Why is #sschat valuable to you? Join Today!

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How you can join #sschat?

1. Join the Live #sschat Discussions on Twitter Every Monday Night from 7-8 PM EST (see calendar on the main screen)
2. Join our Facebook Group
3. Join in 24/7 Discussions on Social Studies related topics on twitter follow the hashtag #sschat
4. Visit this #sschat ning website, which has discussion boards, groups, and archived chats of previous twitter discussions.

Why is #sschat valuable to you?
  • #sschat has helped to make me into a more dedicated, engaged, and connected teacher. It has helped me to create a positive learning environment for my students but also a professional learning community that I actually want to be apart of. Melissa Seideman @mseideman
  • #sschat allows me to instantly link with fellow social studies teachers around the globe, in real-time, from the comfort of my sofa.  It’s crowdsourcing professional development (how cool is that?), and it’s the most inspiring and resource-rich professional development I’ve ever participated in.  Joe Sangillo @joesangillo
  • I began watching the collaboration in #sschat as a lurker and thought “I want to belong to this!” The sharing and the organic co -developing of lessons has helped me develop as a newer teacher. -Michael Milton
  • #sschat has given me a countless number of lesson ideas and resources.  Just hearing what other teachers around the world are doing with their classes gets the creative ideas flowing.  It is also inspiring to collaborate with others.  It makes me a better teacher. Mike Nash @mackiefloyd
  • As an education professor, #sschat helps keep me connected with classroom teachers – their interests, successes, and challenges – on a daily basis. – Dan Krutka @dankrutka
  • I am the only Social Studies teacher in my middle school so #sschat IS my Professional Development!  Passionate educators keep me excited and eager to collaborate – John Padula @PadulaJohn
  • #sschat keeps me connected, invigorated and enthusiastic.  Learning from so many innovative educators is an experience that frees me from my office and classroom walls! @antfitz
  • #sschat is a great place to bounce ideas about lessons off others.  You don’t need to always reinvent the wheel. @sbdavidso
  • As a new SS coordinator, #sschat helped me expand my professional network nationwide and worldwide!  In some ways it is like having a SS Fairy Godmother – when I have a question or need a resource,  I tweet it out to #sschat and within minutes I have many great ideas or answers! @MapM8ker
  • #sschat is a great place to know what other people in the world are doing and a place to share good ideas and resources that we may not all have time to keep up with @praisesifa
  • #sschat is a community of passionate and knowledgeable educators dedicated to helping each other grow professionally.  Everyday I learn something new and always come away inspired.  The real winner in all of this… our students.  @RoanHoward
  • #sschat allows for continuous PD and it provides an outlet to share ideas and get feedback by teachers in the your discipline. In addition, it allows us to stay up to date with teaching trends, ideas, technology, and websites.  @philpuzz
  • Without #sschat,  EDSITEment would not be connecting to the most tech savvy teachers in America. We’d be in our “ivory tower” and they would probably not be aware of how much NEH has to offer them.
  • #ssschat has enriched the teaching in our department.   I often share the resources that I have found with teachers in social studies.  They have had great success with students using these resources.  I especially appreciate the support that I have seen provided for teachers new to the profession or teaching a course for the first time.
  • I don’t usually make the live #sschat and when I do it goes too fast for me, but I do enjoy the benefits of using the hashtag to ask questions or to search the archives later. I often share resources that I find here with the teachers in my department.  My participation has made ALL of us better. @jenslish
  • I have not taken part in many #sschat conversations, but I do look through the posts that are tagged #sschat. I have received many great ideas from other social studies teachers. Thank you to all. Monte DeArmoun @nksocialstudies
  • I am inspired by the creativity and dedication of the teachers on #sschat.   In the current test-driven climate, I am so impressed by the ways in which social studies teachers incorporate technology, current events, and interactive methods in their teaching, and refuse to “teach to the tests.” @dutchermann
  • The great people that use #sschat are ALWAYS willing to help with a link or advice to possible teaching topics.  It is instant professional development and probably the best PD tool in use today.  @jeifling
  • #sschat provides me with colleagues who are a resource, support, and inspiration. I just have to ask and there are so many in my PLN who respond immediately. It definitely makes me a better educator. I also connect with educators who are as passionate about student learning as I am and are willing to connect their classrooms worldwide. @kconners09
  • #sschat brings me in contact with new colleagues with new ideas. Collaboration is important to me as I do not have the opportunity at school to do so. There’s always lots of support, too. @geojo22
  • #sschat brings together passionate history teachers to connect, learn and share with one another.  It is a forum for getting help, support and great ideas to improve the teaching of Social Studies. @cybraryman1


How do you use #sschat?
  • 24/7 or during synchronous, moderated chat on Mondays at 7pm EST
  • I tune in most Monday’s to see what’s up.  I always find something useful.  I will also post resources to #sschat throughout the week and look there when I am trying to find something.  I also occasionally post questions.
  • I ALWAYS come away from #sschat with a new site, article, or connection for my PLN – EVERY TIME.  That’s the kind of people who keep me coming back!
  • I used to come across resources that I wanted to share out and thought no one cares, why bother sharing.  Then I discovered #sschat and now I just tweet a resource with #sschat and I instantly have a whole slew of like minded social studies teacher excited about the resource too.
  • I use #sschat to connect live and collaborate or I can go back and check the archives and find great ideas that are perfect for my lessons.  Every little bit helps in keeping education fresh!
  • Having a network of people who always willing to help/share is refreshing!  Also makes me feel great when I can offer help or a resource – validates what we all believe in as educators, despite high stakes testing and local politics
  • When I come across something useful that helped shaped the way I plan what I’m teaching or some interesting ideas, I like to share it out to others on #sschat
  • EDSITEment staff views #sschat as our window on the world of K-12 social studies and history teachers. We find out so much every day about where they are and what they need.
  • I use #sschat throughout the week rather than come to the chat. I use the archives and follow the hashtag.
  • I generally have classes on Monday evenings so I refer to the archives and follow the hashtag. The archives have provided an abundance of resource and ideas for use in the classroom.  @MaribethWestlun
  • Looking for new ideas and classroom resources.
  • I introduce my preservice teachers to it so that they can have a digital learning community.  I gain energy and enthusiasm from the teachers, even though I can’t regularly join the synchronous chat.  I love to share ideas with other teachers, and to get their suggestions of classroom projects, especially to see their student work.
  • When historical current events take place (death of bin Laden, Japan earthquake, etc) #sschat is the best place to gather information.  It is collaboration at the best.
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Students Wanted: Participate in a Collaborative 9/11 Memorial Interview/Blog Project

This is a wonderful collaborative project currently involving students in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and St.Croix.  If Interested in participating with your class: please contact me @mseideman or through my contact me page. Here is a direct link to the assigment.

9/11 Memories across the Country

Oral History Blog Post Assignment

Visit the Blog: http://interviews911.blogspot.com/

Learning Target: Students will demonstrate an understanding of social science methods of investigation through interviewing a family member on their memories of 9-11.  Students will analyze and discuss the interview through writing a blog post.

Step 1: The first part of your assignment is to interview someone who was old enough to really understand the impact September 11th had on America.  Please ask them the following questions and record their answers, either by writing or recording (video or audio).   It is your choice to document the interview through video or voice recording (your smart phone or computer can easily do that) if that is easier for you.

REMINDER:  Discussing the events of September 11, 2001 can be a very sensitive subject for most people.  Please handle the topic with the utmost care and compassion towards your interviewee.  If you face any difficulty completing this assignment to the fullest, please talk to your teacher.  If discussing the events of September 11, is difficult for you, please do not hesitate to talk to your teacher.

Interview Questions:

  1.  Who are you interviewing?
  2. What details do they remember about the day?  Where were they when they found out?  What were they doing?  What was the first thing they did when they found out?  Etc…
  3. What emotions did they experience that day?  What about the days immediately following?  Have them explain these as best they can.
  4. How do they think America has changed since September 11th?

Step 2: The second part of your assignment is to blog about your interview! Your blog post should include the following:

In your first paragraph create a summary of your family member or friend’s recollection of the events of 9/11. Your purpose here is to share their remembrances as truly as possible to reality- you should use both quotations and summaries in your own words. Make sure that you put quotes in “  “ marks and that you identify your source using only first name.

 In your second paragraph, explain why you think 9/11 has changed the world we live in today and how America has changed as a result of the events of this day. You may use the first person (I, You, we, my) in this section.

Step 3: Proof-read your blog post and make sure everything is correctly spelled. Read your paragraphs out loud to yourself to make sure the grammar and flow are well edited.  Students from around the country will read your posts, so you want to make sure it is appropriate for the public.

Step 4: Type and email your work to

● In the “To” field put:  911studentblog.interview@blogger.com

● In the “subject”: Enter Blog Title and then Teacher’s  Last Name.ClassPeriod.Firstname&LastInitial (Teacher’s Last Name.1.JoeS)

● In the Text box: Copy & paste step 1 and 2 directly into email and push Send

General Tips:

  • If you want to see a sample blog post, please visit – http://interviews911.blogspot.com/
  • Make sure you put the title you want for your blog post as the email subject line
  •  Take out any signatures you have in your email
  •  Make sure you put your “First Name, Last Initial, Teachers Name” at the end of your post/email
  • If you have any pictures to share, please post them in the email.

Step 5: Please Comment on AT LEAST THREE other students’ blog posts. Make sure they are substantial, relevant, and sincere comments.  Don’t forget to sign your blog post with “First Name, Last Initial, Teachers Name”

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Daily Infographics in the Classroom

I am a huge fan of using infographics in the classroom to share an important key concept. I have used infographics in class such as who votes, path to the white house, pay gap in history, and income tax. I recently subbled upon a wonderful website called Daily Infographic. The website features daily infographics that are visually appealing and discuss a variety of topics.  It’s a really neat site with visual data that can be applied to any couse or subject. Hope you enjoy it!


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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!

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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.

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My Big Campus is Amazing!!!

I have used Edmodo the past year and a half with my classes. I love Edmodo because it’s a free social learning network for teachers, parents, students, and administrators. It provides a way to connect, collaborate, and so much more.

Michelle Krill, a technology coordinator @mmkrill at my former school, introduced me to new course management resource called My Big Campus. My Big Campus is a wonderful resource that allows teachers to create a virtual classroom with their students. My Big Campus has so many features and endless opportunities to collaborate and teach your student’s 21st century skills!

My Big Campus has a resource library for websites, wiki’s, handouts, power-points, and videos, etc. Once you create an account, you can create separate classes or groups. As a teacher you can create a blog, classroom calendar, post assignments, and even grade assignments right in My Big Campus. Last semester I used the blog to have a virtual discussion before and after classroom debates. I also used the classroom “chat” feature to Back-Channel while my class watched videos.


MBC is by far one of my favorite programs. It has replaced a lot of other programs and allowed my students to go to one place to access all our classroom information. Two teachers in my department have already rolled it out, one with an honors program and another with the AP US history course. My wonderful department chair, Mrs. McGrath has actually encouraged our department to start using it for a department resource sharing. I have two trainings scheduled for this spring to teach teachers about MBC in my district. I am excited to share my passion for MBC.




Video  Citation 


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Teach your students to use TED to spread ideas!

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. It is a wonderful resource for education is so many ways. It could be used for professional development and videos to engage students. The Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog has devoted an entire section that contains everything about TED including lists of TED’s most popular videos.  You can expand your students to videos devoted to education and ideas that is beyond youtube.


TED has so many other options such as conferences, events, speeches, community, and conversations. I particularly like using TED Conversations with my AP Government class. As a debate team is preparing for a debate my class has a virtual discussion with the “world” about the debate topic. I have my students write their own opinion and then respond to classmate’s posts. Here is our TED Conversation on the Term Limits for Members of Congress and the Electoral College. This method is extremely powerful because students contribute to  an online community that extends beyond the four walls of our classroom. Students take ownership and feel they “have a say” about ideas in the world.


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How technology has helped me cope with a tragedy?

Anyone who knows me knows I am completely dedicated to my family, friends, students, and this blog. The past month I have been so busy with a new job in a new district, moving out of our apartment, and closing on a house. To say the last month has been stressful, is an understatement!


My Best Friend Gets Sick

Last week my college best friend and maid of honor, Cassie Davies has what she thought was a cold turned much more serious. She woke up Friday without any feeling in her legs and was rushed to the hospital. She went into a coma on Saturday and finally woke up this past Thursday. She is making small steps everyday but the recovery process is going to be a very long. Doctors are not still 100% sure of what she has but they are thinking its ADEM with other complications.


Feeling Helpless 

For most of the week I felt very helpless and hopeless. I couldn’t visit her and I couldn’t help her. I dove into a household project: I  reupholstered my entire dining room set as well as out outdoor patio. I kept myself occupied but could not escape the fact that she was sick and needed help. I moped around the house and avoided all types of schoolwork and housework. I told my students that she was sick and they offered to make cards and have a bake sale to raise money for her family (see the cards on the right).


How Technology Saved Me and Gave Me a Purpose?

When I got home from school on Tuesday I thought of a wonderful project to help Cassie. I thought I could use my love of technology to help her and in the process it gave me a way to cope in a positive way. Cassie’s high school friends created a facebook group to get the word out and give people a way to voice their love and support. Cassie’s support group now has 563 members!


Raising Money 

The first thing I did was create a video (see below) and a website to raise funds for her family. Cassie’s family is one of the most giving families you will ever meet and I know the medical, travel, and hotel expenses are going to be a lot. I created the video through iMovie and the website through  Indiegogo. So far we have raised over $6,700 with a 108 funders in the past four days. It’s amazing when a community comes together. I even tweeted it out and a few of my twitter friends have donated. Thank you for your support it means so much to me!


Photobook and Voicethread 

I created a Voicethread to share memories and stories to help Cassie while she is recovering. I think its so important for our friends who live across the US to be involved in the recovery process and this was one way we could send our support and memories through a touching project using our voices.


I also created a Shutterfly photo-book about Cassie using all the photos, memories, and good luck wishes. I fiqured it would be something she could treasure during her time in the hospital.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Build your own high-quality photo books at Shutterfly.com.



One of Cassie’s friends Monica ordered bracelets that are pink and white that say “Cassie’s Army” on them. They are $5 a piece and all proceeds will go towards the Davies family. She even used a google form to keep track or the orders, addresses, and payments.


This week I have shed more tears than I ever have, but technology has given me a positive outlet to contribute my skills and truly make a difference. I have realized that life is too short and we need to live each day like it is our last. Technology has brought friends together to help, support, comfort, and pray for our friend. Please send positive thoughts and prayers to Cassie.  She still has a long way to go but I am happy technology is helping to make that gap just a little bit smaller.

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40 Pinterest Pins for Proud Grammar Nerds

Note: Guest post written by Shanna Houston from Online Education Database.

The digital world is rife with grammatical errors (not to mention spelling, historical, and factual errors), making the Internet a pretty horrifying place for grammar nerds. Yet the Web can also be a great place for those with a passion for grammar to commune, share knowledge, and even to silently, or not so silently, judge the poor grammar of others. Even better, resources for grammarians can even show up in unexpected places.

While Pinterest may more often be used to collect inspiration for DIY projects and drool over insanely expensive couture, it is also an excellent resource for getting nerdy about grammar. Visitors to the site will find copious amounts of grammar-related humor, grammar guides, and plenty of commiseration over the poor state of grammar in the world today. To get you started on your grammar-focused Pinterest journey, we’ve selected some amazing pins that are sure to leave you prouder than ever of your grammar nerd status.

Grammar Rule Reminders

These instructional pins are great refreshers on correct grammar, both for you and others who may not have such impeccable grammar skills.

  1. Rules for placing quotation marksShare this pin to help you and your less grammar-savvy friends remember the rules for placing quotation marks.
  2. List of prepositionsYou can help yourself remember what words should never end up at the end of a sentence with this useful pin.
  3. 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly: Use this pin to help friends and family avoid making some of the most common grammar gaffes.
  4. How to use a semicolonThis pin offers those who aren’t semicolon literate the chance to learn, but is also a great refresher for grammar nerds.
  5. 12 Most Misunderstood Words in EnglishHere you’ll find a list of words that are commonly misused, from the infamous “nauseous” to the continually misunderstood “less.”
  6. 10 Hyphenation TipsHyphens are often misused and abused, but this pin will help you learn (or teach others) when they should and shouldn’t be used.
  7. The Write WayDon’t you hate it when people misuse words that sound similar but have different meanings? This pin tackles eight of the worst offenders.
  8. Purposeful pausesThis graphic illustrates the difference between commas, colons, and semicolons.
  9. Editor’s MarksIf you’re going to correct someone else’s grammar, make sure you have the tools to do it the right way. This reference tool will help you use classic editing marks like a pro.

Grammar Peeves

It’s not hard to think of a pet peeve (or several) when it comes to failure to use proper grammar. These pins highlight just a few of the worst examples.

  1. Different from vs. different thanDoes it irritate you every time you see someone say “different than” when they really should be using “different from” and vice versa? This pin feels your pain and offers a funny take on the grammar rule.
  2. Why you should use the Oxford commaIf you’re a fan of the Oxford comma, then you’ll appreciate this hilarious example, involving strippers, JFK, and Stalin, of why commas are so important.
  3. Your vs. You’reOne of the most common mistakes in writing is confusing “your” with “you’re.” This pin shows a somewhat disturbing example of how to use the words correctly.
  4. Literally!: This comic lays out the correct way to use literally by showcasing some of the common ways it’s often misused in everyday speech.
  5. Supposably is a wordAs you’ll learn here, “supposably” is a real word. The problem with it is that it’s commonly confused with “supposedly,” a mistake that has grated on many a grammar nerd’s nerves.
  6. Top Ten Grammar PeevesYou’re bound to find at least a couple of your biggest grammar peeves on this list.
  7. Suspicious quotation marksMisuse of quotation marks is a big peeve for many grammar nerds, and the way they’re used here implies that something pretty gross is going on.


These comics poke fun at poor grammar.

  1. Ancient grammar policeBeing a stickler for grammar is nothing new, as this comic amusingly illustrates.
  2. Open minded, but not when it comes to grammarWhen it comes to religion and politics, open-mindedness is fine, but grammar requires a much more discriminating approach.
  3. Pin the apostrophe on the contractionThis comic depicts a pretty wild and crazy English teacher party.
  4. Grammatical error allergyGrammar nerds will find humor in this comic, riddled with common grammatical errors.
  5. Comma sutraThis cute illustration is sure to get a giggle out of you, as it depicts commas engaging with each other in a variety of suggestive positions.
  6. The Internet is a grammar desertThe poor grammar and spelling that is so rampant on the Web can make a grammar nerd cringe, a fact that is clearly illustrated in this quip.
  7. “Alot” isn’t a wordThis pin drives home why “alot” isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a real word.
  8. Poor grammar in advertisingIf you loathe the poor grammar in the “Got Milk” ads, then you’ll find this comic on the issue especially funny.
  9. Grammar policing until the endThis comic imagines why English teachers were rarely hung in the Old West. When you’re done, click through to read a series of funny grammar-focused cartoons.
  10. Lay versus lieEven dogs know the difference between lay and lie!

Grammar Humor

Enjoy a few laughs courtesy of these grammar jokes and gaffes.

  1. Feminist grammarPunctuation plays a key role in determining the meaning of a sentence, and that’s especially true in cases like this.
  2. Grammar (on Google) mattersYou get drastically different suggested results on Google depending on the spelling and grammar you use, as this example tellingly illustrates.
  3. Funny grammar puns These clever puns would be perfect on a t-shirt, but if even you don’t emblazon them on clothing, they’re still great for a laugh.
  4. Grammar police graffitiEven graffiti isn’t safe from the wrath of the grammar police.
  5. 30 Rock grammar lessonTracy Jordan may not be the brightest character on TV, but even he knows when to use good and well.
  6. Grammar doctorThis pin takes a punny approach to the double meaning of colon.
  7. I’m silently correcting your grammarAdmit it: you do this constantly.
  8. Leftover punctuationTired of getting emails and papers that lack proper punctuation? Let everyone know how you feel with this pin.
  9. Check your grammarEven grammar sticklers who aren’t teachers can appreciate this amazing stamp.
  10. Grammar in the workplaceThis pin makes the importance of apostrophes and correct grammar strikingly clear.
  11. Hilarious misuse of “then”: This Facebook commenter really could have used a lesson in when to use “then” and “than” before posting this unintentionally funny status.
  12. Preposition humorGrammar nerds will love the humor in this preposition-focused pin.
  13. Correcting grammar in an argumentHave you ever resorted to correcting someone’s grammar in order to win an argument? You’re not alone.
  14. Grammar nerd coffee table book. Every grammar lover needs this book: I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar. It’s a collection of grammar bloopers and slip-ups that’s sure to make you feel smart.


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Life After the Red Pill: One Educator’s Journey into the Rabbit Hole of Social Media

We all have to make choices. As teachers we must constantly make them. How will we spend our time in and out of class? What resources should we use with our students, and where should we go to get them? How will we foster effective learning? Social Studies educators, like me, often wonder, how will my lessons foster responsible citizenship among my students?


Implementing Social Media into the Classroom

I recently chose to investigate the possibilities and challenges of utilizing social media to improve my social studies teaching. I define social media as any service where content is user generated and shared with fellow users of that medium. I was already using several social media services (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram) in my personal life, but I did not utilize them professionally. While I didn’t understand it at the time, I’ve found this choice, albeit a quite a bit less dramatic and violent, like the one Neo faced in The Matrix (1999):

Like Neo, I had no idea of the ramifications my choice to select the red pill of social media. When I began to use it I discovered a world that I did not know existed, but, fortunately, it was not the painful reality of Neo’s “real world.” Over the last couple weeks I have uncovered a wealth of resources, ideas, and colleagues. Yet it has not been without challenges. I will provide a brief summary of my some of my experiences using social media for school. I hope these experiences might provide some insights for others embarking upon a similar journey (or maybe even remind social media veterans what it is like for neophytes).


Exploring New Forms of Social Media

While I made the choice to investigate social media, I have not been alone. For the past week I asked my senior social studies methods students to accompany me. I began a week before our first class by immersing myself in a variety of social media services by using them 5-10 hours a day. I created a Facebook page, a new Twitter account (@WSUSocStudies), an Edmodo account, and sought out people and organizations on these forums. I checked out books from the library and searched databases for academic articles on the topic. The academic materials provided some interesting perspectives, but they didn’t show me what to do. Just like Morpheus explained to Neo, “no one can be told what [it] is. You have to see it for yourself.” Only by using social media can one really understand the possibilities it might afford teachers and students.

I initially used my linked Twitter and Facebook pages to collect and share resources with others. I searched organizations with which I was already familiar (e.g., the History Channel, the Gilder Lehrman Institute). I retweeted interesting links, or posted YouTube videos or websites that I had previously used in my own classes. I made use of Scoop.it to find new and interesting articles.

I found many good resources, but I also felt overwhelmed. I was inundated with a mass of information, and keeping up with everything on just scoop.it and Twitter seemed like too much. I enjoyed much of what I was finding, but I found myself without enough time in the day to keep up with all my professional responsibilities along with this new cyber world. Not only was I overwhelmed, but I also wondered, what is really different about social media then just searching the internet? I was also nervous about how my students would feel accompanying me on this journey (see next blog post). The social studies methods course is designed to help students think about theoretical and practical aspects of teaching social studies, and I was dedicating the first few weeks of our course to exploring these tools so we could practice using them all semester. I certainly did not want to waste their time, and there’s always anxiety when you try something new and different with your students, especially something that is banned in many schools. Like Neo, I was initially unsure of my role in this new world.


The Turning Point: Connecting with Other Educators 

The turning point came when I discovered that the real power of social media was not in simply collecting resources and ideas, but in connecting with others whom are on the same journey. I have met a community of social studies educators passionate about teaching, and using social media tools to improve their craft. All of a sudden, I not only found resources, but support, insightful recommendations, answers to questions, and invitations to opportunities to continue the conversation. I didn’t just search for resources, I began receiving and providing them to people as we had conversations about wise practices. My online use went from a largely one way gathering of resources to the development of transactional relationships and the discovery of an online community.


Twitter’s #sschat 

After 10 days of social media use I found myself participating in a Twitter social studies chat (#sschat) where educators from across the country were sharing resources and ideas. Four days later social media leaders in the social studies – Shawn McCusker (@ShawnMcCusker) of Illinois and Melissa Seideman (@mseideman) of New York – were imparting ideas and answering questions with my class via Google Hangout videoconferencing. They showed my class and I specific ways we could successfully use social media and technology to become better teachers. As they answered my students’ questions I was amazed how social media made this all possible.

I still have an incredible amount to learn, but after only two weeks I can’t help but feel like Neo at the end of the Matrix – after he finally believed and understood how the Matrix works. He realized that the rules of the old system didn’t apply to anymore. He saw that a new world of possibilities existed. I am excited and unquestionably satisfied with my choice to journey into the rabbit hole of social media. I recommend that you make the same choice.



– Participate in social studies chats on Twitter using “#sschat” every Monday for one hour beginning at 7 Eastern/6 Central; Follow moderators: @ShawnMcCusker, @Ron_Peck, @Becky_Ellis_

– Although I’ve had some problems, I’ve found Edmodo to be an interesting way to set up a class. It has a Facebook interface, but provides a closed, and presumable safer, environment for classes.

– I have found Google Drive (formerly Google Documents) and Google Hangout invaluable resources to connect with students and colleagues.


Dan Krutka, Ph.D. is middle level/secondary social studies chair at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. He taught high school social studies for six years previous to beginning in his current position in 2011. He can be followed/contacted at www.facebook.com/WSUSocialStudies, on Twitter @WSUSocStudies, or by e-mail at dan.krutka@wichita.edu.  

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Share your 9/11 Story With My Class (and others)

 Can you please share your 9/11 story with this amazing 9/11 project developed by #sschat teachers? If you are interested, please follow the assignment below. Thank You

9/11 Memories Across the Country 

Oral History Blog Post Assignment

Learning Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of social science methods of investigation through interviewing a family member on their memories of 9-11.  Students will analyze and discuss the interview through writing a blog post.

The first part of your assignment is to interview someone who was old enough to really understand the impact September 11th had on America.  Please ask them the following questions and record their answers, either by writing or recording (video or audio).   It is your choice to document the interview through video or voice recording (your smart phone or computer can easily do that) if that is easier for you.


Your blog post should include the following:

Step 1: In your first paragraph create a summary of your family member or friend’s recollection of the events of 9/11. Your purpose here is to share their remembrances as truly as possible to reality- you should use both quotations and summaries in your own words. Make sure that you put quotes in “  “ marks and that you identify your source using only first name.


Step 2: In your second paragraph, explain why you think 9/11 has changed the world we live in today and how America has changed as a result of the events of this day. You may use the first person (I, You, we, my) in this section.


Step 3: Proof-read your document and make sure everything is correctly spelled. Read your paragraphs out loud to yourself to make sure the grammar and flow are well edited.


Step 4: Type and email your work to 911acrosscountry@posterous.com

  • In the “To” field put:  911acrosscountry@posterous.com
  • In the “subject”: Enter Blog Title and then Your Name
  • In the Text box: Copy & paste step 1 and 2 directly into email and push Send


General Tips:

  • If you want to see a sample blog post, please visit – 911acrosscountry.posterous.com
  • Make sure you put the title you want for your blog post as the email subject line
  • Take out any signatures you have in your email
  • Make sure you put your “First Name and Location” at the end of your post/email
  • If you have any pictures to share, please post them in the email.


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Create an Infographic for your Classroom!

I learned about infographics from Twitter’s #sschat. Before Monday I had no clue how to make an infographic. Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. Here is more information: What is an info-graphic?

Easel.ly is one of the simplest websites to design an infographic for your classroom, a lesson, for a school poster, and the ideas can go on and on. Easel.ly is “easy to use,” free, and within a matter of minutes you can make an infographic, unless you are a perfectionist like me, in that case it will take you a few hours.

Once you create an account you select a theme, select objectives and shapes, design the layout, add text, and you can create an infographic is a short amount of time. Easel.ly is not the only website that allows users to create infographics, another is  visual.ly, which seems to have a fewer resources. I seemed to prefer Easel.ly.

According to Jamie Forshey author of Edutech for Teachers blog, Infographics can be used as a “visual to show students and educators the way that technology is projected to continue shaping our lives, world—and education! What a great way to motivate, encourage, persuade and guide students in post-secondary career planning! It’s also an excellent visual for stressing the importance of exposing students to relevant, real-world tech tools in the classroom setting.”

Here is a sample infographic I made for my classroom. I brought it to staples to enlarge it or you can use the Block Posters web tool to create your poster. I also embedded it on my blog.


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Does your class want a pen pal next year?

People to People International has a FREE service that connects classes and youth groups with pen pals or educational exchanges across the globe. I registered my sociology class and I am hoping it will be a great opportunity to compare cultures. It is a free program for cultural exchanges, interdisciplinary projects, and so much more. Teachers of students ages 4 to 18 are invited to participate. If selected to participate your class will receive guidance, tips for communication, and other project ideas. Classes can communicate email, snail mail, and Skype.


Registration is open July – October each year. For additional information before you register, download this info sheet or submit an info request.

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Symbaloo: Share and Save Websites

Sharing the web with students can be a major challenge. I sometimes use QR code generators or url shorteners to direct students to a particular website. I recently discovered Symbaloo EDU, which can be a wonderful resource for teachers and students to easily manage the web.  Symbaloo is a website that allows users to save favorite online tools, resources, and websites about any topic. Symbaloo also has a mobile application!


Symbaloo EDU can be published and shared with colleagues, students, and parents.   You can even create specific folders that contain the websites for each unit you teach. Students can now go to one page for research or extended learning. Symbaloo can be used all year, as a resource sharing website for your students. You can also add the book-marker to your browser, which can be helpful when searching and saving the web.

Here’s a sample US History Brainpop Symbaloo

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Educreations: Create and Share Video Lessons

I learned about Educreations,  from Infinite Think Machine; which is a free application for the ipad or a laptop that allows users to create virtual whiteboard lessons. Educreations has a clear audio voiceover, graphics, and the ability to post the interactive whiteboard to any social media website or blog.  This application can be used by students to help a classmate with a difficult math problem or historical time period.

Teachers can create a flipped lesson or assign educreations as a project with any unit of study. As a history teacher, I could see educreations as a useful resource. I think this would be an interesting way to introduce key vocabulary or review for the Regent’s exam. You could pair students together, assign them a vocabulary word, and have them create an interactive whiteboard video about the vocabulary word. You can then embed the videos online to view for homework, a video for class, or a review tool. The ideas are endless.

Here are a few examples:

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