The Digital Broadside

News You Can Use

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GAHS Students Steal The Show

On March 11, Drew Baker's Instructional Design students stole the show at the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC) conference. Mr. Baker's students have designed a field trip for elementary students in Richmond Public Schools. At MERC, they spoke about their experience in creating this field trip. The field trip will take place on April 23, and tour many historical spots in Richmond using trolley cars. This was also part of a grant from the Rotary Club. This was also the first time that students presented at a MERC conference.

Richmond Federal Reserve

If anyone is interested in touring the Richmond Federal Reserve with Suzanne Gallagher, please email me. This tour will not only benefit you personally, but if you are teaching the 6120 course, then you'll get resources that you can use.

EverFi Resources

EverFi is a company we've been using for a number of years in the county, mostly for 12th grade Government as a way to teach students personal finance. This is a free tool for teachers and students by using online simulations to help students.

Since then, EverFi has expanded its programs. They now have a course on African American history and Civics. Using these programs is easy. I have codes I can send you. To sign up, you use the code and then create classes. With each class you create, you get a student code. Students then use that code to register for your class. From there, they can use the online tools to complete the program. As the teacher, you can monitor their progress. This can be done in class or as homework.

If you're interested in these programs, please let me know.

Questions about Homework

After many data meetings across the county where teachers, principals, content specialists, and other Central Office staff reviewed benchmark test data and class grades, a question was begging to be asked: What should the county's homework policy be?

Here are more questions related to that:

  • Should a school have the same homework policy? For example, in one school, some teachers will accept late work, and others will not. This will happen in the same content area. Should the entire school or a department should have the same grading policy.
  • This leads to: Should teachers accept late work? If it was important enough to assign, then does it make sense to never collect it? If a student is passing all the tests, but failing or getting a bad score because of not turning in homework, does that make sense? Is the hidden assignment in homework to teach responsibility?
  • Is homework done with fidelity? Meaning, how do you know the student didn't cheat? Does turning it in really mean they understood it? That they were being responsible? If they have a 100 homework score, and fail each test, are your assignments productive?

Then there is mastery of the content, which can be seen through homework and assessments. Which is more important, that the student know the content by the time the school year ends, or by test day? If a 9th grade student didn't understand polytheism in September, but does in February, should a bad grade from September still punish the student in February?

There are no "answers" right now. Rather, the beginning of a conversation. What should our homework policy be?

Women's History Month

March 1 begins Women's History Month, with the theme this year being: Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment. Too much alliteration, for me. I like, "Well-behaved women seldom make history," better, but I wasn't on the committee.

Every year, the National Women's History Project chooses a slate* of women to honor, this year's group includes: Grace Harris, former Dean of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Here are some quick resources you can use:

(* or binders full)

VCSS Conference

This year's state Social Studies conference will be held in Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia on October 24 and 25. Right now, the Virginia Council of the Social Studies is accepting presentation proposals. If you'd like to present, please click this link.

Furthermore, if you'd like to join VCSS, you can do so here. Belonging to a professional organization helps you in many ways: 1) you learn more about what you can do in your profession and opportunities open to you; 2) it builds your resume; 3) gives you a way to contribute to your profession. You can join here.

You can also join the National Council of Social Studies here.

2014 Drop-a-Thon

Part two of the Drop-a-Thon begins today! Last time, we went from zero to 2.7 gigs (100s of files) of resources shared in our Dropbox. That's great news for people looking for resources.

However, most of this is first semester material. So I'm now asking teachers to drop second semester material and SOL review material.

This newsletter is global (one guy in China), so email me for a username and password.

What to share:
· Power Points
· Flip Charts
· Worksheets
· Notes
· Exam View files
· Project ideas

General Rules:
· If you use anything from the dropbox, please give back to the dropbox
· If you already see 3 Power Points for SOL VUS.4a, you don’t need to add a 4th VUS.4a power point
· If you’re putting something in the dropbox, you know people may alter it to fit their own needs
· Always give credit for someone else’s work when possible
· If you borrowed from someone, and you know who’s it is (maybe their name is on the Power Point), email them a Thank You!

Teacher Opportunities

Museum of the Confederacy

With the coming of 1864, the American Civil War became a war of attrition. Ulysses S. Grant was made a Lieutenant General and appointed General in Chief of all U.S. Armies. He proposed to “fight it out on this line if it takes all summer” in Virginia, while General William T. Sherman hammered his way through Georgia. Robert E. Lee and the Confederates held on with determination, hoping that Abraham Lincoln would fail to win reelection and the Peace Party would prevail. On the homefront civilians did their best to deal with growing shortages, loss, and increased populations of POWs. And one woman in the heart of the Confederacy daringly risked all for the Union.

Join the staff of The Museum of the Confederacy and guest lecturers as we explore the pivotal events of 1864 through special sessions, tours & discussions. All participants will receive a notebook filled with lesson units featuring primary source documents and photographs. Additionally, participants will receive a certificate verifying 31 hours of instruction.

June 23 - June 27, 2014

For more information, click here.

Check out these opportunities for teachers:

Cultural Legacies Workshop

Henricus Historical Park

Become a part of the SOL Review Committee
VCU Economics Institutes January 15 - April 30
Gilder Lehrman Summer 2014 Sessions
The Holocaust and Human Behavior on February 10
SOL Resources per content area

National Teacher of the Year

True Grit

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.

Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

Text Coding

I can't stress enough how important it is for students to be reading and writing critically in class. Every day. And I'm not talking about popcorn reading or taking notes. I'm talking about ensuring that students are actively reading and writing. I've mentioned some strategies before and have gone to a number of schools to talk about these strategies. Here's another one: Text Coding.

With text coding, you give students a reading and they use symbols to "mark up" the reading to trigger active reading. They can use "?" for things they don't understand, "!" for important points, happy faces for what they agree with, an "=" if something reminds them of something else.

The nice thing about this, is it's easy for you to do and kids can make up their own codes. This is a good lifelong habit for students and an easy way to implement critical reading in your classroom.

Here's another example.

Eyewitness to History

Need more primary sources? Eyewitness to History is a great resource for US History and World History teachers.

For example, this excerpt is from Robert Gullian, a French reporter stuck in Japan when Americans fire bombed Tokyo, ""They set to work at once sowing the sky with fire. Bursts of light flashed everywhere in the darkness like Christmas trees lifting their decorations of flame high into the night, then fell back to earth in whistling bouquets of jagged flame. Barely a quarter of an hour after the raid started, the fire, whipped by the wind, began to scythe its way through the density of that wooden city."

You can use all or some of the reports. This is a great way for students to get first hand experience of historical events.


Katherine Lowder, a first-year teacher at Moody and Tucker, had an interesting lesson I was lucky to observe. The lesson was based on the television show, "Chopped." In Chopped, chefs are given crazy ingredients and are supposed to come up with a great meal.

The students were studying the Byzantine Empire and she wanted her students to present the information she taught in their own words. So the students were put into groups with the following task:

  • They were given a set of pictures via Google Presentation
  • There were about 15-20 pictures, some of Byzantium, some just random pics and gifs from the Internet (e.g., two dogs walking on a treadmill, Severus Snape shrugging his shoulders)
  • 5 of the pictures were mandatory (pictures of Byzantium) and the students had to pick 5 of the random pictures that the students had to use seamlessly, thus completing a 10 slide project.
  • They had 30 minutes to do this (like the TV show.)

The students did a great job using the Byzantine pictures and also with the random pics. Some students just used the random pictures as transitions to the next slide, but other students used them as a Byzantine fact (the two dogs represented Theodora and Justinian).

The students were very engaged and enjoyed presenting. Even though some of the information was the same (no harm in students hearing repeated information), but the creative parts kept them interested in each group.

If you try it, let me know.


Please make sure you get the Flocabulary link from your department chair and sign up. Once you do, you'll see videos and songs for your content area (US History, World History, and Civics/Government), quizzes, printable lyrics, questions to ask, and more.

There is also a student password for them to use the site at home.

Let me know what you think.

Middle School Resources

Michelle Adams at Fairfield Middle School has created a web page for 7th grade classes. You can access her site here.

She used Google Sites to make the web site, which is something all of you can use, along with your students.

Trivia and Other Balderdash

Trivia: Teachers- 11 and Mike- 7

Last Week: The question asked you to identify 9 pictures and figure out where I was. The answer was Philadelphia, answered by Drew Baker.

This week:

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History in the News

This is a new section: things from the current headlines today that I think will make the textbooks in the future (not that we buy textbooks). These also make good current events discussions.

  • Ukraine: Three weeks as the top History in the News story. A vote this weekend for sovereignty will have huge ramifications. Are we repeating history? For a writing assignment, students can write a persuasive essay. Students can read this article about helping Ukraine, and this one for not helping, and then write a letter to President Obama on what he should do.
  • Oscar Pistorius: Why is his trial a "History in the News?" I doubt it would become something that students will read in history box, but it makes for a good lesson in comparative justice systems. For example: Why is there no jury? This, this, and this article are good resources if you want your students to compare the US trial system to the South African system.


On the Clock: A (Brief) History of Time [2014] by BackStory