The Digital Broadside

News You Can Use

Let's Think About September!

What?!?! I want summer, man!!! Don't make me think about September now!!!

OK.... sorry, I suck. But I think reflection is important for teachers, but sometimes, you need to know what to reflect about. So, before students leave, let them give you some ideas on how you can change your classroom.

Edutopia has a good article on this with things you can do with your students before they leave, for example:

Five-Item Lists

Hand out 5x7 note cards to your students. On one side of the card, ask them to list five things that helped them learn during the year. On the other side, they'll write five things that made it hard for them to learn. No names are required. While they are doing this, take your own card and on each side write your predictions of what you think will be your students' most common answers. Later, compare the students' set with your predictions. See how accurate you were, and find items that give you ideas on how to improve your teaching. Add these items to your master list in the appropriate categories.

For more ideas, read here.

Henrico 21

I held off the newsletter a day so I can report the Social Studies winners for Henrico 21. I hope I'm not overlooking someone:

  • Moody Middle School|Research and Information Fluency and Creativity and Innovation: Meghan Madden, Vanessa Jante, and Emily Burns with The Immigration Experience
  • Moody Middle School|Creativity and Innovation: Meghan Madden, Vanessa Jante, and Emily Burns with Let Me Take a Selfie
  • Moody Middle School|Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Meghan Madden and Dawson Rae with Perspectives on the Boston Massacre
  • Short Pump Middle School|Communication and Collaboration: Amy Buchanan with Colonial Time Warp
  • Deep Run High School|Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Dan Dickey and Elizabeth Berry for Memorializing History
  • Glen Allen High School|Research and Information Fluency: Drew Baker for his student TED Talks.

Congratulations to all of them and others who contributed to Henrico 21.

Fed Challenge

Last Friday, 4 teams of students at Freeman High School in Mr. Zanetti's AP Economics class participated in the Fed Challenge, an economics based competition judged by a panel of economists and me. The students do a mock hearing where they analyze the current economic conditions and then provide suggestions on what is best to do.

They look at unemployment, inflation, and other economic indicators and discussed whether they would increase interest rates or other measures. The students are then judged on how well they understood cause and effect of economic policies. Each hearing lasted about 15 minutes where they had a presentation and then answered questions from the panel.

In the picture is: Jack Fleming, Nathan Lin, and Abigail Thompson.

Henrico Authentic Assessment Pilot Team

For the last two weeks, 8 middle school teachers and ITRTs representing each region of the county, SPED, regular ed and advanced have created 4 Authentic Assessment lessons for 6th and 7th grade to help all teachers fulfill the new VDOE requirements for Authentic Assessments since we no longer have SOLs.

Over the summer, they will create 4 more so that we have at least one Authentic Assessment tool for each of the 9 week periods.

We need other teachers who want to do these assessments in their class and share the results. Right now, the goal is one 6th and 7th grade teacher from each middle school.

We will meet on August 18 for training, training for which you will be paid curriculum writing money ($20/hour).

If you're interested, please let your department chair know.

Baker Without Borders

Drew Baker from Glen Allen High School is embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with help from the R.E.B. Foundation. He will be travelling across the Mediterranean, from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Bosporus. You can following him on Facebook and on his blog. Check out the video below:
Introducing Baker Without Borders

Summer PD

I'm planning on 3 sessions this summer to help plan for next year:

AP Euro

AP Euro is being redesigned this year. Schuyler Van Valkenburg is attending the training and leading a session for HCPS AP Euro teachers who could not attend their own training. This will be on August 10, 9am at Glen Allen High School. It should end at noon, but it depends on the actual training done by the College Board and how much of a change it is.

Sign up here.


With one year of the redesign under out belt, I'd like for APUSH teachers to meet on June 15, 10am at Hermitage High School to discuss the year and how to move forward. This will end at noon.

Sign up here.

World Geography

As World Geo numbers increase in HCPS, it's important that we share the wealth when it comes to our resources. All interested teachers will meet on June 15, 9:30am at Hermitage High School. This should end at noon with maybe some digital sharing being done over the rest of summer.

Sign up here.

Teacher|Student Opportunities

American Revolution Institute

The ARI has many events over the summer that might interest you. They are up in DC and have a variety of events from readings to museum walks. For example:

Music to Celebrate the 2nd of July

Thursday, July 2

6 p.m.

Free admission

Celebrate the Second of July, the day the Continental Congress voted for independence, with music the Founding Fathers knew well. David and Ginger Hildebrand of the Colonial Music Institute perform 18th-century songs—including ballads, marches, dance tunes and theater songs—in costume with period instruments.

Check out their site here.

Teaching Dharmic Traditions

India is an ancient civilization with widespread social, political, linguistic, cultural, philosophical, artistic, religious, spiritual, and natural diversity. In recent decades, it has taken center stage with its global economic and political roles. Teaching India in classrooms is becoming more interesting and important, but its complexity and diversity pose a challenge to any teacher in a grade school.

Participants will be required to attend the five-day training session, from July 13th – July 17th, 2015, at Bridgewater State University. This will be an immersion program with cultural events in the evenings. Participants will be required to attend the complete session (day and evening cultural events) of the five-day training program. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the four Dharmic Traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism) have created training materials and teacher training modules for the recipients of these fellowships.

Click here for more info.

"See Freedom Speak - Teacher Institutes"

This summer will be the tenth year the VIRGINIA WAR MEMORIAL presents the See Freedom Speak Teacher Institutes. For 2015, they have put together an outstanding lineup of interesting topics, locations and well qualified guest speakers – including combat veterans from World War II and the Global War on Terrorism who will relate their first hand experiences. Also included will be university scholar lecturers and historians, book author presentations, and tours of hosting venues. There goal is to give teachers the additional knowledge and resources to make history come alive in their classrooms. They encourage teachers from to attend and register early as space is limited.

Click here for more info.

Virginia Historical Society

The VHS currently offers three teachers institutes. "The Story of Virginia, an American Experience" is a week-long program that is offered twice each summer. The dates and subject of the E. Claiborne Robins, Jr., Teachers Institute and Primarily Virginia, the VHS on-line institute, vary from year to year. All institutes are open to private and public school teachers of any grade level.

NOTE: The E. Claiborne Robins Institute is to help APUSH teachers with the redesign.

For more information, click here

2015 Stratford Hall Summer Institute for Teachers

From the afternoon of July 15 through noon on July 18, 2015, twenty-five teachers from across Virginia and the nation will have a unique opportunity to participate in a practical educational experience.

Set on the grounds of Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County, Virginia, home of two signers of the Declaration of Independence, this four-day workshop will feature lectures from four nationally respected scholars and workshops led by a nationally prominent Master Teacher and Professor of Curriculum Development. Participants will examine four distinct components of the reality of Tidewater Virginia colonial life on the eve of the American Revolution. These examinations will be accomplished through the use of selected primary sources.

For more information, click here. Deadline extended to June 14!

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.

Podcasts x 19

As you all probably know, I love podcasts. I always post the most recent Backstory at the bottom of this page. So here is a list of 19 podcasts you can listen to this summer, such as:


I love this podcast from Karina Longworth, in which she beautifully recounts tales of old Hollywood. I’ve enjoyed her episodes about Mia Farrow and the “many loves of Howard Hughes,” though her “Star Wars” series about celebrities’ experiences during wartime is particularly outstanding.

Read more here.

US and European History Readers

Here is another online resources for US and European history classes. It was designed by Virginia Tech and is free to use. Just make sure you review it first to make sure you students can handle the reading.

Click here to see the site.

Six Styles of Classroom Video Projects

After seeing Henrico 21 last night, I noticed a lot of video projects. Which made me think of this post I saw from Free Technology for Teachers about video projects.

The process of creating and publishing videos can be a great way to get students excited about researching, storytelling, and sharing their work with an audience. For teachers who have never facilitated video creation projects in their classrooms, choosing the right style of video and the right tools can be a bit confusing at first. To help bring clarity to the styles and tools, I have a rather simple outline that I use in my video creation workshops.

Click here for more.

Primary and Secondary Sources

Using Primary and Secondary Sources in Social Studies is a key component of any class. First, because that's what historians use, but second, it's a skill in the SOLs. But what can we expect for our students at each grade? I've developed this chart based on a New York documents and our SOLs. I thought it might be a good guide for what we should do at each grade level and what to expect as kids come into your room.

Here's the Vertical Articulation chart I created.

Trivia and Other Balderdash

Trivia 2014 - 2015: Teachers- 12.5 and Me- 13

Last week:

He's not a pastry. But JFK knew he was born there. But he wasn't the leader his predecessor was hoping he'd be.

No winner: the answer was Karl Donitz. Clue #1 referred to his last name, which is pronounced "donuts." Clue #2 referenced his name and "Ich bin ein berliner." We all knw that story. And last, Clue #3, if you got Germany by now, was Hitler.

This week:

Last one of the year:

Which "official" presidential landmark requires a passport to see?

TeacherFit Challenge

Summer is almost here!

Here's an article that gives teachers some tips on what they can do this summer.


Keeping Tabs: Data & Surveillance in America [rebroadcast] by BackStory