Tuesday, June 30, 2015

There's Going To Be Fireworks Vol 2

Liberty Bell
Picture by Lance Mosier (Selfie)
It's been two years since I've posted some of my favorite American Revolution resources in There's Going To Be Fireworks. Although I have written Patriot or Loyalist? Espionage During the American Revolution since than I thought I would update some new resources to help you and your students dig into the American Revolutionary War. Happy Independence Day!

Boston Common Picture by Angela Mosier
Ben Franklin's World
Listen to historian Liz Covart podcasts at Ben Franklin's World  as she interviews historians who share their latest work and understanding of early American History. Follow Liz Covart on Twitter (@lizcovart)  and listen to her growing list of episodes. You can also read the books of her guest authors; a great way to add to your summer reading list. If you join her listener community, there are also ways to connect with other people passionate about history on the Poor Richard's Club Facebook Group. A great way to stay connected and learn from historians and people who love history.

The JuntoCast
Listen to a roundtable discussion of historians on The JuntoCast created by Ken Owen, Michael Hattem, and Roy Rogers. This podcast is provides deep insight into historical themes and topics in early American History. A great way for you to stay current on the latest scholarship or a place to share with students to have them go into more depth into topics you are discussing in class.

All Things Liberty: 

The Journal of the American Revolution: All Things Liberty has a lot of great articles written by historians depicting the latest historical research of theAmerican Revolution and the Founding Period of American History. Check out their articles. Below are some of the ones I found of interest.

Mount Vernon Picture by Lance Mosier
Resources from Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon has been very busy expanding their educational resources. Here are some worth checking out.

  • George Washington Digital Encyclopedia: Explore lots of things related to George Washington and the era in which he lived. 
  • Virtual Tour of Mount Vernon: Can't make it to Mount Vernon? Take a virtual tour of the mansion and other buildings on the estate. 
  • Winter Patriots Video: A very well put together video about Washington Crossing The Delaware, the Battles of Trenton/Princeton, and the events surrounding this pivotal moment in America's fight for Independence. 

Independence National Historic Park Picture by Lance Mosier
Fun with Mental Floss
Mental Floss has had some great articles on the American Revolutionary Period. Here were some of my favorites:

Site of the Boston Massacre
Picture by Angela Mosier

The Massachusetts Historical Society
The Massachusetts Historical Society has numerous primary source documents and resources ready to use with you and your students. Below are two online resources from their Online Resources Page:

The Jefferson Memorial
Picture by Lance Mosier
The Digital Declaration of Independence: 
The Digital Declaration of Independence is a very cool web experience that allows users to interact with the Declaration of Independence, the 1823 painting the depicts the signers, and an interactive map to show where they are from.

What are some resource's that you use? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Up In The Sky Look: It's A Bird. It's A Plane......

....No, It's Superheroes in the classroom. ." 

During May and June I had the opportunity to take The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture from edX.  This has been the fourth free online class I've taken from edX. (Some courses have a fee for a verified certificate but all are free to audit. Learn more at their FAQ page)

The course was a fun way to learn from Michael and David Uslan, Dr. Christopher Robichaud, and the one and only Stan Lee (Excelsior!!)  One of the great things about this course that I thought was better than the other edX courses I took was the Facebook groups that were created to continue the discussions and share insight and resources. I learned a lot just from reading and interacting with the other people from around the world. Seeing how comics and the Superhero Genre is viewed in different places was very cool to see. I was very happy to hear that the group decided to create a new Facebook page (Comic Book Teachers) to keep the conversation going even after the official page will go offline in a few weeks. Through my class I have been able to make some great connections with many great educators like  @historycomics (blogs at Using Comics in the Classroom)  and @rwrigley (blogs at Superhero Science). Check out their blogs. They have some pretty cool stuff.

I believe the The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture from edX will start up again on August 12t, 2015 so if you are interested I would definitely check them out. They are also found on Twitter:  @SmithsonianX

I learned a great deal about the History of Comics and their impact on US Culture in the 20th Century. It was fascinating going through the different time periods and seeing how comics changed as American Society changed.

Another great resource about the impact of comics and superheroes is a Documentary from PBS Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle. If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can watch the documentary there. There is a lot of great information there that ties into America coming out of The Great Depression, how World War II led to Patriotic Comics, the impact of the Cold War on society, McCarthyism and it's impact, the rise of Atomic Weapons, cultural shifts in the 1960's had on comics, and much much more.

I am a fan of comics  and now is a great time with the the numerous superhero movies that have come out and are slated to be released.  From taking  The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture  I have thought about ways to incorporate comics and superheroes as possible projects for my students. This might be an option for students to share what they have learned about a concept in US History. Whether it's about our system of government, our Bill of Rights, the Progressive Era Reformers, etc.. students might have fun creating a supehero that is a champion of this concept or era.

My first attempt of students creating superheroes was when I taught science and students had to create a superhero based on characteristics of an Element on the Periodic Table. This was back in 2005 so this was one of my very earliest attempts of creative projects using technology. A lot has changed since then. Students had a lot of fun and enjoyed using some of their creativity to demonstrate what they learned about their element.

Here are some of their videos:




Zirca of Zirconium

My Final Project for The Rise of Superheroes: 

For my The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture  final project we had to create an original superhero based upon a mythological figure, an alter ego for my hero, and a super villain nemesis. For my project I picked an 8th Grade US History teacher who has powers to travel through time as The Historian and using Historical Thinking Skills to save the day. It was a fun creative writing project. I want to develop this more and might be a creative project for my students to continue "the next chapter" of this comic book and let them continue his story. My project can be viewed on Google Slides at: The Historian

Resources I Used To Create My Project:
GodChecker: One of the requirements for my project was to find a mythological connection to our hero. This is a pretty comprehensive database that gives general information on various cultures gods, goddesses, and mythologies.

HeroMachine 2.5. This free website tool lets students create their very own superhero character.  This is how I created my hero and villain for my project "The Historian." This website tool is very easy to use and lots of options. It might not be suitable for real young children and as a teacher I would probably remind students to keep their heroes appropriate for school.

ComicLife: This program is a great tool to create the comic layout. It is very user friendly to use and many of my students have used this to create projects (not comic related) that are very visual. The program does cost, but I'm lucky that my district has purchased the program for student use.

As a teacher I'm always looking for ways to connect with my student's interests. For students who are like me and really enjoy comics and superhero's this might be a fun way for their creativity to shine through yet still reflect their learning of a specific concept or skill they are learning. I am always about giving student's options and creating comics or superheroes might be a great option for some of my students.

Looking For Other Resources:

Here are some resources for using comics I've collected over the past few years. Some I've used, others I've heard about but have not used directly with students. 

Strip Designer: This is an app for the iOS (for both iPhone and iPad) that costs $2.99. Lets you use pictures and has several graphic layouts, callouts, and other features worth checking out. Even if you don't use this to create comics it is a great way to create pretty awesome photo collages. 

ToonDoo: Free website tool to build your own comic strip. Have students create a 3 panel summary of a concept or term describing it in a unique way. I have given this as an option for students for a final project.

Pixton: Website to create your own comics. I have not used this site due to its cost, but might be something worth trying if you are looking for a way to create comics with students.

BitStripsForSchools: Website to create your own comics. I have not used this site due to it's cost, but it might be something worth trying if you are looking for a way to create comics with students.

Make Beliefs Comix! is a free website tool to create comics. What is cool about this site is the various language options (English, Spanish, French, German,  Italian, Portuguese, or Latin. They also have an iPad App (AdFree iPad App is $1.99).

Comic Creator -ReadWriteThink: A free website tool to create a comic strip. They also have a Comic Strip Planning Sheet that students can use to help prepare their comic as well as lesson plans for teachers on ways of using comic strips in their classroom.

WittyComics: This free website tool lets you create a three panel comic. It is limited, but might be quick way for students to create quick a comic strip.

Create Your Own Superhero (Marvel). This free website tool from Marvel lets you design your very own superhero.

Create your Own Comic (Marvel). This  free website tool from Marvel lets you design your very own comic book or comic strip.

Go Animate: This allows you to create animated videos (cartoon based) that might make for a fun resource tool for you to use. They also have a school version GoAnimateForSchools. Check out their pricing options. There is a cost with this service.

ComicBook Plus: This website has a lot of comics from the Golden and Silver Age of Comics. These books are a great Primary Source to look at some of the issues of that era and how they were dealt with in comics. Great resources if you and your students are learning about the Cold War era.
Here are some of my favorites.

DC Comics Wiki: A database of the DC Universe. Lots of information on the known and some less known DC Heroes. As a History Teacher I loved the story of Uncle Sam.  Search the database and find supeheroes that match a topic, theme, or book you are using with your students.

Marvel Comics Wiki: A database of the Marvel Universe. Lots of information of all things Marvel. Search the database and find superheroes that match a topic, theme, or book you are using with your students.

Superhero Science TedTalk: A series of TedTalk videos that explore the science behind various superpowers.

The Graphic Classroom: A list of comics that have been reviewed and categorized by grade level to help teachers and librarians for the best comic literature for students.

AnimeNews Network: Lots of news about the latest in Anime. I have many students who love Anime and I hope this resource helps me find connections to my curriculum.

How do you use comics and superhero's in your classroom? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.