Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Controversial Issues

An adult student, Frances, who sat in on a class of mine this summer sent me this link. It seems like an amazing resource. It is all about controversial issues. I found the format to be very useful. A little advanced for middle school, but there are parts that could be used. Here is the link to

Friday, April 20, 2012

Real History

As a history teacher this article really hit home. Gave me some good ideas as well. Here is a segment from the entire article:

Linking History and Current Issues

In Diana Laufenberg's 11th grade American history class, students must complete an active citizenship activity every quarter. In the first quarter of the year, students go to the polls and interview voters about why they choose to vote. In the second quarter, students attend a public meeting of the city council, the school board, or another community group of their choice. In the third quarter, students volunteer for a community service organization. And in the final quarter, students build on one of the first three activities.
These projects powerfully reinforce the work of the classroom. When students study the Voting Rights Act or discuss the American Dream, they see how historical events and modern-day issues are linked. Senior Yadi Angeles-Figueroa explained that the election-day project helped her understand how the most basic act of citizenship, voting, is tied into a much larger picture of what it means to be an American. As she interviewed voters, she connected their stories with what she had learned in class about the struggles of disenfranchised groups to get the vote.
Diana Laufenberg talks about the need to make American history relevant and powerful to students:
Democracy is not a spectator sport. To enable students to both appreciate the history they learn and apply it to their lives, they must engage in the day-to-day working of their own communities. The spiraling back and forth between their personal experiences and the lessons of history allow a connection to the past that I cannot create otherwise.
We owe it to our students to create pathways for them to meaningfully engage in the civic world while learning about their nation's history.

Full article at:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I don't know if my classroom would be considered flipped, but it is sure looking different today. My 7/8 class is 80 minutes long. We started class by talking about how people need mental breaks. This discussion centered around legit choices for students to make to give themselves a break. You can imagine how entertaining this was. This was followed by placing a to do list on the board prioritizing what was the most important. The major project is a group Voicethread that will be posted on their blogs ( I hung out for the rest of class helping as students worked. There were also a few interruptions when teachable moments popped up. Some of the best centered around students searching for legal images to use. We spent 10 minutes on how to use filters to narrow our searches. Half of us used Voicethread support to answer questions, and we figured out a few new features such as sharing work with other editors. I don't know if I could have a test show the learning that went on, but it was authentic, collaborative, and engaging. It felt like the the right thing. I am very excited to bring my growing network audience to their work very soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PLN at work in the class

We talked quite a bit today at a tech meeting about what classrooms need to look like. We hit upon a major theme that we termed audience. Everyone in our group chipped in about how we can make student work relevant by bringing an audience to them. It is no longer an audience of one (the teacher) for our students. It struck me how important it was for me to build a robust PLN to bring these audiences into the classroom. I can now see that if my network is really strong my role as a teacher will have changed. I am starting to think of myself as a conduit as much as a facilitator.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Many people ask, and for good reason, why we should have students create digital portfolios or publish their work for the public to see. Our tech educator, Bonnie Birdsall, publishes a monthly newsletter full of goodies. She recently gave a link to a blog discussing this issue. It is worth a read even if you are already convinced this is a good idea.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I have been following this guy on Twitter, Russel Tarr. He pumps out a lot of tweets about interesting tools, articles, and other items that teachers may find useful. Some of his stuff is hit or miss, but he cranks out tweets all day long. I find something everyday that is useful. One of his tweets today was about using QR codes. Here is the site to go to:
This is a good example of what he puts out.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Once again my tech educator has sent me something cool to check out. Go to for yourself to see what it is all about. It has a little something for everybody, and it gave me some quick ideas for class. You could even turn this idea into a large project. See it and enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Resource

Checking in on Twitter this evening. Saw an interesting interview with Arne Duncan on the Jon Stewart Show. Picked this interview up from a recommended site. Tech educator named Jeff Thomas has put up a page with a multitude of resources. Here is the link: JEFFTHOMAS

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lesson Plans & Twitter

My tech integrator has been pushing me to get on the ball with Twitter. Starting to dedicate a little more time these days. Slowly seeing some of the benefits. It helps to have some good professional friends who can give nice tips along the way. My friend Bonnie told me to just use the hashtag #sschat to see what was out there for Social Studies. Found this site right away. Have not explored much, but it seems like it will yield some nice stuff in the future. Edsitement

Thursday, January 19, 2012


For some reason I have become engrossed in this new bill in Congress. It is a bit complicated, but it is a major issue relating to our connected lives on the internet. Came across a man named Clay Shirky who is a professor. He has a Ted talk about this law. Worth a view I think.


We regularly have conversations at school about copyright. The current debate about the SOPA bill now in Congress highlights this issue. I related to my students that it is very similar to them following rules. When they stay within our expectations they are allowed much more freedom. When they break the rules we tend to take away their choices. I am hoping that they will see how respecting copyright laws could be to their benefit. CNN had a nice segment on their student news today. See below:


Thursday, January 12, 2012

High Stakes Testing

We seem to be in a conversation, on a regular basis, about standardized tests. I personally think that using tests as a diagnostic tool is a good idea. We regularly test our students on literary skills such as fluency and comprehension. The pendulum, however, seems to have swung far to hard in this direction. Testing should be used as a tool, not as a comprehensive evaluation of our educational system. With this in mind our tech educator sent out this link. I found the article to be work reading.
Washington Post

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

30 Day Challenge

In my PLP course we were asked to watch a TED video about challenging yourself to do something for 30 days. Sounds simple, but the video made it more concrete somehow. My first challenge is to not eat until I really feel hungry at least once during the day. Going fine on day 4. I showed it to my students to see if they could come up with 30 day challenges. Take a look at the video to see what I mean....