Saturday, December 30, 2006

Podcast #55 - Summer 2007 Workshops - Gilder Lehrman Instititute, National Endownment for the Humanities, Horace Mann Lincoln Fellowship

Hello. The weather outside might be frightful but it's time to start thinking about some amazing opportunities for history teachers this upcoming summer. During the school year things get so hectic that it is often hard to really dive into an indepth study of the your curriculum content. The summer offers some great opportunities to learn from experts, visit historical sites and meet other teachers. Over the past couple of weeks I've been reseaching some opportunities for workshops and seminars available to history teachers. Check out the links in the show notes and apply for a few yourself. I plan on applying for at least one.

If you have attended any of these workshops in the past please leave a comment to this post telling us about your experience. You can also e-mail me at

Direct link to Podcast #55 - Summer 2007 Workshops - Gilder Lehrman Institute, National Endownment for the Humanitities, Horace Mann Fellowship - MP3 Format - 12:30 Minutes

Show Notes for Podcast #55:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Podcast #54 - What Would Lewis and Clark Text Message to Thomas Jefferson?

Hello. Last week we studied one of my favorite topics in the curriculum - the Corps of Discovery. I think this is such an amazing story with so many different angles from which to approach it - heroic, adventure, risk, etc.

We have done various activities over the years to bring it alive to students. Around 4 years ago I was awarded a grant through the
Friends of the Missouri Archives Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission to purchase the clothing that would have been worn by a member of hte Corps of Discovery. I did my research on the clothing of the era - the most complete resource I found was the book Lewis & Clark: Tailor Made, Trail Worn--Army Life, Clothing, & Weapons of the Corps of Discovery . I then worked with the James Country Mercantile - a local business here in Liberty that outfits Civil War reenacters and other historical time periods. I typically come to school one day a year in the entire outfit. Some years I have even put red coloring in my hair and portray William Clark. A couple of years ago I came to school in the outfit and then sat through 4 hours of parent teacher conferences dressed as a member of Corps of Discovery - the scary part is some of the parents did not even ask me about it and most have assumed that was the way I usually dress! More details about the outfit in the podcast.

There are numerous videos available on the Corps of Discovery which work well in the classroom. Some of the videos I have used in the past include:
BIOGRAPHY: Lewis & Clark: Explorers Of The New Frontier from A&E and The Techology of Lewis and Clark by the History Channel. The video I am currently using to show my students is Great Journey West - Lewis and Clark by National Geographic - orginially created as an IMAX film this 45 minute video has some of the most beautiful and authentic footage of the trail. If you do show your class the video don't forget to show them the bonus material on the DVD that includes a "how they made the video" segment which is also top notch.

This year I also thought I would mix in a little of modern reality to the study of the expedition and I asked my students to imagine that one of the members of the Corps of Discovery was using a cell phone to text message Thomas Jefferson about an event along the journey - the first sighting of the Pacific, the discovery of the source of the Missouri River, etc. I gave them a copy of an IM glossary that I took off the Internet - I did some editing of course. They had to use 10 "IM terms" in the exchange. The students thought it was great. As several educational bloggers have stated in the past - we shouldn't be upset that our students use IM as a way to communicate, we should be impressed that they have created a useful and practical language to quickly communicate with each other.

Direct link to Podcast #54 - What Would Lewis and Clark Text Message to Thomas Jefferson? - MP3 Format - 15:00 minutes

Monday, December 11, 2006

Teachers Upset by Loss of Discovery Education Network Field Managers and Staff

The outrage from stunned teachers around the country over Discovery Education's shocking decision to fire their field managers and others in the education division continues.

Former Georgia DEN members Jeff Giddens and Daniel Rivera maintain the SEGA Tech and have posted a detailed description of their anger over the firings. Click here to go directly to the DEN post on the SEGA Tech site from December 8th.

The Art Guy at the Academic Aesthetic Blog has also been posting his personal comments on the situation with this post from December 7th.

Oklahoma DEN member Michael King has created a video to honor the DEN Field Managers on their amazing work over the past 18 months. View the video here.

The South Valley Jr High 9th grade broadcasting class featured a story on the recent DEN activity here in Liberty called "Tech or Treat" which was sponsored by Discovery and had over 60 area teacher attend. Check out their story here (the entire broadcast is good but if you want the DEN story it starts at around the 11:00 mark.) This was really what I thought DEN was about and it would not have been possible without the help our field manager Linda Chiles. Thanks Linda - at least we know that we put on one heck of a workshop and helped area teachers learn more about technology.

This will be may last post about the DEN situation. I'm still really upset at the decision made and don't think I can support a company that has done this to their loyal employees. I will be curious to see what the remaining DEN members decide to do as a plan for action - they are great people and they are left with an almost impossible task. There are too many great things still happening in education today and I need to start putting my energy there. I feel drained from a weekend of trying to make sense of it all.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Discovery Education Network Disaster - Article Clearly States the Corporate Agenda

Hello. This whole Discovery Education Network thing just makes me more upset as more time passes. I really thought a couple of days would help but it hasn't. I know some of the people who remain at DEN and I know they are good people who want the best for educators but the corporate side of Discovery has basically insulted all DEN members by assuming we will continue to basically work for them for FREE and promote their products to fellow teachers. I still don't know if I want to remain an active part of DEN or cut all ties but things like the following article about the elimination of the Field Managers really makes me mad.

Here is the link to the story in the Washington Post and I hope you read it and listen carefully to the message being sent to us (teachers) by corporate Discovery. Here are a few quotes from the story:

"Company officials said many of the positions were unnecessary and that the changes would not impede the company's goal of expanding its education business, which it says reaches 70,000 schools."

"We announced a reorganization of the education group this week. That included shifting responsibilities, elimination of office space and reduction in force that included redundancies and overlapping functions," said David Leavy, a Discovery spokesman."

"According to an internal memo sent to employees Wednesday, the division's revenue has grown 350 percent since 2004. The company declined to give the division's total revenue amount. It also said affected staff might move to other openings within Discovery, including to new initiatives planned for 2007."

"Whenever a company completes multiple acquisitions, there is an important responsibility to continually re-evaluate existing costs, structure and business strategies," Steve Sidel, executive vice president in charge of Discovery Education, said in the memo. "Discovery Education is now in a position to consolidate the business operations of these new companies and gain valuable economies of scale through a careful elimination of redundancies and certain non-core functions."

Are you kidding me? They called the Field Manager postion "unneccesary" and it would not "impede the company's goal of expanding it's education BUSINESS". If BUSINESS is all they are concerned about you think a 350% increase in revenue might be enough for them.

I think the writing is on the wall - what I thought made Discovery great (the personal aspect and the person connection) is now out the and bottom line is what it is all about. I truly worry about the good Discovery DEN people left because it looks like corporate is planning on trying to have you do the work of the 20 people that they fired and if they think I'm going to use a web based portal in the same manner I used the Field Managers they have played the wrong card. There are plenty of other organizations and causes that I can spend my time and energy on to help students and teachers.

I'm sending back my Discovery Educator lab coat to Discovery on Monday. I feel bad for the seven DEN people left but unless something BIG happens to reverse this injustice I'm not longer proud to be a member of DEN - an organization that I once promoted everywhere I went. Sad.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Podcast #53 - Sad, Mad and Angry - Discovery Educator Network

Hello. I'll let today's podcast speak for itself but let's just say that today Discovery Education made a huge mistake in letting their Field Managers go. What a loss. The Discovery Educator Network had been a huge success in the educational world but that changed today. Things will not be the same without the face to face contact with our field manager. It's not about the product - it's about the people.

Corporate America 1, Teachers and Students 0.

Linda - we'll miss you here in Liberty, please stay a part of our family. You are awesome!

Please note that these comments are my personal feelings and are in no way prompted by Linda Chiles or any Discovery Education representative.

Direct link to Podcast #53 - Sad, Mad and Angry - Discovery Education Network - MP3 format - 10:30 minutes

Podcast #53 Show Notes:

Podcast #52 - Visit to Ford's Theatre in Washington DC

Hello. This past week while attending the NCSS conference in Washington DC I was able to slip away during a lunch break to visit one of my favorite locations in our nation's capital - Ford's Theatre. As a child a loved to read books about Lincoln and was aways amazed by the assassination of Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. I can remember reading a book about presidents and aways coming back to the story of Lincoln. It has always held a special place in memory.

During my recent visit I was able to interview Gloria Swift - curator of the Ford's Theatre Museum. The basement of the theatre has a great museum and bookstore. It is incredible to see the door that Booth drilled a hole through to be able to look in the President's box. Be sure to also walk across the street after your tour of the museum and check out the Petersen House - the place Lincoln died after being shot in the theatre. At the Petersen House I was able to interview Michael Robinson who plays the role of a local law official that was present on the night Lincoln died. Thanks to Gloria and Michael for allowing me to interview them for the podcast.

Direct link to Podcast #52 - Visit to Ford's Theatre in Washington DC - MP3 file - 10:40 minutes

Podcast #52 Show Notes:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Podcast #51 - World War II Daily Web Site Interview from 2006 NCSS Conference in Washington DC

Hello. Here is another gem from the exhibit floor of the 2006 NCSS conference in Washington, DC. If you teach World War II in your American history curriculum you need to check out the new World War II Daily site. I interviewed Steve Rubin, creator of the World War II Daily site at his booth on the floor of the exhibit hall. The concept is great - a daily updated news program covering six years of World War II. I really like the idea of allowing students to see the news of the day as it happened rather than using the perspective of hindsight.

The site also includes features covering movies, weapons, a blog, newscasts, FDR & Winston and items for sale. My favorite feature is the tribute page in where you can honor a veteran from your family.

Check out the page. As it develops I think it will become a great resource for teachers and students studying World War II.

Direct link to Podcast #51 - Interview with Steve Rubin of the World War II Daily web site at the 2006 NCSS Conference - MP3 file - 7:30 minutes

Podcast #51 Show Notes:

Cable's Leaders in Learning Applications Due Soon

Hello. Just a reminder that the nominations for the 2007 Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards are due in about a week and a half from today - December 15th, 2006. If you know someone that is leader in using cable technology in education please check out the application and send it in today.

I was very honored to earn an award last year in the Pushing the Envelope category and it was an incredible experience that I will never forget - it was truly like being a rock star in our nation's capital - meeting Brian Lamb of C-Span, touring the C-Span facility, a private movie screening, meeting senators and representatives, meeting great people in education from across the country and a very special awards ceremony that last year was at the Smithsonian.

Check it out today and send in an application.

Podcast #50 - National Constitution Center Interview at 2006 NCSS Convention

Greatings from the 2006 National Council for the Social Studies conference in Washington DC. Like I did last year at the national convention in Kansas City, I roamed the exhibit looking for hidden gems - items that really help history teachers. I found several and tonight I want to share one of them with you - the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and some exciting opportunities for teachers coming up in the summer of 2007.

I stoppedy by the National Constitutional Center booth in the exhibit hall and visited with Carl Ackerman - a teacher at the new Constitution High School in Philadelphia. The podcast includes this interview. The Constitutional Center has some incredible opportunities for teachers this summer to study and learn about American History in Philadelphia. Check out the links for more information in the show notes. The official site is also very impressive - interactive games for students, links to primary documents, timelines, lesson plans and ideas for Constitutional Day and short audio files entitled "Constitutional Minutes".

Direct link to Podcast #50 - National Constitutional Center at the NCSS 2006 Convention - Interview with Teacher Carl Ackerman - MP3 Format - 11:20 minutes

Speaking of History Podcast #50 Show Notes:

Friday, December 01, 2006

National Council for the Social Studies Convention in Washington DC

Hello from Washington DC- the site of the 2006 NCSS conference. We got in last night after a crazy day of travel. The Kansas City area has been hit hard over the past couple of days with ice and snow. Our school district did not have school on Thursday due to ice and winter conditions but we were able to fly out of KC in the early afternoon due to a break in the weather. We left Kansas City's ice and snow to great weather in DC. We checked in to the hotel and then walked around the city, went to see the monuments on the Mall and enjoyed the 70 degree weather. Back home in KC they also called off school for today - Friday. The Liberty Public School group here at NCSS is very happy that we made it and that we can enjoy the conference.

Last night we visited the monuments at night. I love the Lincoln Memorial the most and I think it is most impressive at night. We have one teacher from Liberty in our group that has a family member on The Wall so she made a rubbing of the name to take back home. That was my most memorable momment from last night.

We are getting ready to head over to the convention center for a day of visiting the exhibition hall and listening to presentions. I will try to take pictures and audio and hope to have something to add later tonight.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Guerrilla Season Book Blog Project Story in USA Today

Hello. Regular listeners of Speaking of History have heard several of the author podcasts from the current blogging project we are doing with the novel Guerrilla Season by Pat Hughes. Today, Wednesday - November 15th - the USA Today newspaper published a story that mentions our project. Very cool! My students are very excited. You can check out the online version of the story here. Special thanks to reporter Ashley Bleimes for writing a great article.

You can check out the Guerrilla Season Book Blog project online here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Podcast #49 - Guerrilla Season Book Blog Author Interview #3

Hello. Today's podcast is the week 3 podcast from our Guerrilla Season Book Blog Project. We have over 300 students at South Valley Jr High School in Liberty, Missouri reading a historical novel by Pat Hughes about Missouri in 1863 at the start of the Civil War. The blog contains discussion questions, links, podcasts, and places to ask the author questions. Each week we have included a podcast interview with the author Pat Hughes. This week she talks about some supernatural events that took place during the writing of the book and why she decided to write a novel about Missouri during the Civil War.

Direct Link to Podcast #49 - Week 3 Guerrilla Season Book Blog Podcast - Interview with Author Pat Hughes - MP3 Format - 13:00 Minutes

If you have any questions or comments please send an e-mail to

Friday, November 03, 2006

Podcast #48 - Cable's Leaders In Learning Awards

Hello. Tonight I want to encourage everyone to check out the Cable Leaders in Learning Awards - currently taking applications through December 15th. This past year I was very honored to a winner of a Leaders in Learning Award in the category of Pushing the Envelope with Innovative Technology. My wife and I were guests of Cable in the Classroom in Washington DC for an amazing 3 days. We met the other winners from across the country, met senators and representatives on Captiol Hill, visited with officials from the Department of Education, worked with people from the cable industry that focus on educational projects and were honored at an award gala at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. One of the highlights of the week was the opportunity to meet and visit with C-Span's Brian Lamb. He discussed the various topics ranging from politics, the role of the media and education - followed by a tour of the C-Span studios.

I strongly encourage you to complete an application for yourself or nominate someone for the 2007 Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards. Open to educators, administrators, community leaders, policymakers—anyone who is transforming education in or out of the classroom, Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards honor individuals whose innovative practices or policies have made a major contribution to the education of children and youth. Winners will receive $3000 and a trip to Washington, DC for the Awards Gala. Every awardee becomes a part of the Leaders in Learning community, an informative network of innovators who can stay connected and participate in an ongoing conversation about the future of education. Cable in the Classroom, the cable industry's education foundation, and cable industry partner companies, created the awards program. A panel of judges from the national education community selects the winners.

You can also listen to podcasts with each of the 2006 winners produced by Doug Levin of Cable in the Classroom. The winners last year had a wide range of experiences including amazing classroom projects, a state senator that works with students to pass legislation and an administrator who got her school up and running in Louisiana just weeks after Hurricane Katrina destroyed every building in her school district.

Direct Link to Podcast #48 - Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards - MP3 Format - 11:00 minutes

Show Notes For Podcast #48:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Podcast #47 - Guerrilla Season Author Interview Part 2

Hello. Today is the week 2 podcast for the Guerrilla Season Book Blog Project. Over 300 students at South Valley Jr High are reading "Guerrilla Season" by Pat Hughes - a historical novel describing Missouri in 1863 at the start of the Civil War. Participants are commenting and discussing the book via a blog at The blog includes links, podcast interviews with the author, questions answered by the author and discussion questions. We will be doing the project through November 19th.

Direct link to Podcast #47 - Guerrilla Season Author Interview Part 2 - MP3 Format - 9:00 Minutes

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to send them along to

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Podcast #46 - Guerrilla Season Book Blog Author Interview

Hello. After months of planning and discussion we have started our book blog project for the first semester. Over 300 students at South Valley Jr High are reading Guerrilla Season by Pat Hughes - a historical novel based in Missouri in 1863 at the start of the Civil War. We have a blog at with suggested pages for each week of the four week project along with discussion questions, links to additional information, a place to ask the author questions and even some audio podcasts from interviews with the author about the novel. Check it out and join us if you like. In addition to the students here in Liberty, Missouri we have students in California and a teacher in Louisiana taking part right now. It just started so there is plenty of time to join. I want to thank Pat Hughes for taking such an interest in our project. She is commenting directly to reader questions and spending a great deal of with this project. How incredible it is for an author to be communicating with her readers while they read the book!

Direct link Podcast #45 - audio podcast from the Guerrilla Season book blog project in which the author Pat Hughes describes how she researched this historical novel - MP3 format - 10:35 minutes

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Podcast #45 - Tech or Treat Discovery Workshop in Liberty

Hello. Today I would like to invite all local listeners to attend a day of networking, learning and fun. On Saturday, October 28th, the Liberty School District and Discovery Education will be hosting "Tech or Treat" - a workshop for teachers focusing on web 2.0 tools for the classroom such as podcasting, blogging and United Streaming. This event is totally free for all teachers, we only ask that you send us an e-mail at before October 26th so that we can have everything ready for you. More details at the official blog:

The event will take place at South Valley Junior High School in Liberty, Missouri - about a 20 minute drive north of Kansas City (a map is included on the blog). Registration takes place at 7:45 AM and the day will end at 2:45 PM. I will be doing a session on podcasting, Lance Huebner (South Valley Jr High teacher) will be doing a session on blogging and Linda Chiles (Kansas/Missouri Discovery Field Manager) will do a session on using United Streaming in the classroom. Steve Dembo - Discovery Online Community and the Teach 42 blog - will be doing a webinar from his home in Chicago and Brad Fountain - Discovery Education Podcast producer - will be giving a lunch keynote address.

There is no cost and Discovery is picking up the tab for a great breakfast (Starbucks) and lunch (Cupini's - a local Liberty eating establishment). There will also be door prizes and tons of fun. If you're in the area please register and attend.

Direct link to Podcast #45 - Tech or Treat Discovery Workshop in Liberty (MP3 Format) 9:45 Minutes

Podcast #45 Show Notes:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Podcast #44 - Libya Gives Students Laptops - When Will the United States?

Hello. Tonight is more of a rant than my typical episodes. I was doing an interview with a newspaper reporter about the use of technology in today's classrooms and there were several questions about what happens to a student that does not have Internet access at home or a computer. These are excellent questions and I explained how I typically give students that don't have access at a home a copy of the studycast for example on CD so that they can listen to it at home on a CD player and still prepare with that tool for the test. I also answered that students do have access during the day at study hall or before school to use the Internet to comment on the book blogs that we do and the assignments posted online. But the more I thought about it the more I began to question why we even have to worry about this in the United States today.

This week Libya became the 4th nation to sign up with the $100 laptop project. When will the United States realize that giving students anywhere, anytime access to learning is a good thing? I know that the $100 laptop program may not be a fit for the United States, but having a computer in the hands of each student should be a reality in our nation soon, however possible and it is possible. I hope I see the day.

Direct link to Podcast #44 - Libya Gives Students Laptops - When Will the United States? (MP3 format) - 10:00 Minutes

Show Notes for Podcast #44:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Podcast #43 - Join Us For The Guerrilla Season Book Blog Project

Hello. Today I am inviting you to join us in the Guerrilla Season Book Blog Project. Starting on October 23, 2006 there will be over 300 students at South Valley Junior High reading "Guerrilla Season" by Pat Hughes and commenting through the use of a blog at We will also have parents, teachers and community members joining us. We have also already heard from classes in California and Louisiana that plan to join us. The author, Pat Hughes, is actively engaged in this project and will be commenting directly to participant questions and comments.

Direct Link to Podcast #43 - Join Us For The Guerrilla Season Book Blog Project (MP3 Format) 13:30 Minutes

Show Notes for Podcast #43:

- The Guerrilla Season Book Blog site
- The Official Pat Hughes site
- Purchase Guerrilla Season

- Review of Guerrilla Season by Civil War St Louis

Here are some FAQ about the Guerrilla Season Book Blog Project:

When does the Guerrilla Season book blog project take place?
The project officially starts on October 23, 2006 and will conclude on November 19, 2006. The blog can still be accessed after this time period but some of the discussions will not be active.

Who is moderating this book blog project?
Eric Langhorst, an 8th grade American History teacher at South Valley Jr High in Liberty, Missouri will be moderating this blog with the help of author Pat Hughes and fellow SVJH 8th grade American History teacher Erin Garvey.

How do we know what pages to read over a certain time period?
Each week on Sunday night there will be a suggested number of pages to read for the week. Typically it will be around 80 pages a week.

What discussion questions will be included with the project?
Each week there will be several different discussion questions posted on the blog. Readers can add their reaction to the discussion questions through posting a comment on the blog entry. Readers will be able to each others comments and can discuss the questions through the use of comments.

Is posting comments on the blog safe for students and member of the general public?
When you add a comment and hit submit your comment is first sent via e-mail to Eric Langhorst and Pat Hughes. We will read the comment and then decide if it should be posted to the Internet for everyone to see. Everyone commenting should either comment as "anonymous" or using a first name only. Any comment that contains a first and last name, inapproriate comments or a vast number of errors will not be posted to the Internet.

Will the author be involved in the discussion?
Yes, that is one of the best things about this project. Pat is very excited about participating in this project and will be commenting on reader questions and providing feedback on the themes of the novel.

What other items will be included in the blog with the discussion questions?
The blog will also contain pictures, links to sites that relate to the novel, audio from author Pat Hughes about the novel and projects the students will be working on at South Valley Jr High.

What will students be doing with this project in addition to reading this novel?
Everyone 8th grade student at South Valley Jr High - about 300 in total - will be reading Guerrilla Season during the project. Students at SVJH will be reading the novel as part of a graded activity. SVJH students will be required to post at least two blog comments during the duration of the project and complete one project based on the novel. (Details of the possible student projects will be added in a later blog entry.) Students around the country participating in this project can follow the lead of SVJH or their teacher can adjust the project to their situation.

What is Guerrilla Season about?
I don't want to give away too much about this book but it is a historical novel about Missouri in 1863 as the Civil War is brewing. Two teenage boys, Matt and Jesse, belong to families caught in the middle of the turmoil. It tells the story of the Civil War in Missouri, which is most likely very different than the Civil War you studied in school. Here in Missouri it was much harder to know who the enemy was and the terror of uncertainly was a way of life.

If you have any questions about this project that were not answered above or you would like to join us please send us an e-mail at

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Podcast #42 - with their eyes - The View of 9/11 From A High School At Ground Zero by the Coterie Theatre

Hello. Today I wanted to share a great experience I had several weeks ago at the Coterie Theater in Kansas City. The Coterie is currently doing a production of "with their eyes" - an account of 9/11 from the student, faculty and staff at Stuyvesant High School located just blocks away from the World Trade Center. Annie Thoms edited the interviews and personal stories of the people who were there that day. The Coterie had a teacher preview night on September 11th and I attended with my wife. I brought my portable MP3 player and collected some of the production along with some interviews from actors and one of the directors. If you live in the Kansas City are I would encourage you to attend a production - the dates are from September 26th until October 22. Check out the link below for times and ticket information. If you can't make it to the show you can also check out the book - link also provided below.

Please feel free to comment below on this post or send me an e-mail at

Direct link to Podcast #42 - with their eyes from the Coterie Theatre (MP3 format - 26:00 minutes)

Podcast #42 Show Notes:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pike Market Tour Video from Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum 2006

During my experience at the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum in Redmond, Washington last week we were divided into groups and sent out to explore part of Seattle. My group was selected to visit Pike Street Market. It was an amazing trip. Our group was given digital cameras and digital voice recorders to capture the history, culture and atmosphere of the market. The theme for the day was "conflict" and how the area we were exploring overcame challenges that had created conflict. Once our group returned to the Microsoft Corporate Campus we had about an hour to create a 10 minute presentation for the rest of the teachers present at the forum. We decided to use PhotoStory 3 to incorporate our photos and some of the audio we recorded at the market.

You can view our finished product at the following address:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Podcast #41 - Tom Carroll Keynote at 2006 Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum

Hello. Today's podcast is a recording of a great keynote given by Tom Carroll at the closing of the 2006 Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum on September 22, 2006 on the corporate campus of Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. Tom works with the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. It was a great ending to a wonderful two days of learning and sharing with over 70 teachers selected to attend the forum representing 17 states. The focus of the forum this year was collaboration and I was selected to attend the forum with my fellow 8th grade history teacher at South Valley Jr High - Erin Garvey.

The keynote from Tom Carroll is a great overview of what we need to do today to help make our schools more effective and retain the great teachers we are investing so much time in today. The stats that Tom states about the teaching profession today will open to yours to the job we have before us. He also makes some very interesting comparisons with the school of 1950 compared to the culture today. After listening to the podcast I would encourage everyone to check out the web site for the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.

I have included a link to a PDF of Tom's PowerPoint presention for the keynote. It is helpful as he makes reference to several images and some graphs at the end of this keynote. View the presentation PowerPoint as a PDF here. Great stuff.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a comment to this post or drop me a line at

Direct link to Podcast #41 - Tom Carroll's Keynote from the 2006 Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum in Redmond, Washington - September 22, 2006

Podcast #41 Show Notes:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum 2006 - Day One

Hello from Seattle. I'm here in for the 2006 United States Microsoft Innovative Teacher Forum. We had an incredible day connecting with other teachers from around the country and exploring parts of the Seattle area as learning teams. Erin Garvey and myself were selected as one of 27 learning teams that respresent 17 different states. We weren't really sure what to expect today when we gathered at the Microsoft Conference Center on the corporate campus.
We knew they would give us some sort of task but nothing more. We soon learned that this forum would not consist of sitting in a room and listening to speakers. We were introduced the Microsoft Partners in Learning program and the Expeditionary Learning concept from John Bransford. Each group set out for a different part of Seattle to explore. My group was sent to explore the Pike Street Market - it clicked for me when they said we were going to the place where the guys throw fish.
Each group was given some guidelines to investigate - culture, how the area has adapted to change over time and connections between community. We had a digital voice recorder and digital camera. We took a tour of the Pike Market that explained the history but also the social services provided and the workings of the market itself. It was incredible. I would strongly urge all visitors to take a tour of the market with a guide. We returned to the Microsoft campus to work on a group presentation that could last no longer than 10 minutes. We told our story of the market using PhotoStory 3 incorporating the digital pictures and audio from the digital recorder. I finished doing some final touches on the presentation tonight in the hotel room and am looking forward to a great day of sharing tomorrow on the final day of the forum.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Podcast #40 - Online Assessment Tools - Quia

Hello. Since we are just starting a new school year I thought I would explain what I use in the form of online assessment so that anyone interested could try it out in their classroom as well. I application I use is Quia. I have used it for about 5 years and am very pleased with the service and the continued addition of new tools and options. In this podcast I discuss how I use it to assess existing knowledge before we start a unit and how I use if for my unit tests. A year subscription costs $49 or you can try it out for 30 days for free. It is a great tool that is well worth the investment. Check it out.

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

Direct link to Podcast #40 - Online Assessment Tools - Quia - MP3 Format - (19:30 minutes)

Podcast #40 Show Notes:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Podcast #39 - Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum, Best Buy Grant, Teacher Blogs and A Project From Down Under

Hello. Sort of a collection of odds and ends tonight with various topics. We just finished our first full week of school so it is good to be back with a regular routine. Last week I held a workshop on creating blogs as classroom web pages to our staff and it went over very well with several teachers already using them with their students. I recently learned that Erin Garvey, my fellow 8th grade history teacher at SVJH, and myself have been selected to attend the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum at the Microsoft Corporate Campus later in September. The deadline for the $2,500 Best Buy Teach Grants is coming up on September 30th. Tonight I participated on the Sunday night edition of Ed Tech Talk and shared a microphone with Kathy Schrock! I'm working on a project with a teacher in Australia and tonight we discussed the project via Skype - very cool. Tuesday I will be testifying before the Missouri State Senate Commerce Committee on using technology in the classroom. Check out the show notes below for links to all these topics.

If you have any questions or comments please drop me a line at

Direct link to Podcast #39 - Odds and Ends - Microsoft Innoative Teachers Forum, Best Buy Grant, Teacher Blogs and a Project from Down Under - MP3 format (14:45 minutes)

Podcast #39 Show Notes:

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Podcast #38 - Classroom Technology Goals for the 2006/2007 School Year

Hello. Well, the first several days of school are in the books. We started class at South Valley Jr High last Wednesday. There is something about the first day of school for the new year - the smell of new pencils, fresh notebooks and the potential that anything is possible with the new year.

Today I want to outline my technology goals for the upcoming school year. Last year I did this in podcast #5 and at the end of the year I did a recap of what goals I met and which goals I did not accomplish. As the new school starts I'm as excited as ever. This is my 13th year in the classroom and over the course of the past summer I met amazing groups of people at travels that took me to Washington DC, Chicago and San Diego that have given me a fresh look at how I do things in my classroom.

List of technology goals for the 2006/2007 school year:

1. Expand the use of blogs in my classroom

2. Produce a regular podcast that features my
principal with news about our school building

3. Help students create more

4. Organize a workshop to educate parents on how to
keep their children safe on the Internet

5. Long distance collaboration with teacher(s) in
other parts of the country and possibily around the world

I hope your school year is off to a great start. If you would like to contact me please drop me an e-mail at I am a little behind on returning a couple e-mails but I try to make every effort to respond to each one.

Direct link to Podcast #38 - My Classroom Technology Goals for the 2006/2007 School Year - MP3 Format (17 minutes)

Podcast #38 Show Notes:

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Podcast #37 - Ted Stillwell's Presentation on the History of the Mormons in Clay County and Jackson County Missouri in the mid 1800's

Hello. Today's podcast will focus on a local historical topic in Clay County Missouri. On August 11th the Clay County Historical Society had a presention at the museum about the history of the Mormons in Clay and Jackson Counties of Missouri in the mid 1800's. Ted W. Stillwell of Independence gave the presention and described the history of the early settlers to the local area and why the conflicts began to impact the Mormons and the local settlers. The entire presentation is about an hour long so I have split it up into two podcasts - 37A and 37B.

Mr. Stillwell is an newspaper columist for The Examiner in Jackson County and his "Portraits of the Past" column focuses on the the history and folklore of the area. He has several books for sale and I purchased one entitled "Portaits of the Past" Volume 2. It is a collection of his newspaper columns and since the are typically only a couple of pages I can easily use them as read alouds in my 8th grade history classroom. He can be contacted at the Blue and Grey Book Shoppe in Independence, Missouri (816) 252 - 9909. He is also an accomplished artist.

The start of school is right around the corner - next week - and there will be some shows in the near future about getting geared up for the new year. If you have any comments or suggestions about the podcast please contact me at

Direct link to Podcast #37A - Part 1 of the Ted Stillwell presentation on the History of the Mormons in Clay and Jackson County in Missouri in the Mid 1800's (MP3 file)

Direct link to Podcast #37B - Part 2 of the Ted Stillwell presentation on the History of the Mormons in Clay and Jackson County in Missouri in the Mid 1800's (MP3 file)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Podcast #36 - The Titanic - World's Largest Museum Attraction - Branson, Missouri

Hello. The summer of 2006 History Hits the Road tour traveled to Branson, Missouri last week for a visit to the new Titanic - World's Largest Museum Attraction. This museum is a must for anyone visiting the Branson area. I have always had a special interest in the Titanic. As a young boy growing up in a small town in Nebraska, I can remember going to the library and repeatedly checking out an old book about the tragety of the Titanic. I can also remember as a 6th grader when they found the Titanic on the ocean floor and reading about it in National Geographic. So last fall when I saw a booth at the NCSS Convention about a new Titanic museum opening in the spring of 2006 I knew I had to check it out. This past week I taught a workshop in Webb City, Missouri on podcasting, blogs and video editing so I took the family down to Branson and we visited this the museum.

Once in Branson you can't miss the museum. The building itself is a half scale model of the Titanic - over 100 feet high located right on Highway 76 on the Branson strip. As you enter the museum you are presented with a boarding pass containing background information on an actual passenger. You will discover more about the fate of your passenger later in the tour. The museum itself is a very respectful and well documented collection of over 400 authentic artifacts from the ship and it's passengers. My personal favorite was the dinner menu. You will also view a collection of photographs taken by a priest onboard the ship, an amazing 18 foot model of the Titanic, and replicas of the cabins for third and first class. The museum also features interactive displays that engage and education. The water the night the Titanic sank was 28 degress (salt water does not freeze at 32 degress) and you can place your hand in water at that temperature and see how long you can tolerate it. You also have the chance to climb on deck at various angles as the ship sank that night. While you are taking in the exhibits you may encounter Captain Edward Smith, portrayed by Lowell Lylte, who will relate the current status of the ship on the way to America or a story about a passenger. You can also try your hand at sending an SOS message from the bridge and walk the grand staircase. I would recommend planning about 2 hours to go through the exhibits and even then you may want to come back again - I know I plan to return at a later date to see anything I may have missed.

After walking through the exhibits with my family I was very fortunate to sit down and visit with John Joslyn, the President of the Titanic Museum and Lowell Lylte, the actor who portrays Captian Edward Smith. Listen to the podcast, check out the link to the museum in the show notes and then make plans to visit this excellent attraction.

If you have any comments or suggestions please leave a comment at the end of this entry or e-mail

Direct link to listen to Podcast #36 - The Titanic - World's Largest Museum Attraction in Branson, Missouri - MP3 Format (39:09 minutes)

Show Notes to Podcast #36:

Official Site - Titanic - World's Largest Museum Attraction - Branson, Missouri
Wikipedia entry for the RMS Titanic

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Podcast #35 - Highlights from the NECC 2006 Exhibit Floor in San Diego

Hello. Spending a couple of days decompressing after getting home from NECC in San Diego. As always, one of the best things about NECC is the exhibit hall. This year's conference boasted more than 500 companies and over 1,300 booths. Of course there is the thrill of filling your conference bag with cool pens, t-shirts and sample CD's but it is also great to visit with some of the people that provide us with resources that we can use in our classroom everyday. Last fall at the National Council for the Social Studies conference in Kansas City I recorded short visits with some of the people on the exhibit hall floor and I recieved some great feedback from people who were not able to attend but learned about some new resources from the podcast. Last week in San Diego I decided to do the same thing at NECC and did some short interviews with some of the vendors of products I thought my listeners might find helpful. These six are only a small slice of what the exhibit hall floor was like but I encourage you to check out the show notes to learn more about their services and products.

Please send any comments or feedback to

Direct link to listen on your computer to Podcast #35 - Highlights from the NECC 2006 Exhibit Hall Floor in San Diego - MP3 Format (19:45 minutes)

Show Notes for Podcast #35:

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Podcast #34 - Touring the USS Midway in San Diego at NECC 2006

Hello. Just getting everything unpacked from a great week in San Diego attending NECC 2006. It was a great conference with some amazing converstations centering around web 2.0, blogging, podcasting, web applications, etc. I will have more to report on NECC later this week, including some thoughts from the sessions I attended and the people I met. Today I want to share another adventure from the History Hits the Road Tour 2006. The teachers from our district who attended NECC stayed on the harbor and each day on our way to the convention center from our hotel we would pass by the USS Midway - an aircraft carrier which saw service from World War II through Dessert Storm. Before we returned to Kansas City on Friday, Marty Kelsey (another Liberty teacher) and I toured the ship. It was such a thrill to walk on the flight deck and think of all the amazing history that took place on this ship. Not only did this ship see action in war, it also picked up the astronauts as they returned from the moon. The Midway was in service for 47 years and was home to over a quarter of a million sailors in her career.

I took some audio from veterans who served as tour guides aboard the ship. Each person who pays for addmission to the ship also is given a small device that allows them to follow along with a self guided audio tour. This device is a product of Antenna Audio. It allowed you to listen to an audio tour of various parts of the ship. For example, if you were standing on the flight deck and wanted to learn more about the plane you were standing in front of you could simply type the number on the display into the device and it would load that portion of the tour. I realize that these devices are used at museums around the world but I thought this device was very well organized and easy to use.

The podcast contains audio from some of the veterans onboard and a short clip from the preprogramed audio tour. There was a little wind so the audio from the flight deck does have a little "noise" in the background. The podcast answers some interesting questions, such as:

  • How does a plane take off from the flight deck of a carrier?
  • How does a fighter pilot go to the bathroom while in flight?
  • What do you cook for the thousands of sailors onboard?
  • How do you organize the planes taking off and landing on the flight deck?
  • What happens if you try to take off from the flight deck and you left your parking brake on?

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me at

Direct link to listen to Podcast #34 - Touring the USS Midway in San Diego at NECC 2006 - MP3 Format (19:44 minutes)

Podcast #34 Show Notes:

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Podcast #33 - Opening Night of NECC 2006 - A Global Event

Hello from San Diego. I just got back from the opening night of NECC and wow is it great to be here. Our school district has sent seven teachers and administrators to NECC to learn more about using web 2.0 tools, video, podcasting, blogging, distance learning, software, hardware, etc. Tonight we took a shuttle over the convention center, got registered and then walked over to the Gas Lamp district for a little food and conversation. We then headed back to the convention center to grab a seat to watch the fireworks over the harbor - I know, this conference stuff is hard work! I couldn't miss out on a golden opportunity to podcast so I started walking around and randomly asking people what they were excited to see at NECC this week. I soon discovered just how global this conference really is - in a manner of minutes I had visited with participants from Canada, Louisiana, Japan, Illinois and Oklahoma. It was pretty cool. The other thing I noticed was the fact that when I mentioned that I wanted to ask them a question for a podcast - not a single person asked me what a podcast is! Last year almost everyone would have first asked what a podcast is before answering any questions. That is real progress. I hope to do quite a few interviews with NECC participants to give you a feel for what is happening in San Diego this week. I have also included some pictures from walking around today. San Diego is a beautiful city and I can tell this will be an amazing week. All aboard.....

Direct link to listen to Podcast #33 - Opening Night of NECC 2006- A Global Event - MP3 Format - 9:10 minutes

If you have any questions or comments please send them my way at
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The picture of the ship is of the Star of India in the harbor at San Diego - we saw it on our walk back to the hotel after fireworks.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Podcast #32 - Getting Ready for NECC 2006

Just a couple of days until NECC starts in San Diego. The NECC site has a great online conference planner and I've been checking out which sessions sound best for me. If you're planning on attending NECC please consider blogging/podcasting about it and using the tag "necc06" so that everyone can share in your efforts. Check out the links below to help you prepare. You can also leave a comment about what you are really excited to see this year in San Diego.

Direct link to listen to Podcast #32 - Getting Ready for NECC 2006 - MP3 Format (12:30 minutes)

Show Notes for Podcast #32:

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Podcast #31 - The Spirit of Louisiana Steam Engine in Liberty

This spring the community of Liberty hosted a wonderful visitor from New Orleans - the Spirit of Louisiana steam engine. During the months of May and June the steam train was visited by thousands of people. The train then moved on to Kearney, Missouri for their 150th birthday celebration. I was able to visit the train on two occasions - during our Spring Festival and then later in June before they left. This episode contains some interviews during the Spring Festival. Be sure to check out the show notes as well. The Kansas City Star newspaper did a great video on the train while it was in Liberty and you can stay in touch with the travels of the train after its stay in the Liberty area. It was such a great experience to see an authentic part of American history.

If you have any comments or questions please contact me at or leave a comment of this post.

Direct link to listen to Speaking of History Podcast #31 - The Spirit of Louisiana Steam Engine in Liberty - MP3 Format - (12:30 minutes)

Show Notes for Podcast #31:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

DEN Midwest Summer Institute Links on Audacity

Hello from Chicago and welcome Discovery Educator Network Midwest Institute participants. I will be doing some podcasting from the institute as well as doing some brief - 30 minute - workshops on using Audacity to edit sound for movies and podcasts. Audacity is the application that I use to edit the "Speaking of History" podcast.

Here are some helpful links for getting started with Audacity:

Audacity - free software application which works with Mac or PC

Audacity Wiki Page - a ton of extra information on Audacity including a forum

Audacity Tutorial - one of many online tutorials on how to use the application for editing sound

Lame MP3 Encoder - a free program which allows you to create an MP3 file from a WAV file, can be added to Audacity as an add-on

River Past MP3 Converter - a free program which allows you to create an MP3 file from a Wav file or an MP3 file to a WAV file

Wesley Fryer Podcast Help Links Page - a great collection of links for anyone who wants to learn more about podcasting from the producer of the podcast "Moving at the Speed of Creativity"

These are just a few of the great resources available to edit sound files. If you have a resource you'd like to share please include a link in the comments below. Thanks.

Podcast #30 - Will Richardson on Web 2.0 at the Discovery Educator Network Midwest Regional Summer Institute

Welcome to day 2 at the Discovery Educator Network Midwest Regional Summer Institute. Today we are exploring the world of Web 2.0 tools and our tour guide is none other than Will Richardson. Will showed us some great examples of these tools being used in education, discussed some of the social aspects of our students using social networks and some thoughts about how these tools are changing the face of education - or rather, how they SHOULD be changing the current face of education.

Thoughts from Will about Education and Web 2.0

1. Schools are closed but should be open and accessible

2. Change from individual learning spaces to collaborative learning networks

3. From "just in case learning" to "just in time learning"

4. Change from text to multimedia

5. Change from working alone for an audience of one to working together for an audience of many

6. Students performing as teachers

Direct link to Podcast #30 - Will Richardson on Web 2.0 at the Discovery Educator Network Midwest Summer Institute in Chicago - MP3 Format - (90:00 minutes)

You can also listen to The Speaking of History podcast through My Odeo Channel

Podcast #30 Show Notes:

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