The Digital Broadside

News You Can Use

Merry Christmas!!!

Yes... below is an actual made-for-TV, 1978 Star Wars special. So in light of The Force Awakens and Christmas coming up...
The Star Wars Holiday Special (Full Movie)

Congratulations to Freeman and Glen Allen for We The People

On Dec. 15, two Henrico teams competed for the Regional Championship belt for We The People. Freeman came in 2nd and 3rd place and will compete in the State Tournament. Glen Allen will also have a team compete in the State Tournament as they will have placed high enough across the state.

This year, we had two schools get more training on We The People, so hopefully we will have our first middle school team next year and more high school competitors.


By now, everyone knows we are moving from SchoolSpace to Schoology this year. Just so everyone knows, my plan is to fully utilize this tool from Day 1. We have two schools that get to pilot this: Hermitage and Holman. I've already sent them some information, but we can't really start doing things until January.

But in April, all teachers will have access and from then, you'll see how things are being organized.

This is the analogy I'm using with this tool:

I want folks to think of Schoology as a place like Starbucks, where you can go for an hour, join up with folks, talk, and get work done. I don’t want Schoology to be a soda machine. See the difference?

I asked a group of Social Studies teachers from across the country who use Schoology about their thoughts on it as an instructional tool, and I got 63 responses. Of those, 48 said it, "has greatly improved my social studies classroom."

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

As you may remember, all designated funding for the social studies was eliminated five years ago when the ban on Congressional earmarks was enacted. A small grant awarded to the Center for Civic Education through the Supporting Effective Educator Development program this year and represents the entire federal contribution to effective instruction in the social studies in five years. But with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that can change.

Specifically, ESSA creates:

  • a competitive grant program for nonprofit organizations to run intensive, 2 to 6 week long academies in American history, civics and government for high school students and for teachers;
  • a competitive grant program for non-profit organizations to develop and disseminate innovative approaches to offering high quality instruction in American history, civics, government and geography for underserved students;
  • local education agencies (ie, school districts) are required to use a certain percentage of their federal money on coursework that supports a well-rounded education. LEAs can choose from a list of subjects that includes history, civics, economics and geography as well as foreign languages, the arts, and other subjects; and
  • a new research and innovation fund is created that allows LEAs, in conjunction with nonprofit organizations, to apply for funding to create, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students. Innovations in teaching social studies are eligible for grants.

What Happened to Joy

Below is the Keynote speech by Dean Shareski at the VSTE Conference on Dec. 7. It's nearly an hour long. If you scrub up to 7:57 minutes, you can skip the introduction material. It's long, but good.
#VSTE15 151207 Monday Keynote - Dean Shareski - Whatever Happened to Joy?

The "N" is key

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Free Christmas/Historical Tours

An annual holiday tradition! Ten historic sites in downtown Richmond, Virginia, open their doors for a day of free admission and holiday festivities. Carriage rides, carolers, living history, live music, children's crafts, gift shops and more. A complimentary shuttle will circulate among all sites throughout the event. Event is rain or shine.

Check it out here.... December 13, 2016.

2015 Curriculum Framework

On November 19, 2015, the Virginia Board of Education accepted for first review the proposed revised 2015 History and Social Science Standards of Learning Curriculum Framework. This document is being reviewed and revised to reflect the new 2015 History and Social Science Standards of Learning adopted by the Virginia Board of Education on March 26, 2015.

The Virginia Board of Education is now seeking public comment on the proposed revised 2015 Standards of Learning Curriculum Framework. The Standards of Learning at the top of each page have already been approved by the Board of Education, with changes indicated by text that has been underlined or stricken. The proposed changes to the curriculum framework are indicated with underlines for additions and strikethroughs for deletions. The proposed revised 2015 History and Social Science Standards of Learning Curriculum Framework can be accessed on the Department of Education’s Web site. Public comment will be taken until December 21, 2015.

Click here for instructions on where to leave comments.

Teacher|Student Opportunities

Student Writing Contest for the Library of Virginia

Virginia students in grades 6–12 are invited to honor outstanding women in Virginia history by participating in the Library of Virginia's Virginia Women in History student writing contest. Four winning essays will be chosen, two from students in grades 6–8, and two from students in grades 9–12.


“My passion for dance and culture focuses on serving the community and making our world a better place to live.”

I asked the LVA for clarification on the prompt, for those who don't dance, and they said, "The quote itself is from Ana King, and dance is her medium, so we didn’t change that. However, reading further into the prompt you will find references to serving the community through educational initiatives and being a cultural ambassador. Also, the ultimate questions we are looking to get answered, as stated in the prompt are based on what the student is passionate about and identifying someone in their own community who uses his or her interests and enthusiasm to make the community a better place.

So while Ana King’s example is focused on dance, the later language of the prompt moves pretty quickly to community service."

History Clubs

The National History Club (NHC) has a Fall Newsletter, which features more than 20+ interesting Chapter accounts from the past few months. The front-page article is written by long-time History Club Advisor Tom Siefring, from the United Nations International School in New York. Additionally, there is information on the 3rd annual "Lessons of Leadership" contest, which is being co-sponsored once again by The HBE Foundation and the NHC.

Check out the newsletter.

Freedom Foundation/Summer 2016 Opportunities

For more than 50 years, Freedoms Foundation has presented critically acclaimed, accredited graduate courses for teachers. Our summer 2016 programs present a variety of experiences that focus on character-building and developing responsible citizens through the study of history and the social sciences. Each program provides educators with an interactive, collaborative and enriching learning experience to assist them in providing better instruction to their own students.

It does cost money. Click here for info.

National History Bee

The National History Bee is an exciting social studies competition for students who love learning, competing, and having fun! Participating students progress from the school level to the regional level and finally to the National Finals where one student is crowned the National History Bee Champion!

What makes the National History Bee unique? Unlike other activities, participants in the National History Bee compete head-to-head to be the first to “buzz-in” with the correct answer. What results is a competition that tests a student’s knowledge in a fun and exciting way! For more information about the specific stages of the National History Bee, click here.

This year, the regional competition will be at Fairfield Middle School.

Let me know if you create a team!

C:UsersNickDocumentsHistoryBee Promo V2

NEH Summer Programs in the Humanities for School and College Educators

For those without kids, or who want a break from them over the summer, National Endowment for the Humanities offers tuition-free opportunities for school, college, and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. Stipends of $1,200-$3,900 help cover expenses for these one- to five-week programs.

For example:

The Chinese Exclusion Act and Immigration in America

Deadline: March 1, 2016

Dates: July 10 – July 22, 2016 (2 weeks)

Project Director(s): Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen and Joy Liu

Location: New York, NY

More information here.

Gilder Lehrman Summer Institutes

The 2016 list of Gilder Lehrman summer institutes is out now. Each summer, the Gilder Lehrman Institute offers academically rigorous Teacher Seminars for K–12 educators. These highly competitive one-week seminars are open exclusively to participants in Gilder Lehrman’s free Affiliate School Program.

Deadline to submit your application: February 29, 2016.

Click here for more info.

Instructional Ideas

Click here to go to the HCPS SOL Resources WikiPage

Digital resources for SOL courses including state guidelines, online textbooks, and other resources to use in the classroom.

Leveled Readers

In Google Drive Folder, for Leveled Readings, are a number of short stories (biographical and historical) you can use in your classroom. Each book comes at 4 different levels, you can decided who reads what.

They are free and in PDF format. Download them and see how you can use them in class.

Bill of Rights Resources

Within the half-billion pages of records in the care of the Center for Legislative Archives, there are some special treasures from the First Congress that show how the ratification of the Constitution necessitated the creation of the Bill of Rights, and how the creation of the Bill of Rights, in turn, completed the Constitution. The remarkable story of the relationship between two of our Charters of Freedom is told in Congress Creates the Bill of Rights.

Congress Creates the Bill of Rights consists of three elements: an eBook, a mobile app for tablets, and online resources for teachers and students. Each provides a distinct way of exploring how the First Congress proposed amendments to the Constitution in 1789.

Find all the resources here.

Introducing Congress Creates the Bill of Rights


Andy Givens shared this with me and other Government teachers might like this, too:

"Republicans contend that the 2016 election will be about Americans’ desire for change after eight years of a Democratic president. Democrats hope the election will tell a different story of change: a continued march toward a more diverse electorate that is ever more hostile to the GOP’s Electoral College fortunes.

We’ve built an interactive tool to help you draw your own conclusions about whether, as is often said, demographics truly are destiny. You can use it to see how changes in turnout and partisanship within five demographic groups would affect the outcome of the 2016 election. Paying homage to the BBC’s iconic tracker of vote swings in British parliamentary elections, we’re calling it the 2016 Swing-O-Matic. Check it out:"

Load the map here.

Flipped Classroom

From Free Tech 4 Teachers, "One of the most frequent requests that I get is for suggestions on developing flipped classroom lessons. The first step is to decide if you want to create your own video lessons from scratch or if you want to develop lessons based on videos that others have produced. In this post we'll look at tools for doing both."

Read more here.

Which Came First

Students need to think like a historian. This can be done a number of ways. A simple way is for students to read two letters and use what they know to determine which comes first. Here's an example of what this would look like.

Students would read both letters and write why they think one comes first. These forces them to justify an opinion.

You can use these letters or find your own, they aren't difficult to find. This can be done as a classroom activity or an alternative assessment.

Word Walls

A lot of teachers are using Word Walls, but how do you know if you're using them effectively?

I recently went to a session about teaching vocabulary, and the presenter gave the following tips:

  1. Find 10-15 words you really want to focus on for the unit. They can be general words related to social studies, e.g. boycott, or content specific like Declaration of Independence.
  2. Create Essential Understandings based on these words, e.g., "the colonists started a boycott against British goods as a tool for protest." These Essential Understandings can contain more than one of the words you chose. Also, teach these Essential Understandings in an order that makes sense for the unit you are teaching.
  3. Create essential questions that use these words, "How did boycotts affect colonial life?"
  4. Use the vocabulary words in one of three ways: definition, example, or contrast. For example, you can simply define "boycott." Or, give an example for students of a boycott. Last, you can contrast it, e.g. patriots boycotted while Loyalists did not. It's best if you do all three. Students need to be exposed to these words 8 - 10 times in the unit.
  5. Find primary sources that use these words.
  6. Use flash cards, online flash cards, crossword puzzles, graphic organizers. Students need different types of contact with these words.

Trivia and Other Balderdash

Trivia 2015 - 2016: Teachers- 6 and Me- 5

Last week:

Which battle did General Washington win by using part of a pine tree?

No one got this... this is William Washington, a cousin of George. He defeated the Loyalist Colonel Rowland Rugeley and his followers in Rugeley’s house and barn near Camden, South Carolina, on this day in 1780 by using a fake log that looked like a giant cannon.

But to be fair, I'm not going to count it. I typed "General" when it should have been "Colonel."

This week:

A mystery from history:

  • Originally, it was Amazon
  • It's not about pizza
  • It could have been a Sherlock Holmes case

Podcasting and Learning

In the middle of the night, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl grabs a notebook, snacks, water, some cash. Then he quietly slips off a remote U.S. Army outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into the dark, open desert. About 20 minutes later, it occurs to him: he’s in over his head.

Podcasting is transforming to an amazing venue for storytelling. While podcasts range on many topics, many historical, some are fictitious or investigative.

Last year, Serial hit the Internet in a big way investigating the murder of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed, who was imprisoned for her murder.

This year, it's about Bowe Bergdahl and started on Dec. 10 with one episode a week to learn more about this case.

Click here for the Podcast.


Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast] by BackStory