Monday, February 16, 2009

Podcast #179 - Does the Economic Situation Create a Tipping Point for Online Conferences?

Hello. In tonight's podcast I share some thoughts on how the current economic situation could create a tipping point in which more people are willing to attend an online conference instead of a face to face conference. I also ask about the opportunity to share the sessions from face to face conferences as a paid "subscription".

Here are some questions to think about (and BTW, I would enjoy hearing any of your thoughts in the form of a comment to this blog post):

- If your district, or organization, pays to allow you to attend conferences such as NCSS or NECC - has the current economic situation caused them to tell you "no" yet?

- If you pay for all your own expenses to conferences such as NCSS or NECC - has the current economic situation caused you to decide not to attend?

- Would you be wiling to pay a set fee - $25 for example - to be able to download an audio or video podcast of all the sessions at the upcoming 2009 NECC? What would you pay to have all these sessions available in that format?

- How you feel as a presenter at one of these conferences if they "sold" a subscription so that someone could download your session? Would you ask to be paid for your presentation? Would it impact if you submitted a proposal if you knew you were not being paid and they were making your presentation available.

Please discuss in small groups.....

Direct link to Podcast #179 - Does the Economic Situation Create a Tipping Point for Online Conferences?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Four Score and Seven Reading Event to Celebrate Lincoln's 200th Birthday

I was very excited about the Four Score and Seven Simultaneous Reading Event today to celebrate Lincoln's 200th birthday. The only problem - I had my planning period during the scheduled 9:30 AM Central time frame. I asked other teachers in the building if they could spare their class for a couple of minutes and I was very happy that four teachers did bring their classes in to read the Gettysburg Address with thousands of others across the world. We had a total of 48 students at South Valley Jr. High School read today. Now we have to wait and see if we had enough to qualify for the world record.

I took some video with my Flip camera and have posted it above. Thanks to all the teachers who brought down their classes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pennsylvania House of Rep Proposes Bill to Ban Cellphones and Other Electronics from Classrooms

If you're a teacher in the state of Pennsylvania and want to use 21st century tools to help your instruction - watch out. Check out the language in this proposed bill :

"The possession by students of telephone paging devices, commonly referred to as beepers, cellular telephones and portable electronic devices that record or play audio or video material shall be prohibited on school grounds, at school sponsored activities and on buses or other vehicles provided by the school district."

There are two exceptions listed in the bill - if your student is a volunteer fireman or needs it due to a medical condition. Check it out for yourself - you can't make this stuff up people! I would assume that a laptop - since they do record and/or play video - would fall under the category of banned portable devices. If you teach in a school with a 1-1 initiative is the only way for your students to have their laptops in class to have them all become volunteer firemen? Have the legislators that proposed this bill been in a classroom in the past 50 years?

I can't imagine this bill has any chance of advancing but just knowing this is a proposed bill should cause teachers who encourage technology in their classrooms to shake their heads at how far we still need to come.

Happy 200th Birthday President Lincoln

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln. I wonder what Abe would think about all the excitement over his birthday in 2009. Today in class we are talking about Lincoln, trying to help break the world record by reciting the Gettysburg Address with over 200,000 other people and having a birthday party (pictures and video will be added to the blog later).

I have decided to post one of my favorite Lincoln images. I took this picture of a Lincoln statue in Springfield, Illinois in a park right across from the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum when my wife I were on vacation in the summer of 2007. The beautifully restored Springfield Train Depot is in the background. I love this picture because Lincoln seems to be saying "come on down and have a seat, I'd like to visit with you" and he is smiling.

Happy birthday Abe and thanks for all you did and endured to help us live in the country we do today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Podcast #178 - The Sony ICD-UX70 Digital Voice Recorder

Hello. Today I'm discussing a recent purchase - a Sony Digital Voice Recorder ICD-UX70. I have been using this device for about a month and have been very happy with the quality and ease of use. It is a good option for anyone looking for a portable digital voice recorder under $100 - I bought mine from Amazon for $75 with free shipping.

Check out the podcast for features and a quick review. If you have a favorite portable digital voice recorder please leave a comment on this blog. When I do presentations I am often asked "What digital voice recorder would you recommend we purchase for our media center or for student use?" I would currently recommend this device but would be interested to hear how you would answer the same question based on your experiences.

Podcast #177 - Review of Smithsonian's Online Lincoln Conference

Hello. Today I review a conference I recently attended - the Smithsonian's Online Lincoln Conference. Besides the high quality content, the best features of this conference were the cost (free) and location (my desktop computer). In the podcast I discuss my personal experience in attending the sessions, which sessions I enjoyed most and the concept of virtually attending an online conference.

If you were not able to attend the conference on February 4-5, 2009 you can still view any of the nine sessions from the archive. Resources from the sessions and an active discussion board are also available online.

Did you attend any of the sessions? If you did I would enjoy hearing about your experiences. Please add a comment to this blog post.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Podcast #176 - Celebrate Lincoln and Your Students Could Participate in a World Record

Hello. We continue our list of ways to celebrate Lincoln's birthday with an opportunity for you and your students to make history. Join the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in reading the text of the Gettysburg Address at 9:30 AM Central Time on February 12th, 2009. The Museum is attempting to break the current Guinness Book of World Record total of 223,363.

To participate please check out this link and sign up your class. You will need to fill out a form with the names of students participating and signed witnesses. The site also contains numerous resources for teaching Lincoln.

Are you in? I am having my classes join in the activity and encouraging other teachers in my building to take part as well.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Library of Congress Posts New Set of Lincoln Photos on Flickr

The Library of Congress has created a new photo set to help celebrate Lincoln's 200th birthday later this month. The collection of 22 photos includes the earliest known photo of Lincoln in 1846.

Isn't it great that the Library of Congress is using Web 2.0 tools to both tell us about this collection and then posting the images where they are available to teachers and students!

How Would Lincoln Have Handled Our Current Economic Troubles?

During our current economic troubles have you ever wondered what President Lincoln might have done? Time magazine tackles the issue and has some interesting thoughts on what our 16th president may have done in a similar situation.

Read the Time magazine article on Lincoln and the Economy

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Podcast #175 - Smithsonian Museum of American History Using Web 2.0 to Connect

Hello. I have been spending some time lately checking out the wealth of resources for teachers available online through the Smithsonian. As a history teacher, I always like to see what is happening at the Museum of American History. It has just reopened after a 2 year face lift and I can't wait to see it the next time I'm in Washington DC. The museum has a well organized collection of lesson plans and resources available to teachers but a couple of days ago what really caught my attention was their use of web 2.0 to connect to visitors.

The Museum of American History has a great blog named "O Say Can You See", a Flickr account for behind the scenes pictures, a You Tube channel with a variety of clips, a Facebook page and you can follow them on Twitter. Amazing. The Smithsonian gets it and I've heard the new Smithsonian leadership has a true vision for utilizing web 2.0 as a tool. The Smithsonian recently held a conference to explore the potential of web 2.0. I am very impressed. If you are a history teacher you really should add the O Say Can You See blog to your reader and start following them on Twitter. I can't wait to see what they do next.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Reminder - Smithsonian Lincoln Conference is February 4 and 5

Just a reminder that the FREE Online Smithsonian Conference on Lincoln in happening today and tomorrow (Feb 4-5, 2009). I attended one this morning describing images from his death bed and now I'm attending a session in which they are describing Lincoln artifacts. If you have ever wanted to sit down with a Smithsonian expert and discuss Lincoln you have to see this. They will be archived for viewing later but the live experience is very cool because you can ask questions, vote on questions that come up, etc.

Please check out the online conference from the Smithsonian here!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Podcast #174 - Lincoln's Crossroads Interactive Online Game from the National Constitution Center

Hello. Today's podcast is our 6th idea for how to celebrate Lincoln's upcoming 200th birthday on February 12, 2009. When one examines the life of Lincoln is difficult to not respect the number of difficult decisions he had to make for the good of the nation. Lincoln's Crossroads Game from the National Constitution Center is an interactive way for your students to learn about the issues of Lincoln's time and then make their own choice. You will compare your decision making skills with Lincoln on 13 issues and learn how many times you made the same choice. Check out the podcast and get a quick preview with the screencast embedded below.

If you have any comments or questions please leave a comment on this blog post or e-mail me at

Check Out Historical Tweets - Historical Momments in 140 Characters or Less

I love it when technology and history meet. If you are like me - a history teacher who is a regular Twitter user - you need to check out this site - Historical Tweets. Some of these momments in history are a little over the top but this is a great site to browse for a couple of moments. It could also be used as an assignment starter for your students.

Screencast : Smithsonian's Interactive Star Spangled Banner

Hello. We recently researched the Star Spangled Banner as my class studying the War of 1812. I found an excellent site available from the Smithsonian and have previewed it in the following video created using Jing Pro.

One of the coolest things about the site with ability to learn more about the flag which inspired the lyrics to the National Anthem using an interactive tool to zoom in on parts of the historic flag. You can also learn how to submit a video of singing the National Anthem to win a trip to perform in Washington DC on Flag Day 2009.

Link to the Smithsonian's Interactive Site on the Star Spangled Banner

Monday, February 02, 2009

Podcast #173 - Summer 2009 Workshops for Teachers on Lincoln

Hello. Today's podcast is my #5 idea for celebrating Lincoln's upcoming 200th birthday. There is nothing like walking in the steps of the person you are studying or sitting in a historical location. You can learn more about Lincoln by attending one of the three Lincoln workshops discussed in the podcast. A link to each of these opportunities - each of which provides a stipend. I have attended one of these workshops and really enjoyed the experience.

If you have attended one of these workshops in the past please leave a comment, we'll enjoy hearing about your experience.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Screencast : Smithsonian's Interactive Gettysburg Address

Hello. Do you teach the Gettysburg Address in your classroom? If you do please check out this screencast featuring an interactive Gettysburg Address from The Smithsonian. This screencast was created wing Jing Pro. If you have any comments on this screencast or ideas on how to use this resource in the classroom, please leave a comment on this blog post.

Direct link to Smithsonian's Interactive Gettysburg Address

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Podcast #172 - Preview of Smithsonian's Free Online Conference About Lincoln - February 4-5, 2009

Hello. Today's podcast is my fourth in a series of ten - "Ways You Can Celebrate the 200th Birthday of Abraham Lincoln". I briefly mentioned this at the end of an earlier podcast ( Podcast #166 - Using the Smithsonian's "In Your Classroom" to Teach Lincoln )discussing several excellent lesson plans on Lincoln featured in Smithsonian In Your Classroom, but I wanted to provide some more detail about this incredible opportunity for teachers to attend a free, online conference with some of the Smithsonian's experts on Lincoln. Attend in person or come back later and view the archives. I hope to attend several in person and then view the rest later.

Check out the podcast for the schedule, then go visit the Smithsonian's Official Site for the Lincoln Online Conference. If you're early introduce yourself on the discussions page and then come back on the day of the workshop. You can also check to see if your computer has all the needed applications to participate in the workshop live. If you have any comments, or if you are planning to attend, please leave a comment on this blog post.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Podcast #171 - Teaching Lincoln with Political Cartoons of His Time

Hello. As we get closer to the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln in several weeks, we look at another resource you can use in your classroom to teach about Lincoln. Today we discuss two books that I have used in the past to give students an understanding that Lincoln was viewed in a different light during his own time. There were many during his presidency that did agree with his policies and depicted this view through political cartoons. In today's podcast I discuss two excellent books you can use with students. A link to both of these books are listed below.

If you have used these books in your classroom or would like to comment on this podcast please leave a comment on this blog post. We would love to hear how other teachers are using political cartoons to teach Lincoln.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Satellite Image of the Inauguration

Wordle of President Obama's Inaugural Address

I created a Wordle tonight from the text of President Obama's Inaugural Address yesterday. I love Wordle. Great tool to bring text to life for visual learners.

Anyone Teaching A Lesson About Children Living in the White House?

I recently received an e-mail from a media contact looking for a classroom that is currently using the concept of children in the White House - specifically Sasha and Malia Obama - as a teachable moment.

If you, or one of your colleges, is doing a lesson focusing on children living in the White House please e-mail me at and I will pass it long. Thanks.