Friday, July 30, 2010

It's About Connecting With People

Last night I read an email that tickled me all the way to my toes.  I received my very first blog award from Doreen at They say everyone has a story ... this is mine.  I am very humbled and so very excited.  Part of that award is to share 7 things you might not know about me.

1.  I started writing my first blog last summer Bridging Memories.  It is a combination of information for families and care givers who love and care for loved ones with dementia. In between facts, research and tips are pieces of the story of my Mother's battle with Alzheimer's.  I started my second blog last fall Libeary Corner.  The focus of it is education & technology.  I started my third blog as a place to write slices of my life and put lots of the funny puppy stories. I call it Windows 2 My Life.
2.  Dan and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary the 22nd of July.  Years ago we went together and eventually life brought us in a complete circle. He is the love of my life.
3.  I have a stepson Joe, a granddaughter Hailey, and a stepdaughter Peggy.
4.  I am a pet parent to 4 dogs and 1 duck. Max a boxer cross, Lady a chocolate lab, Sammi, a Great Dane Lab cross, and Baby a black lab puppy, Mr Duck a muskagee.
5.  I sometimes bead jewelry.
6.  I retired from the Montana National Guard after 24 years.
7.  I am doing some free lance writing.

I am passing this award on to the following 15 people who I feel are very versatile bloggers.  They in turn will share 7 things about themselves and pass the award on.  They are great reads and I encourage you to read them.  

1.  Ruth and Stacey - Two Writing Teachers   I love their writing ideas, and how they encourage and challenge me.
2.  Peggy - The Simple Woman - her beautiful writing and quiet inspiration
3.  Melinda from Coming Clean Confessions of an Imperfect Parent - for sharing ideas for improving my blog
4.  David of EFL Classroom 2.0 - for his encouragement and brilliance
5.  Ellen Pham's Blog - Her friendship and encouragement
6.  Teresa - Too Many Heartbeats - her courage and compassion
7.  Lisa - Lisa's Gluten-Free Advise - her willingness to share
8.  Kelly - iLearn Technology - her passion and knowledge - especially her friendliness
9.  Susan - Book Chook - I love her writing and colorful site - I appreciate her warm comments.
10. Patti - 37 days - her posts are thought provoking and make me think
11. Alex - A Moderate Life - excellent content, great information
12. Kaye - SandwichInk - good ideas for the Sandwich Generation
13. Java - Never Growing Old -her friendliness and blog hops
14. Eloise - Mommy2TwoGirls - I love her comments & her friendliness
15. Crayon Wrangler - Coloring Outside The Lines - her sense of fun - I love the idea of "crayon wrangler"

There are two other people who I would like to to give an award to, Melissa & Kelly for listening to me as I try and figure this out and for their friendship.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What is a Windowfarm?

Picture by Julia Makarova    

I was reading the blog from a Moderate Life and saw a blog list and one name was Window Farms.  I was intrigued and  went to check it out.  It was really cool.   People were using recycled Nestle's water bottles to grow plants in windows with hydroponics.

My first thought was looks like more skill than I have.  Then I saw they have kits available for those of us who are mechanically challenged.  As I read further you can join the group and get instructions and support for free.  They are part of the Creative Commons licensing agreement.  The community is very dedicated to encouraging people to grow their own food.

My second thought was - what a good classroom project.  Everything from reading using nonfiction to watching the life cycle.  Keeping a writers/nature journal, measuring plant growth, the list is endless.  The best part would be eating your own home grown salad.

On the website there are a number of videos that explain different aspects of their project.  Go check them out.  I'm thinking maybe there is a window farm in my future.  What about you?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

History Portal

A history portal for teachers - The Center for History and New Media.  This portal provides access to many primary sources.  One of the sections is Historical Thinking Matters - a website designed to teach students how to read and understand primary sources and how to develop historical narratives. One of the topics that is available is Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Lots of resources to examine from many points of view.  Very well designed.

Do History is another segment that uses primary sources to piece together lives of ordinary people.  Martha Ballard is the midwife they use as their example.

The Section on Research + Tools - shows individuals how to use different tools to study history.

This is a great portal with lots of information to investigate.

Friday, July 9, 2010

When Is Veteran's Day? Why Would Kids Want to Know?

Do you know when Veteran's Day Is?  What can you tell me about it?  True the troops are out protecting us.  But what does that really have to do with your life?  Many students roll their eyes when they are asked about World War II.  To many it is about as contemporary as dinosaurs.  So how can we make it meaningful?

First , it is about seeing Veteran's as real people who have stories to tell.  Humans are hard wired to think in a narrative format.  Many students today know someone in the service.  So how can we make the transition of what they know to what we want them to learn?  What does "Native Words, Native Warriors" have to do with history?  Why should teachers include studying about veterans if they aren't teaching "History"?

Studying about individuals and the complexity of culture hooks many students.  Instead of just reading a biography, work with oral histories, work with primary sources.  Hear the stories of real people who experienced what is now history. Using an inquiry approach develops higher level thinking and learning.

Native Words Native Warriors is an online program from the National Museum of American Indians .  It was
designed to enhance the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit by the same name.  The online version is geared for grades 6-12.  Complete with lesson plans, resources, links.  The focus is on how tribal veterans used their language as a weapon in World War I and World War II.

The lessons touch on the complexity of culture and provides background information for seeing Native tribes as unique and living cultures.  I believe it helps people see beyond the surface when they can gain understanding about other cultures and the difficulties they have overcome. It helps build empathy and community.

The Veteran's History Project is a project of the American Folklife Center of the library of. Congress.  This link has lesson plans for K-12. One of the interesting piece is the idea to "Take a Veteran to School".  Teaching students how to ask questions how to make a video or documentary all involves higher level thinking besides the content information.  It also makes connections between generations that is a valuable part of every community.  These projects need to start well in advance of Veteran's Day to reap the most rewards.

This site also has podcasts, primary sources, background information.  There are also forms and kits available, most free of charge.  They have also included a website and information about the featured book Forever a Soldier.  Forever a Soldier is the second book in the Veteran's History Project.  The book is a collection of 37 stories from service men and women.  The stories are from veteran's from World War I to Iraq.

Go for Broke National Education Center is an organization that tells the stories of Japanese American Veteran's during World War II.  This site houses an oral history archive, lesson plans.  It also contains historical information and research materials.  The site encourages teachers to include the American story about the segregated Japanese American military units of World War II. They also encourage teachers to incorporated information about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the civil liberty issues and injustices of that time.

"With the State of California’s adoption in 1998 of the History/Social Science Content Standard that requires students to learn about the “roles and sacrifices of individual American soldiers, as well as the unique contribution of the special fighting forces (e.g. the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Navajo Code Talkers),” it is imperative that teachers be provided with the tools to incorporate this important aspect of history into curriculum.

By providing teachers with accessible curriculum resources to teach this American story, the Learning Center supports the promotion of ethnic tolerance, increases respect and support for the civil rights of all people, and demonstrates how prejudice and racial discrimination can undermine the foundations upon which this country was built. "  Go for Broke website.

The Tuskagee Airman were also important veterans, their story also needs to be told to our students.  These airman served with honor and bravery.  Today the Tuskagee Airman organization have a youth program to encourage young people to develop through aviation.

The Tuskagee Airman National Historic Site  is another resource for individuals.  The Tuskagee Airman Project is a resource from Reach and Teach.  The Black History Web also has some great resources. One resource that I find interesting is the Teach With Movies site (subscription).

These resources are just teasers.  With some more searching you will uncover a treasure trove of other sources.  I think these are great places to start.  I would enjoy hearing how you use these ideas in your class.  If you drop me a line I will link your project for other teachers.

Oh yeah November 11th is Veteran's Day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Is There a Time Machine for Digital Natives?

Teaching Digital Natives About History

How do you teach history to digital natives?  My students are very visual, they are used to seeing videos and movies.  A few years ago I had left a typewriter out on the table.  My students came in and wanted to know about the unusual keyboard.  One asked, "Where's the monitor?"

How can we give them the background knowledge to understand different times.  One powerful technique is primary sources.  Teaching students how to analyze and understand them.  I can hear you say. "Great sound bite.  Where do we start?"

Three Resources for Primary Sources

There are over 2,000 images taken by park service photographers, documenting architecture, Native American heritage, nature, transportation and scenic views.  This is a search able database, that brings in a visual element to learning. This site also has maps available for the viewer.

There are over 400 National Parks in the United States.  The National Parks Service has made teacher resources and curriculum materials available for using with students. Teaching With Historic Places is a great gem.  It uses parks listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.  It focuses on history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects.   There is even a template for developing your own lessons involving historic places. The National Park Service goals is to bring historic places into the classroom.

American Memory  You can look at webcasts, maps, newspapers, you can browse topics.

Library of Congress Online Catalog  This is where you can find their on line collection.

My Library of Congress  This is really the key to discovering the Library of Congress.  There are virtual tours.  Focus on collections, exhibitions, there is also a section directed at students and teachers.

Teachers  Primary Source Kits.  Classroom materials and professional development.  Information on how to look at primary sources and use them to teaches students how to analyze and examine, photos, documents, maps etc. They have developed themed resources and lesson plans.

This is a database of over 5000 websites describing holdings of - manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photos.  It is primarily used by research scholars.  Great resource for educators looking for background information.

Is that All There Is?

This is only the beginning.  As teachers we need to encourage our co-workers, our students and communities to preserve our local and family history.  Documenting the stories behind the photos are an incredible rich source of information.  For further ways to incorporate photos and history you might look at a previous post 
"Story Maps and the Digital Age".  Primary sources allow students to develop their own understanding of events, people, and ideas.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Geography Resources for Teachers

TES Connect has a down loadable Geography Directory with great resources, 179 pages of information. In the directory is a list of recommended blogs I clicked on "Geography and all that Jazz" I loved the pictures on the blog.  The directory is a little dated but is still valuable.

One intriguing section was the Geography of Happiness.  The Geography of Happiness Wiki tells the background of this amazing concept.  Geography is so much more than just learning longitude and latitude.  It is an integral part of culture, economics, and exploration to name just a few.

So much of language is directly associated with geography.  I would really encourage you to check out TES Connect for many other resources, but especially the geography resources.