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Friday, September 8, 2017

20th Century World History Declassified

The Wilson Center Digital Archive offers many collections of declassified historical documents. The documents contain memos and transcripts of communications between diplomats and country leaders. The collections are arranged into topics and themes. You'll find collections of documents related to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the origins of the Cold War, Sino-Soviet relations, and diplomatic efforts related to nuclear weapons.

Applications for Education
My first thought when looking at these collections of documents was to have students use these documents to fill-in the gaps in their history textbooks.

You could also give students some of the communications without the names of countries or diplomats showing. Then ask them to use their knowledge of the situation to determine which country or diplomat would have sent that communication.

Verifying Twitter Suggestions

Twitter can be a great place to ask for suggestions from other teachers. Almost every day I answer questions from teachers on Twitter. Yesterday, someone asked me for a suggestion for a blogging platform for elementary school students. I gave my suggestion, Edublogs, but there were plenty of other Twitter users that chimed in too. One of the people that chimed-in was clearly trying to promote his product. This is something to be aware of whenever you're asking for tool suggestions on Twitter.

Someone promoting his/ her product in a Twitter response isn't inherently bad. It's just something to be aware of. Take a minute or two to see if there is an ulterior motive in the suggestion. I made the following video to explain how I attempt to verify the authenticity of a suggestion from someone I don't know on Twitter.

How to Install Backup and Sync for Google Drive

Contrary to what some poorly written headlines will tell you, Google Drive is not going away. What Google did announce this week is the deprecation of the Google Drive desktop app for Mac and PC. That is being replaced by the new Backup and Sync desktop client. I installed it this afternoon and made a video of the process. That video is embedded below.


Backup and Sync is intended for consumers using Gmail accounts to access Google Drive. G Suite for Education users will also have access to a new feature called File Stream. You can read more about that here.

Just to be clear, you do not need to install Backup and Sync in order to use Google Drive. You can still just go to drive.google.com to access your files and to add new files to your Google Drive account.

Good Resources for Constitution Day Lessons

Constitution Day in the United States is just nine days away. By law, public schools are required to include a Constitution lesson during the day. Here are some resources that you might find useful in creating a Constitution Day lesson plan for your students.

Keith Hughes, the face of Hip Hughes History, has a long playlist of videos about the U.S. Constitution. His playlist includes an overview of the Constitutional Convention, videos about each section of the Constitution, and videos about most of the amendments to the Constitution. I've embedded the playlist below.


The Constitution Center's website features the U.S. Constitution divided into easily searchable sections. From the main page you can select and jump to a specific article or amendment. What I really like about the site is that you can choose an issue like privacy, civil rights, or health care and see how those issues are connected to the Constitution. The Constitution Center offers an extensive list of lesson plans for each of the Constitution's articles and amendments. Select an article or amendment then scroll to the bottom of the page to find the lesson plans. Alternatively, you can find all of the lesson plans listed here.

iCivics is an excellent source of educational games that offer lessons in civics. Since its launch a few years ago, iCivics has steadily grown to the point that it now contains nineteen educational games for students. All of the games require students to take on a decision making role. To succeed in the games students have to apply their understanding of the rules and functions local, state, or Federal government. Some games require an understanding of the U.S. court system and or the Constitution.

Google and the Comparative Constitution Project offer a neat site called Constitute. The site hosts the constitutions of 160 countries. You can search the site according to country and or constitutional theme. Searching by constitutional theme is the best aspect of the site. More than 300 themes are outlined on the site. Select a theme then a country and the element of that country's constitute addressing your chosen theme will be highlighted. You can pin parts of the constitutions to compare them to each other.

Larry Ferlazzo has an extensive list of Constitution Day resources that you should also check out.