The Digital Broadside

News You Can Use

Pay Raises???

A 2-percent pay raise for county employees, a tax cut for manufacturing companies and an increased commitment to sports tourism highlight Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas' proposed 2015-16 fiscal year budget, which he presented to the county's Board of Supervisors during a work session last night.

Hopefully that 2% means us, too.

Read more here.

Virginia History Day

Virginia History Day (April 18) is a history competition for students grades six through twelve. To qualify for the State competition, students must place first or second in their category and age division at one of eight District levels competitions held throughout Virginia. The top two entries in each category and age division at the State level will compete at the National History Day finals held June 14-18, 2015 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

They are looking for educators to judge projects. For more information, click here.

Skip St. Patrick's Day

Tired of the same old St. Patrick's Day lesson? If you give one...

Well, this March 17, instead of St. Patrick's Day, talk about: Evacuation Day

Evacuation Day coincides with St Patrick’s Day, also on March 17. This gives a reason to celebrate especially as many residents in Suffolk County are of Irish descent. Moreover, the Irish Catholics are remembered on this day for their efforts in helping General George Washington defeat the British soldiers on March 17, 1776. Activities on the day may include Evacuation Day re-enactments, essay contests, and visits to historically significant sites.

But it can lead to a great discussion on local history, traditions, and reconnect past content.

Read more here.

But as for skipping St. Patrick's Day... please go back to celebrating the holiday at 5pm.

Student Growth Measures

Reminder: Please do your best to complete both student growth measures by the end of Marking Period 3. I know the snow is messing up things, but do make sure that all the content for the tests have been taught before giving them. For SG Measure 1, I purposely leave of Marking Period 4 material, but giving the test before you teach all the content only hurts you.

The Exam View versions of the test are in the Google Group, just make sure to give the POST Test version, the one without E) I don't know, as an option. The test should only be A - D.

Student Growth Measure #2 isn't as time sensitive, but make sure it's done by the end of MP3.

No More Giving Zeroes as a Grade

THIS IS not a trick question. If you are using a grading scale in which the numbers 4, 3, 2, 1, and 0 correspond to grades of A, B, C, D, and F, then what number is awarded to a student who fails to turn in an assignment? If you responded with a unanimous chorus of “zero,” then you may have a great deal of company. There might be a few people who are familiar with the research that asserts that grading as punishment is an ineffective strategy, but many of us curmudgeons want to give the miscreants who failed to complete our assignments the punishment that they richly deserve. No work, no credit - end of story.

Read the entire, short, article here.

History in the Movies/Pop Culture

The Feb 12 edition of Backstory was pretty interesting (they all are) in that they discussed how history is portrayed in media. While a large part of the discussion was on Selma, they also discussed the Amerikans, and Assassins Creed.

It's a good discussion on how accurate a movie should be to the real history. It also gives a preview of three upcoming movies that are historically based.


Pop History: The Past in Last Year's Media by BackStory

House of Cards, anyone?

Passed in 1988, near the end of the Reagan administration, the act was meant to organize federal responses to national disasters and emergencies. Three decades later, it's now playing a central role in the new season of House of Cards.

Click the link below, but if you haven't seen Episode 5 of Season 3 yet, spoiler alert!

From Vox

VCSS Conference Info

The VCSS website got a face lift. Check it out. The VCSS's goal is to foster professional growth, develop communication among stakeholders in the social studies community, and to promote the teaching of social studies in Virginia, the United States, and the international sphere. The Virginia Council of the Social Studies is an affiliate with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).

The VCSS also runs the state conference, which will be in October this year. If you want to be a member, you can do it 1 of 2 ways. By joining the NCSS (national), you can add $10 to become part of VCSS at the same time. Or, go to the site and fill out the form for the VCSS application.

NEW INFORMATION: The conference this year is Oct. 16-17 and you can book your room now and if you want to present, you can do that here. Get information about the conference here and presenting, here.

John Marshall Teacher of the Year Award

Every year since 1989, on Law Day, May 1st, The John Marshall Foundation has awarded $2500 each to one outstanding high school social studies, government, history or civics teacher and one middle school civics teacher in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Attached is a flyer that I am requesting you to email to all state social studies/history coordinators, if possible. We want as many outstanding Virginia teachers as possible to be aware of these "no strings attached" awards.

Important Information:

  • Nomination forms are available online.
  • Nomination packets must be postmarked by Friday, March 27, 2015.
  • Awards will be presented on May 1, 2015 (Law Day) in Richmond, Virginia.

Teacher|Student Opportunities

Echoes and Reflection

A few months ago, I had asked folks if they'd be interested in a free workshop at the Virginia Holocaust Museum, but it had to be postponed because too few people signed up.

Well, we have a new date:

Saturday April 25, 2015

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Virginia Holocaust Museum

2000 East Cary Street

Richmond, VA 23223

To register contact, Megan Ferenczy at 804-257-5400, ext. 234 or

This workshop is free for educators and includes an Echoes and Reflections Teacher Resource Guide ($95 value) for all participants. A certificate of attendance will be awarded to participants at the conclusion of the workshop.

Specifically, Echoes and Reflections:

  • Promotes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching about the Holocaust to today’s students.
  • Addresses academic standards—including Common Core State Standards—using informational texts and primary source documents.
  • Incorporates compelling visual history testimony into ten multi-part and modular lessons to engage students in the lives of survivors, rescuers, liberators, and other witnesses of the Holocaust.
  • Combines the experience and resources of three world leaders in education: the Anti-Defamation League, USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem.

Learn more here.

About Echoes and Reflections - Leaders in Holocaust Education

This Weekend Forum

The 2015 Virginia Forum will be held at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, from March 12-14, 2015.

Initiated in 2006, the Virginia Forum is an interdisciplinary conference that brings together academics, teachers, writers, archivists, museum curators, historic site interpreters, librarians, and others engaged in the study and interpretation of Virginia history and culture to share their knowledge, research, and experience. The Forum is open to all interested participants and attendees.

For more information, click here.

Free Classroom Civil War Poster

Newseum has an American Civil War poster that is a replica of an 1861 front page of The New York Herald, which features a large map of the positions of rebel forces in Virginia. The back of the poster offers several lesson ideas, such as decoding the map and the implications of revealing such information.

See more here.

EdCamp for Teachers

the 3rd annual edcampRVA taking place on Saturday, March 21st, at the Luck Leadership Center on the campus of St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, VA. EdcampRVA is an "unconference" - a free grassroots professional development opportunity for educators. Edcamp’s have been taking place all over the world bringing together different types of educators to share teaching innovations and to get inspired. Here are a few videos explaining how an edcamp works: edcamp101 & what’s an edcamp?

More info here.


As part of the VCU School of Education's 50th Anniversary celebration, the Teaching Literacy in a Digital World conference will offer participants an opportunity to learn current research and instructional strategies related to the use of technology in PK-12, college, and adult education settings. A general session combined with concurrent and poster sessions covering a variety of topics will offer the chance to gain valuable insight from speakers including Dr. Denise Johnson, Dr. Gardner Campbell, and Dr. Jonathan Becker during this half day conference. Presentations will focus on three strands: Reading and Writing in Digital Environments, Digital Literacy in an "Open" World, and Social Media and Literacy Education. The conference will culminate with a dinner featuring noted literacy researcher and speaker Dr. Julie Coiro.

March 14, 2015

This is does cost $75.

More Information Here

Summer Institutes: Teaching the Humanities through Art

Be inspired this summer at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, as you join colleagues from across the country for an exciting exploration of the connections among American art, social studies, history, and English/language arts. Attend one of our week-long institutes in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Stay connected with your newfound colleagues and museum staff throughout the year.

View last year’s 2014 Institute agenda (PDF) and video of past keynote addresses.

Apply Now! Applications due: April 1, 2015

Read more info here.

High School Student Roundtable Seminar

The Virginia War Memorial is pleased to announce the 6th Annual World War II Roundtable Seminar for selected high school students in Central Virginia on Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

Our Roundtable discussions with heroic WW II veterans in the afternoon will be moderated by Peter Bacque, staff writer for the RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH. Peter is the son of a WW II veteran and has written many stories about these heroes. These first person stories of sacrifice and courage will be inspiring for all participants. As we are all aware, the opportunity to engage with these primary sources will soon come to an end, and your students will not want to miss this special day. A complete schedule can be viewed on our website.

Please join us by selecting four deserving students and a teacher to participate in our World War II Roundtable Seminar. Please register online no later than March 10, 2015. Complimentary box lunches will be provided. Appropriate dress is requested (no jeans or shorts), and all participants are expected to remain until the conclusion.

Please call or email Candice Shelton, Education Director ( if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you on March 18th.

The Long Road From Brown

From VCU and ODU:

It is our pleasure to invite school teachers (Grade 6-12) to participate in one-week workshop on school desegregation in Virginia, following the historic Brown v. Board Education decision. Teachers will interact with leading scholars in the field, visit historic sites and archives, and will discuss curricular and instructional strategies related to this subject.


Location: Richmond, Virginia

Workshop Dates: July 13-July 17 & July 27-July 31, 2015

Application Deadline: March 2, 2015

Participants will receive a $1,200 NEH stipend to defray travel and related expenses

More info here.

Students Can Make a Global Impact

Do you have a club or maybe teach being a global citizen in your classroom? There's a great website you can use for either situation. It's called Students Rebuild. As they say,

"We inspire young people worldwide to connect, learn and take collective action on critical global issues." There are a number of ways your students can impact the world. The site has challenges, "water challenges, literacy challenges, bookmark challenges,

Students Rebuild is a collaborative program of the Bezos Family Foundation, born in January 2010 in response to the devastating Haiti earthquake. Since then, we’ve mobilized thousands of young people in 65 countries and all 50 United States and raised more than $2 million in matching funds for rebuilding schools in Haiti, youth facilities in Japan and livelihoods in Africa. Click here for a downloadable fact sheet about Students Rebuild, and learn more about each Challenge below.

Students Rebuild

See Freedom Speak

High School Student Seminars (by online registration only, two students and one teacher per school) – Day-long instructional activity for students and teachers to gain accurate knowledge, discuss events and engage in conversations with people who were present at history changing events in America. Free.

March 18 (Wednesday) - World War II Round table

Guest Speaker: Peter Bacque - Army veteran and Staff Writer for the Richmond Times Dispatch along with WW II veterans

More information here.

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.

BBC Power of Art Picasso Guernica

50 Ways to Teach with Current Events- Glenn Wiebe

I think we all agree that connecting past and present is a big deal. Something that we need to be more intentional about doing. More and more standard documents, my state included, require linking instruction and learning to “contemporary issues.”

But it can be difficult at times making those connections.

Read more from Glenn, here.

Get Them to Write

Getting students to write is not only difficult, but it's essential. It should be done daily. But what are good ways to do that? Here's a few ideas:

One-One-Two Minute Partner Share:

  1. Have students read a passage, analyze a primary source document, watch a short video, etc... somehow, have them study content before being partnered up.
  2. Have students write for 1 minute, non-stop, or give them a specific number of words, like 140, about the content they studied.
  3. Partner students up, Partner A and Partner B.
  4. ONE Minute: Partner A shares as many things about his or her writing as possible. Partner B just listens without interrupting.
  5. ONE Minute: Partner B repeats back everything they can remember about what Partner A said. Partner A just listens.
  6. REPEAT steps 4 and 5, but allow Partner B to start.
  7. TWO Minutes: After both partners have shared, give them two minutes to engage in a conversation about what they shared with each other.

Central Claim

Again, after a reading or video, have students right about what they read. But as a prompt, have them follow this template:

In __ (Title of the Reading or Video) ___ the author claims that ___________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ etc...

This is a central claim, because:

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ etc...

By prompting the students this way, it helps them learn how to build a thesis.

Silent Conversation

Silent??? Yes... perfect. You have options here and depends on your room. But, if you can get chart paper or different colored butcher paper, it would work best. After studying a topic (lecture, reading, video), have students brainstorm in groups to add to the conversation:

  1. Choose the content for the students
  2. Create 3 - 6 main ideas you want the students to learn and write them in brief on each sheet of paper
  3. Have students break up into groups, 4 - 5 is ideal
  4. Each kid should have one marker/pen
  5. Each group starts at one topic, reads the main idea, and writes down as many supporting ideas they can remember
  6. NO TALKING. Students just write on the paper.
  7. After 1 minute, rotate. It should get harder as they go to each new idea.

History vs. Richard Nixon - Alex Gendler


Another tool teachers can use is a new tool called Vialogues. It's a free sign up, your students sign up, too, where you can upload your own video or one from YouTube. This could work for a flipped classroom, homework, or even as an in-class assignment.

The one downside is that it seems like students need to register for an account via email. However, that's just to answer questions. You could have them watch the video, and then read your comments to highlight important information.

Trivia and Other Balderdash

Trivia 2014 - 2015: Teachers- 8.5 and Me- 9

Last Week:

Who is this:

  • He and another traveler rediscovered America, climbing mountains and charting rivers
  • Shared discoveries with Jefferson
  • He's very Current
  • You can find him in 11 states

Winner was Todd Rigler, with Alexander von Humboldt

This week:

Which historical event could these hashtags have been used:

#notavacation #suchadrag #WWTRDO?


For the ladies:

Ladies, you don’t need us to tell you that finding the motivation to always eat clean and regularly hit the gym is hard work. While we’re not advocating always talking the easy route, there are times when health-related life hacks come in handy. You know, small tips and tricks that don’t require much effort but that make staying healthy and fit a breeze, and can make your life better, more balanced and possibly even longer.

Here, we’ve gathered 40 genius healthy life hacks to help keep you looking—and feeling—amazing without that much commitment.

#4 is not endorsed by HCPS.

Read more


On the Clock: A (Brief) History of Time [Spring 2015] by BackStory