Monday, December 23, 2013

The Miller Center's Presidential Classroom is a Must-bookmark for U.S. History Teachers

The Miller Center's Presidential Classroom website is a fantastic resource for teachers and students of U.S. History. On the site students will find a very good reference resource about US Presidents. The Miller Center's American President pages contain personal and political biographical information about every President of the United States. Each profile links to dozens of essays about various aspects of each President's life and work. Each profile also contains images of each President. Some profiles also include audio files and video of the President.

Teachers will find the a selection of lesson plans and course syllabi on the Presidential Classroom website. The lesson plans, appropriate for high school students, cover themes and topics post 1950. Some of the topics are the Space Race, the Vietnam War, and the 60's.

The Presidential Classroom also includes a speech archive that contains the text of inaugural addresses, State of the Union Addresses, and some other notable speeches that Presidents have delivered to Congress and the American public.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Dictionary of American Regional English Highlights Regional Dialects

Six months ago I shared Joshua Katz's Dialect Survey Maps (the maps take a long time to load) which highlight the differences in regional dialects in the continental United States. This morning, through Open Culture, I learned about the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) which also demonstrates the differences in dialects in the United States.

DARE is a dictionary of words and phrases that are unique to different regions and states within the U.S. Visitors can browse for words according to region and state or simply enter a word into the search box. DARE is a subscription service, but it does offer 100 words for free to all visitors.

Applications for Education
I might use DARE in a geography course or U.S. History course to have students learn a bit about the culture of different parts of the country. I would have students pick a word or two from the list and research it to try to determine how and why it became used in a region. For example, by looking at DARE we know that the word "lutefisk" is mostly commonly used in the upper midwest. I would ask students to think about why the word is used there, but not in the south or west.

(Hint for any of my students that might come across this, the answer is connected to immigration patterns).

Interactive History Animation - Daily Life in the Iron Age

Life in the Iron Age is a neat little series of animation from BBC History. Through the series of interactive animations students learn about how fires were started, bread was baked, and wool was spun during the Iron Age. In each animation students gather the materials needed to complete each activity. Each time a student picks up a new material they are shown a short passage of text about the material and how it was used in creating a fire, making bread, or spinning wool. At the end of each animation students have the option to take a short quiz about the activity they just studied.

Applications for Education
For middle school or elementary school students learning about the Iron Age, completing Life in the Iron Age could be a good activity to get students thinking about some of the fun minutiae of history rather than just the big picture themes of history.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Video - Why the Full Moon is Better in Winter

Most of the time when I take my dogs out at night I have to put on a headlamp (they have their own to wear too) so that I can see them in the dark. But this week the combination of a full moon and a fresh blanket of snow canceled the need for the headlamps. In the following Minute Physics video we learn why the full moon appears brighter in the winter. Hint, it's not the snow cover that makes the big difference.

Week In Review - It's Time to Decorate

Good morning from snowy Woodstock, Maine. I hope that everyone is enjoying the start of a relaxing weekend and holiday break. This year, for the first time in my life, I'm hosting family at my house for Christmas. That means I have to start decorating the house today (the picture to the left is two years old). Here's to hoping all of the lights from last year still work. Otherwise, I could be making the forty mile trip to Walmart for lights. I'm no Clark Griswold, but I do like to put up a few lights.

I'll have new posts from now through the 24th. The 25th through 31st will be re-runs of the best and most popular posts of the year.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Stoodle - Quickly Create Shared Online Whiteboards
2. Borrow and Lend eBooks Through Open Library
3. How Google Search Works and A Whole Bunch of Search Tips
4. Amazon Storybuilder - Plan Your Stories With Organized Sticky Notes
5. Five Tools That Help Students Plan Stories
6. All About Explorers - Challenge Your Students' Historical Thinking
7. An Interactive Map of The Odyssey

In January I am again offering my series How To Use Google Drive In School. Click here for registration details and a discount code. 

Would you like to have me visit your school this year?
Click here to learn more about my professional development services.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
MathDisk provides a great platform for creating interactive math lessons.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.

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