Thursday, November 16, 2017

Globalization: Boeing as a Example--PBS Newshour

Teaching Globalization?

Here's an excellent clip from the PBS Newshour which shows how Boeing depends on the global market place to build its planes. (scroll to about 1:57 to start)

Boeing shows PBS economics reporter, Paul Solmon, a big table map with different parts of a Boeing plane from markets all over the world.

For example, the fuselage comes from Japan, the rudder from China,  and the wheels come from Britain.

The advantage of so much outsourcing, according to IMF chief economist, Simon Johnson, is that those suppliers  are likely to buy the completed plane.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The French Revolution: Madonna & More

Here are three short entertaining clips about the French Revolution and Napoleon. 

The first reviews Napoleon's life in a three minute cartoon. Madonna sings about many of the events of the  French Revolution in the second clip, and the history channel reviews the effectiveness of the guillotine int he third clip.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Teaching Context and Synthesis

Teaching context or synthesis? Here's a short documentary on the impact of the Columbian Exchange that does a great job with both. 

I showed about 20 minutes of “When World’s Collide: the Columbian Exchange” and was able to point out to students a definition of context and synthesis, and  even a way to write a CCOT thesis.

After talking about contact in the New World, the host goes back to Spain and to Ferdinand and Isabella. He then provides context for Spain on the eve of exploration reminding us of wars of religion and the Catholic conviction of Ferdinand and Isabella. He then ties this context back to exploration saying that their religious conviction will have an impact on exploration and the New World.

We examined synthesis twice. First, the host notes that many indigenous Americans held on to some indigenous beliefs despite conversion to Catholicism. Where did this kind of thing happen in another part of the world? How about Islam moving into Africa?

Later in the video, the host describes the impact of the Potosi silver mines on Spain. We related the inflation on Spain to the inflation on Egypt when Mansa Musa made his pilgrimage centuries earlier.

Finally, the host notes that despite many changes with contact, some continuities in indigenous culture continued. I stopped the clip and reminded the kids that he just made a perfect CCOT thesis and asked them too look for evidence.

When Worlds Collide on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Foot Binding: Great Essay from Atlantic Magazine

Want to know more about foot-binding which began in China in the 10th century during the Tang Dynasty?

The Atlantic Magazine has a terrific essay about the origin and impact of foot binding.

Did you know, for example,  that it started when an emperor's concubine bound her feet for a dance. The practice spread as other women wanted to imitate her in order to gain the emperors favor.

And did you know that practice continued well into the 20th century. Pearl Buck wrote about it her best-selling book, "The Good Earth.
AGerbil - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Story of the Buddha: British Museum

The British Museum has an excellent site about the Buddha.

You can read the story of the Buddha based on the museum's stone reliefs.

You can also explore The Great Stupa at Amaravati and play a game matching Buddhist symbols but you will need adobe shockwave to play.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Footbinding 101

Here's an excellent clip about Chinese foot binding that I found on EdPuzzle. It's just over two minutes.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Congress of Vienna: BBC Podcast

Here's an interesting podcast about the Congress of Vienna from BBC Radio. How did the great powers come to Vienna?  How did they decide in it? What were the turning points.

Greece & Rome: Two Awesome Video Reviews

Here are two terrific video reviews of Greece and Rome. 

The Greece review runs 18 minutes and the Rome review runs just over 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Zheng He Voyages

Studying the Ming Dynasty?  Here's a nine minute clip from Engineering an Empire about the treasure fleet of Admiral Zheng He along with a longer documentary.

Asia for Educators also has good resources for Zheng He. They have a section that outlines the Admiral's seven voyages. I copied that section and printed it out for students and gave them an outline map of Afro Eurasia and had students trace the routes.

Finally here's an excellent colorful map from National Geographic showing the voyages.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

What Makes the Great Wall so Great? TedEd clip

Here is a terrific TedEd video that reviews the history of the Great Wall and explains what makes it so great. You can view the TedEd lesson here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Egyptian Scribes: Two Great Clips

What place in  ancient Egyptian society did scribes hold?  How did they come to write on papyrus and how did they do it?

Foy Scalf, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago,  answers all these questions in this short three minute clip.
And here is another look at ancient Egyptian scribes from Smart History, which is now part of Khan Academy. Hosts Beth Harris and Steven Zucker examine a seated scribe made of painted limestone and crystal.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

PBL: 5 Keys to Success

Here is a great introduction to PBL from Edutopia.

The video reviews five key elements you need to be successful: establish real world connections, build rigorous projects,  structure collaboration, facilitate learning in a student-driven environment, and embed assessment throughout the project.

Edutopia has a short clip for each of the five elements.

Teach Content Vocabulary With Football!

Luke Rosa, a social studies teacher in Virginia, developed an interesting way to teach vocabulary. Below, he explains how he does it.
Courtesy of Luka Rosa

Student Teams

Here’s how it works.

I place students on teams of 4 (3 or 5 also works depending on your class load), and create a schedule. There are some great simple free schedule-makers online, including Playpass and League Lobster.

Students are given sets of 10-15 vocabulary words each week. I print them out in sets of 6 to a page that I cut up in strips and have students paste in their notebooks (see the example photo to the left).

We’ll then cover those terms in our lessons that week and students are responsible for defining the words in their notebooks. They can ether get the definitions from our lesson, look them up in a textbook, or find them online.
Game Day!

Game Day

Monday is game day! To make it exciting, I’ll have the Monday Night Football or Fox Sports theme playing as they’re walking in. Students take a vocabulary quiz based on those words from the previous week.

My quizzes are very short — just 10 questions and designed to only take the first 15 minutes or so of class. I make the answer sheet very easy to grade. I start grading them as soon as the first student hands it in. The answer sheet allows me to grade them quickly, so I can and usually have most graded before the last student even finishes!


Each student’s score goes towards their grade, but they also get combined to make their team’s score.

So, if the 4 students on the Giants combine for a 32 and they’re playing the Panthers who scored a combined 31, then the Giants win! So simple, but so much fun! I knew I had caught on to something when students began to tell their teammates, “You better do all your vocabulary this week. I don’t want to lose!” They get so competitive!

These are vocabulary quizzes and my students actually looked forward to them! Students would pop back in the next period to see if they won and check the updated standings I had on our bulletin board.


Each year, I make a few changes and find ways to differentiate based on my class levels. For my team-taught inclusion classes, students can take the quiz using their notebook page with the definitions (if they did them that week). I found this is a great motivational tool. When a student who didn’t complete his vocabulary that week opens to a blank notebook page, his teammates will let him have it. It also encouraged more critical thinking on answers than just memorization of terms. For my on-level classes, I will often project a word bank, but don’t allow them to use their notebooks. My honors classes might not get the help of either.

The Super Bowl 

You can have your “season” last as long as you like. I usually go about 12 weeks then move on to the playoffs and culminate with a Super Bowl. The playoffs have teams playing against teams in other classes, which gets a lot of of fun. Teams that lose still take the quizzes, but they’ll just count towards their individual grades. I’ll get a prize for the winning team like Chipotle gift cards or pizza after school.

This VFL strategy has been a huge success for my classes and I am sure it will be for yours as well!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What is Historical Thinking

Here is a terrific clip form on the elements of historical thinking.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Breaking News Generator

History teacher Russel Tarr designed an awesome "Breaking News Generator."

Students can use it to create a profile  of an important figure in history. They will have to think about the person's location, develop a title for the news channel, a headline and a ticker which summarizes an understanding the figure.  Finally, students upload an image.

Here's a sample I designed.

Other uses: Tarr suggests that students could produce a timeline of events and then provide a screenshot for the major events.

Students could also produce breaking news screenshots with a biased tone.