Friday, October 28, 2011

NJ Council for the Social Studies Conference

Yesterday I attended the New Jersey Council for the Social Studies Annual Fall Conference, “From Local to Global: Social Studies and the iGeneration,” at Rutgers University.  The conference included "a wide variety of plenary and breakout workshops by teachers, supervisors, faculty as well as the opportunity to see the most up-to-date resources available and to talk with colleagues." 
    I had the opportunity to learn about the use of the National Archives DocsTeach, which has billions of primary sources and over 4,000 document-based lesson plans.  I also participated in a role-playing activity with the president of NJCSS to simulate immigration debates.  At the TeachUNICEF presentation, I learned about some Internet-based tools and techniques for promoting global citizenship, such as their map page (, Voices of Youth, and digital empowerment efforts by UNICEF in countries around the world.  I am planning on integrating TeachUNICEF resources into our Problems in Modern Africa podcast PBL this year.  I am also planning on sharing selected podcasts on their Facebook page.  A picture of the presenter, who is also the moderator of the TeachUNICEF Facebook page,, is below:

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Happy 10th Birthday iPod!

    On October 23, 2001 the original iPod was born.  It is also another example of Apple smartly marrying design and function.  Below left is the Pocket Radio (model T3) designed by Dieter Rams (German, born 1932) and Ulm Hochschule für Gestaltung (German, established 1953), which is on display at MoMA.  Below right is Jony Ive's design of the first generation iPod.  Dieter Rams was obviously one of Ive's design heroes.
    For more on the birth of iPod:  

      Friday, October 21, 2011

      "Come To Our Colony" - 13 Colonies PBL

      Every year my students participate in a project-based learning (PBL) unit on the 13 Colonies. (For more on what a PBL is, go to:, or read Suzie Boss's blog on Edutopia: This year's 13 Colonies PBL culminated in students using Photo Story 3 to create digital stories about each of their team's assigned colony. Pictures were courtesy of Flickr and music loops were exported from GarageBand.

      Students were tasked to do the following:

      "It is 1700. You become a recruiting agent hired by one of the colonies to attract new immigrants. Your task is to educate and persuade settlers to come to your colony. You will be able to do this by making a TV commercial. Your commercial must reflect the attributes of the assigned colony. You must address the issues of natural resources, economy, religion, relations with Indians, and reasons for settling."

      Each student worked in a team to divide up the research. They were each personally responsible to write "copy" (their lines) and narrate their slides. All of the videos were uploaded to the class YouTube channel: Feel free to view them all and help them "go viral!"

      Embedded below are some examples of student work:
      South Carolina:

      New York:


      Friday, October 14, 2011

      Spencer's 1st Birthday Weekend!

      New video from Spencer's 1st Birthday Weekend!!! I used Animoto to produce it... Did I ever mention that I've used Animoto so much in school, they sent me a T-shirt! LOL


      Thursday, October 13, 2011

      Teacher Leaders Network

      I am pleased to announce that, as of last week, I was accepted into the Teacher Leaders Network. The Teacher Leaders Network "is a national initiative of the Center for Teaching Quality." The Center for Teaching Quality "seeks to improve student learning and advance the teaching profession by: cultivating teacher leadership, conducting timely research, and crafting smart policy."

      Here is the link to my page:

      Saturday, October 8, 2011

      Think Different

      This week the world lost a visionary and I, like many others, lost a hero.  #ThankYouSteve

      The classic "Think Different" Mac commercial:

      The moving remix, "Tribute Video to Steve Jobs":

      Friday, October 7, 2011

      Week of Respect

      The 1st week of October in New Jersey is the "Week of Respect."  As such, my 6th grade students researched information from an article on the Voice of America website titled "How America Looks Through Muslim Eyes."  The article, based on the documentary "Journey into America," explores freedom, justice and tolerance in America.  My students reported their findings by each creating a Voki talking avatar.  Below is an example of a student answering a question about the life of a Muslim-American immigrant:

      Saturday, October 1, 2011

      Teachers Teaching Teachers, on Twitter

      A couple of years ago my 6th grade class used Skype on our SMART Board to videoconference a class of students in Stuttgart, Germany.  The instructor of that class was Shelly Terrell, a fellow teacher in my PLN (Professional Learning Network).  Over the years, we have shared many innovative classroom ideas with each other via Twitter.  This week's New York Times features an interview with her. Check it out: