Sunday, April 26, 2015

Korean War

Here's good short (less than 4 minutes) review of the Korean War.

And here, from the Boston Globe, are some great images from that war on the occasion of it its 60th anniversary in 2010.

The PBS Newshour recently looked at the Armenian genocide. The first clip above explains the history of the Armenian genocide which occurred in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire was disintegrating.
In the second clip, historians explain what led to the genocide and why Turkey refuses to call the Armenian deaths a genocide.

Snow Day Reprise

In ten years of being a chair, tomorrow will be the second day I have missed a county wide meeting (so I can work with my AP Comp kids to better prepare for the AP exam).  I was going to present on how to teach students on a snow day.  But using my favorite technique, I can flip the presentation using the video above.  The video explains how you can use Blackboard Collaborate which is something we have in Fairfax County.  But there are other alternatives as you can see below.
  1. You could Google Plus Hangout live stream where you could send a link to your students and they could watch a live lecture (here's how).    You could then use Today's Meet to send a link to students and you could see their live questions.   You would be able to do this by splitting your screen
  2. If the day is cancelled tomorrow we will spend much of the period answering questions on review problem sets and then I will assign a few more so that we can have our quiz on Wed and our test on Friday without missing a beat.  
  3. But you don't always have to meet your students.  For example last year  I decided not to have an online session and instead made the video above as both an introduction and a continuation of our material.  Then my government kids watched this video to look up these court cases.  
  4. I communicate with the kids by using Remind, Blackboard and even using my grade book which has all of the kids' emails.  For the Remind message I used a shortened tinyurl ( which linked to my normal homework e-sheet. so I didn't have to text the kids multiple times with the assignments.  
  5. So if you have a motivated bunch and you can't afford to miss a day of school you might want to try some of the techniques. 
The bottom line is that we had 12 snow days in my county and a number more late starts and my kids still got in all their work and are where we should have been should we not have missed school.

I should point out that this is one of the many techniques I go over in my book Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud To Individualize Instruction.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to Study for a Test

When I was growing up I was expected to "always do my best."  I translated this to studying for my midterm exams several weeks in advance over the winter break, always doing it two or three times prior to a normal exam and even arguing post test for every single point.  Thus when I started teaching I assumed my students would make their own study guides, and truly study.  But alas I have learned over the years that studying, for more than not means,

  • doing nothing at all and hoping for the best
  • reading one's notes and
  • for only a precious few, actually doing what my daughters are doing right now by quizzing each and helping each other make sure they have actually learned the material.
Two days ago I met a student in an AP US class who said she suffered from test anxiety.  She admitted that she never did more than review her notes to which I asked if she wasn't fulfilling her prophesy in that she was taking the easy way out by reading, but not studying and then blaming her low scores on the imagined anxiety.  I asked her if she had every varied her approach to prepare and the answer was, "Well sometimes I don't study."

This year I have made a conscious effort to discuss what is meant by studying - even modeling it repeatedly with my non AP classes.  But here is a list of 22 different ideas to think and perhaps even share some of them with your students such as
  • quizzing one's self (I love Quizlet)
  • studying for multiple days
  • studying in different parts of the house
  • using different memory devices such as songs and story telling
  • writing it out
  • taking breaks and more
The video above echoes many of the points above, but also how to reduce anxiety in a test.  

Vietnam War Simplified

Here's a great short clip about the causes of the Vietnam War from GoughUSHistory

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pope Calls Armenian Deaths Genocide

Was the killing of close to 2 million Armenians by Turks in 1915 genocide? That's what the Pope called it today. Turkey immediately withdrew its ambassador to the Vatican saying that the evidence for genocide is controversial. The Al Jazeera clip above reviews the story.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Win a Copy of My Book

So I want to give one of you a free book.  The person who can find me the best review (for US/world history, US/comparative government or economics) will get a free copy of my book.  The catch is that the resource has to be online and more sites are better than one.  My book, Deeper Learning Through Technology, is all about the personalization of your teaching so that each of your students can have more one on one time with you - the teacher.  It also looks at how you can find a professional learning community online so you can go beyond your classroom as well as using many online tools and how to flip your classroom.    Send me a note at

Saturday, April 11, 2015

AP World Test Prep

This comes from George Coe who teaches AP World.  Here are some review pages for AP World History. Some are teacher pages with unit notes, others are notes based on some of the AP World textbooks like Stearns. One of links is a nice PowerPoint reviewing the DBQ. Another good link is a quizlet with almost 1400 terms.
  1. AP World Flashcards on Quizlet
  2. Ms. Burnett's AP World History page with notes on each chapter of Stearn's AP World textbook. 
  3. Another nice page with notes from each era of history. Another great site with notes grouped by the five units in AP World 
  4. Essay Writer's Handbook from McGraw Hill. This is supposed to be very good.
  5. Slideshare on how to nail the DBQ

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

9 Yr Old on High Stakes Tests

Here's the best plea for ending high stakes testing I've heard! You can read the transcript here in the Washington Post. 

My Newspaper Editorial

I have been seeing a lot of negative editorials recently on technology use in the classroom and, not being a shy person, I wrote one and with the help of the Smarter Schools Project it was published today in the Richmond Times Dispatch.  As with many states, Virginia (where I live) has been grappling, in our legislature (as has our Congress), to protect students, often at the cost of using technology.  While it is a fine balance, my thoughts are printed here in full.  About the only thing missing is that I wish a start-up would develop to vet our burgeoning ed tech needs.   

Friday, April 3, 2015

Shia Sunni Split

My students learn about the five major religions and one item that they seem to have issues with is the Sunni-Shia split.  Well I found the interesting short video to help us out to go along with the lesson we have on Islam.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Causes of US Entering WWI Lesson Plan

I am engrossed in Erik Laroson's new book Dead Wake which looks at the last voyage of the Lusitania including the view from U20, which sunk it as well as the decoders who knew that there was a great possibility that the Lusitania was going to be sunk.  In one very vivid scene, Larson describes the Lusitania leaving port which you can see above.  I think showing a brief part of this video brings the sinking alive to your students as does showing the Zimmerman Telegraph (here is a lesson plan developed around it).