Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#compgov to Expand Your PLC

This June I am excited as I will be grading my third different AP exam - this time with AP Comparative.  But before then I will be using my past posts (and future ones) about AP Comparative government to help me teach my students starting the third week of January.  Another way I will get information is from the hashtag #compgov.  If you are new to Twitter a hashtag is a place where you can ask others questions and/or "store" information which anyone can see later.  For example, one of the AP Comparative leaders is Andrew Conneen.  As soon as I made the post below on Gapfinder, he tagged it to the #compgov hashtag and now even more people can see it.  This blog, the Facebook page for AP Comparative and the hashtag are all ways for you to expand your collaborative learning team - especially if you are like me and are the only AP Comp teacher in the building. 

Gapminder for AP Comparative Government

Thanks to Ken Wedding for a post on the AP Comparative Government Facebook page for the information on Gapminder which lets you see a nation's per capita income over time or in one snapshot.  Above and here are the six AP Comparative nations as well as the US from 1800 to the present (which is a real trick since I am assuming it counted Iran as Persia during part of that period!). 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snag-It for Chrome & Google Drive

This is pretty cool.  I have used Snag-it at school for years, but it is almost a pain as I have to go find it most of the time on my tools and I much prefer to have apps added to Chrome.  Well now I am all set as Snag-it has a Chrome add on that adds each item into your Google Drive account.  It lets you take the entire screen, parts of it and even movies and then annotate them.  Above is a video explaining how to use it. To found about it from TechSmith on Twitter

Friday, December 26, 2014

More Ideas for Good Learning

This presentation adds to the posts I have done on the book, How We Learn.  It repeats the thought that we learn best when we have breaks.  Indeed the technique Barbara Oakley mentions is 25 minutes of focused attention (no texting, looking at unrelated Internet pages) and then taking a break of a few minutes.  This, she says will increase learning retention.  As for tests, she suggest studying many times with flash cards, multiple techniques, etc.  As she points out, would you sing a song once and think you learned it - of course not.  As for underlining parts of a book, she says the most innovative to learn from a book is to read, then look away and see what you can remember.  Also, assume just reading will help you learn.  Mastery comes from repetition and interacting with what ever you are learning. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Intro to China This Year

Two weeks after getting back to school, I will be finished with AP US Government and moving onto AP Comparative.  While China is on the far end of the course, the video above will be the primer I use to introduce China (yes, they will watch at home).  

Monday, December 22, 2014

China, Oil and the Silk Road

When we get back from break, we'll only have a week before I will finish AP US government and then a week later we will begin AP Comparative so I am contemplating how I can use the video above from the NYTimes which is on the Silk Road(s) as it moves through China and the outpost where the country gets much oil for its industrial machine.  The story looks at the division of rich and poor as well as Muslim and Han Chinese. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Learning Pod Needs Test Question Writers

Learning Pod has a tremendous number of resources including AP practice questions for your students.  But they are also a way for you to make extra money.  So if you go here you can apply to write questions for the AP content areas for social studies.  If you want to go to their site and see their resources, go here

Macroeconomics and Russia

Russia is suffering greatly, in part, due to the falling oil prices as the Ruble's value has been dropping precipitously.  Fifty percent of Russia's government's revenue comes from oil.  Above you can listen to the first two minutes of the talk from the Economist and here is a great article from the NYTimes which looks at several things taught in macroeconomics including selling of government assets abroad and raising the interest rate.   This is an article that I can use for both my economics' classes as well as comparative government. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

VideoNot.es for Flipped Video Notetaking

Normally I ask my students to split their screen, but this relatively (it came out last April) new app called Videonot.es that does that for you, putting the video on the left and the notes on the right.  It is then synced with Google Drive so it automatically (if you approve it to do so) puts the notes in your Google  Drive folder.  You will also note that whenever you begin taking notes, it shows where you are in the video and if you click on that line of  the notes, it will take you back to the relevant place in the video.  

It is also available for Google Apps so your students can get it in the free or paid Google Drive.

Above is a video showing you how to use it.

WeVideo for your Video Creations

My daughter is working with a friend of a class video for tomorrow. They took their video clips using my wife's smartphone and then uploaded them onto WeVideo and very easily combined their clips into one video. You can add music, words, images, fade in/out, cut items out, etc. It also is an app in Google Drive so you can then upload it straight into your account (to add it to Google Drive, go to "more" under docs, presentation, etc. and then it will always be on your drop down for programs with Google Drive.

Join Me in Spain for an In-Service

This July 12-13 I am teaching a two day institute on the Mediterranean Sea coast near Marbella in Spain (very near Gibraltar).  The course will be two full days in which where we will be designing lesson plans to personalize learning for your students.  This means we will learn how to create a flipped video and what to do in the classroom once that is done including giving immediate feedback as well as giving formative evaluations.  Finally we will expand your own school PLC to one online so that you can follow-up the session with more collaboration and ideas well after the institute is over.  If you are interested, please go here to sign up for the course.  There is a considerable discount if you sign up by the middle of February.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Education Week Post

Way back in August Larry Ferlazzo asked me to respond to one of his reader's queries which was posted today.  The post looks at "interactives"  which allow students to work in class on "problem sets" where the teacher can walk around the room and act as a facilitator rather than as a passive lecturer.   Interactives are which are explored in my upcoming book Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction.  The quote above is from the article but it really comes from a wonderful woman who taught my methods class back when I was learning to be a teacher.  While I have long since lost forgotten her name, the charge she gave us to keep up with student learning as it has evolved as not been forgotten by me in the twenty-five years since she said it to me.  

Mastery Learning Discussion and Examples

I believe watching my own children grow has helped to make me a better teacher.  For example my son is a very good gamer, but he is also very good at failing.  By that I mean he is willing to fail as many times as it takes to master a game which leads to his mastering the material and then moving on to another one.  It strikes me that I need to emulate my son's learning with all of my classes.  By that I mean I have mostly flipped my classes and so have much more time to move around the classroom helping my students.  While we are on a unit I also allow students to correct work again and again and consequently have no late grades and have mostly moved beyond a textbook in three of my four content classes and have set up an individualized learning model (see my book about this).  So it strikes me that I need to fully move to a standards based learning model as the last part of my educational evolution.  So in that move, you are going to see lots of videos and examples of mastery learning as I teach myself and fumble through this process.

So above my musings is a video overview of how mastery learning works in any classroom.  It is a great overview to explain the process and even does something no one has ever done for me which is to define mastery learning.  Below this writing is a video my fellow blogger, Frank Franz, made for his back to school flip parent video.  Watch it closely as it has not only an explanation of flipped learning (which really is the bedrock of mastery learning), but also how he carries out mastery learning, both in terms of objectives, daily learning, grading and, finally showing mastery.  The key, as I am learning, is that if the child is motivated, he/she can redo anything and potentially show better mastery.  But this means that the child might have additional (to the videos) learning and therefore need more motivation.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Obama's Executive Order Explained

This goes with my previous post on Obama's executive order, but this one explains what it is about and the background to it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Google Classroom

If you have your students work in Google Drive, a new way to do it is through Google Classroom.  It allows you to see who has turned in what and when.  You do have to have a Google Apps for Education account as do your students.  The key to the video above is that you can see both the teacher and the students accounts side by side above. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Zaption to Personalize Your Flipped Videos

Thanks to Scott Nichols for this tip.  Zaption allows you to take any YouTube or Vimeo video, edit them, add questions, text and images and then share it with your students using a url.  It is also free! Below is a video explaining how to do it.