.  In 2010 Phillip Hoose won the National Book Award for youth literature for his book on her

Friday, May 24, 2013

NEA Story on This Blog

The NEA just put out a piece on our blogs and will have another one later in the summer on ways to use different devices in the classroom.  The picture above is from a week ago.  

The Tinker Tour For Your School

Today we had the pleasure to have Mary Beth Tinker come speak to our seniors about first amendment cases and her own Tinker v. Des Moines case.  She wanted teachers to know that this, now part time nurse, is willing to come to your school - anywhere in the US to spread her message of empowering students.  She spoke and answered questions for 90 minutes.  Among the interesting items we learned were that her three siblings also wore arm bands at the same time and two (the ones in elementary school) were not suspended, but that her brother and three others were not part of the sensation of the case.  Tinker's school newspaper printed a story about the about to happen protest which was then picked up by the Des Moines Register and  shortly after that the ACLU approached her and offered to help her sue the school district.  Twenty-five years later the same school board invited her back as a V.I.P.! 

If you want her to come to your school go to her website.  If she comes she will also bring some interesting primary documents such as hate mail the then 13 year old received.  If you live in the D.C. area you can see her armband at the Newseum.   If she can't come to your school above is a recent interview she did at the Newseum.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bloom's Wheel for Technology

I found this great Bloom's while from a Google+ post from Edudemic.  If you click here, you can see a much bigger post.  You could almost spend an entire year using the technology above.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cuban Missile Crisis in 2 minutes

Excellent clip on the Cuban Missile Crisis from the History Channel. Thanks to Jeff Fisher for tweeting the link.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Amazing Collection of Flipped Class Items

I am writing a book right now and one of the items I found in my research is this amazing research on flipped videos.  It gives research, Twitter handles, examples of flipped teaching, sites to go to learn about flipped learning, digital tools explaining how to make the videos.  If you are flipping or thinking about it, it is amazing so thanks to Dan Spencer for putting it together. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

63,000 Page Views Last Month & 4200 Posts to Search

We had a nice bump up last month from a previous high of 48,000 page views to a new record of63,000 (in part thanks to this article that was reproduced in a ton of news sources and school districts).   So to our new viewers please know that between the US history teachers' blog, the US government one and the world history teachers' page, we have nearly 4200 posts in the five years since this blog started.  So go to the search engine on the upper left and look up any content field of our subjects and look at what we have posted.  We also have a ton of technology to show you how to integrate the content. If we are missing something please e-mail me ( and we'll get it up or alternatively if you have a good idea or a great lesson plan, please contact us. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What is a Cookie?

Developed by Lou Montulli in 1994 when he worked for Netscape, cookies help direct what we see on the Internet.  Cookies are being downloaded on your laptop all the time and are collected by the web browsers you use.  Essentially they are individual ID numbers that a website assigns your computer and it collects information on how you used their page.  Some have even better "third party cookies" that collect information from multiple sites that you visit.  Indeed apps that you might add to your webpages often collect this information which is why they can be free as they might sell your information to a group that is trying to reach people like you.  For example I recently visited the Republican and Democratic Virginia party websites and within one day I started getting ads for lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Aneesh Chopra who the microdata thought I might like to select in our upcoming primary (as not surprisingly he was the tech czar for my former governor Tim Kaine and Barack Obama).  The good is that you see what you want to see (ads for your needs) and the bad is that you may not go beyond your own needs (check out this post on the Filter Bubble).  Of course you can go here if you want to delete all of your cookies, but that will also mean when you start to type in a webpage it will not finish out for you as it will know know that you were there before.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Our Two Month iPad e-textbook Pilot

Last November Houghton Mifflin Harcourt asked me to pilot their new iPad e-textbooks which we did for two months ending just this past Monday.  The pilot was for Patterns of Interaction and I must admit the first day we had them there were some collective groans especially when I told the kids they could no longer make their maps using Google Drive drawings.  But the groans very quickly turns to glee when they saw how the iPads came on instantly and after I had taught them a few procedures to make their iPad life easier we were up and running.  Most of the kids were decidedly unhappy Wednesday when they had to pull out the slow starting netbooks.

So what did I like?  To begin with there are two different versions of the Table of Contents which you can get in landscape or portrait modes.  Secondly you can scroll through entire chapters, the individual pages or using the contents go anywhere in the book you want.  There also is a search box which is not present in our format online.  You can also manipulate all of the pictures flipping them around, looking underneath for objects such as an oracle bone or Viking ship.  Each section also has five multiple choice questions (not available on the page).  There were also movable features such as putting the levels of the Caste system in order.  I actually asked that they do the same for historical maps so students could drag and drop (and be rejected if they are wrong) all the maps the kids have to study.  As with the online version there are also videos in each section, links, etc.  I must admit as the pilot progressed I stopped using my  laptop during the class and just plugged into the LCD or walked around the room with it as I was working with the kids.  Finally we used the four finger method to scroll between open webpages, the ibook, Google Drive and even music which made it very easy to manipulate.

My only beef - and this is with Apple, not HMH, is that the e-book can only be accessed on the iPad it was downloaded on.  So if you forget it at home, you are out of luck.  I should also add that if your district, school, etc. is looking to purchase the iPad book or the online versions of any textbook, you will have to consider restructuring your purchasing plans (easier said than done with state and school board mandates now somewhat obsolete, but still very much unchanged) as the e-textbooks are constantly changed and if you want the newest and latest, you have to put that in the contract (which is probably going to increase the cost).  At the same time textbook companies have to consider "Google Driving" their e-textbooks meaning as changes occur, why not just give them to the school districts.  This would also mean they would not have to service multiple platforms.  With changes coming so quickly today (HMH is also working with Kno for other innovations, but not the ones described in the previous paragraph) the traditional 5-6 year contracts means your e-textbook will be obsolete 3-4 years before the end of the its run in your district.  Of course as is argued in The Tyranny of the Textbook, teachers hate changing textbooks and have to learn (hey isn't that what we teach students every day) to adapt to ever changing textbook formats and  multiple methodologies of delivery (and yes those reading this blog, I know, agree with me - it's the ones who don't that have to be convinced!).

If you go to the iTunes store, you can get a free chapter download for the Patterns of Interaction, The Americans and United States government iPad books and check them out for yourself.

I should add that I wasn't paid a penny, nor received an iPad or e-textbook to do the pilot so these are my unvarnished thoughts.  In if I had my way I'd have a laptop that has a manipulative screen and could access the iPad textbook on any device (smartphone, laptop, etc. and any system (Apple or otherwise) which means you get to decide what works best with your students.  If you already have iPads, you'll certainly love the books. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Knowmia Video Search Tool

Keith Hughes who has a tremendous Youtube channel for US and government (and 17 videos for WH) just told me about Knowmia.   Keith's Knowmia page is here. There is a search engine and you can set up your own page (for free) where you can house videos or tag ones from other people.  For graded K-12, they claim to have 13,000 lessons. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ten Buildings that Changed America

Watch 10 Buildings that Changed America on PBS. See more from 10 Buildings that Changed America.

This is a new PBS series that, according to Open Culture, is "a cross-country architectural road trip" across America. The buildings include Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago, Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building in New York City, and Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall.

Lucid Charts for Chart Creation

A couple of months ago I wrote about a great flowchart maker called Text2MindMap.  Well now you can add Lucidchart to your Google Drive account.  As you can see from the video above it lets you create complex flow charts of different types.which are then added to your Google Drive account.  Thanks to Ken Martin for giving me the heads up on this one. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Flipped Learning Network Interview

Okay so perhaps only my mom will really want to listen to this entire thing.  But there are a lot of websites mentioned, ways my classes work and more in this 50 minute podcast on the Flipped Learning Network interview I did a few weeks ago which was posted today.   

Ken Burns' Civil War on Youtube

I am finishing the twenty-second year of my teaching career this June.  Back in the third or fourth year I created a video of key points of the Civil War from the Ken Burns Civil War series.  I kept it on a VCR and ever year I would do some exercise on say Shiloh and then would finish by showing five minutes on it.  While Ken Burns' videos have been blocked on and off they are now all over it.  So you too can show some short clips or flip your class and do an exercise when the students come to school.  Here is what is on Youtube.

Flip Your Entire US History Class Videos

Actually I wouldn't espouse flipping the entire class as any format done too much gets old, BUT Keith Hughes has a video for every portion of US history and has been chosen by the Kahn Academy as a finalist for the YouTube Next EDU Guru award. Most are all ten minutes and under and feature interesting backgrounds and great ways to remember (dance moves is one of them) to remember them, but I wish he did more visual than himself.  But if you want to save the time making your own flipped videos and want an extremely interesting teacher go no further than his complete Youtube library.  You can follow Hughes on Twitter here.  Thanks to colleague Rich Hoppock for this find.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

TedEd & Flipping the Classroom

Above is a great video you can use to flip your classroom on Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin (short for engine).   Here are a bunch of other ones and here are some examples of how to flip your classroom complete with videos, multiple choice questions and the after video lesson plan. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Individualizing Education Using Technology

There were many reasons why I had a great day yesterday when Richard Culatta, who is the Director of Educational Technology for the US Department of Education, spent the day in my classroom.  In between my two classes, we spent several hours sharing ideas so I will be sharing some of them in the next week.  Since I am writing a book on using technology to individualize education I was very interested in his Ted Talk above. He mentions great innovations around the country such as an elementary school that has students report to different places in the school depending on how they did the day before, giving three questions at the end of the class to decide how to teach tomorrow, Arizona State U that has figured out how and when students should learn new items and what makes them hesitate to answer a question as well as new innovations the Dept of Ed is doing.

He ends his short talk with something called #PencilChat which is a way to counter anti technology people.  The idea is that you need to put the word pencil in to replace every item of technology such as "Why should we give students computers pencils when they can wait until they get to a job to learn how to use them" or "What should I do if a computer pencil breaks in the middle of my class, how should I be expected to work with such a disruption?"  The video below is a funny collection of many of the pencil chats.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America has great some online exhibitions on topics in American history like the Great Depression and Roosevelt's New Deal,  prohibition,  and the Bread and Roses strike in 1912. The exhibitions  include great images and short histories.

The DPLA includes material from museums, archives,and libraries and includes books, images, historic records, and audiovisual materials . The Berkman Center for Internet Security at Harvard University with funding from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation developed the idea for the site.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Keyboard Shortcuts

My children always ask my wife and me how we type so quickly to which I tell them that their time will come.  But if you want to type more quickly than you already are, you might want to consider using shortcuts
.  Here are one hundred+ of them from everything starting from how to cut and paste to how to do subscript, to finding a word in a document to adding footnotes and basically anything on the drop down menus without go to them. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ted Talks Education Coming to PBS

This is interesting as television is moving more towards online, anytime.  But Ted Talks, perhaps showing how big it has become, will have Ted Talks Education this coming Tuesday on PBS at 10 pm.  The show is dedicated to education.  Of course if you miss it, I would assume you can find it on my link or on the PBS teachers site.

Thanks to the G+ post from Larry Ferlazzo

Become an AP Grader

The first AP grading I ever attended was for US history.  I had no idea what to expect and even brought a textbook to look up information, but found it such an enriching experience that both my US and AP government scores went up the next year.  When I tell people that I grade exams their first reaction is to say that grading is the worst part of their job, so why would anyone want to go.  Well 1) I am a much better teacher because of the work I have done as an AP grader in two different subjects.  After all if I know how to grade an exam, then I know how to better prepare students for future essays.  2) The people I met give me both great friendships, but also colleagues near and far to exchange ideas and assignments.  3) You get to go to great places.  This year I will be in Salt Lake City and even though, yes, you do work 8-5 (with lunch and AM/PM break) we did have time to go hiking one day, go to the Great Salt Lake, on another and see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir practice in their 20,000 person arena and usually we catch a baseball game.  4)  I am so much more a proficient grader and can very accurately whip through lots of free response questions - which means I can assign more and better prepare my students (who this year wrote 12 for grades and another 3-4 for practice in my class).

Basically it works like this.  Day 1 - fly to AP grading site  Day 2 - learn the rubric.  They give you all the answers and truthfully most of my AP students could grade given the training.  By the end of the day you will be very accurately grading exams and giving them the identical grade to everyone at your table Day 3-7 - grade all day in 4 quadrants and yes it can get hard at times Day 8 - Finish the grading which means you only get about 50-75.  Only once have I ever graded beyond noon on this day and then you get the rest of the day to do things like do real sightseeing. Day 9 Fly Home.

So if you are interested, here is the place to sign up. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

DOE Director of Ed Tech Coming to my Classroom

So I was asked a few weeks ago if I wanted a member of the US Department of Education to come to my class.  They picked well and I ended up with the Director of Educational Technology, Richard Culatta, who will be spending the day in my class this coming Thursday.  That night we also get to meet with Arne Duncan (for the second time in as many months).  So, my question to you is do you have any questions that you would like me to address?  Culatta's DOE page says he is interested in individualized student learning so I have lots to speak to him already, but would love any feedback or thoughts if you would e-mail me (  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Scourged Back: Photography and the American Civil War.

In March or April of 1863, the slave above escaped from a Mississippi plantation to a camp of Federal officers. Medical officers examined the slave and noticing the severe scarring on the slave's back asked a local photographer to document the scar tissue. The image, according to this New York Times story, eventually appeared in a special Independence Day issue of Harper’s Weekly. The image is now part of a Civil war exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, called “Photography and the American Civil War. Here (and below) is the story about the exhibit.  Thanks to Open Culture for the link to this story.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Top Hit Posts for the Month

We had a lot of pageviews on the US page this month so I am going to put up the top four best posts.  On top is George's one on the Holocaust.

How to Use PBS Resources

I would assume most of you have used the PBS resources which include thousands of standard based lesson plans and bijillions of hours of free video.  Above is a video telling you how to use it. Thanks to EdTechReview for the heads up on this. 

The Starving Time in Jamestown

As this article in today's WashPost says no one saw people being eaten, but we do have diary entries of cannibalism in Jamestown and the famous Richard Frethhorne account of how bad the circumstances got.  But the article discusses bone findings that show evidence of the skull being hacked open and a meat cleaver being used on a leg of a 14 year old girl.