The Digital Broadside

News You Can Use

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CRC Kids from Wilder at the Richmond Symphony

Twitter: Your Best Source for Everything

Last Monday, I participated in my first #sschat on Twitter for a long time. I forgot how great they are for learning. They are each Monday night at 7pm. Just log in to Twitter and search on #sschat.

If you've never done one, here's how it works:

  • Someone has been designated as the moderator. Last night, it was someone from iCivics.
  • They will first introduce themselves and ask others to do the same.
  • Then they'll ask the first questions, each night is usually 4 or 5 questions. So you'll see, Q1 ... and the question...
  • Those in the chat will respond with A1 #sschat and then give an answer. If you're on the #sschat search page, all you'll see are answers. The rest of the Twitter world is filtered out.
  • You'll see answers from around the world. Some are ok, but others will inspire you. If that happens, "favorite it" or retweet it.
  • Soon, you'll see that someone will have done that to one of your responses.
  • Then after about 10 minutes, Question 2 will pop up

This is a great way to meet new teachers from around the world. The connections you can make are invaluable. It's free PD, done at home, and you can even do it while your spouse thinks you're listening to them (shhh!)

Below, you can actually see the whole conversation.

Depth of Knowledge

I'm all about making it simple. Take Bloom's, 6 ideas, pyramids, verbs attached. Pretty simple. But what if you can make it 4?!

Webb's Depth of Knowledge is another way to think about critical thinking in the classroom. There's even applications for Social Studies that can help. And this. When it comes to students asking higher order questions themselves, the picture below is a handy tool.

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Instructional Planner: A/U/T

Acquire, Understand, Transfer...

This is in Stage 1 of the Instructional Planner. Generally, it means:

Acquire: What do students need to learn? Meaning, what is the content you are teaching. If it's an SOL class, then the content from the framework is all you need.

Understand: What do students need to understand? How do they make meaning of this? Partial help can come from the Essential Understandings column or connections they should make with the content.

Transfer: How will students connect with the content. What historical thinking skills will they use? How will it relate to today's world.

The other day I saw the IB Planner and they broke down A/U/T like this:

Acquire: What's factual?

Understand: What's conceptual?

Transfer: What's debatable

If thinking about A/U/T like this helps you, use it. If not, stick with what you've been doing.

2015 SOLs are Here

The VDOE has released the first draft of the SOL Blueprints for the upcoming SOLs. There are some major changes ahead for the standards. For example, a lot of the skills have been increased up the Bloom's scale, for example, changing a lot of the "identify" to "apply." James K. Polk is now in the SOLs and many of the SOLs are re-organized completely.

The SOLs are still being commented on for change. Ideally, the summer of 2015 is when we'll see a final draft of the Curriculum Framework. Testing on the new SOLs will begin during the 2016-2017 school year.

You can check them out here.

Co-Teaching in Social Studies

As I observe this year, I am purposefully seeking out classes with co-teachers. One thing I want to see is how the co-teaching experience is unique to the Social Studies classroom. Recently, I found this article that describes co-teaching in specific classroom settings.

Scroll to:

  • Page 264 for Middle School Social Studies
  • Page 265 for High School World History

Here is the full article.


A famous book from 1988 is All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten. In it, Robert Fulgham lists a "rules-of-life" philosophy that are learned by age 5.

The first rule is, "Share everything."

As Social Studies teachers in Henrico County, this should be especially true. We all have too much on our plate, so recreating the wheel can waste time. Last year I created a Dropbox account to help us gather good instructional material that we can all share and use. Basically, the rule was: Add stuff. Borrow stuff.

The folders are more organized with specific SOLs. This summer, some of the folders got cleaned up, but it still needs more work.

So please start adding to and using the Dropbox. And don't just add upcoming things. Add instructional materials for second semester, too.

We are low on Civics and Government resources, as well as 11th Grade US History. Right now we have 3.4 gigs of material in the site. For some reason, they don't count items, just size. But it started at zero.

Please add test banks, unit tests, reviews, handouts. It DOES NOT need Instructional Planners.

Teacher Opportunities

Best Book Ever: Cheap!

Seriously, $1.99? To learn about the greatest historical figure ever?

Bill of Rights Institute

You know how people hate Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.... well, here's some info on Summer 2015 Professional Development:

Join the Bill of Rights Institute for five days of enriching professional development in Washington, D.C. This program will give attendees the opportunity to read and discuss the primary source documents surrounding the Constitutional Conference. Attending teachers will participate in scholar-lead round table discussions as well as visit historic sites in the area.

Eligibility: Social Studies teachers of grades 7-12.

They have two programs:

Liberty and the Constitution

Liberty and Security

Program Overview:

  • Lodging, transportation during the program, and most meals will be covered by the Institute.
  • A $400 travel stipend will be provided at the conclusion of the program.
  • Participants will be responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the program sites.

Application Requirements:

  • All applicants must complete the online application form.
  • Applicants will be notified if they have been accepted to the program by mid-April.
  • All applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST on March 15, 2015. For questions, please contact:

Echoes and Reflections

Special Event for Richmond area teachers! On December 20th (before you leave town) the Virginia Holocaust Museum will host an Echoes and Reflections workshop for teachers. There will be two facilitators for this event. Jen Goss, a teacher in Staunton, VA and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Mentor will lead in the Echoes and Reflection portion of the day. Second, teachers will get a special tour of the Virginia Holocaust Museum by Charlie Sydnor, the Executive Director of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, who will also share his experiences.

At the end of the day, each teacher will receive a 10 lesson curriculum book from Echoes and Reflections, a $99 value.

If you're interested, please fill out this form.

There is limited seating for this and teachers from Chesterfield, Hanover, Richmond, and Powhatan have been invited.

About Echoes and Reflections

Be a Historian!

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University is pleased to announce Hidden in Plain Sight, an asynchronous, online U.S. history course for teachers. The course was developed with funding from the Virginia Department of Education.

Participants in this course work through eight modules. Requirements in each module include writing a hypothesis, exploring historical context, and reflecting on classroom applications. The cost is $40.

Register by January 16, 2015

More information here.

The Abolitionists at the VHS

The Virginia Historical Society will be showing the documentary “The Abolitionists” at 6:30 pm on Thursday November 6. The movie and discussion are free and no reservations are needed. I’ve attached a flyer.

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.

February 4 (Wednesday) - Vietnam - Lessons Learned

Guest Speaker: BG John “Jack” W. Nicholson, USA (Ret.) – former Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission and Vietnam Silver Star Recipient

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.

#sschat Night Resource #1

An important Historical Thinking Skill is crafting an argument. People love to argue, but most do it very poorly. Like Ben, he's the worst (ha). Anyway, students need to learn to craft an argument, if anything, to give them the skills on how to convince their parents of things.

iCivics, the host for last Monday night's #sschat shared their updated Drafting Board. This tool isn't just for Civics, but can help students craft arguments for writing. See the video below. Here's the link.
Use Drafting Board to Teach Argumentative Writing

#sschat night resource #2

Edsitement has tons of ready to go lesson plans. These are both US History and World History.

#sschat night resource #3

Two documents for helping students craft better questions:

#sschat night resource #4

A quick list of great sites to use in class, including historical based games.

Digital Exit Tickets

Here's a great article on 5 Ways to Collect Digital Exit Tickets.

This was one of the themes of the October Staff Development Day: Using 21st Century tools for Formative Assessment so you can informally assess EVERY student.

A simple Formative Assessment tool I saw in an Orlando school recently can be done with a simple Google Form, like this one.

Using this form, you can quickly gauge where your students are in the learning. Use it consistently enough, and it will become a more successful tool for you.

Student Created Timelines

Having students create a timeline is a great way for students to create something historical, use the content, but add their own flair to the project. Here is a new tool students can use, called TIMELINE JS. With this site, students can use a template from Google to create an interactive timeline for class.

Students just need a Google account, which they all have, and content.

Below is a quick tutorial on how to do this. If you have your kids use this tool, let me know!

How to Create a Multimedia Timeline - Timeline JS

PDF Maps at your Fingertips

For the last few years, eMaps was for just 10 specific schools. But now they are available to all schools, teachers and students.

Just go to the Software Center and download... easy. These are maps for:

  • 6th grade US History
  • 7th grade US History
  • World History 1
  • World History 2
  • US History

Students can also download these maps. once downloaded, you won't need the Internet. You can also print them out or use them on your Smart Board.

5 Awesome Primary Source Websites

World Digital Library

Finding primary sources for US History and Government classes are easy, but primary sources for World History is a bit trickier. Check out the World Digital Library.

The World Digital Library hosts more than 10,000 primary documents and images from collections around the world. Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the mission of the World Digital Library is to promote the study and understanding of cultures. The WDL can be searched by date, era, country, continent, topic, and type of resource.

Government Lessons

The Center on Congress from Indiana University has developed for students as well as the general public, interactive learning activities designed to give you a fresh perspective on how the United States Congress works, your role in the process, and peoples' perceptions about Congress.

12 Years a Slave

From Glenn Wiebe's site, there are free resources, including the movie, for 12 Years a Slave. Just click here and here for information.

Again, if you don't get weekly news from Glenn, you're missing out.

Trivia and Other Balderdash

Trivia 2014 - 2015: Teachers- 2 and Me- 4

This week: For two weeks, I asked: If you retest or re-quiz a student, do you average the grades or give the higher grade?

Of 20 responses, the winner was "Give the better of two grades." There were 5 other options, which were:

  • Don't retest or requiz
  • Follow the county policy of major tests of 65% max (4 variations of this)

County policy is a 65% max for a re-take. Which means, if you're not re-testing, your going against county policy. Re-quizzing can be whatever grade you want, if you choose to allow students to make up quizzes.

I can go on a huge rant about this, especially the idea of not allowing retests or a re-quiz, but this isn't the place. I'd only say, if you don't allow a re-test, then there probably shouldn't be any excuses for a student not showing growth.

Next Week: Teachers win by proving they participated in Monday night, 7pm, #sschat.

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History in the News

Below are current event stories, or the issue it raises, that most likely will end up in a textbook one day. My narrative will link to stories and give you an idea on how to approach the subject in class. If you have a current event that I've missed, let me know.

  • Nothing specific this week, but maybe a lot of set up for the next few months. It appears that the Supreme Court may take up the issue of same sex marriage after ignoring it a few weeks ago. And it seems like the ACA will come up for a second time.
  • It will be interesting to see if the same sex marriage ruling will be based on the idea of same sex marriage, or how citizens vote in propositions give to them.
  • This time, the ACA case will focus on the Federal role in the state exchange system.


Let's Make Up: Reconciliation And Its Limits by BackStory


Part of creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself is making it easy. If you have to drive an hour to the gym just to work out, you ain't going! Dieting is tough because it takes a commitment to buy fresh (and often more expensive food) along with taking the time to cook it right.

One part of life that does make things easier is our smart phone. Nearly everyone has one, and there are apps to help make keeping healthy easier.

I have started using one called, Human. It's pretty simple and free. The goal of Human is to get you to move at least 30 minutes a day. Once you download and register, you don't even have to turn it on. It just runs automatically. Most other health apps you have to launch for it to start tracking your activity. Human rewards you with 30, 60, and 90 minute achievements and keeps very detailed data about what you did.

Another app is called, 7 Minutes. This is another free app that works your muscles in just 7 minutes. You don't need machines, just 7 minutes. Surely you have 7 minutes.

There are more, in fact, lots more. Check them out.