Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Assassination of Lincoln CSI Activity

In remembrance of the 150th Anniversary of the Assassination of Lincoln, here is a fun activity that I have my students complete at the conclusion of our unit on the Civil War.

Students are broken up into CSI Teams and have to learn as much as they can about the events that led to this national tragedy. I use a variety of video, music, primary documents, and website resources to help students investigate this pivotal moment in US History.

The President Has Been Shot:

Students watch the assassination scene from the movie The Conspirator and take notes of what they saw as well as questions that have been raised from the video. This is a good time to introduce students to the fact that this was a "conspiracy" and there are several victims and villains in this story. It is good for students to ask a lot of questions and brainstorm things they need to learn more about before they can solve this heinous crime.

If you have not seen the movie The Conspirator, it is a really great historical drama that looks at the Mary Surratt Trial. The Movie Trailer is below. This movie in itself could be a full week long lesson on the trial and The Conspirator Website does have education resources worth investigating. They have lessons that examine issues surrounding a  fair trial, rights of women in the 19th Century, etc..

Students Are On The Case:

Students are told that they have been hired by Secretary of War Stanton and have been assigned the task to track down the assassins and unravel the conspiracy behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I really "cheese" this up and play the theme song from CSI as we go over the directions.

Students are broken up into teams and they are given a Crime Scene Report. On this report students record key information about the "Victims" and the "Conspirators."

I would love to take my students to Ford's Theatre, but I don't think my Principal would provide the budget for it. So instead I provide students with these websites to help them learn more about the players involved in the case and what happened on the date of the assassination and the following manhunt that took place. These websites are full of primary sources, artifacts, and general information about the events that took place surrounding the Lincoln Assassination.

Update 2016 Due to changes in Websites these are current websites that I use with students

The Crime Has Been Solved

After students have completed their crime report, we play a Socrative Space Race Game having the teams play against each other over their knowledge of the Lincoln Assassination. Students enjoy the excitement of tracking down the conspirators and learning more about the events that surrounds Lincoln's Assasination.

Here are some other great resources about the Lincoln Assassination. I would love to hear what you use with your students in the comments section below.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Password Security

Creative Commons image via Pixaby 
Digital Literacy is an important life skill that all of our students need to know. Back in 2012 I had the opportunity to create and teach a course titled "Digital Media & Literacy" as an elective 8th grade class.  Although I am no longer able teach this course, I think that some of these lessons are still very worthwhile and wanted to share them on my blog post.

One of the lessons I had students go through was titled Password Protection.

Lesson Begins:

I had students start the lesson by viewing:

  • Secure Passwords video via CommonCraft This a great video that gives some great examples of how to create secure and safe passwords. Provides for a great introduction to passwords and a good starting point for this lesson. 
 Next students and I discussed the following article to talk about what makes for a strong password and why this might be the case.  

Since I taught this course back in 2012 here are some more recent website articles that might be helpful.

Guided Practice: 

I than had students complete an activity from Common Sense Media. They have lots of great lessons on a wide range of Digital Literacy Topics and I hope to share some other examples in the future that I've used with students. To download their material you will have to create a free account. Check out their educators Scope and Sequence Page for other lessons.

  • Strong Passwords: This lesson has student handouts for students to work through on creating stronger passwords. This is now part of their elementary scope and sequence, but if students haven't had any lessons on the topic I think it would still work for middle school age students. 

Finally in the lesson I had students use the following two websites to check out some of their created passwords from the Common Sense lesson.

  • How Secure Is My Password is a fun little website that looks at how long it would take a computer to crack your password. I wouldn't use your actual password on this site, but it might be fun for students to try different combinations to see how secure different types of passwords can be. (The site is supported by Dashlane.)
  • Passwordmeter is another website that looks at strengths of passwords. Again, I would recommend not actually using your passwords on this site but would be another helpful site for students to try different combinations to see how secure different types of password combinations can be.

For Further Learning: 

Creative Commons image from Pixaby
Here are some other resources worth checking out for you or your students.

Use WolframAlpha to Create a Strong Password via Free Technology for Teachers by Richard Byrne

Have I been pwned? allows you to search if your e-mail or username has been compromised. Learn more at there FAQ page.

Do you have any great lesson ideas or resources to help students learn about online security and passwords? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fly Me To The Moon: Space Race During The Cold War

Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11 Moon Landing 
On July 20th, 1969 Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made history as being the first people to land on the moon. I wanted to post some websites I've found to help students learn more about this historic event and the Space Race during The Cold War.


Apollo 11: Commemorating the first humans steps on the Moon via Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has a lot of information, images, videos about the moon landing.

Mission To Space with NASA & Legos is a fun interactive look at space exploration. This is great for younger students.  

Fly Me To The Moon JFK Tapes via The Miller Center is audio of President Kennedy and NASA Director James Webb discuss the future of the US Space Program including the possibility of a Moon landing. 

Explore the Apollo 11 Moon Landing via NASA.gov has a lot of great images and information about the moon landing where you can track the explorer's journey.

Nixon and the U.S. Space Program via National Archives has artifacts and documents about the historical moon landing, including a speech President Nixon never had to give In Event of Moon Disaster.

Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins Go Through Customs and Sign Immigration Form After First Moon Landing (1969) via Open Culture is a great story (and image of the paperwork) about the astronauts return to Earth.

We Choose The Moon via JFK Museum and Library is a great interactive to look at the Apollo Mission.

Project Apollo Archive on flickr is a database of thousand of pictures from the Apollo missions. Search through Albums to help you find specific images for the different Apollo missions.

On Twitter relive the Apollo 11 Moon landing with @ReliveApollo11 from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum as they live tweet the Apollo 11 Mission.

Apollo 11 via History.Com has a lot of facts, videos, and resources to learn more about the Moon landing.

NASA -The Spacesuit is a fun interactive that looks at the evolution of the suits of the Astronauts.

YouTube Videos:

The Moon: Crash Course Astronomy #12 (YouTube)
Learn more about the Moon.

Who won the space race? with Jeff Steers a TED-ED (YouTube)
This video looks at the history of the Space Race during the Cold War.

Apollo 8's Christmas Eve 1968 Message (YouTube)
Famous Christmas Eve message that quotes the book of Genesis.

In the 1950's Walt Disney hired German Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun to help make Tomorrowland as accurate as possible.  The Disney-Von Braun Collaboration and Its Influence on Space Exploration by Mike Wright is a great article that describes this relationship and how it influenced space exploration. Out of this collaboration came several Television shows such as the ones below.

Disney Animated Educational Video Man In Space 1955  (YouTube)

Disney Education Animation Man and The Moon 1955 (YouTube)

Disneyland Mars and Beyond 1954 (YouTube)

Do you have any great resources or activities to teach about the Moon landing or the Space Race? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Journey to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Election 2016 Resources

The White House
photo by Lance Mosier
Every four years presents an opportunity to help students in my 8th grade US History class learn about how the United States elects the President Of The United States. I hope to continue to add to this blog post with additional resources as I find them as we approach the election in November.

It's My Party.....I wrote an earlier blog about teaching students about the two major political parties in the United States. I will use this lesson again this fall to help students see where they stand on issues and to help them learn about the two political parties.

Election Central via PBS Learning Media: Is a very detailed website with lots of resources for teachers that have pre-made lesson plans ranging from elementary to high school.

Letters for the Next President 2.0 is a nation wide initiative to help students engage in the political process. As they state on their website "Letters to the Next President 2.0 (L2P 2.0) is an initiative that empowers young people (13-18) to voice their opinions and ideas on the issues that matter to them in the coming election."

Getting the Nomination via PBS Learning Media is a short video that describes the nomination process.

Meet The Candidates in 100 Words and 60 Seconds via NPR lest all of the Republican and Democratic candidates for presidents. This was designed for the primaries but does provide good quick information for both candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

How Every State Voted via Business Insider: Is a quick overview video of all Presidential Elections in US History.

Hanging out at the White House
Photo by Lance Mosier
Appraising the Electoral College via The Bill of Rights Institute is an online lesson that looks at understanding how the Electoral College Works, as well of having students examine pros and cons to this election process.  Even if you do not plan on using this entire lesson there are some links to some great videos and resources worth checking out.

270 to Win is one of my favorite websites for students to use to explore the process of the Electoral College. Here students can look back at all past Presidential Elections as well as see how various state electoral vote combinations can get candidates to that magic 270 number.

Win the White House via iCivics is a great game for students to play to learn about how the process of running for President works and what it takes to Win The White House.

Scholastic News Election 2016 Resources has lots of information to help students learn about the issues and candidates running for President.

Newsela Election 2016 is a collection of articles on the 2016 Election from Newsela. If you haven't used this resource before I would definitely check it out. It is a great way to differentiate news article to different reading levels for students. There is a free account to give you some basic access or you can pay for a pro account that provides more interactive resources.

Interactive Constitution Article II - The Executive Branch:  The National Constitution Center has a great new feature Called The Interactive Constitution where scholars discuss elements of the Constitution. Might be a good resource not only for understanding the Electoral College but also the role of the presidency.

American Democracy - Google Cultural Institute: A lot of great primary source documents about historical elections and voting throughout US History.

News Outlet Election Coverage:

YouTube Play List (Presidential Election): These are videos that help explain how the process for electing a president such as understanding primaries, caucuses, and the Electoral College. I will continue to add videos as I discover them and if you have great videos please share them in the comments section below and I'll be sure to add them.

***New Resources To Be Added***

#MyParty16 Resources - Great additional election resources.

The Election and the Educator via Edutopia

Step Inside the Voting Booth via PBS Kids (The Democracy Project)

How Tomorrow Votes sponsored by CSX

Blue Feed, Red Feed via WSJ would be a good way for students to compare media and bias.

Get To Meet The Candidates (Lesson Plan 7-12) via PBS

Candidate Comparison via InsideGOV

Candidate Comparison via ISIDEWITH.COM

2016 Political Quiz (Which candidate matches you the most) via ISIDEWITHQUIZ

2016 Convention Speeches via C-SPAN

2016 Presidential (Vice-President) Debates

If you have some great resources to help students understand the 2016 Election please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear about them to add them.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To: Learning about Republicans and Democrats

Political Parties Student Handout
In preparation for the 2016 Election in November I thought I would devote a few blog posts to the upcoming fall election.

This is an assignment I have had students complete in the past. In non-election years I typically have students complete this during our 1930's Unit as a way to introduce the concepts of Conservative, Liberal, and New Deal Democrats. With this year being an election year I will probably have students complete this prior to the fall election.

The primary goal of this lesson is to introduce students to the two major political parties and to help students draw connections to where they see themselves fitting in the political process. The 2016 Election is definitely "unique."  I will be curious how this lesson goes this year.

Video Introduction:

I typically have my students watch this BrainPop Video Political Parties as an introduction to get a general understanding of the two major US Political Parties. Students take notes on some of the general basics for each party focusing on programs they typically support, how the parties view taxation, and some famous Presidents for each party.  After a brief class discussion students than move onto taking a Political Party Quiz.

Political Party Quiz: 

The Pew Research Center has a wonderful Political Typology Quiz that uses users responses to gauge where you fit on the Political Spectrum based on how you respond to a series of questions. I emphasize to students to answer as honestly as they possibly can. There are typically a few questions on the survey I have to explain to the students due to student limited understanding on certain issues.

The results of the survey will not spit out "You Are A Republican" or "You Are A Democrat" but instead will place students on a continuum  somewhere between Very Liberal and Very Conservative. I also emphasize that this does not define students into a particular political pary, but gives them a general understanding (based on how they answered questions on the quiz) of which of the two main political parties they seem to agree with more.

I also think it is important to emphasize to students that they don't have to belong to either Republican or Democratic Parties but have a lot of other choices as well.

For a closure on this assignment I have students write a reflective paragraph on what they have learned from this assignment as well if they agree or disagree with the Typology Quiz findings. 

Other Resources and Enrichment Ideas:

To learn more about the Political Party landscape here are some other web resources worth looking at.

Information Is Beautiful: Left v. Right  is an interesting infographic that explores the differences between Left v. Right. It might be fun for students to create their own Infographic of Liberal v. Conservative based on what they have learned in this lesson with some additional research they would have to conduct. 

9 Lesser Known Political Parties via History.com looks at the names of various other political parties that have existed in the US. This might be fun for students to explore and think of if they were creating their own political party what would their major platform on the issues be.

Hip Hugh's Political Ideology Play List: Looks at the following topics: Socialist, Conservative,  Liberal,  Libertarian, Anarchist, and is the US Oligarchy. This would be a great resource for student's wanting to learn more on these topics.

Crash Course Government also has some great videos on Government (definitely worthy to check out). Here are some of their videos that focus primarily on Political Parties and Party Ideology.

Political Ideology: Crash Course Government and Politics #35

Political Campaigns: Crash Course Government and Politics #39

Political Parties: Crash Course Government and Politics #40

Party Systems: Crash Course Government and Politics #41

***New As Of 7/15/16***
Party Crashers: A Political  History with LEGOs is a fun video from NBCNEWS.com that traces the history of the Political Parties (As told by animated LEGOs).

Do you have any great lessons or resources you use to help students learn more about politics and political parties?  I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Gotta Catch 'EM All: Pokémon Go and History

Hunting for Pokémons
photo by Lance Mosier
Pokémon Go has definitely swept the country this summer like nothing I've seen in awhile. Everywhere you turn you hear people talking about it. I have two children who love Pokémon. They have collected the cards and played the Nintendo DS Pokémon Games. Although I was reluctant at first to download this on my phone, I was curious to see what my children would think about the game and I thought it might be fun bonding opportunity for us. I definitely see the fun in the game and know next fall I will have students in my classroom who have played or are playing this game.

The best analogy to Pokémon Go is that of a massive interactive treasure hunt. What is very cool about this game is the augmented reality component that allows you to both interact with the real world and the virtual world.

Like many cutting edge and new technology, Pokémon Go definitely has some "concerns" that have come up the last few days.  Some of these concerns I have linked in the articles I have posted at the bottom of this blog post. I really like the idea of this fun interactive app and it has gotten me thinking on how I could leverage this  into helping student's learn about history and geography. These are at least my early thoughts and still are a work in progress.

Interactive Google Maps:

I wrote about Historical Timelines using Google Maps in an earlier post as a way for students to create an interactive Google Map. I wonder if I could have students create a Google Map of Pokéstops of historical places around the country and improve the descriptions of these places to help others learn the history of these places.

Some Tools That Might Help With This:  

Clio is a Historical Interactive Map that uses guides users to thousands of historical and cultural sites throughout the United States. They do have a website you can use to navigate or they also have an app available for both Apple and Google Play.

History HERE is another similar app that helps you find historic locations near you.

***NEW 7/18/16***
The Historical Marker Database to find historical markers from around the country.

Dr. Eric Langhorst also has some great resources on his blog Getting Geeky With Google Maps that have lots of helpful videos and resources to learn more on how to create interactive maps.

Ethical Norms,  Behaviors, and Legal Stuff:

What has also been fascinating is different places that have become Pokéstops and gyms have very actively courting Pokémon players. For public historians, museums, and libraries this is helping pull people into these locations.

Because these places were created with an algorithm other places have asked not to have players play due to the respect needed at such places.  I think this is rightly so and makes for a great teachable moment with students and my own children as we play about expectations of decorum. 

United States Holocaust Museum:

Arlington National Cemetery:

US National Archives Twitter Account 7/23/16

US National Archives Tumblr Account 7/23/16

Hunting for Pokémons
Photo by Lance Mosier
Although Pokémon Go is a hit, there are also a lot of privacy concerns as well which might make for some good discussions with students.

  • How much information are you willing to share to a private company? 
  • Are there good and/or bad consequences of this? 
  • Could the government force the company of Pokémon Go to give up data on users? Would they need a warrant? 

All of these questions would make for some good debates. USA Today's article  While You Track Pokémon, Pokemon Go Tracks You might be a good place to have students read before we debate these questions. 

Also I saw this article on twitter Tuesday night Is Pokémon Illegal? via Associate's Mind that raises interesting questions about trespassing and legal concerns involving virtual reality and "attractive nuisances." This also might make for some interesting debate and research topics for students. 

I am wondering if I could have students generate ground rules for playing Pokémon Go, respecting public property, safety needs and concerns when playing, and why certain places should not be places to play Pokémon GO. Might make for an interesting discussion to have with students about why some places like Battlefield National Parks or certain museums should or should not have active Pokémon Go players playing there.

Pokémon GO Articles:

Hunting for Pokémons
Photo by Lance Mosier
Here are some articles I've collected the past few days as the Pokémon Go craze has really taken off. I will try and keep updating these articles as I come across them. 

PokémonGO is indirectly An Excellent Mobile App for History Lovers via The Bowery Boys New York City History

Ten Thinks I Wish I Knew When I Started PokémonGO via Forbes

If US Presidents Were Pokémon via Dorkly (What If Students design their own Pokemon based on a Historical Figure or Character...like creating a Super Hero. I have a Blog Post Up In The Sky where I talk about having student's create SuperHeroes)

Memorial Stadium To Open for Pokemon Go Gamers via KETV.com

***New 7/14/16***

Pokémon Go Game Guide via Android Central has a nice explanation on how to play the game.

PokéMapper: Crowdsource Map of Pokemon Sightings From Around The World

***New 7/15/16***

Ways to Use Pokémon Go in the Classroom via Teaching Ideas

7-Year-Old's Glowing Idea To Keep Pokémon Safe via KETV.com

GooseChase APP(IOS, GooglePlay):  allows you to organize and create scavenger hunts. Curious to see if you could make a Pokémon type Game for students.

Girl hit by car while playing 'Pokémon Go,' blames the game via KETV.com

***New 7/16/16***
Sick of Pokémon Go? Here are 12 other Augmented Reality Apps To Try via Pocket Lint

Educators see gold in Pokémeon Go via USA Today

14 Reasons Why Pokémeon Go Is The Future Of Education via IDEAFM

***New 7/18/16***
Pokémeon Go...where the markers, monuments, and battlefields are! via Craig Swain is an interesting take on The National Parks embrace on Pokémon Go and possible uses to help expose players to history.

PokéVision - This interactive map lets you see in real time where the Pokémon are located.

In Closing:

As I said these are my early thoughts about using Pokémon Go in my classroom. I have some things to "flesh out" before I implement any of these ideas  with my students.  I will be curios to talk with my students in the fall to see if there is any student interest and what they think about all of this.

What are your thoughts about Pokémon Go? Do you have any ideas on how you could use Pokémon Go in your classroom? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Revenant: Hugh Glass and the Mountain Men

One of the nice things about summer is a chance to get caught up on some reading. I was finally able to read the novel The Revenant: A Novel Of Revenge by Michael Punke. It truly is a great read. I am hopeful to watch the movie version The Revenant over my summer. I know I'm really behind on some of my movie viewing.

From reading the book I wanted to write a blog of some of the resources I've collected on Mountain Men as well as on the Hugh Glass story. I am hoping to incorporate several of these resources in my Westward Expansion Unit when students explore some of the groups that travel west. Traditionally in my class students explore the following groups as part of our exploration of Westward Expansion between 1800-1850: Mountain Men, Missionaries, Mormons, Pioneers, and Forty Niners.

Chronology of Publications of the Hugh Glass Story via Museum of the Mountain Men is a great detailed resource on what is actually known about Hugh Glass from printed resources in the 1800's.

Hugh Glass Fact v Fiction via the Museum of the Mountain Men gives a very detailed account of what the Revenant movie got correct and what it did not.

Who Was Hugh Glass via Slate also does a great job of balancing History v. Hollywood Hugh Glass story. 

Dan Snow's History Hit Podcast: The Revenant with Professor Jon T Coleman is a great interview to get more details about the life of Hugh Glass and his story. 

The Revenant Movie Trailer (On YouTube): Although the movie is too violent for me to show to my students, I think some elements of the movie trailer might help give students a visual of what life was like as well as some of the dangers associated with this occupation.  I hope it might help students form questions they have about Mountain Men as a launching point for students to conduct research to find out more about these intrepid explorers.

The Revenant A World Unseen Documentary (On YouTube): Looks at the making of this movie. There are lots of very interesting things about the problems they had shooting this movie due to weather and location.  

Other Mountain Men Resources: 

Fort Atkinson, NE  Photo by Lance Mosier
The Museum of the Mountain Men:

Movie Jeremiah Johnson Intro Scene: The 1972 movie Jeremiah Johnson was one of my father's favorite movies. I've shown this clip in the past to introduce to help student's discuss what lured Mountain Men to the West.

Mountain Men: Mountain Men Skills - YouTube Video via The History Chanel from their TV Series.  This particular clip looks at modern day Mountain Man skills that I think could help students discuss what is similar and different from the past.

Do You have any great resources that you have used to help students learn about Westward Expansion, The Mountain Men, or the story of Hugh Glass? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

You Died Of Dysentery! Resources on The Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail Days Oak, NE
Growing up as a kid I grew up living one mile from the Oregon Trail. This had a profound impact on me growing up which I discussed in an earlier Blog Post Remembering Local History: The Oregon Trail and the Raids of 1864.

Here are some fun activities to do with students to learn more about The Oregon Trail, including the computer game I remember playing in school as a kid.

Have students play The 1990 version of The Oregon Trail Game via Internet Archives. Have student's journal their experience and compare the game to the actual history.

Here is a very funny fake movie trailer based on The Oregon Trail Game that could be used as an introduction to the game, or as a closure for students playing the game and have them journal how this video portrays life along the trail accurately or inaccurately.

Dysentery, Typhoid and Snake Bites: The Early Days of the Oregon Trail looks at some of the history behind the famous game.

The Oregon Trail Lied To You via PBS Game/Show is an interesting look at the game's impact on students and how the game might of failed at history, but might have taught greater life skills.

Have students create Oregon Trail Tombstone Markers with Oregon Trail Tombstone Generator on possible dangers along the Oregon Trail.

Use Make a Paper Conestoga Covered Wagon via Kevin Honeycutt and have students create a list of important facts about the Oregon Trail on the canvas as a journaling activity.

Listen to a Ben Franklin's World Podcast Episode 077: Rinker Buck, The Oregon Trail to learn about Rinker's experience of trying to travel along The Oregon Trail and some history behind those who travelled west.

The National Oregon/California Trail Center Visitor Center Website has some interesting information for you and your students to look through to learn more about the trail.

The Oregon Trail Website has some also great resources to help students learn more about The Oregon Trail.

Take Painter's Tape and create the dimensions of a typical wagon that was used along The Oregon Trail.

***New 7/16/16***
What The Oregon Trail Looks Like Today From Above Video via Smithsonian.com

***New 10/05/16***
Nine Places Where You Can Still See Wheel Tracks from the Oregon Trail via Smithsonian.com

Do you have any favorite resources to learn about The Oregon Trail? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Creating An Abolitionist Society Meeting

Got this idea from a session at The National Council for Social Studies Convention in 2009 from Andy Robinson and Joan Brodsky Schur titled "Staging An Abolitionist Convention."  I have modified their idea a little bit to better suit my teaching style and my students I teach.  I usually conduct this simulation after our unit learning about slavery but before we get too far into the Events Leading Up To The United States Civil War. 

The Problem Debated At Our Meeting: 

How should we respond to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law? By this time we have studied as a class the institution of slavery and have introduced to growing North and South tension over the expansion of Slavery. We have talked about the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850 to help set up this issue. This has included the controversy surrounding the Fugitive Slave Law and the impact of the book Uncle Tom's Cabin

The Research Phase:

Students are assigned an abolitionists to research and use this form to collect information about their abolitionist. 
Meet the Abolitionist Notes
I have pulled together short biographies for students to download and read about each of these abolitionists. I try and create a good mix of Men, Women, White, and African-American Abolitionists. I also try to include a good mix of Abolitionists that have different views on their activism towards ending slavery.   I have found American Experience: The Abolitionists a great resources for both text and video about some of the major leaders in the Abolitionist movement.  Some of the Abolitionist I have students represent are: William Lloyd Garrison, William Wells Brown, Wendell Phillips, Theodore Parker, Sojourner Truth, Sarah Grimke, Salmon Portland Chase, Robert Purvis, Mary Weston, Maria Steward, Lydia Maria Francis, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Lewis Tappan, Lewis Hayden, James Mott, James Birney, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Brewster Stanton, Henry Highland Garnet, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gerrit Smith, George Luther Stearns, Frederick Douglas, Frances Harper, Elizabeth Cady Staton, and Angelina Grimke. 

Abolitionist Meeting Preparation 

After students have researched their Abolitionist, they think about how their Abolitionist would respond to the passage of a new Fugitive Slave Law. I really try and emphasize to the students to try and put themselves into the shoes of their abolitionists which can be difficult. For some of my students I do allow them to respond from their own perspective.  Students are given four options:
  1. Protest Peacefully, but don't directly break the law. 
  2. Actively work in the Underground Railroad to help slaves escape to Canada. 
  3. Resort to using violence to bring about the end of slavery by joining John Brown in the Kansas Territory. 
  4. Give Up on the Slavery Issue

Tickets to the Meeting: 

I have used this Ticket Generator Website as well as being dressed up as an abolitionist to bring a little excitement to our meeting. 
Levi Coffin

Time To Mingle:

I usually give students time to mingle with each other using an Ally Grid to find relatives, spouses, and potential allies in the debate to come. This gets students moving around a little bit, but also helps them discover connections with other students. Several of these abolitionists are related or married to each other and many more have worked with each other before. This also gives students a chance to pre-debate their thoughts on the course of action they are leaning towards and finding others who support their position. 

 A Fun Twist: You could also have your class vote on if women should be allowed to attend. This was a very serious problem in the abolitionist societies. Not all abolitionist were willing to let women fully participate.  If the class votes not to allow them, I have had the girls form a secondary meeting in the hallway and I use a program like CoveritLive to incorporate their discussions with the rest of the class and encourage them to "barge into" our meeting to interrupt if they have a point to make or question. 

If you do this you have to really know your students and trust your students in two different places during the simulation. 

The Debate:

We have a class debate and discussion listing pros and cons to some of the different options. I really try and involve as many students in the discussions. A lot of our discussions center on being prepared to deal with potential consequences of actively breaking the law (fines, jail time, etc..) and what is the best course of action to deal with what is viewed as an un-fair law. 

Closure-Follow Up:

To wrap up this activity I have students write a blog post on my Blackboard course where they have to state their case on what they feel should be done in response to The Fugitive Slave Act by listing advantages and disadvantages they have learned throughout this activity. 

Do you have any great simulations that you use or resources to look at Abolitionists? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Stars and Stripes: Flag Day Resources

Photo by Lance Mosier
June 14th is Flag Day. Here are some interesting links I have collected over the years to learn more about the US Flag.

(1) Why Do We Celebrate Flag Day

Watch All About Flag day via PBS Learning Media

Visit Fast Flag Facts via History.com to learn about Flag Day and other interesting facts about the Stars and Stripes. 

(2) Betsy Ross

Listen to episode 050 Marla Miller, Betsy Ross and the Making of America from @lizcovart and her podcast Ben Franklin's World to sort out the history from the legend surrounding Betsy Ross.  

Take a Virtual Field Trip to the home of Betsy Ross in Historic Philadelphia

(3) See How The Flag Has Changed Over Time

For Flag Day, Watch how much the American Flag Has Changed via @PhilEdwardsInc and VOX is a video that looks at the changes in the US Flag throughout our nation's history.

Check out Flags At The Smithsonian on Pinterest to see many great pictures of the US Flag and its display throughout History. 

(4) The National Anthem

Learn more about the Flag that inspired the National Anthem with The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag That Inspired The National Anthem via The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Lots of great interactives to learn about the War of 1812 and the creation of the National Anthem.

Read The African American girl who helped make the Star-Spangled Banner via the Smithsonian to learn about this young girls contribution to the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

(5) Now The Rules

Read the US Flag Code on the Cornell University Law's Website to learn about rules of display and how and when a  new star gets added.

What are some of your favorite resources to learn about the US Flag? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Digital Dipsticks: Easy Tools for Formative Assessments

Being a classroom teacher it is really important to be able to gauge what students are understanding and more importantly what they are not understanding. Using Formative Assessment is essential to help make informed decisions as a teacher.

There are lots of great low tech Formative Assessments  I've used in class such as white boards, exit tickets on scratch paper. sticky notes,  choral response, hand gestures, etc.. All of these are great and I still use them, but working in a school that each student comes with a laptop I've also found some great web based tools to help provide formative assessment opportunities. What is nice about some of these technology options is it provides students with immediate feedback so they can self-diagnose problems and I as a teacher can quickly pull reports to find problem areas.

Below is a presentation I gave at a School District In-service a couple of year ago. I've added a few new resources that I've found that I am excited about trying out with my students in the coming school year. The more "tools" in my "toolbox" I have the more options I have to monitor and assess what is going on in my classroom. I also think students also need some variety so things don't become too routine and boring.

I will also include links to these web-sites and tutorial videos to help you get started.

Slide Show Presentation:

Links to Resources:

(1) Socrative

(2) Kahoot

(3) Quizziz

(4) Padlet

(5) Wizerme

YouTube Tutorial Chanels:

Socrative YouTube Chanel:


Kahoot YouTube Chanel:

Quizziz YouTube Chanel:

Wizerme YouTube Chanel:

Do you have some great ways to conduct Formative Assessments with students (Tech or No-Tech)? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

What would that cost today?

photo credit: Money via photopin (license);
Students always want to know how much something in the past would cost today. Here are some resources that I've used to help to take a cost of an item in the past and bring it to a dollar value of today. An important note to tell students that these are approximations. I've also included YouTube videos that do a good job explaining how money works.

Measuring Worth Website: This is a great website I used a lot to compare prices at different time periods. There is also a lot of background information on how the numbers are determined and several historical examples to look through. I've found this a very trustworthy and great website to use to help s  

iOS App Inflation Calculator: This is an app that works as another great tool to adjust for inflation of currency.  I've found myself using this app in class when students ask me during a lesson. It's pretty easy to pull out my phone and do a quick comparison. 

If a man in the North paid $300 to avoid the Draft
during the Civil War, what would the cost be today?

YouTube Videos:

Here are some good YouTube Videos that talk about how money works. 

What Gives A Dollar Bill Its Value? A TED-ED Video

Explaining Inflation by Wall Street Survivor

What is Money? by Economic Detective

That Film About Money by We The Economy

What are some resources you use to help students learn about money? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

It's a Mad Mad World: Nuclear Weapons and The Cold War

Fallout Shelter Sign Washington DC
Photo by Lance Mosier
In the final weeks of the semester my students and I explore the Cold War Era. An area that we look at is the fear of Nuclear Weapons and their impact on the Cold War. Below are some websites I have found beneficial in looking for resources to share with students or places for students to explore more about the fears of Nuclear War during the Cold War.

Strategic  Air Command Museum
Photo Lance Mosier

Nebraska Studies: Cold War Section
This is a very helpful website with lots of information about the Cold War and Nebraska's role in this era. Check out some of the resources on Living in an Atomic Age, TheCreation of SAC (Strategic Air Command), and Civil Defense.

Civil Defense Archives: There are lots of great primary source documents for you and/or your students to pull to learn more about what was done to protect Americans from the possibility of a Nuclear War.

Strategic Air Command Museum Website: If you visit Nebraska or live in Nebraska, you should check out this museum that hosts many planes from World War II and the Cold War. There are lots of great exhibits to learn more about The Cold War.

Animated Map of Every Nuclear Bomb Explosion: From Business Insider, this animated map shows the location of every known Nuclear Bomb explosion in history. This is a good way to see the proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as seeing when various arms treaties were signed throughout the Cold War.

C-SPAN Book Discussion on Atomic Weapons Test: Trinity through Buster-Jangle (1945-1951):
This is a very informative book talk full of information on nuclear weapons testing during the early years of the Cold War.

Omaha.Com Article "Inside Bunker, SAC Crew feared WWIII was on its way" by Matthew Hansen
There were many times that the United States and the Soviet Union were on the verge of an all out Nuclear War. This is a very interesting article of a little known incident and the soldiers who experience the real possibility of Nuclear War.

This website allows you to see the devastation of various nuclear weapons on targets of your choosing. The website shows areas of fall out and potential casualties of these weapons. This can be a very "morbid" exercise so I think it is important to walk students through discussions before, during, and after they explore this website.

Comic Books:
I have blogged about Comic Books in Up In The Sky It's A Bird. It's A Plane... these are some comics from ComicBook+ that are vintage comics that deal with Nuclear War. A very interesting collection of primary source of the Cold War Era on how to survive a Nuclear War.

PBS: Race for the Superbomb
This PBS Documentary has some great resources such as bomb test footage, tour of the Greenbier Government Bunker, and a 1950's test on how Panic-Proof you are.

Fall Out Shelters Virtual Tours via Civil Defense Museum:
This site has some great images of several types of fall out shelters to see what these shelters looked like.

Playlist of 8 Videos on YouTube:
1. Nuclear Detonation Timeline 1945-1998
2. Could You Survive a Fallout
3. How To Protect Yourself from Nuclear Fallout and Survive an Atomic Attack 1950s
4. Underground Nuclear Subsidence Creator
5. Why You Should Care About Nukes
6. Duck and Cover | 1951 | How to Survive a Nuclear Attack
7. Inside the Doomsday Plane
8. The Only Winning Move Is Not To Play (From WarGames)

What do you use to teach students about the Cold War? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.