U.S History and AP Government Review

I started putting together my United States History review packets and thought I would share the process in which I review for a major state exam. I designed my review packets with a simple idea that my students do NOT need 400 vocabulary words or 25 pages of a review packet to study for a major assessment.  If it comes down to review let’s stress the down and dirty simple terms, concepts, and big ideas of each unit.


Review Handouts on Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s 

Here are my Review Handouts on EACH chapter of AP Government

Here are my Review Handouts and Multiple Choice Practice Questions for Regent’s US History—–>    # 1      # 2     # 3        # 4

Here are my Cartoon Review Handouts with a Short Answer Question and a Multiple Choice Question


Review Guides and Multiple Choice 

The review guides listed above are simple, visually appealing, and will be easy to review before a major exam. I also do extensive multiple choice review with both my Regent’s United States History course and my AP Government course. I go beyond the simple and straight forward multiple choice answer—> I have my students write one detail next to every multiple choice question that they know or researched beyond the question or answers. They then come to class ready to share their “detail or fact.” In essence they are creating an alternative study guide sharing facts and information beyond the simple multiple choice question.


Review Games

I also like to mix up review sessions with “game day” or “Fun Friday’s.” I play a variety of games from digital games such as Infuse Learning, Socrative, and Password; to old school games such as reviewing questions and drawing on a white board. I also have “Thematic Thursday’s” where we focus on thematic essay topics comparing  two topics in one essay.


These are just a few of the ways I review for major state exams. I hope you enjoyed reading and contribute to my blog post prompt.

How do you review for a major exam or state assessment with your students? 

Thank You: 100,000 Page Views!

I am so humbled and honored that my blog has reached 100,000 page views. I was so impressed when it reached a 1,000. Thank you to all my wonderful followers on twitter, subscribers, and guest bloggers. Thank you for making me a better teacher and giving me a voice to share my teaching pedagogy and practice. Here’s to another 100,000 views! Thank You

Download Videos or files on your iPad

This week I am doing a project with my AP Government course using iMovie. A few of my students want to get videos from their phones and computers on the school ipad and the solution is to use  Dropbox. Through dropbox can download video directly to your iPad over wi-fi or 3G without using iTunes. The trick is to first upload video to your Dropbox account and then favorite it (highlight the star) in iPad dropbox app. The simple act of favoriting the video or file in Dropbox begins the download process. Your video or file is instantly saved to your iPad.

How can you save a video from Youtube to your iPad? 

  1. Go to Keepvid on your desktop and save your video as an mp4.
  2. Upload to your Dropbox account.
  3. Find your video on the iPad app and favorite it (check the star)

Your video will then download to your iPad. No need to iTunes and cords. 

Make a Rap with Autorap

Want a creative way to make an announcement in your classroom? You can create an Autorap, which turns everyday speech into a rap! Your students can do it for a project or can spice up your classroom announcements. I learned about Autorap from Ann Beck on #sschat.  Autorap is an App that can turn your speech into rap and it even corrects bad rapping. After playing with this app it fairly simple to use and sort of addicting. This app work with Smule’s proprietary “rappification” technology, AutoRap maps the syllables of your speech to any beat, creating a unique rap every time you use the program. Check it out today!

According to Macworld, “Talk into the app, and AutoRap magically morphs your speech into a rap. Create your own original rap songs with Freestyle Beats, or use Premium Songs from artists like Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj, to AutoRap with the songs you know and love. RAP MODE: Switch to Rap Mode and flaunt your skillz by rapping along to your favorite songs, following the lyrics that scroll across the screen. AutoRap will correct your flow, snapping your syllables to the rhythmic grid of the underlying beat.”


Citation: “AutoRap.” Macworld. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.


Critical Thinking and Primary Sources in the Classroom with #sschat

This past Monday we had a wonderful #sschat that was about Primary Sources, Critical Thinking, and the “So What” of History. The chat was led by Michelle Grasso, who is a wonderful global history teacher at Haldane High School in Cold Spring, NY. Last night was an engaging discussion with hundreds of teachers about connecting primary documents, critical thinking, and history to our students lives. You can view the entire chat archive here. This was the first #sschat that had a live video in addition to the twitter chat. Please check out the video created from @teachercast below.


Here is the collaborative resource document from the #sschat.

What is #sschat?

#sschat is a wonderful online community dedicated to connecting social studies educators from around the world. According to Shawn McCusker, “#sschat is a collaborative group of social studies teachers who work together to create materials, discuss teaching, integrate technology and problem solve. We learn together and talk about the direction that education is moving, talk to experts, crowdsource materials and share our best lessons.” I agree with Shawn in that #sschat has developed into a place of sharing, collaboration, and a professional learning network.  According to Shawn, “Imagine if some of the most passionate teachers you know were to get together and share the best materials they have. That’s #sschat.” We meet on Twitter every Monday night at 7 pm est. If you would like to join us just follow the hashtag #sschat. New participants are always welcome to join the conversation. You can also visit our archive of chats found here. I hope to see you Monday!

Lesson: Analyzing Credit Card Offers

I teach senior economics, most of my seniors by this point are either accepted into college or checked out of school. As much as I’d hate to admit it but “senioritis” is in full swing. I am trying my very best to keep them motivated and engaged. Today they were so engaged and on-task with analyzing credit card offers lesson. I had each student in a group of four with different credit card offers, including the fine print as well as the promotional incentives.

In groups, they had to compare incentives, APR’s, balance transfer fees, annual fees, etc between four different credit card offers. They were able to read the fine print of each offer, compare rates, and be a more informed consumer. They were shocked how the fees increased if you failed to make a payment as well as all the stipulations associated with the account. They completed a worksheet as they analyzed each credit card offer. Ultimately, they came away with the answer to my essencial question: What advice would you give to the average consumer who uses a credit card?

For more information, check out my lesson on Teacher’s Pay Teachers.


Analyzing Credit Card Offers on PhotoPeach



Simplify your Life with Rubrics

“Rubrics” are standards for grading students on various tasks. Jackie McGrath discovered this wonderful website of rubrics created my Mr. Jones and I thought I would pass it on to others looking to simplify grading. These rubrics have been developing since 2004 and most have been very much refined. Here are two scales on each rubric: a scale from 1 to 5 and a scale from 0 to 100. The former refers to NYS Standards and the latter is the school grading scale. The rubrics are sorted into different catagories and seem like they can be easily adapted for any grade level or subject.


My Big Campus User (FREE) Conference

Last year I had the unique privilege to attend My Big Campus (MBC) Summer Academy in San Diego, California. I learned from amazing educators across the country, learned to train others using MBC, and creative ways I can implement MBC into my classroom. I left the training motivated and excited to share My Big Campus with my professional learning community. Since then I have spread MBC to several teachers at my school who are using it with their students. I am hopeful the rollout will continue to spread within my district.


What is My Big Campus?

My Big Campus is an online learning environment where teachers and students can have online discussion and online learning for all students. It is a secure social network that is designed to be used inside and outside of the classroom. My Big Campus is carefully monitored and has specific settings that are designed for you class and student population. Anything that is uploaded, created, or posted can be seen and printed by teachers, administrators, or My Big Campus administrators.  Students will learn that they are members of a community and are expected to be responsible digital citizen.All My Big Campus groups are “Private” meaning that only students and teachers that are invited to be a part of the group or class can see comments, assignments, discussions, or shared resources.


Here are some ways you can use My Big Campus in your class:

  • Students can get directions and resources for assignments given in class
  • Students can participate in and create discussions related to the topics we are covering.
  • Students can access to our classroom calendar and receive announcements about upcoming events and important dates.
  • Students can have online storage space so they can easily access digital projects and assignments they are working on for class.
  • Students can communicate with me and their classmates about assignments and projects we are doing in class.


My Big Campus Conference  

Any MBC user can attend our first-ever MBC User Conference–there are no conference fees! Teachers, tech coordinators, and admins will be coming together to share best practices for engaging students, improving learning outcomes, managing online behavior, collaborating on PD, rolling out MBC and 1:1 initiatives, and more. Users teaching and learning from each other–because together we do amazing things!

Register today — the conference is free!

Submit your proposal to present — this conference is all about users sharing best practices. Strands include:

  • Student Engagement (e.g., course delivery, global connections)
  • Content Curation (e.g., curating content in MBC, cross-district collaboration, course bundle best practices)
  • Innovative Learning Models (e.g, PBL, flipped, differentiated instruction)
  • Virtual/Distance Education
  • Digital Citizenship and Managing Online Behavior
  • Mobile Implementations (e.g., 1:1, BYOD)
  • Professional Learning Networks (e.g., PD, book studies, district rollouts)

Apply for a scholarship to offset travel expenses.

Please Vote Cassie and Matt in the Allure Wedding Contest

I normally only post about school related items but this weekend I am going to spread the word about a wonderful friend of mine.  My best-friend and maid-of -honor, Cassie Davies got really sick on October 5, 2012. On December 23, Cassie was discharged and she would begin outpatient rehabilitation to continue to work on regaining her ability to walk and move. That Sunday night that she got discharged,  Matt brought her back home (79 days after she had been admitted into the hospital) and had WILL YOU MARRY ME? set up in this lavish light display in her backyard.


Cassie and Matt submitted their proposal story to Allure magazine and they were selected among the top 8 stories. Please vote for their proposal story, which is amazing story about how love can conquer all.  Please Vote for Cassie and Matt everyday from any device until March 15th: http://www.allurebridals.com/vote


Cassie’s Story

Suddenly on October 5th, 2012, my best friend Cassie Davies became comatose and paralyzed. A rapidly moving disease had struck her immune system and left her and the rest of us with little hope. Doctors were baffled they had more questions than answers, and time seemed to be running out. Her family was at a hospital in Scranton, PA initially, but hours later Cassie was life-flighted to Geisinger Danville, PA where her lifeless body went through a series of devastating events that left recovery and survival in doubt. After 2 weeks of being comatose, kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube, Doctors diagnosed her rare condition as Acute Disseminated Encepholomyelitis (ADEM). Miraculously, she awoke in the ICU on day 20, though unable to speak or move anything besides blinking her eyes. All the while, her family stayed within her ICU room almost every night “sleeping” on folding chairs, hoping and praying.


Her friends back home had created a facebook group (Updates on Cassie <3) that quickly had 700 members praying for her cause as well, and her small town of Newton Ransom, PA held vigils and benefits to raise money and hope for the family. The outpouring of support was overwhelming, but it was still unknown what obstacles would be in Cassie’’s way but with the love and generous support from family and friends we know she will be in great hands.

See how I used technology to cope and make a difference with a previous blog post.