Monday, July 29, 2013

Making Inspirational Posters for your Classroom

  1. Making Inspirational Posters for your Classroom: Four Easy to Use Tools

With "Back To School" signs start appearing in stores, its that time of year again when teachers start planning and preparing for your room.  I like placing famous quotes, inspirational messages, and sound words of wisdom around my room for students to look at. 

I love good inspirational posters, and here are a few free web resources I've collected from other teachers to make your very own Inspirational Posters for your class website, or classroom. I am thinking about even having my Homeroom Students make their very own inspirational posters this year that tells a little more about themselves.  I think this would make for a great getting to know you activity with my students. Using a website like BrainQuotes, might be a good place to start to look for that perfect quote. 

I also think these websites are easy to have students generate their own Internet Memes to explain a concept or idea we are discussing in class. I have seen other teachers on Twitter talking about these projects and I hope to write a future post on this. 

Motivational Poster Generators:

1. Motivator: Create your own Motivational Posters: This site is pretty self-explanatory and easy to use.

2. AutoMotivator: This is very similar to the one above, but I think is a little easier to use. What is nice about this website there are default images that you can use or you can pull images from websites. Just make sure you are using images that are okay to use.

3. Quotes Cover:
This is a pretty neat website to create some very neat graphic images and layouts. There are lots of graphic editors to pick from and lots of options on this site. You can also create pretty cool Twitter or Facebook banners. 

I have seen more and more of these popping around lately, and I was excited to find this generator tool to create my own.

There are lots of possibilities and very creative things these websites can allow you to do. 

What type of websites do you use to help decorate your classroom? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

**New 2015: Word Swag **

I wanted to add this IOS App since it has become one of my favorite Photo Apps on the iPhone. It does cost ($3.99) but makes beautiful inspirational images.

Photo by Lance Mosier, created using Word Swag

***New 2016***

Saturday, July 27, 2013

End of the Korean War at 60 Years

Korean War Memorial, Washington D.C.

The Korean War: Resources

Today July 27th, 2013 marks the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice.  A war that is often times referred to as "America's Forgotten War" is still an important conflict in American History that impacts our lives today.

Here are some websites I have collected over the past few years from several people on Twitter you can use with your students to learn more about the history of the Korean War, as well as its continued impact.

The Korean War 1950-1953

CNN Video: Korean War Remembered:
Good overview video of the conflict from CNN

The Price of Freedom: From the Smithsonian 
This site does a great in depth look at all of the conflicts that America has been involved in. They have an excellent section on the Korean War with videos, slideshows, and images of artifacts used in the Korean War.

The Korean War from the Naval History & Heritage
An overview of the conflict from the US Navy's perspective.

The Korean War: BrainPop Video
I love using BrainPop videos for my Middle School Students because they are fun to watch and very informative  I am pretty lucky that my school does subscribe to BrainPop videos, but even if don't have a subscription you can get a few free viewings. These are videos definitely worth checking out, so click here to learn more about using BrainPop.

History of the Korean War:
This video is a great summary of the conflict of the Korean War.

The Korean Conflict Today

BBC's Guide on North Korea
The BBC has a good overview about North Korea, including its history in the Korean conflict.

CIA World Fact book on North Korea
A very detailed look at the geography, history, and political structure of North Korea.

Crisis Guide: The Korean Peninsula
From the Council of Foreign Relations, this is a very in depth look at the conflict and tensions that still exist even thought the Korean War has ended 60 years ago today.

President Obama's Speech Commemorating the 60th Anniversary
Video from C-SPAN of the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice presentation.

Gallery of Images from the Guardian Website on how North Korea celebrated the anniversary of the armistace.

***NEW 2016***

North Korea Interactive via the AP has a lot of great information about the Korean Peninsula

11 Mindblowing facts about North Korea via Business Insider (From 2015)

*** New 2017***

The Korean War for Dummies Via Hip Hughes History (YouTube Channel)
I like Keith Hughes and his video. This video provides lots of general information on this conflict.

Why Did America Fight the Korean War? Via PragerU (YouTube Channel
PragerU provides conservative viewpoints on their videos and this one tackles the reasons why the US gets involved in the Korean War.

What if North Korea 'Won' the Korean War? Via AlternateHistoryHub (Youtube Channel)
Counterfactuals can be interesting to tackle and Alternative History Hub produces some great "What If's" This one looks at if North Korea had successfully unified the Korean Peninsula under their leadership.

Rising Tensions with North Korea via C-Span

Tensions Rise between U.S. and North Korea Over Nuclear Testing via PBS. Check out their lesson plan that goes with the video here.

Follow on Twitter Steve Herman the White House Bureau chief of Voice of America News on Twitter @W7VOA. Lots of insight on this region of the world and provides lots of up to date reporting.

The North Korean Nuclear Threat, explained via Vox

 What do you use to help students learn about the Korean War and the current conflict with North Korea? I would love to hear about your resources in the comment section below.

New July 5, 2017
With recent developments I wanted to share this lesson from PBS Newshour Extra
North Korea Test Fires Missile Capable Of Reaching US. The video is below.

Friday, July 19, 2013

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Today I had an opportunity to talk to a group of educators from Brazil about my experiences and resources I use as part of our school's laptop 1:1 program. I love sharing some of the great things I have learned teaching in a 1:1 computer environment and what I use with my students. I know I am very fortunate to work in a school where students have access to MacBook Computers. It is a challenge to squeeze in a year's worth of activities, lessons, that we do in my class in a 30-40 minute presentation but below in honor to Julie Andrews here are "A Few Of My Favorite Things."

Beyond the Textbook: 

Virtual Field Trips
Games and Virtual Simulations:
Exit Tickets & Other Quick Formative Assessments: 
Websites Creation or Classroom Enhancers:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Getting Started With Primary Sources

Getting Started With Primary Sources

The state of Nebraska adopted new State Social Studies Standards last December 2012 and a much welcome sight with these new standards is an emphasis on having students utilize more primary source material in the class. Although I have tried to implement more historical thinking skills and primary sources material in my class, I know there is still a lot more I can do. I also know that in my leadership role as the Middle School Department Chair teachers in my department are going to need help and assistance in this area.

These new standards have really come at a great time. Although Nebraska does not have a Statewide Social Studies Assessment and we have yet to adopt the Common Core Standards,  reading and writing has become a really big emphasis at my school (areas that do have a statewide accountability assessment).  As part of my school's continuos improvement plan I know a large emphasis this coming year will be on reading. What a great time to not only get myself to help incorporate more historical thinking skills but also to make this a part of my Social Studies Department goals for the coming school year.

Back in June, I had an opportunity to attend a Statewide Social Studies Conference in Kearney to dialog with other Nebraska Social Studies educators on the new standards. This was a great opportunity to network with other teachers and also collect resources to share with my staff in my department for the coming school year.

I also had a chance to work with two teachers in my department in early July to look at revamping our District Social Studies Indicators. Although we will not adopt exactly the Nebraska State Standards, we took this opportunity to strengthen our District Social Studies Standards in the area of historical thinking skills.

I am looking forward to working with my teachers in my department and providing a variety of staff development with them during our assigned PLC (Professional Learning Community) time.
This is going to be a worthy goal this coming school year and I am hoping to share successes and failures in this endeavor on my blog.

Here are some resources I am going to be sharing with my staff as we begin to look at ways to incorporate more primary sources into our curriculum and in our summative assessments. I would love to hear from others who are using primary source material in their classroom in the comments section below.

Our Holt Textbooks: 
We do not necessarily follow the textbook chapter by chapter because of the nature of our survey class, but there are a lot of resources that we will be digging into to help develop skills in the use of Primary Sources. For some of my teachers they often times feel more comfortable working within a textbook, and I think this will be a good starting place to at least start.

Stanford History Education Group (SHEG):
The Stanford History Education Group website has become almost the standard bearer of using primary sources in the classroom. I am looking forward to pulling some activities from their site to incorporate them with our students as well as create some staff development opportunities for my teachers.

Stanford's Beyond the Bubble: also holds tremendous potential I feel to help us find ways to assess students ability to use these skills. 

Teaching History: 
I have bee using this website for the past few years and I am looking forward to using this website as part of our PLC's staff development to help us use more primary sources in our classes.

Smithsonian Source Teaching with Primary Sources: 
I am looking forward to using this resource also for professional development for my teachers. There are several examples of best practices I think will assist us in our goals.

DocsTeach (National Archives)
This is a great resource of not only pre-created primary sources activities but also a good place to find primary sources to use with our students.

Using Primary Sources from the Library of Congress: 
This is a website has a lot of resources and suggestions on using primary sources. I am looking forward to digging deeper with this resource with my teachers on staff development days. 

Historical Thinking Matters: 
This website (also from Stanford) has some great models I would like to have my department look at as not only possible enrichment or differentiation ideas for some of our higher ability students, but also as a model of Historical Thinking in action.

H.S.I: Historical  Scene Investigation: 
This website when I showed to two of my teacher's from my department this summer absolutely loved it. The lessons and primary sources on this website are very clearly written and easy to follow. I feel that this is going to be another good place for teachers to start this year looking at possible lessons to try with their students. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Search Engines Not Named Google

Search Engines Not Named Google

In honor of it being National Ice Cream Month 

Student:  Mr. Mosier, when was Ice Cream invented?
ME: That is a great question, how could we find this info out?
Student: Why don't we just "Google It"

Just like Kleenex refers to almost all  Facial Tissues or RollerBlades refers to almost all Inline Skates, so does "Googling" refer to conducting web research. For most of my students Google has become the main tool they use for searching on the internet. The Google Search Bar is defaulted on student's computers at my school on their web browser and for the vast majority of students Google is their one and only search engine.

I don't mean to pick on Google, I probably use Google as my main search engine as well but I also want my students to be aware of other search engines that are out there and be familiar with them.

Here are some of my favorite Search Engines "Not Named Google" that I like to share with my students.

Wolfram Alpha:

If I type in Ice Cream into the search bar on Wolfram Alpha I am probably not going to get much historical information, but I am going to get a wealth of information on the nutritional value of ice cream. If you are looking for data on any topic, Wolfram Alpha is a great resource to use. Check out Wolfram AlphaExamples to find topics that are great to use this search engine and check out this article from Business Insider of some hidden gems in WolframAlpha.


This is another great learning tool that creates Web Concept Maps for your search phrase. What I like about InstaGrok is that it allows you to change the level of complexity of the results by moving the slider from the Chalkboard to the Einstein character making it a great tool for differentiation.  There are lots of links to facts, websites, videos, images, and so much more.  You can also save your search an embed them into websites, so if you are looking for a way to help direct student research this can be a powerful tool to help guide students in their research. If you are introducing a big concept or essential vocabulary term this might be a great resource to use with your students. Below is an embed of my search for Ice Cream.

ice cream | Learn about ice cream on instaGrok, the research engine: Ice Cream | Learn about Ice Cream on instaGrok, the research engine


This might be more designed for teachers to help them discover and organize web content, but it does have great potential as a web search tool for students as well. If you are a teacher and you are looking for lesson ideas, websites, or resources I would definitely bookmark this tool.


I am personally not a big user of Bing, but I do know there are a lot of great features to Bing worth checking out.

There are more search engines out there, but these are some of the ones I have found that are easy for teachers or students to utilize in a school setting.

What are some of your favorite search engines out there not named Google? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

There's Going To Be Fireworks!

There's Going To Be Fireworks!

Independence Hall-
Photo by Lance Mosier

Here are some of my favorite sites and videos that deal with all things Independence Day. Happy 4th of July!


The American Revolution from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation: There are lots of really interesting podcasts that you can listen to to learn more about this time period.

Founders Online: A new service I'm very excited about. A large collection of primary source documents from the Founding Fathers. I did a search of "Declaration of Independence" that resulted in 353 documents. Might make for some great reading on what the Founder's thought was important about this event in 1776. There are also 26 mentions of fireworks as well so there you go.

Mission US: For Crown or Colony - Great game to learn more about the causes of the American Revolution. A fun game for students to play.

Road to Revolution: Quiz yourself on your knowledge of events leading up to the American Revolution.

Charters of Freedom: Declaration of Independence -  Lots of high resolution images of the original document as well as other resources to learn more about this and other charter documents.

RevolutionaryWarAnimated: Watch some of the important battles of the Revolutionary War.

John Adams The Letters Behind the HBO Miniseries: A great little website of some of the letters used to help in the HBO John Adams Miniseries.


To Late to Apologize: A Declaration
Love this video. Does a great job explaining the Declaration of Independence. I have students watch this video before starting their assignment on their Break-Up Letter to King George.

What are some of your favorite resources to help talk about Independence Day? I would love to hear in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gettysburg at 150

Gettysburg at 150

My visit to Gettysburg in 2009
This week marks an important anniversary of a very pivotal battle in the Civil War and in American History. Although I wish I was able to be at Gettysburg, PA this summer there are lots of ways to be a part of the celebration and resources you can use with your students next fall when school resumes to help them learn more about this pivotal battle. Below are various websites I have collected; some of which I have used with my students and others I hope to be able to incorporate into my lessons in the future. Of course as we go through the three days of Gettysburg, The Gettysburg Foundation has lot of resources to follow during this anniversary.

The Battlefield

My visit to Gettysburg in 2009
Gettysburg Battlefield Cam: Earthcam has been running a live video feed from atop the Codori Barn that gives a clear view of Pickett's Charge. I hope this camera is able to stay, because I would love to be able to take my students to this camera to have them view for themselves the great distance the confederate soldier's had to travel during Pickett's Charge.

Cutting Edge Map of the Battlefield: This newly released map is able to use technology to show what the commanders saw themselves from their vantage point during the battle. This is a very cool idea and concept, and I think that this can help students to transport themselves to a different time and place and witness the battlefield in a different way. of Gettysburg: I really love HistoryAnimated, because there are lots of battles from several different wars and I have found them very useful with students. The Battle of Gettysburg does a fantastic job of laying out the major events of the battle during these three days.

Gettysburg 360: This is a new resource that I am excited to let students explore to learn more about the battlefield.  I had students view another great resource from the folks of the Civil War Trust, which was their Antietam 360 tour and students loved using this resource to learn more about that battle. From what I've seen at Gettysburg 360, I'm excited to add this as another resource for students. It really lets students virtually explore the area and learn about some of the key aspects of the battle. For many of my students, this is the closest they probably will ever get to these historic locations and really helps create that virtual experience for them. Teachers should also check out their Lesson Center for ideas on ways brining the Civil War to life for your students.

The Soldiers

Civil War Voices: Soldier Studies  I have not used this resource with students, but it could provide you a place to look for Soldier letter's and diaries that are free to search and use with students. Using "Gettysburg" as a search phrase, I was able to find both Union and Confederate reflections of the battle.

Civil War Veterans Come Alive: Have student listen to the Rebel Yell from this Smithsonian Video that captured veterans of Gettysburg on the 75th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Battle.

Watch the Civil War Veterans at the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

The Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg Interactive: The Smithsonian has a very neat interactive feature that allows you to closely examine this document and lean more about Lincoln's famous address.

Gettysburg Address UDL Edition by Cast: This site allows to to change how much support you want to give students as they read the document. I like some of the built in dictionary tools, the text to audio feature,  and some of thee explanations on why some of the language was used by Lincoln.

Animated Gettysburg Address. This is by far one of my favorite videos to show to students of the significance of Gettysburg.

I am looking forward to following the Gettysburg 150th Anniversary these next few days and I am also looking forward to incorporating some of these new resources with my students next school year. What resources do you use to help teach the Civil War? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.