Thursday, December 17, 2009

Teaching A People's History is a wonderful site that a History or English teacher could use to enhance their lesson plans on a given topic.  Teaching A People's History has detailed lesson plans in PDF format for a wide range of topics and time periods that will push students of all abilities to critically analyze a given topic deeper and in meaningful ways that are not always apparent.  One unit I looked at was on the Potato Famine that decimated Ireland.  After presenting the facts and extended reading, it asked students to start to think about what were some of the problems that led to such a preventable disaster.  At the end of the unit it laid blame not just on the English landlords but the farmers as well as the church.  If you would like to learn more about the Howard Zinn Project of Teaching A People's History, please read the Frequently Asked Questions.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Skype An Author

Skype an author is a terrific site for classroom teachers, mainly at the elementary and middle school level, where teachers and students can do a video-conference interview session with the author. The first 15 to 20 minutes are usually free as it is a meet and greet session with the author, but longer sessions can be arranaged for a fee, usually for an hour interview is around $100 to 300 dollars and some are willing to work with Title One schools for a discount. They have a list of authors that you can search and see what they are willing to do. This may well be worth the price for a classroom teacher to bring an author alive to their students that without Skype or other technology could not be done 5 years ago.

If you have never used Skype it is a wonderful technology that allows people to communicate using voice, chat, or webcams (video-conference). Other technology can also do similar things, but Skype seems to be the most popular.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wavy Graffiti

Graffiti Generator is a neat little online app that anyone can make their own graffiti. You have 7 different fonts to work with on making your logos. There is no embed ability that I discovered so you will have to take a screen shot and upload your photos to your website and embed them that way. Who has not wanted to be their own artist with such neat flair. Below is a sample of what I may use to spice up the banner across the top of my blog.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Choices Program

The Choices Program was shown to me by a social studies teacher I work with here in Fairbanks and found it to be a very useful website for teachers teaching current events. They have detailed lesson plans that include extended reading, video segment links, and additional websites for even more resources. They add about one new topic a month and have topics that focus on US and World Events. They also have other lesson plans that you can pay for if you want the complete lesson plan for a given topic, but they do give you a wealth of information without purchasing anything.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordle - I have a dream

Wordle has gotten a lot of press over the past year, but like any new tech tool it takes the brain a few laps around the pool to figure out how to use the tool. So after playing with and reading how other teachers have been using this interesting tool in their instruction, I thought wouldn't it be great to see how some watershed moments of history look like in Wordle. So I choose to use the speech, "I Have A Dream" by Dr. King as my example. This and many more speeches are all can be found at a website called American Rhetoric It would be interesting to have kids think about what key words they found important and then compare it to what Wordle generated. If there are differences then discuss what they are and place in context some of the words that really pop out in the Wordle.

I picked up one trick that I found very useful, was to use ~ to combine words. If you notice the phrase "I Have a Dream" is together so to use this trick you would need to turn it into "I~Have~a~Dream" anywhere in the text that you choose to use. It does take a little more time, but for phrases that should be together it makes for a more powerful Wordle.

Wordle: I have a dream