Monday, October 12, 2009

Podcast #203 - History Geek Author Visit - Author, Historian and Illustrator Cheryl Harness

Last year I started a group at South Valley Jr. High called the "History Geeks". It is an extracurricular group to provide students opportunities to explore historical topics - a field trip to a historic site, a book club which reads an historical book and providing historically themed speakers. During the school year we try to have one historic speaker a month. Last week we started our historical speaker programs with Cheryl Harness sharing her experience as an author, historian and illustrator.

Cheryl is an incredible artist how also writes historical biographies. Her work is well known nationally and associated with National Geographic. Our students enjoyed listening to Cheryl discuss her start in art and how she researches her books. The podcast today is the audio from Cheryl's presentation and is about 50 minutes in length.

If you have any thoughts you'd like to share please leave a comment on this blog. Thanks.

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Direct link to Podcast #203 - History Geeks Author Visit - Cheryl Harness

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Videos from Watkins Mill Fall on the Farm Day

Yesterday the family went out to Watkins Mill State Park in Lawson, Missouri to attend their annual Fall on the Farm Day. Watkins Mill is a great place to learn about Civil War era Missouri. Each year they host a day in fall with living history exhibitions to demonstrate life on a farm in this era. I brought along my Flip camera and took some video which I have shared with this blog post. I have included videos on sheep shearing and a blacksmith. It was a great day and I look forward to attending a similar event in the spring when they host Spring on the Farm.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Podcast #202 - Using History Alive! for Constitutional Convention Activity

Hello. Today's podcast is an update from Speaking of History Podcast #197 when I asked for suggestions on teaching the Constitutional Convention with each student representing a delegate in Philadelphia. I received some great suggestions - check out the comments from podcast #197 - and several of them pointed me in the same direction : the History Alive! United States History curriculum.

I remembered receiving a History Alive! curriculum kit a couple of years ago from a representative at a conference and am very excited about using it in my classroom in a couple of months when we cover the Constitutional Convention.

Another great idea came from Lance who suggested that my students try out the quiz from the National Constitution Center which matches you with one of the Founding Fathers based on your answers. Very cool and something I plan to do with my students during our Constitution unit.

Thanks for all the suggestions and e-mails. It is amazing that you can throw a question out there and so many people are willing to respond and contribute to the conversation. If you have any comments for this blog post - maybe you currently use the History Alive! curriculum - please leave a comment on this blog post.

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Direct link to Podcast #202 - Using History Alive! to Teach the Constitutional Convention

Monday, September 28, 2009

Podcast #201 - Using David McCullough's 1776, The Illustrated Edition in the Classroom

Hello. In today's podcast I want to recommend a great resource for your classroom if you teach the American Revolution. David McCullough's 1776 is an amazing book which every history teacher should read but there is another edition which should be in each classroom in America - 1776, The Illustrated Edition. The edition has over 130 beautiful illustrations with an abridged version of the text. Most impressive, though, are the 37 facsimile documents scattered throughout the book in pouches which allow you to take them out and pass them around the classroom.

Please listen to the podcast and if you have any ideas on using this resource in your classroom please leave a comment on this blog post. Thanks.

1776: The Illustrated Edition

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Direct link to Podcast #201 - Using David McCullough's 1776 - The Illustrated Edition In the Classroom

Revolutionary War Musket Talk from Bunker Hill

Hello. A couple of months ago I was in Boston and while at the Bunker Hill site I heard one of the park rangers describe the use of muskets in the Revolutionary War. I had my Flip camera along so I recorded it and am currently sharing it with my class as we discuss the Revolution. I thought you might also enjoy the description and possibly use it in class as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

CNN Video Clips Discusses Low Student Scores on Citizenship Test

Check out this video clip from CNN which discusses the results of a survey given to Oklahoma high school students. The questions are from the citizenship test. The results are surprising and the "expert" interviewed by CNN blames teachers and public education. He states twice that our students are getting "smoked by Iceland and other industrialized countries around the world in test scores".

Just a couple personal observations here from me :

Once again, as is the case in many of these "sound bite" stories, there is no discussion about a solution. Please don't just gripe, offer a solution.

The survey was a phone survey that these students were not aware they would be taking. A little different than an actual school situation or taking a citizenship test.

Once again education is bashed because it takes makes up a large portion of the budget. I would hope that education makes up a large percentage of any local or state government - don't you?

What do you think after watching this clip? Please leave a comment on this blog post.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Podcast #200 - Why Do I Podcast?

Hello. Today is the 200th episode of Speaking of History!

This crazy adventure started on July 7, 2005 as an experiment to see if I could use the hardware and manage the software to post a podcast. It has resulted in over years of reflection, meeting amazing people and learning a ton from my personal learning network.

In this episode I look back over the past four years and try to answer the question - Why do I podcast?

Thanks for listening and if you have any comments, questions or thoughts please leave a comment on this post or e-mail me at

Direct link to Podcast #200 - Why Do I Podcast?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Animoto History Video

I've been having some fun creating Animoto videos since receiving my free educator account last week. I'm inviting my students to join a book club next week in which we'll be reading "Guns for General Washington" by Seymour Reit. I wanted to create some excitement about joining the History Geeks for the book club so I put together this little video.