Friday, December 05, 2008

Podcast #163 - Using Google Video Chat to Visit the National Constitution Center

Some days you do an activity in the classroom that just works incredibly well and you walk away thinking "AWESOME". I had that experience today. Today my 8th grade history students in Liberty, Missouri were able to take a visual field trip to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and participate in a tour given by National Constitutional Center Education Director Eli Lesser. We used Google's new Video Chat feature - it was very easy to use and we had a quality picture. Eli used his laptop and a web cam to move around Signers Hall at the National Constitution Center. He told stories about the statues in the hall while showing my students specific details. He answered questions as they raised their hand in my class. It was incredible. I know this is not a ground breaking event - many classes participate in video conferences every day, but I found it amazing that all we needed to make a connection was a G-mail account, a web cam and one click. Very impressive. If this is possible with minimal effort, what else can be accomplished with this application? Wow.

I talk about today's experience in the podcast and I recorded the experience with my Flip camera from the back of the room. I have uploaded a 7 minute segment from the video experience to You Tube and have embedded it below.

I would like to thank Eli Lesser for taking time out of his day to participate in this activity with my students. I would encourage all history teachers to sign up for the National Constitution Center educator newsletter to stay informed about all upcoming activities and events.

If you have any comments or questions about the video conference please leave a comment to this blog entry. I would also love to hear about any experiences you have with connecting classes via Google Video Chat. Are you an 8th grade American history class that would like to participate in a project with us in Liberty, Missouri? If so please let me know - send an e-mail to

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Deadline Approaching For 2009 Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards

Last Chance to Nominate and Apply for 2009 Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards Application Period Ends at Noon PT on December 17th Washington, DC – The application deadline for Cable’s Leaders in Learning Awards is only two weeks away.

Applications are being accepted through December 17th from individuals who implement creative learning programs in their communities, helping to push education progress to new heights. The annual program recognizes outstanding educators, administrators, policymakers, and other leaders at the forefront of innovation in education. The application period ends Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 12 noon PT. Applications can be submitted online only via

A podcast discussion about the application process is also available on the awards website for those considering applying. Cable’s Leaders in Learning Awards recognize a broad array of innovators, including:* Highly inventive classroom educators, administrators, community leaders, and policymakers who are transforming education from pre-kindergarten through high school.* Those who have had a major impact on educating youth both in and out of the classroom.* Those who have adopted innovative learning practices that have transformed an aspect of education on a large or small scale. In addition to national and local recognition, winners receive:* A $3,000 cash prize* An all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC in June, 2009 - While in Washington, award recipients will visit with members of Congress to talk about their award-winning programs. - Winners will attend an awards ceremony with policymakers, government officials, national education leaders, cable executives, and other VIPS. Cable’s Leaders in Learning Awards, administered by Cable in the Classroom, recognize innovative programs in several categories including: General Excellence, Cable Partnerships for Learning, and Media Literacy Education. For more information, please visit:

Cable in the Classroom (CIC), the cable industry's education foundation, works to expand and enhance learning opportunities for children and youth. Created in 1989 to help schools take advantage of educational cable programming and technology, CIC has become a leading national advocate for media literacy education and for the use of technology and media for learning, as well as a valuable resource for educational cable content and services for policymakers, educators and industry leaders. For more information about Cable in the Classroom, please visit:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Podcast #162 - Create A Word Cloud of the Constitution Using Wordle

Hello. Today's podcast is a quick one about using the application Wordle in your social studies class. Wordle is a web based application which allows you to create a word cloud from a sample of text. You can manipulate the colors, shape, font, etc. to make a really cool visual represenation of text.

Since we are studying the United States Constitution right now in class I create two "Wordles" composed of the text of the Constitution. I think they look pretty cool and my 8th graders thought they were awesome. Listen to the podcast to learn a little more about using Wordle in your social studies classroom.