Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Chilling History of How Hollywood Helped Hitler

A controversial new book suggests that Hollywood courted Nazi Germany in an effort to retain its business.  It let Nazis censor scripts, took away film credits from Jews, and, according to this excerpt in the Hollywood Reporter forced one MGM executive to divorce his Jewish spouse.  Why?  According to the book's author, Harvard post doctoral candidate, Ben Urwand, Hollywood acquiesced to Nazi demands in order to retain its business.

This is an interesting story with links to movies that the Nazis loved and hated.  Here's an interview with the writer.  M thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link.

Interactive National Geographic Maps

Tomorrow my students are looking at their connections to the world starting with the clothes on their backs.  To that end I have been trolling the Internet for something that is interactive to show them.  But in doing so I found this amazing world map which at the touch of a navigation button lets you see topographical, seas, satellite, National Geographic's map for a total of eight levels.  But you can also get a tool to measure distances (across continents if you want) and draw with a pen or market all over the map.  Once you are done with the map you can then download it.  You can also mover your cursor anywhere and the longitude and latitude will pop up.  In the lower part of the map, you can also see the entire world and the subset of what you are working on.  You can also send someone a link of exactly what area of the map you are looking at, but I haven't figured out if you can save your work to that link.  Here is the interactive site.  If you figure out how to save your drawings on the map and have it on a url, please add it as a comment to this post.

So in the fall I may have my students use this to understand longitude and latitude as well as different types of maps. 

Today's Meet for Large Class Discussions

Today's meet is a great resource if you are having a presentation in a larger group as it lets people type in a question which you can instantly see and respond to when appropriate.  It also might be good to use it if you have a combined course and want students to get their questions out in a timely fashion. 

Stephen Colbert, MOOCS, and the Head of Edex

Saw this entertaining clip on Open Culture

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Media Relations Webinar

Tomorrow (Wed) from 3-4 pm EST the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is hosting a webinar on how to work with the media to get press for your school.  I am first up and 3pm sharp followed by  Dan Brown who is finishing up as a fellow with the Dept of Education, Brian Crosby a long time teacher and author and Jeff Scheur who started NoRedInk which helps students with writing.  Here is the url to go to if you want to listen.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Flipped Learning Network

For those of you who are flipping their classes a great resource is the Flipped Learning Network which has over 5000 teachers signed up to discuss items, links to tons of groups of teachers such as math, social studies, forums, videos, and a lot more.  Above is a short video tour of the site. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Here is something interesting which you might find some use for in the classroom.  If you go to WikiSummarizer, you can type in anything and get a summary, longer version and then a number of subsets of the subject that you can click on to get more information.  It might be useful to use the summary at the top of an assignment to give your students a quick overview before they go learn more information. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion

Can propaganda be considered great art, or is it by its very nature inferior?  Nazi Germany did a lot to promote the idea that it is inferior. "As minister of propaganda in Adolf Hitler’s government," notes Alastair Sooke writing for BBC Culture, "Goebbels did more than most to make that aftertaste as bitter as arsenic."

Sooke thinks propaganda may be getting a bad rap. He notes that much of the ancient art around today is a form of propaganda. He cites several examples including Trajan's column, the Parthenon Marbles, and the solid-gold mask of Tutankhamun.

How different are these examples of propaganda from the modern art commissioned by the US government during the Cold War?  The State Department bought paintings from artists like Ben Shahn and Georgia O’Keeffe. "Art is rarely the unadulterated expression of an individual genius such as Picasso: usually it is ensnared within the agendas and demands of others, such as patrons who are also political rulers. In my heart I know that good art is a vehicle for self-expression. But my head tells me that art and propaganda do not have to make uneasy bedfellows."

You can see a great slide-show of propaganda like the example above and a link to the British Library’s exhibition "Propaganda: Power and Persuasion."  And here is an excellent teacher site (Bill Chapman) on propaganda with great links.  Thanks to F.C. Tymrak for tweeting the link.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rare Footage of Helen Keller Speaking

When my mother was young she had the privilege of meeting Helen Keller and now via my high school music teacher Chris Chater who just retired about 45 years of teaching (and re-connected with me because of our love of tech ed), I found the video above.  It is fascinating as Sullivan actually goes through how Keller learned to speak and at the end of the video you see Keller doing just that. 

Signing into Multiple Google Accounts in the Same Browser

So I know I am late to do this, but for the few of you who also haven't figured it out, if you click on your name when you are in Google Drive, a new browser will appear and you simply add the "Add account" and a new tab will open up where you can then sign in and toggle between the two tabs.  Of course if you want them side by side you could just grab one of the tabs and pull it away thereby opening a new browser and then you could show them side by side

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chart: The 7,000 Streams that Become the Mississippi River

Trace any US stream from its source to its watershed using a new online tool from the Department of the Interior. The online magazine, Slate, posted the story and link to the map. The map above  shows all the major tributaries that feed into the Mississippi River. The online tool allows you zoom in on any major river (using the shift key and your mouse), and follow it.  It also allows you to identify longitude and latitude at any point along the river. You can trace upstream or down stream and you can even print maps.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy was first utilized back in 1956 and more recently updated in 2000.  We have been using it every day this past week (and next) as my peers and I develop assessment questions for my county.  But when you develop your lesson plans, you might want to use this digital wheel which allows you to click on the different parts to give you suggestions and visuals to consider when getting ready for your students.

If you want a poster of the wheel, here are several alternatives.

If you want to see how to integrate technology, then here is a great set of technology wheels. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Great US History Site: Go Social Studies Go

Awesome US History Site, organized by unit, from colonial America to the Cold War. Thanks to Ed Casey who tweeted the link.  Check it out and save it.  You'll see sub units with short histories, good maps.and even short video clips.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Texas Released Tests

In the past I have mentioned the Regents exams for released test questions in case you are looking for new ones.  But Texas also has three released exams for US and world history which you can find here

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Citations Made Easy

I will probably be referring to this a few times several weeks ago I signed a contract with Corwin Books to write a book (paper and digital will be available).  After three months draft #1 is almost done (yeah!).  But one tool that has been immensely helpful to me has been Easybib to create citations on the fly for me.  Even when the site can write them (and sometimes it can't) you can cut and paste in the relevant parts.  You can also use the free version of Noodle Bib to do the same thing which is good if you want to keep all of your items for later (I just have been pasting them directly into my chapters).  Either way it certainly makes it easy to do citations. 

Michael Beschloss talks Tweets with Jonathan Karl

Michael Beschloss talks with Johnathan Karl about his tweeter feed--what he tweets, and why he tweets the pictures he tweets. They actually discuss some of the images he posts.  You can follow Bescholss on twitter at @BeschlossDC

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Print from I Pad and Android

Printing from your phone or I Pad is not easy, and often not possible.  You need Google Cloud Print or Airprint. Not any more!  New software for Android and IOS devices allows you to print on any printer or copier to which your computer is connected.

For your I Pad or I Phone, Presto, which you can download from Colobros software allows you to print to any printer on your network. You download the software onto your computer and then your devices automatically find  printers on your computer.  You don't have to install anything on your device, only your computer. My I Pad found my home printer and all the printers and copiers at school.   I tested it with a webpage on my I Pad.  Printing worked like a charm.   

For an Android device, you need ThinPirnt. You have to register and create an account and then ask the program to connect your printer.  You also need to install the app on your device.  I tested it with my Samsung phone.  I went to a picture on my gallery and clicked share and "Print with ThinPirnt."  It also worked like a charm.

Jacqueline Kennedy: On her Husband's Nomination for President

Michael Beschloss tweeted this early NBC News interview of Jackie Kennedy on July 14, 1960, the morning after her husband, John Kennedy, won the Democratic nomination for president.  How interviews have changed!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

San Francisco High School Teens Interview Last WWI Veteran

San Francisco history teacher, Frank Mazzi, and students from his elective history course on World War 1, scored an interview they will never forget. They traveled from San Francisco to West Virginia to interview the 107 year-old WWI veteran, Frank Buckles. He is the last surviving veteran of that war. The San Francisco Chronicle has a great two-page story about the interview, which they say the Library of Congress now wants.

It's a great story and shows, as Bill Chapman notes, that teachers are amazing. My thanks to Bill for tweeting the link to the story.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I am working with a group this summer that is coming 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 is VoiceThread's how to page with lots of written how to sheets complete with pictures to guide you through the process. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Albeit, this is two years old, if you have 30 minutes this is an interesting take on prohibition as Daniel Okrent argues that prohibition was more of an entity against immigrants and African-Americans, but of whom were kept from liquor as opposed to many whites.  Okrent argues that the Ku Klux Klan actually were in favor of woman's suffrage as it thought if woman had the right to vote, they would be vote on behalf of prohibition. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The National Jukebox

Add music to your classroom with the the Library of Congress National Jukebox. Thanks to Bill Chapaman for tweeting the link.

Myths About the 4th of July

Above is a great NPR interview with Ray Raphael, author of Founding Myths, telling some of the myths of the colonial period.  Here and here are written summaries of the myths of the 4th of July.  As we all know the 2nd Continental Congress approved (voted) independence on the 2nd, but did not approve the final wording until the 4th at which point it was agreed to be sent out to the colonies.  Hence we have a written date which has won out over the actual vote.  Most people did not sign the declaration until the 8th of August (although the first person was on  August 2nd) and there were 200 copies of the document made and released before the actual signed one that is now in Washington, D.C.  Several of those copies still exist.  There is more in the articles and the interview. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

To Flip or Not to Flip

The Social Studies twitter chat (#sschat) discussed flipping the classroom this week. Keith Hughes (Hip Hughes History) moderated. I storified, some, though  not all of the tweets from the chat. The discussion gives you a good definition of flipping and how some teachers use it and even why some teachers question its value.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Civil War Maps

PBS just released a bunch of maps from the Civil War.  There is a short description, a small map of each major battle and then one you can enlarge.  While we are at it, here is a great piece on Gettysburg from today's NYTimes and here is a slide show on the battle. 

Gaming and History

This is a fantastic talk about how gaming can transform the study of history.

Mahyad Tousi, a young Iranian cinematographer and historian, argues that history is a story, that through emotion, our brain connects the narrative. Consequently, we remember facts and begin to think critically. Through gaming, we can explore historical events and turn passive students waiting for a test into engaged and active participants. His company, Boomgen, is working on a game called Ajax, about the CIA and Iran,  but Tousi thinks that his platform can work for any historical event.