Saturday, April 21, 2018

My NETA 2018 Takeaways

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I was accepted by my school district to attend the annual conference for NETA. I was very happy I was able to attend this conference the past two days. I know many teachers in my district would have loved to be here so I know that it is important for me to not only reflect on my experience but also share what I've learned as way to share my OWN story. It has been a three years since I've attended the NETA Spring Conference (Here were  My NETA 2015 Takeaways). I really wish more teachers would have the opportunity to attend these types of conferences. This is one of the reason I don't request to go each year to help give room for other teachers to attend.

Friday Keynote Joe Sanfelippo (@Joe_Sanfelippo) was so powerful. A major reason I really enjoy coming to conferences like NETA is a need to be reenergized, appreciated and valued, and a challenge to do better as an educator and leader in my building. I hope that I can take his inspirational message and apply that to help strengthen the culture in my building. I am very interested in his book Hacking Leadership by Joe Sanfelippo Tony Sinais to help start a dialog in my building to strengthen the culture in my classroom, department, and building.

Cultivating culture is so important and it starts with my own mindset each morning, my interactions with my students, and my fellow staff members I work with each day at my school. 

A quote from his morning presentation:

Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered - Dr Seuss

This is one of the reasons I try to remain active on Twitter and on this Blog so I can share some of the amazing stuff my students do in my classroom.

If you need a good laugh you have to check out their Snow Day Announcement Video. This is a school that is led by a leader who is facilitating a community and culture that was inspiring to get a glimpse through his stories he shared.

A Few Things I want To Try:

I always hope to gain a few ideas from attending a conference and the biggest problem at NETA is not being overwhelmed by all that is shared.

3-D Printing
Had a chance to listen to Eric Langhorst (@ELanghorst) present on what he is doing in his school with 3-D Printing. His resources can be found at: 3D Printing in the History Classroom

There are lots of ways I could see using 3D Printing: 

- Print replicas of artifacts from places like Smithsonian 3D. Even if I don't print 3D models, students can check out some of the cool 3D models available like the Wright Flyer and their tours like the Philadelphia Gunboat they could explore on their web browser.

- Use the website Sightline Maps to create a terrain models for historic locations. I think it would be cool to create one of Gettysburg to help students see how the terrain impacted the Battle of Gettysburg.

- Students could design a memorial/monument to remember a historical figure or event. I've actually been thinking about a project for this for awhile. I have thought about having students use Google SketchUp to design their memorial. I thought I would have students research lesser known figures in history or of lesser known historical events and create a way to visually represent what they learned. Learning about Tinkercad I think it would be cool for them to actual create a 3D design that they would be able to print out as part of their display.

I have lots of things to work out with my ideas these next few weeks. I am hoping to connect with my school's Engineering and Technology Teacher who has a 3D printer in their classroom to see how I could incorporate this into some of my student project options moving forward.

Augmented Reality

A huge takeaway I got from a workshop in DC during the Summer of 2017 was the importance of place in helping us shape our historical memory. I am very captivated by the use of Google Cardboard, VR, and Augmented Reality Apps on Smart Devices. Below are some resources I am looking forward to explore. Many of these I got from Leslie Fischer (Website) who always is both highly informative and entertaining to learn from.

AR Flashcards Abraham Lincoln: App that puts a virtual Mr. Lincoln in our world. I was disappointed my phone does not support this app, but I hope to get this to work on an iPAD and do some exploring with this. Might be a great ay for students to explore Lincoln and listen to him recite the Gettysburg Address. 

Chimani National Parks: Has created apps to help enhance your experience at various National Parks. This looks really exciting and I'm looking forward to checking out the Rocky National Park App this summer with my family. 

JigSpace: This looks like a neat AR app that has lots of 3D simulations. 

Agents of Discovery: Is an AR App much like Pokemon Go (See early post Gotta Catch Them All) where you can design your own mission. Students would download the App and would be able to explore the outside world. There are already built in missions, in many National Forests 

I think this has some neat potential and would be fun for my school 7th Grade Orientation Day as a way to help students learn about the School or for my students to help design a game for our community to explore local history. There is a price to this so I am going to need to do some further investigation on this to see how practical this could be. 

Websites....Websites....And More Websites

One of the challenges I've always had attending NETA is the steady stream of new resources and websites. It can be a little intimidating and leaves me exhausted by Friday afternoon. Here are some noteworthy websites I'm hanging onto.

Archive of Google Doodles: Look at all of the cool Google Doodles they have had. Each is full of information and you can even go back and check out their Interactive Doodles. I loved their Pony Express Doodle when it came out and was sad when it was taken down.  Now I go down the rabbit hole of Google Interactive Doodles and spend countless hours.

Game to Guess the AI’s Animal: This looks like a fun game I an play with my Homeroom Students. This is from Google Experiments that uses Artificial Intelligence to see if you can guess the AI's animal. This is like the game 20 Questions. 

Emjoi Scavenger Hunt: This is another Google Experiments game where the website gives you an emoji and you have to find the actual object in the real world in 20 seconds. Might be a fun game to play in Homeroom with students.  

Flippity: This has lots of great templates to use with Google Spreadsheets. There are so many great games that could be used for Formative Assessments. Would be a great additional resource to go with my Digital Dipstick Resources

Book Creator: This looks like a great tool to create children books. I have had students in the past use StoryBird to create a Children's book describing one of our Bill of Rights. Might be another tool to share with students to create informative student projects. 

LMGTFY (Let me Google That For You): Allows you to create a video on how to show people use Google Search. I did one such as Who Was The 16th President? 

BingoBoard Maker: Make BingoBoards for student reviews. This is another great tool for my Digital Dipstick Resources

Crossword Labs: Design Crossword puzzles for student reviews. This is another great tool for my Digital Dipstick Resources

Purpose Games: Design games for student review where students can click on the images. This Westward Expansion Territories Game would be great for my students to review during our Manifest Destiny Unit. This is another great tool for my Digital Dipstick Resources

FlatIcon: Website to find clipart icons. For the free downloads you are asked to credit the author. 

VoxVote: There are several polling websites I've seen and used to help gauge student understanding and engage students. What looks cool about this is that it creates Word Clouds. This looks like another one to add to my list. 

TesTeach: This looks like a good resource to help me create Blended Lessons. Looks like a good resource tool to check out. 

WordWall: This looks like another tool to help students review vocabulary and concepts. There are several templates that students can pick from when reviewing. There is a free basic account, but if you want to use this more it might be better to look at some of the paid account options.  

PhotoScan: This app lets you scan pictures of photos. I have a lot of family historical images that I would like to preserve digitally. This looks like a good tool to try to preserve some of my family history. 

Emoji Translate: Might be a fun website to take text from a famous speech or written document and see if students can guess what words are missing or what the document I'm showing them. I quickly created a Gettysburg Address and Preamble to the Constitution using this site. Something to further explore. 





Emoji Encyclopedia: I have used emojis in my Emoji Civil War Soldier Project. I might use this Encyclopedia for my students to summarize their research Civil War Soldiers. Instead of circling from a template I might give them a template with blanks and have them copy and paste their emoji into this template and than write a brief description why they picked their emoji. 

Emoji Tracker: This is a cool website to see what Emojis are popular on Twitter. 

Knight Lab Resources:

Leslie Fisher shared about the KnightLab Resources from Northwest University. These look like some really great tools to use for creating learning content for students or for student projects. 

Juxtapose: Allows you to take two photos of the same area and slide between the pre - post. I would love to do this with historical pictures. This summer I hope to be at the Gettysburg National Park. I hope I can get some pictures of me in the present that align up with some of the famous pictures from the battle. 

Gigapixel: This is very similar to ThingLink. I used ThingLink for my students to examine American Progress by John Gast. This might be another way to help students explore pictures and paintings as a primary source analysis lesson. 

TimelineJS:This looks like a great timeline generator. I have had students create various timelines throughout my course including a post WWII timeline at the end of the year and this might be a viable option for some of my students. 

StoryMap:JS This looks like a great way to create interactive maps. Might be a good way for me to create content for students to explore or as project options. This might make for an extension for my Historical Timelines with Google Maps

As always there was so much too take away from the Spring NETA Conference. Do you have any resources that you think I should check out?  I would love to hear about them in the comments section below. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

My Heart Will Go On....Remembering The Titanic



via GIPHY

April 14th, 1912 the Titanic struck an iceberg in the Atlantic resulting the the sinking of the "Unsinkable"and resulting in the tragic loss of life.  I wanted to share some resources for students who would like to know more about this incident.

Extra Extra!

Have students look through the Chronicling America collection of Historic Newspapers describing the sinking and rescue efforts: I found 46 newspaper articles from New York Newspapers describing this event. Check out an earlier blog Post "Extra Extra: Using Newspapers In The Classroom" on using historic newspapers with students.

Tour The Wreckage on Google Earth:


Titanic: 100 Years

Explore National Geographic's website Titanic: 100 Years commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. There are lots of great interactive resources to check out.

Titanic Losses:

Examine Margaret Brown's (The Unsinkable Molly Brown) Claims against Oceanic Steam Navigation Company via the National Geographic. Have students look at what items she had with her on board

Titanic Collections

Explore the collections from the Titanic via The National Museum of American History.

Today In History: Titanic Collision via British Movietone




Follow the Live Tweets
Follow the live Tweets of Real Time Titanic (@events_bl) to lean about the events of that night.


Do you have any fun lessons and/or resources you use with students to learn about the Titanic? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Progressive Era Social Media Project

I wanted to share a lesson that I've used with students to help them explore the problems that America faced in the early 20th Century and what some of the reformers from that were pushed during The Progressive Era.

2015 Student Example
My first few years I taught the Progressive Era I had students create interview Podcasts where they would write a script interview as a "Muckraker" asking a reformer a series of questions. Over time I felt that this project was taking my students to long and I needed to find an area to trim back on so I had more time at the end of the semester for topics I always struggle to get into. So I learned on Twitter of several "Fake" Social Media platforms that allowed students to make their very own "Fake" account without having to actually go to the actual platform to create these fictional accounts.

At first I limited this project to a Fake "Facebook" and "Twitter" page. But I've found overtime that I have many of my students who are not familiar with these forms of Social Media so I've expanded to include: Text Messaging, SnapChat, and Instagram.

Overtime I have found additional resources for students to create their very own pages, but the goal remains the same for this project. They problems facing America during The Progressive Era have to be evident and the reforms that these individuals were able to achieve must be visible.  This lesson also provides an opportunity to talk to students about the importance of being skeptical of what they see on the internet because how easy it is to create "fake" but authentic looking posts.

Project Directions: 

Using your notes and resources from your Textbook, I would like you to create a “fake” Facebook page, Fake Twitter Page,  Fake Texting Screen, Instagram, or Fake Magazine  for your Progressive Era Reformer.


You will need to include the following information on your Project Page.
  1. Leader’s Name and Photo
  2. Famous quote from your Reformer (The Quotations Page)
  3. One post that describe the problems your reformer dealt with. Use the terms below in your wall post. Make sure you adequately explain these terms so somebody not familiar with this reformer would understand.  
  4. One post that describes any specific reforms they were able to achieve. Use the terms below in your wall post. Make sure you adequately explain these terms so somebody not familiar with this reformer would understand.  
  5. At least three updates from your Progressive Reformer Friends where they share their problems and reforms. (Reformers: Theodore Roosevelt, Mother Jones, John Muir, W.E.B. DuBois, Alice Paul, and Upton Sinclair)
Terms that should be used correctly and well described on your Social Media Page:
Trust-Busting (Roosevelt)
 Terms that need to be used:  Trust, Government Regulation, Standard Oil Trust, and Sherman-Antitrust Act (1890) 
Worker’s Rights (Mother Jones)
 Terms that need to be used:  Child Labor, Work Hours, and Factory Safety.
Protector of the Environment (Muir)
 Terms that need to be used:  Loggers, Miners, pollution, and National Parks
 Spokesman for Equal Rights (Du Bois)
 Terms that need to be used:  Jim Crow Laws, Niagara Falls, NAACP, Equality 
 Food Safety (Upton Sinclair)
 Terms that need to be used:  The Jungle, Meat Inspection Act, Pure Food and Drug Act, and Meatpacking 
 Women’s Right to Vote (Paul)
Terms that need to be used:  Suffrage, Jeanette Rankin, and 19th Amendment


Social Media Templates:

Facebook, Instagram, Magazine Covers, Google Doc Templates via RyanO'Donnell



Fakebook via ClassTools



Twister via ClassTools

SMS Generator via ClassTools

Fake iPhone Text Generator 


Do you do anything with students creating Social Media Projects? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

POP! Series US Industrialist

I wanted to share a lesson that started first with a general idea that thanks to Twitter has shaped into a much more creative project for my students to learn more about the business leaders of The Gilded Age.

When my students and I were in our study of the Industrial Era and The Gilded Age I would project famous well known modern leaders in business. I would used people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mary Barra, Warren Buffet, Mark Cuban, and Indra Nooyi.  I would share some basic information about each person like they company they work for or created and some general biographical information.  I than had students brainstorm why they thought they were so successful in their business world.

I than shared from students a video clip from the History Channel's "The Men Who Built America." titled Traits of a Titan. Many of the things my student's mentioned were traits mentioned in the video clip.


We would use a Gingerbread Man diagram and draw a line down the middle. On the left side we would label it "Captains of Industry" and list many of these characteristics shared from our initial brainstorm and add additional characteristics shared in the Traits of a Titan video clip. I would share with students some general introductory information about three major business leaders during The Gilded Age: Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Morgan.

Prior to this lesson students had read about some of the problems of The Gilded Age from poor working conditions, child labor, and poor living conditions in the Tenements. I would also share with students how some felt that these business leaders were more like "Robber Barons" and used their power to crush their competition and use this power in harmful ways. We took our Gingerbread Man Diagram and on the right side of the line we would list characteristics of a Robber Baron.

I would let students pick an Industrialist from The Gilded Age and have them research more about this person and write a reflection paragraph to make the case if they felt they should be remembered as a Captain of Industry or a Robber Baron.

One of the great things about being on Twitter is learning about ideas to make projects for students fun. I follow Quinn Rollins on Twitter and really enjoy may of his project ideas. You definitely need to check out some of his amazing Templates on his blog Play Like A Pirate.



One of this Templates that really stood out to me was his FUNKO POP template. My family enjoys collecting many of these figures from FUNKO POP such as StarWar characters and Marvel Characters. I thought this would be a great addition to my original idea and allow for more creativity for my students. 

So last year I took my original Gingerbread Man lesson and incorporated his FUNKO POP Template to have students not only reflect on their industrialist role in The Gilded Age but also design a FUNKO POP character based on their industrialist.

I originally had students pick from this list:  John D. Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford. These were people with information easily found in our textbook as well as highlighted in the History Channel's "Men Who Build America" documentary. I was very proud of what my students were able to create and even allowed them to design additional POP figures for modern business leaders. 



After I shared this on Twitter with Quinn Rollins he said I really needed to look at Madam CJ Walker as an option for student research. I had to sadly admit I didn't know much about her, but I thought I would do some research and was amazed by her story. So I made a commitment this year to include her and add more names to include a greater diversity of business leaders from this industrial period.

So this year I added Madam CJ Walker, Annie Malone, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Robert Church Jr to my original list of Rockefeller, Morgan, Edison, and Ford.

I really enjoyed the expanded list this year and I think so did many of my students. This is an area I have been really working on his being more deliberate and inclusive in some of the historical people I use as examples in our different history units. I had a presentation slide being presented on my board about Madam CJ Walker that I hadn't switched yet when my next class was coming in. I had just switched the slide back to the intro to class slide and had a female student shout out "Hey I was reading this." I had to let her know that don't worry we would be talking more about her. She was really excited to learn more about this African-American business woman. A woman who looked like her and to someone she could make a connection.

There are still some "tweaks" I need to make to this project, but I really enjoy how this has developed from my original Gingerbread Man idea to making FUNKO POP figures. I need to help students strengthen their writing and be more deliberate on there evidence based arguments and this will be something I will be working on improving in this project next year.

A huge shout-out to Quinn Rollins for sharing these ideas and providing me some great feedback that really made this a much stronger project for my students.

Here are some of the websites I share with students to help them with their research of their Industrialist.

(1) Research Resources:
Intro Videos to some of the Industrialists:
Biographies of Industrialists:
Annie Malone:

Do you have any great projects you do in your study of the Industrial Era? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Friday, February 16, 2018

AppPalooza: Some Fun Creative Websites and Apps


I have been asked to present to my building on some fun websites and technology tools I use in my classroom.

Here is my presentation of some fun websites teachers and students can use to help be creative:



For Teachers In My Session: Post Your Favorite Websites/Apps Below:

Made with Padlet

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Turnaround a Total Eclipse of The US: 2017 Solar Eclipse

On August 21st the United States will experience a total solar eclipse that will stretch across the US from the Oregon to South Carolina. The path of Totality will pass right through Nebraska creating this a very unique experience for my students.  My school is just right out of totality and will see a 98% eclipse. My school district is planning activities that day across all our buildings. This is described on the district website Westside Prepares for Solar Eclipse.

With this very unique opportunity I wanted to share some eclipse related resources.


The Geography And Science Of It All

As a former Middle School Science Teacher I enjoyed teaching students about Earth and Space. Here are some resources that discuss the science behind eclipses, why seeing a total solar eclipse is rare, and what you need to do to keep yourself and students safe during a solar eclipse.

A Solar Eclipse is coming to America. Here's what you'll see where you live via VOX

This is a great website where you can type in your zip code and you will get time and amount the moon will be blocking the sun. Almost everybody in the US will experience at least a partial eclipse. A total solar eclipse will pass through my state making this a unique teachable moment.

Check out their other VOX articles on the solar eclipse:


Why a total solar eclipse is such a big deal (YouTube Video)



What creates a total solar eclipse? via TED-ED

This is a good overview as well on how a solar eclipse works.




Check out NASA's Education Resources for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse 

I have also been following the National Eclipse Twitter Account @NationalEclipse. Their website National Eclipse and their National Eclipse Blog has some great information on safety, maps, and other general information on this upcoming event.

The National Science Teachers Association also has a nice PDF booklet titled An Observers Guide To Viewing The Solar Eclipse that might be worth checking out.

The Smithsonian Solar Eclipse App (Both iOS and Google Play): Watch live streaming coverage of the eclipse from NASA, see how you will witness the eclipse based on your location, and safely view the eclipse with their simulator.

Bill Nye has some great videos from The Planetary Society YouTube Channel.

Historical Connections:

As a history teacher I hope to incorporate some history into this event. Here are some resources I've collected so far. As I discover new resources I will try to update this blog post by adding *New* at the bottom.

History, Myths, and Superstitions 

I also thought it might be interesting for students to check out other historical events that are believed to have occurred on a solar eclipse. I was thinking about having them create some type of project about a historical eclipse. I could see a potential timeline project where students create an interactive timeline of famous historical eclipses. Since this is happening towards the beginning of the school year I thought I could also pull some primary source documents and use these to help introduce historical thinking skills. (Earlier Blog Posts that might be useful: Getting Started with Primary Sources and Using Newspapers in the Classroom.)

These might be some potential resources I could use:


Nat Turner's Rebellion

Nat Turner's rebellion was one of the largest slave rebellions in the United States. If you saw the movie, Birth of a Nation you might recall a solar eclipse scene in the movie. This is actually based on The Confessions of Nat Turner where Nat believed that this eclipse was a sign to begin his rebellion. You can read his confession online via Documenting the South: The Confessions of Nat Turner

The section where the eclipse is described can be found on page 11.

Also check out these other resources on Nat Turner:


Musical Connections 


Mashable put together this great music Spotify Play List for Europe's 2015 Total Eclipse. Might be jamming out to some of these tunes on August 21st, 2017


Do you have plans for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse at your school with your students? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.


For other Space Science related stuff check out my earlier blog post Fly Me To The Moon: Space Race During The Cold War