Thursday, May 19, 2011

In a World Gone Mad...

My 6th grade students just completed a PBL in which they created a "Press Kit" to sell a fictional movie about European explorers.  Students used a list of web resources to research their assigned explorer.  Each "Press Kit" contained 3 components:
  1. A 300 word description of their movie, which is similar to what is found on the back of a DVD, or Netflix red envelope.  Students were given a list of 9 questions to research.
  2. A "Coming Attractions” poster, created using a free online site,  
  3. A “Coming Soon” movie trailer created using the class' free Animoto account.  
Also part of the student's grade was to have a consistent theme (e.g., movie title, release date, tagline, stars, movie reviews).  Grading was done by rubric.

Below are some examples of student-created movie trailers:

Here are some permalinks to some of their movie trailers:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution" E-Books

E-book versions of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution are now available for all grade levels (elementary, middle school, high school).  Thanks to a PTA grant I won, I use a class set of 30 with my 7th graders.  The teacher's edition, which comes with the class set, can be purchased separately. 

Here's the link for the middle school edition:

Below is a preview:We the People Middle School Textbook

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Portal 2, a Video Brain Game Review - NY Times

Published: May 10, 2011
"Somewhere out there an innovative, dynamic high school physics teacher will use Portal 2 as the linchpin of an entire series of lessons and will immediately become the most important science teacher those lucky students have ever had... You might even learn something." 
Interesting review.  Here's the link:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

National Security Webinar

Yesterday my 7th grade social studies class, along with over 1,600 classrooms, plus tens of thousands of students across the globe, tuned in to a live webcast to hear Ben Rhodes, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor, discuss Osama bin Laden.  Over 1,700 questions were submitted from students. Students watched the webcast on our SMART Board.   
You can watch the three-part archive of this historic event here:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

White House Webinar

I registered my 7th grade social studies class for a live webinar, sponsored by Discovery Education.  Below is the complete description:

Teachers and students are invited to join Ben Rhodes, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, for a very special webinar on Thursday, May 5 at 1PM ET.
  • Presentation (15 minutes) Ben will provide context and perspective
  • Q&A from Students (15 minutes) Students will have the chance to submit questions to be answered live

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Free QR Generator

URL shortening websites are not only popular on sites like Twitter (due to the 140 character limit), but also in the classroom.  I frequently use URL shortening sites ( and to help guide students directly to websites.  When you use Google to shorten a URL (, click "Details" to get a QR code.  QR codes are growing in popularity.  QR (Quick Response) codes can be scanned with smartphones and take users directly to a linked website.  Here is the QR code for