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Showing posts from October, 2013

Why I LOVE History Lesson Planning (& HATE Christopher Columbus)

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It starts with an idea. This was the idea I had last week:
I don't want to be another in a long line of teachers who lets Columbus Day come and go silently.  I don't want to horrify my students, but they deserve to know the truth. So I start researching.

First, I looked for something that Columbus said in his own words. An obvious choice was his report to the the King and Queen of Spain upon his triumphant return from his first voyage in 1493.
Columbus speaks of the natives of Hispaniola in favorable terms.  They were welcoming, friendly, and unarmed.  Columbus seemed pleased.  Well, as I confirmed through further research, he should have been pleased.  He stood to receive a substantial reward if he discovered something that could be profitable for the Spanish Empire during his voyage.  The Library of Congress showed through primary sources that he gained the right to "bear arms" (this meant have his own coat of arms in Renaissance Europe), to use the title of admiral…

What Drives Me

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Daniel Pink's book Drive boldly analyzes why we humans do things.  His analysis was meant to be read by business CEOs and managers, but many have applied his research and conclusions to education.  While his ideas are interesting, they certainly do not fit into the current public education model.  His book did cause me to ask myself, "What drives me to be a teacher?"

The Test
Pink discusses of the two types of people that exist according to him in Chapter 3.

Type X
"Type X behavior is fueled more by extrinsic desires than intrinsic ones.  It concerns itself less with the inherent satisfaction of an activity and more with the external rewards to which that activity leads."
Type I
"Type I behavior is fueled more by intrinsic desires than extrinsic ones.  It concerns itself less with the external rewards to which an activity leads and more wit the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself."
Well, of course after reading these descriptions and the more …

Don't Just Review, Re-Vine!

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I posted about my limited experience with Vine last spring soon after the app was launched by Twitter.  A couple of days ago in class I was in a bind, and the opportunity to use Vine as an academic tool presented itself.  I grabbed it.

An analysis of the potential of Vine and Instagram videos in the classroom was recently posted on the Edutopia website.  After reading it, I was determined to find a way to make it work for me.  My philosophy is:
If I can meet my students where they already are, rather than forcing them to learn on my terms, they are more likely to see how history can be relevant in their own lives.Things Weren't Going As I'd Planned
I had spent the better part of a Friday evening building interactive review games through my Smart Notebook software.  I've used these activities before.  They give students a chance to play with the Smart Board and they review content to prepare for assessments.  But, when I tried to fire them up the following Wednesday in clas…

Are You Taking Notes or Just Doodling?

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The answer is: BOTH

The ed-tech integration cohort I'm working with this school year completed an iPad scavenger hunt with 9 tasks that required us to look for apps and work together to solve problems.  For one of the tasks we had to use Doodle Buddy to create our avatar.  It was fun.  We giggled.  But the real world classroom application of creating one's avatar was not immediately apparent.  How would this task help improve my students' learning experience?

At the same time, in all of my classes, students have gone paperless.  They're taking notes and carrying out class activities using mostly Evernote and the suite of accompanying apps.  One that they've been using quite a bit is Penultimate.  It has similar capabilities to Doodle Buddy, but it connects rather seamlessly to Evernote, so it fits into my class better.  Here's how it works:

Before the Lesson
I upload the class notes to Edline and then create a QR code that will connect them directly to the notes…

When the Government Shuts You Down, Your PLN Can Lift You Back Up

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My little family is fortunate this week because we are all still working.  Even though the 94% "non-essential" federal workers are furloughed, everyone we know personally who works for the federal government is considered "essential" and is still working and earning a paycheck.  That doesn't mean, however, that I'm not feeling the far-reaching effects of this giant Congressional tantrum.

Day 1 of Shutdown First, on Monday, October 1 I tried to get onto the Library of Congress website to do some research for an upcoming lesson.  When I was faced with a government shutdown message, I tweeted out my frustrations. The #shutdown prevents me from researching historical information for the high school students I teach. #ebtl2pic.twitter.com/7Q01uVNZAm
— Kerry Gallagher (@KerryHawk02) October 1, 2013
To my delight, I got a few retweets from sympathizing teachers and a new follower.  Darin Johnston (@AnIowaTeacher) certainly isn't anyone I've ever met, but we…