Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Favorite Podcasts #trypod

This month, there is a big push to recommend your favorite podcasts to others. As an avid podcast listener, I thought that this was a great idea! If you follow my Twitter feed (or know me in person), then you are aware that my interests expand well beyond education, technology, and history. Here are a few of my favorite podcasts!

Social Studies & History

Backstory Radio – Created by historians, this podcasts explores the historical significance of present day issues.

Freakonomics Radio – If you’re a fan of the book Freakonimics, you’ll love the podcast!

Planet Money – Planet money is another economics podcast. It explores the economy of the world today in interesting ways.

Code Switch – This podcast explores race and ethnicity in every day life.

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – This podcast explores the history of the Supreme Court. I’ve never before heard a podcast that makes the law so interesting!

Just for Fun

Hidden Brain – This podcast explores how people understand their world and the world around them.

The Cracked Podcast – Do you remember Cracked magazine? It went under. Now they have a podcast. I don’t know how to describe it. Just take a listen.

This Life with Dr. Drew & Bob Forrest – I grew up on Loveline. It has since retired. However, Dr. Drew is still an avid podcaster. This Life explores various topics with co-host Bob Forrest.

Note to Self – Note to Self explores the modern, digital world.

The Film Vault – Anderson & Bryan explores various movies and themes. It’s a great podcast for film lovers.

The Miscellaneous Adventures of Mike Carano – Follow Mike Carano as he explores the desert, local diners, drones… wherever life takes him.

Sword & Scale – If you like true crime, check this podcast out!

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Getting Creative With Video in the Classroom

I love doing video projects in my class. Here are some great ideas to help you be more creative in yours!

Jonathan Wylie: Instructional Technology Consultant

walmart receipt.png

While watching the Oscars tonight, I was intrigued to see a promotion that Walmart was running to celebrate the craft of film making. I don’t normally pay a lot of attention to  commercials, but these ads managed to catch my attention, and I think that they have some interesting potential for teachers who are looking to add some creativity to video projects in their classroom.

Walmart contacted four award-winning directors, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Neighbors), Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw, The Magnificent Seven), and Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner). They sent each of them a receipt with the same six items and challenged them to make a one minute movie that was centered around the six items on the receipt. You can learn more here, but take a look at the videos below to see what these talented directors came up with…

The three stories are very…

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America in Class

Some amazing resources for teachers of American History!

History Tech

The National Humanities Center is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. And it’s got some handy resources that they’ve housed at a site called America in Class that has primary and secondary resources, webinars, and lessons for history and literature teachers.

According to the site, it’s designed to promote the analytical skills called for in the Common Core ELA / Literacy standards in History/Social Studies:

  • identifying and evaluating textual evidence,
  • determining central ideas,
  • understanding the meanings of words,
  • comprehending the structure of a text,
  • recognizing an author’s point of view, and
  • interpreting content presented in diverse media, including visual images.

You can find a variety of things at American in Class:

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History, Art, and Archives of the House of Representatives (and the Senate)

This is a wonderful resource for Social Studies teachers!

History Tech

I’m a member of a semi-active Facebook group that was started several years ago following the final session of the Century of Progress TAH project. The group was an attempt by project participants to stay somewhat connected and supported after three years of working together.

We were able to develop a face-to-face PLC that meets four times a year and the Facebook group continues to act as a sort of digital conversation space. Most of us aren’t super active, simply lurking around and picking up the helpful tidbits posted by the few truly active members of the group.

One of those truly active members is Nathan McAlister, middle school teacher at Royal Valley MS. The 2010 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year, Nathan is one of those seriously gifted individuals, perfectly tuned to be a great middle school social studies teacher. And not only is he a great classroom teacher and GLI Master…

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Be S.M.A.R.T. and set Goals for the New Year!

If you want to set some new year’s resolutions, try doing it the SMART way. Write down your goals and tweak them so that they are:

  • Specific: Clear & well-defined.
  • Measureable: Able to determine successful.
  • Agreed Upon: Agreed upon with all stakeholders.
  • Realistic: Within available resources, abilities, and time.
  • Timed-Based: A set deadline.

SMART goals are easier to achieve and measure. Give it a try!

3 Ways for Educators to use G-Suite Team Drives

At the end of September, Google released Drive for Teams. This is a new way to organize collaborative tools and folders within the existing Google Drive ethos.

Content ownership and sharing are managed at the team level, and new roles give more granular control over team content. Team Drives help streamline teamwork from end-to-end, from onboarding a new team member (add her to the team and she instantly has access to all of the work in one place) to offboarding a departing team member (remove him from the team and all of his work stays right in place), and everything in-between. –Google Cloud Blog

I’ve had the opportunity to play with Team Drives. It certainly has the potential to make my life as an educator a little easier. Here are three ways that educators can use Teams in their school:

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Courtesy of Google Cloud Blog

Collaborate across Division/Grade Level/Department

Educators do not work solo. Instead, we often work together and collaborate on many different levels. Using Google Teams, you can create digital, collaborative work spaces. If you are working with others at the division, grade, or department level, Drive for Teams is a great place to engage with your peers. You can share files, a Google Doc, and more. Additionally, no more hunting for that file or document that someone shared with you two months ago. It’s all in the same place!

Collaborate on Classes

If you team teach a class or want to collaborate with others who teach the same subject, Team Drive is a great place to do that! You can share educational resources (work sheets, lessons, projects, etc) and engage with your colleagues remotely. This is a great way to make collaboration easier.

Collaborate on Administrative Projects

Many educators have administrative duties. If you are working on a project with others, a Team Drive is a great place to organize and share resources. You can set up a team drive for each project, adding only those who are working on the project. You can share large files, images, Google Docs, and more.

Ultimately, I think that the new Teams features will add higher levels of usability and organization to the existing set of G-Suite Tools.

Why You Should Become a Google Certified Educator (That have Nothing to do with Badging).

If you look to the right of my page, you’ll notice that I have a handful of badges. One of them, is the Google Certified Educator badge. Collecting badges can be a nice way to show off (and teachers really need to toot their own horn once in a while). However, there are a lot of substantive reasons to take the plunge and become a Google Certified Educator that don’t involve the flashy badge.

Try Out New Google Tools

While you may be familiar with the whole set of G-Suite Tools, most of us spend the majority of our time on one or two (hint, hint – gmail and Google Docs). By becoming a Google Certified educator, you’re forced to learn more about the tools you may neglect. For example, when I went through my re-certification, I spent a lot more time learning about all of the cool things you could do with Google Sites! I was forced to spend more time in platforms I normally don’t use.

Learn new Tricks with your Favorite Tools

You may spend all day every day in Google Docs, but how deep do you really go? If you’ve been looking for an excuse to learn more automated tricks, studying for your Google Certified Educator exam can help you to delve more deeply into the tools that you use on a regular basis. Learn how to write code in Google Sheets, find add-ons for Google Docs, or create a self-graded quiz in Google Forms. No matter how well you know a tool, you can always learn more.

Get New Ideas for Using Tools in the Classroom

I was not a big fan of the previous iteration of Google Certified Educator exams. I felt that they focused on minutiae and rote memorization. Google really stepped it up on this new exam. Now, it’s interactive and requires real-world application. In fact, one or two of the questions gave me ideas for my own classroom. That’s probably what I like best about the new exam, you learn something while taking it.

Get Verification of Your Skills

You know your a Google guru, maybe your boss knows it as well. Now, you have proof! Nothing better than proving your abilities with something concrete! Okay, maybe that is a little bit of badging…