Saturday, August 31, 2013

Psychologists Identify the Best Ways to Study

Two of the best ways to study are to quiz yourself and to study over time instead of cramming the night before.

This is what psychologists at Scientific American Magazine discovered. To receive their recommendation, a technique had to be "useful in a range of learning conditions, such as whether a student works alone or in a group."

Self testing received the highest marks. "Unlike a test that evaluates knowledge, practice tests are done by students on their own, outside of class." The magazine says that hundreds of experiments demonstrated the success of self testing.

Distributed practice was also highly rated. Students tend to cram, but evidence suggests that "distributing learning over time is much more effective." In one experiment they noticed that kids who reviewed Spanish vocabulary over six sessions instead cramming the night before did much better on the test. They note, "in an analysis of 254 studies involving more than 14,000 participants, students recalled more after spaced study (scoring 47 percent overall) than after massed study (37 percent)"

I guess that this is our answer to kids who ask, "how do I study for the test?"

My thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, for sending me the link to this story.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Background on MLK's "I have a dream speech."

This video gives some background (to add to what I posted a few days ago) on the "I have a dream" speech. 

How to Start Your Students on the Flipped Experience

So yesterday when George Coe and I were teaching how to flip, Frank Franz was sitting on the sidelines and occasionally answering questions.  One of the best questions was how do you get your students to accept the concept of flipping.  Well Frank is more than on top of this as he has a Google Sites page you will want to check out as well as a video for students to be introduced to the concept as well as parents (above).  But it is better than that as Frank is flipping his back to school night (in VA we have the parents come in and meet the teachers for 10 minutes).   So Frank (and I this year) are e-mailing our parents our flipped video and then giving them a Google form for their questions.  Then, for the 10 minutes we see them will give go over the questions and additional ones that come up so the parents can actually experience what their kids are doing in class.   Frank is also doing standards based learning this year which he also explains in the video. 

Reading Like a Historian: Sourcing a Document

How do you teach point of view or the "sourcing" of a primary source?  In the video above, a teacher models how she sources a primary source.  The documents are from the Stanford History education Group's Reading Like a Historian (SHEG).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Free Access to JStor

JStor (stands for journal storage) is a collection of thousands of academic journals which I used to have to climb library stairs to get.  Fortunately my school gives free access to it, but not everyone has that.  Now JStor is offering free access to 1200 journals to anyone who is willing to register and then have their user information will be shared with JStor's partners.   The other limitation is that you will only be able to read three journal articles every two weeks.  But it's not as if you are going to be sharing lots of these articles with your students, so if you do not have access, the limitations certainly seem worth it.  I found out about this from a Google+ post from

Roane Beard.  

Intro Video for Your Students on Flipping

Today George Coe, Frank Franz and I did a presentation on flipping the classroom.  One question that always comes up is how do the students receive the idea if they have never done it before.  Frank actually has his students watch a flipped classroom introductory video and then uses a Google form to answer their questions in class.  What I find is that all students like how they can "control" the teacher by stopping the video and going back and forth.  Having said that AP/IB students are the ones most likely to give a little flak, but the majority are on board from the get go. 

Rep. John Lewis Remembers the March on Washington

This is an awesome interview in which Rep Lewis remembers the March on Washington.

High Tech History at FCPS Inservice

Below are links to all of the projects featured in the High Tech History Presentation at the FCPS Social Studies In-service. Enjoy and feel free to contact for project assignment information or with questions.


Follow my students at:


See sample Google Submission Form

Social & Political Movements Project Links

1. Women’s Rights Website:!
2. Fake Facebook Pages:
· Changing forms of media (humor involved):
o Newspaper:
o Radio:
o Television:
o Internet:
· Fake Facebook on African American Male:
· Fake Facebook on Women:
3. Prezi on Anti-Materialism Movements:
4. Video on Anti-Immigrants:
5. Video on American Expansionary Periods:
6. Tumbler Website on Labor Unions:
7. Prezi on Globalization:

American Identity Project Links
Videos on JFK Inaugural Address):

Video on Lincoln’s Second Inaugural:

Video on Gettysburg Address

Video on Reagan’s First Inaugural

Video on Declaration of Independence

Video on FDR’s 1st Inaugural:

2012-2013 Newseum Student Research Products

1920 Newspaper Sensationalism:
Greensboro Sit-Ins:
Raymond Bonner and El Salvadorian Massacre:
Jackie Robinson:

2011-2012 Student Products:
Sesame and Cold War:
Yellowstone & the Media:
Game Shows & Government Intervention:

Take My Technology Integration Course

I will be teaching the fifth version of my technology integration course with Fairfax County Public Schools this fall.  We will learn about such items as webquests, pacing your students individually using technology, flipping the classroom, using electronic textbooks, collaborating online, how to use Google Drive and lots more in a ten week course.  You can get more details here on page 43.  To sign up go to MyPLT (if you need help go to page 76) and put either the title or just a few words from the title or even e-mail me and I can add you to the class.  The deadline for signing up is this coming Monday (Labor Day).

The class will be on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7ish at Woodson.  It is free to FCPS employees, but if you live in the areas and are not in FCPS you can take it, but you have to pay for it (page 9).  The class fills up quickly in the fall, so if you are interested I would sign up sooner rather than later.  If you have questions, please e-mail me at 

VoiceTread, Blackboard Blogs & Discussion Boards

I was part of a group this summer that is came 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 (and above) is VoiceThread's how to page with lots of written how to sheets complete with pictures to guide you through the process.  On top is a VoiceThread on pictures from the Great Depression.

Here is our outline sheet along with multiple links to different VoiceThread items.  We also have how to create a Blackboard Blog and Discussion Board as those are other ways to use student collaboration in the classroom. 

Background on the "I have a dream" Speech

If you read this, apparently MLK, Jr. did not usually write more than a few notes for any speech, but stayed up until 4 am to write draft after draft of his "March on DC" speech.  Also while he had used "I have a dream" before in Detroit (above) it was not included in the final version of his DC speech, meaning he add libbed it.  Stories like this are why I still love teaching history. 

Neil Armstrong Video

Okay so the song is nothing your students will be singing in the halls, but the footage of Neil Armstrong (one year after his death) is very very good.  Thanks to a Google+ post from Richard Byrne for the video. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Using Google Drive in Your Classroom

One of my former teacher-students, Amanda Lombardi has been proving for a long time that special education students are great for using technology in the classroom (and this year I am going to prove that with ESOL kids).  Tomorrow she is doing an in-service for our county on using Google Drive documents and PowerPoints (Google calls them Presentations).

Here is Amanda's e-sheet on creating a document and here is one on sharing documents.  Here is how you create a Google Drive Presentation (PowerPoint).

The video above gives you an overview of the different things you can do in Google Drive and this video tells you how to have your students turn in assignments and grade them and this one tells you how to link it to Blackboard. 

How to Use Prezis

Jason van Cassell is doing an in-service for social studies teachers tomorrow on how to use Prezi.  Prezis are a cool alternative to PowerPoints.  I like them best as they force the creator to think about a more enticing PowerPoint that can add items such as video, documents, pdfs, pictures and do some interesting maneuvers. Above is a short introductory tutorial and here are others to do more advanced things such as importing from a PowerPoint and creating a Prezi collaboratively.

Here is Jason's how-to e-sheet on creating a Prezi.  Here is one on how to upload a PowerPoint into it and finally here is how to register for a Prezi. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Quizlet and PollEveryWhere

Kim Belknap is doing a presentation for our social studies in-service later this week on PollEverywhere which allows the teacher to quiz students using a phone (doesn't have to be a smartphone) or a laptop.  Above is how you do it.  Kim has also created a how-to sheet here.

Another way to quiz students is using Quizlet which lets students create flashcards for smartphones or laptops or you can use the many ones others have created.  Just search for your topic and your type of test.

Quizlet for Teachers from Quizlet on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What and How to Do a Webquest

Sarah Olson does a great job of integrating technology into the classroom and is doing a presentation on how to a webquest with your class at our county's August in-service.  Webquests are a great way to have the students learn the information in a hands-on approach and very much go with flipped learning.

Sarah took my class a few years ago. During the class one of the things teachers will develop is a webquest. If you are interested go to page 43 and sign-up starting August 19th at 4 pm.  The class will be Thursdays at Woodson from 430 to 730 pm starting 19th. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fakebook and FakeTweet

If you follow this blog, you know I like Fakebook and FakeTweet which allows students to create facsimiles of Facebook and Twitter without having to create a login/password.  Above is a video on how to create a Fakebook page.

On our county in-service next week Karen Kratz and Katherine Lorio is going to teach a class on how to create both items.

Here is a written tutorial that she created for teachers and here is the assignment she wrote up for her students.  Finally here is what she gives her students to explain how to create a Fakebook post.

For FakeTweet, Katherine and Karen have created this document to explain how to use it.
Below is a Matt Levi video on how to create a FakeTweet.  Here is what she gives her students to help create the FakeTweet account and here is her example.

The March on Washington

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and MLK's "I have a dream" speech (with scenes of marching).  Above is a short (4:31) interesting 60 minutes interview with MLK where is discusses why he favors peaceful demonstrations.

John Hiltz sent me the video below of people marching on DC in August 1963 (two months before I was born!).  Here are some personal recollections you could use with your students.

For those of you who like old "clippings," here is the NYTimes from August 29th and here is the WashPost. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Online US History e-Textbook

Years ago I worked with a group that was trying to get interactive textbooks up and free online.  We managed to get the textbook up, but not the funding.  But, for those of you who want to share a great e-textbook with your students, here is our US history textbook.  I have my students use it as another resource, esp when their main one goes down a couple of times a year. 

Twitter for Your PLN

During our first week of school  (not until next week) I am doing a presentation about Professional Learning Networks to other teachers in my county.  I am going to focus on Twitter.  So to start off on top above is how to set up a Twitter account and below that is a great video on how to use Twitter (no, it has nothing to do about getting married).  I would suggest your watching it as it tells you how to do everything you'd want to do in Twitter such as set sending Tweets, direct messaging someone, following lists, getting help and on and on.  If you prefer seeing it all written out, here is a great set of written instructions and below is a summary of them:

To see everyone you are following (and your own Tweets), hit the “Home” button.  If you want to see your own Tweet, tap on the “Me” link.  If you want to see if people are enjoying and passing on your Tweets, go to “@Connect.”  If you hit “#Discover,” an algorithm will promptly deliver you some people on Twitter to follow.  When you are in the “Home” tab, just below your picture it says “Compose new Tweet.”  

Secondly we are going to look at lists of educators to follow.
Ken Halla @kenhalla
Cool Cat Teacher @letytijerina
We Are Teachers @WeAreTeacher
Larry Ferlazzo @LarryFerlazzo
Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal
Richard Byrna @rmbryne
Shelly Terrell @ShellTerrell

Next we are going to look at how to set up a hashtag and how to use it in class.  As you might remember from my posts, my students have Tweeted the election returns, State of the Union, presidential debates and reviewed for the exams using hashtags.  Below is a list of hashtags you might want to follow.  Some other useful ones are #SSChat (social studies), #HistoryTeacher and #GeographyTeacher.  To find a hashtag, type in the # symbol plus the name in the search engine in Twitter and the conversation will appear.  If you want to be really blown away go here for the 300 most popular hashtags for educators.
Educational Chats: #edchat, #schools, #lrnchat, #TT (Teacher Tuesday), #GlobalEd
Technology Chats: #edtech, #elearning, #mlearning (mobile learning), #edapps, #gbl (games based learning), #islide2learn (iDevices & learning), #vitalcpt (effective use of tech in the classoom)

If you want to both follow a hashtag and Tweet at the same time, I'd suggest you use TweetChat.  Below is a video on how to use it.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key to Success? Grit

IQ does not define success. Grit does, as Angela Lee Duckworth so eloquently explains in this short clip.

Take My Technology Integration Course

I will be teaching the fifth version of my technology integration course with Fairfax County Public Schools this fall.  We will learn about such items as webquests, pacing your students individually using technology, flipping the classroom, using electronic textbooks, collaborating online and lots more in a ten week course.  You can get more details here on page 43.  To sign up go to MyPLT (if you need help go to page 76) and put either the title or just a few words from the title or even e-mail me and I can add you to the class.

The class will be on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7ish at Woodson.  It is free to FCPS employees, but if you live in the areas and are not in FCPS you can take it, but you have to pay for it (page 9).  The class fills up quickly in the fall, so if you are interested I would sign up sooner rather than later.  If you have questions, please e-mail me at 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

History Channel Videos

The History Channel has an excellent look at "this day in history." There is a search engine so you can see the ton of short films.   Basically if you want about a 30-60 second film on a subject in US history, you will have lots of fun.  For example above, in the second part, is 30 seconds of pictures of Wounded Knee. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Remind 101

When I speak to groups Remind101 is one of the items that gets the best reception.  It allows teachers to text willing (they have to sign up themselves) students and parents to receive homework reminders.  I usually set it so that students receive it around 6 pm when I know they are home.  I also suggest that students use a name such as "K Halla" and that parents go by "Mr. Halla."

Above is a video made by Matt Levi who took my teacher class on integrating technology two years ago.  If you work in FCPS schools you can sign up for it too.  Look for "Enhancing the Social Studies Class with Technology" in the Academy listing.

Next week Matt will be giving a presentation to other teachers using the PowerPoint below. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

40 Way to use Google Apps

Great presentation on ways to use Google apps. Saw it here on edgalaxy who writes that it was created by Becky Evans. There are some great ideas even for those of us who know a lot about Google.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Regents' Test Prep

If you ever want some great test questions, go the US page for the NY Regents exam and you will see two tests released (we have only managed to release two in VA in a decade) every year for over a decade.  If you want a test prep for your students that goes with the questions, go here. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Short Flipping Tutorial

At the end of the month, George Coe and I are co-presenting on flipping the classroom.

Below is the PowerPoint we will be using.  The hardest thing to do is to cut what you want to lecture to ten or fewer minutes.   To create the lecture watch the video above and then either use some PowerPoint slides or line up some slides, pictures, and slides on different tabs on your Internet page and then start your video.  Once the kids have watch the video, you will want them to be able to ask questions.  They can do it via Google Drive forms which you can learn by going here.  Then during class you will need to come up with an activity that is on the higher end of Bloom's taxonomy where the students can get help from each other and/or you.

Finally here is an example of a flipped video, the actual Google form we used and the interactive assignment that followed in class

Slave Voyages' Site

All of us mention the Triangle of Trade, but this site goes beyond that with names of slave ships, numbers that came with each vessel, as well as timelines, maps and more.  It will help make the kids see how brutal and how many people were involved in the slave trade in the US. 

Keith "Hip" Hughes Flipping Videos

We discuss flipping a lot on this discussion on this blog on newer ways to teach including flipping the classroom.  If you want a huge archive (221) of short history videos, go to Keith's YouTube page

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

40 Maps That Explain the World

These are two of the 40 maps that Max Fisher of the Washington Post compiled to help explain the world. Some of the other maps include: A political map of the world, circa 200 A.D., The countries where people are the most and least emotional, Who loves and hates America, or Languages and dialects of the Middle East and Central Asia, to name just a few of these entertaining maps. The map of Africa above shows a missionary's view of Africa in 1908 and the lower map shows the reach of North Korea's missiles. Thanks to Kay Connors for tweeting the link.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Historical Thinking Matters

The James Madison University Center for History and New Media has a great site called "Historical Thinking Matters."  The site includes an interesting video about why historical thinking matters. The video opens in a separate window and uses flash player.  It debunks the notion that history is a bunch of facts and names. The site also includes inquiry assignments dealing with several topics in American history like the Scopes trial, the Spanish American War, social security and Rosa Parks.

The video is interesting in itself for those of us teaching world history.

Remind101 for Homework

I have been using Remind101 since its conception two+ years ago to text my students their homework assignments.  What I have learned is that kids do not do their homework mostly because they forget, not because they don't want to.  Remind101 is not only a new sponsor of this blog, but it is incredibly simple.  If my students (and most do by the second week of school) decide to sign up then I tell them to use their first initial and last name and ask the parents (and lots of them sign up as well) to use Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr so I can tell whether it is a student or parent.  The only pitfall is that if I forget to text students a lot of them forget their work the next day.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Welcome to the Teacher Blogs

Welcome to the US History Teachers' blog.  It and the World History Teachers' and US Government Teachers' blogs have been around for 5-1/2 years now and have 4200 posts between them and 65,000+ pageviews a month.  If you are new to the site know that 2/3rds of the posts have been content which you can find by going to the search engine in the upper right and putting in a topic.  The rest are posts on how to use technology in the classroom.  If you have sites that you think we should know about, please contact me at 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Flipped US History Videos

Here are a number of flipped modern and early US history videos by Scott Muller.  Thanks to Kat Stankiewicz for finding them.   Above is one of his on Jamestown. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Differentiating Your Classroom

For the last few days I have been working with a colleague (Jessica McHie) on coming up with ways to differentiate in the classroom.  Here is the e-sheet that we developed complete with lots of links.  I plan on starting the year with asking my department to test our students on reading level and learning type.  The students will then put their responses in a Google Form so we can look at it during the school year to evaluate the best type of learning for the students.  All of that is on the e-sheet and if you wanted to present it to a group, you could use the PowerPoint above. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NEA Article on Using Smartphones in my Classes

The blogs made the National Education Association's site today.  Specifically I was asked about my use of smartphones in the classroom.  If you want some ideas (beyond what I have here on the blogs which you can find by using the search tool), please go to the article. My principal is actually doing a great thing this year as all students can use their phones anywhere in the building except in the classroom where they have to get permission (and yes my kids have them out all the time). 

Bloom's Taxonomy According to the Pirates of the Caribbean

Granted these ancillaries are for the old Bloom's, but they still can work if you are trying to explain the levels and want other educators to understand.  Above is Bloom's according to the Pirates of the Caribbean.  Here it is according to Seinfeld and if you are my age, here it is according to the Andy Griffith show

WeVideo Tutorials

If you follow this blog on a regular basis you know that I am a fan of WeVideo as it is a cloud based collaborative video making site.  Think of the problems you encounter when you have your students make a video on Microsoft's Movie Maker or even when your students make one on their Apple computer's iMovie since they can't work with others at the same time and have to be in the same location.  Well WeVideo eliminates that problem so you can do it on any Internet device (Android app, iTunes app).  What I really like is that they now have a YouTube site that has all of their tutorials in one place.   Lastly WeVideo can be an app used with Google Drive so all your videos can be stored and shared from that account. 

Great Site for Books

Before I buy a book, I look at the best seller lists, the reviews from NYTimes & WashPost and look for additional reviews.   I also read the first chapter which I have sent to my Kindle and then if I like it, I purchase it.  But there are three other sites that you might be interested in looking at (and I would love to hear about yours in a comment) that I have added to my list in the last year:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Great Resources: Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum has some great instructional resources on the main historical events from World War I through the Cold War. Simply click on "Events and Themes" and type in a key word like "Cold War" and a series of downloadable PDFs appear. Some of the results for the Cold War include source packs and instructional activities. Here's a link to one called "A Mad World, Why did civilians live in fear during the Cold War?  My thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, who continually sends me great links.

The museum also has a series of 32 podcasts about World War I. They are part of the museum's exhibit on the centenary of World War I. 

Most Hit Posts from July

Thanks to all of you who keep coming during the summer months.  It is ironic that my summer vacation still has three weeks to go and most of you are heading back shortly.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Adapting Primary Sources from Beyond the Bubble

Here are some great tips on how to use primary sources with struggling readers from Beyond the Bubble, which is part of the Stanford History Education Group(SHEG). Although the example they use here is with a document from American history, the tips work for any discipline. Some of the tips include changing tough vocabulary and increasing font size.

How to Flip from Keith Hughes

Last week I asked Keith Hughes if he would consider coming up with a video of how to flip from the definitions to how to to create his own videos.  What he came up with in just three days is great.  Thanks Keith and I might add this is why you should have a PLN so you can work with teachers from other schools to improve your classroom. 


Yesterday I took part in a webinar with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. One of the panelists was Jeff Scheur who taught for eight years before creating NoRedInk which lets students play games to improve their grammar and writing.  If you (or English teachers in your school) are so moved, you can also use the site to tailor games for your students.  It begins by asking 10 questions about each student (teachers can get a code so no student has to sign up) and then games are tailored to these interests.