Use Google Draw to Animate Maps or Images written by Chris McKenzie @mckc1

Guest Post written by  Chris McKenzie who is an English teacher and a Coordinator of Educational Technology at a secondary school (grades 8-12) in Vancouver, BC. You can follow her on Twitter handle at  mckc1


I’d like to share relatively simple idea that makes use of Google Drawing to annotate maps. This is great for historical maps because it’s easier to do than overlaying a map onto Google Earth. If you don’t know about Google Drawing, you can find it in Google Drive. Instead of creating a Google Doc, just go a bit further down the drop-down menu and select “Drawing”.

Then, when you are in the drawing window, “Insert” an image and resize the image and the canvas to your liking.After that, you and the students can use the line tool and scribble tool to draw on the map, use the text tool to write on the map, and use the insert image function to include other images. If you right-click on the lines, text, or images, you can select “comment” to add a comment to the right of the map. Move your mouse over the comment to see which part of the map it pertains to, or click on an element of the map to see which comment is associated with it. Best of all, because this is a part of Google Drive, multiple students can collaborate on it.

It may be worthwhile having students annotate a map before you teach them the lesson. As a form of pre-assessment, they could annotate it with what they know. Then, as the lesson goes on, they could revise their previous annotations or drawings to show what they’ve learned.

Depending on your purpose and the students’ ages, you may also want to have some small pushpin images or premade labels down the side so that the students have only to drag them into place.

Here is a sample map:




Gooru provides high-quality learning resources for every student and teacher

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to teach completely using the iPad. The only exception is when I show a DVD in my classroom. So far it has been fairly easy since I got this wonderful Longitech keyboard, which makes typing so much easier.  In my classroom I have an Apple TV, which allows me to mirror anything from my iPad or my student’s iPad to the projector.

I am always looking for new ways to make my iPad more efficient and save me time. I recently discovered Gooru, which any user can use on their mobile device or on a regular computer browser. Gooru Collections allow any user to have access to more than 3,000 educational materials. The website is organized into playlists and is designed for every 5th-12th grade student.The options are endless from videos to games, to digital textbooks, useful teacher approved websites, quizzes, and so much more.

Collections are aligned to standards and currently cover every 5th-12th grade math, science and social science topic, with more subjects coming soon.

One of my favorite features is that you can save  any resource to your username so anytime you want to access a particular resource it’s right on the home screen or “shelf.” The best part is that it’s FREE and has NO advertisements. Check it out today, you will not be disappointed!

Features of the iPad app:
-Gooru Collections will always be free
-Browse collections on 5th through 12th grade topics
-Search for collections to find exactly what you need to study
-Bookmark your favorite collections for later review
-Enable narration written by teachers to guide you through every resource in a collection
-Get the best collections delivered to you every week in “Featured Collections”
-Swipe to move on to the next resource, or tap the top navigation bar
-Customize your experience by logging in to your account and accessing the collections you saved on the Web
-All materials are vetted by teachers to ensure what you study is high quality and safe
-Much more to come!

Beyond the Bubble and Reading Like a Historian

I am very proud to announce that The Stanford History Group will be hosting the first #sschat of 2013 on Monday, January 7th at 7 PM EST. They will be discussing reading and writing in history courses. Please join us on #sschat


The Sanford History Educaton Group has created two wonderful programs: Reading Like a Historian and Beyond the Bubble.  The Reading like a historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each of their 65 lessons revolve  around a central historical question and features primary documents modified for students of all ability levels.   Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on issues from King Philip’s War to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and make historical claims backed by documentary evidence. Beyond the Bubble utilizes the digital archives of the library of Congress to create a new form of history assessments. Their goal is to “go beyond the bubble” by offering teachers an easy-to-use assessment that captures student’s knowledge and interpretation of critical thinking instead of memorization of facts.




Presidential Infographic

ECollegeFinder has put together an interesting presidential infographic that I thought I would share.  President of the United States of America is certainly a prestigious title, so ALL of our presidents must have spotless school records and a few Ivy League degrees, right? Wrong! Check out this infographic and discover the true educational backgrounds of US presidents throughout history…


Online Colleges

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 [email protected]


General Tips:

  • If you want to see a sample blog post, please visit –
  • 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.


IWitness: Personal Holocaust Video Testimonials

I learned about iWitness from @ghkcole from #sschat. IWitness is a website for teachers and students that has over 1,000 Holocaust video testimonials of survivors and witnesses. This collection is just a small part of the collection maintained by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute, established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg.


This is a wonderful resource for schools teaching about the Holocaust. According to iWitness, “Students have the opportunity to use technology to become more active learners while encountering survivors and other eyewitnesses talking about their experiences before, during and after the Holocaust. This application empowers them to participate in their own learning by providing them with the tools to think critically, investigate, develop projects, analyze, and collaborate with others.”  I plan on having my students go to the website and do a personal history search a couple nights before I teach about the Holocaust. Students will then come in to discuss, share, and reflect on what they learned about the Holocaust.  You can watch a short video demonstration of IWitness here.




Flocabulary: Much More than Just a Song!

I am always amazed when I talk with social studies teachers who have never heard of Flocabulary. Flocabulary creates hip-hop music and materials to supplement your curriculum. The first time I ever played a US history Flocabulary song my college roommate came in dancing…. little did she know it was about “who discovered it” related to Christopher Columbus. I use everyone of the US history songs as a unit preview. I actually made a powerpoint of images and typed the lyrics to go along with the Flocabulary songs. Through the rap songs we discuss key vocabulary and concepts we will learn with the upcoming unit. Even though Flocabulary is no longer free, it is well worth the money to subscribe to its wonderful features!


Another reason I love to use Flocabulary in the classroom is the Week in Rap. Every week on Friday mornings, Flocabulary puts together the week’s biggest or most interesting current event stories into a rap music video. The week in rap discusses the hottest topics of the week, such as the Travon Martin case, the oil spill, crisis in Syria to name a few. My 8th grade students in White Plains, NY loved the Week in Rap. They actually asked to watch it every week. I was even surprised that after spring break, they asked if they could watch it from the week before!


The best part about the week in rap is not just the music, even though it is good, they love discussing the current events. Yes, you read that right! They love discussing the current events. After I play the week in rap, I ask them if there is anything they want to discuss. Around 18  hands in my classroom instantaneously shoot up. I am often not leading the discussion, but facilitating it. Students respond by saying “oh I heard that on the news,” “my mom was talking about that” “I heard….” The discussions that come from the 3 minute Week in Rap is one of the reasons I became a teacher.


Another awesome feature of the Week in Rap, is that they make the past 18 years in rap for recent high school grads. I always show it at the end of the year, but I also show it at the beginning of the year and introduce the concept: what is history? My students are always impressed with how much history they lived through after watching the past 18 years in rap. It is a great beginning of the school year activity to start the discussion what is history and how we are apart of it.

The Last 18 Years In Rap from Flocabulary on Vimeo.



Share My Lesson: 228,000+ Free Teaching Resources

Share My Lesson is an interesting resource for any educator to collaborate, connect, and share with our teachers. It is a FREE website that gives teachers access to teaching resources such as worksheets, learning materials, lesson ideas, activiities, and lesson plans. The lessons are divided by grade level, subject, and unit.


Start using the site today with your TES login. Simply enter your TES username and password and then accept the Share My Lesson terms. Do so before 31 July and you’ll be entered automatically into a prize draw to win the new iPad!*

The website also connects teachers to an online community to build your PLC. Share My Lesson was developed by the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect, the largest network of teachers in the world. Check it out today and improve your teaching repertoire!


As a US educator Share My Lesson offers you:

Civics Resources: Games, Videos, Lesson ideas

I have used the The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands for numerous civics videos and online books in the past but was recently introduced to the Sunnylands Civics games by @melissalindinja.  The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands is developing interactive games about the Constitution. The games seem well suited for middle school or lower high school levels.


There are games about the first amendment, branches of government, laws, executive brach, couts, being John Marshall, and the constitutional convention. This games are interactive and if you create teacher and student accounts you can use the scores for progress monitoring or a classroom competition. Check it out today!

Gilder Lehrman and 9/11 Memorial Resources

I attended the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History on 9/11 and American Memory.  The seminar was absolutely amazing! We learned from experts  about how the United States and the world have dealt with tragedy and loss with events such as the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, Vietnam, and 9/11. We worked with the amazing team of 9/11 memorial experts who are involved in the planning of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Fire Chief and 9/11 survivor Jay Jonas, and experts in the field of memory such as  the seminar leader David Blight.


Our seminar took a personal tour of the 9/11 museum that is NOT open to the public. Even though it is still under construction, we could instantly observe the beauty, sacredness, and careful planning involved in creating the museum.  I am so impressed with the planning and extensive collection the 9/11 historic site, website, and museum will offer to visitors and generations to honor the victims of September 11th, 2001.


9/11/01 Online Resources 

The 9/11 memorial has a wonderful collection of online resources for teachers to educate our students about September 11th, 2001. The website has an extensive collection of multimedia orientated resources such as an interactive timeline, audio, webcasts, video, images, primary documents, and essential artifacts and collections.  Each lesson is tied to the Common Core Standards and based on the 9/11 collections that can be used throughout the school year and across all subjects and divided into different themes. 






Gilder Lehrman K–12 EDUCATOR PROGRAMS 


For more information visit: Gilder Lehrman Institute  and 9/11 Memorial 



Great American Hall of Fame Project

I found this project on twitter #sschat and can’t but help but rave about it. I can’t think of a better post AP United States History Exam Project. Mr. Howe’s classes created a Great Hall of Fame for American History. Here are sample projects. Awesome project!

Step 1: Who do you think belongs in the top 25? Reflect on that question and type your bulleted list of individuals you think are worthy  Include a sentence for each person on your list explaining how they contributed significantly to America.  Do this or you won’t earn any points for the assignment!

Step 2: You may select anyone from your list to nominate to the Great American Hall of Fame. 

Step 3: Next, research your nominee in more detail. Prepare your nominee bid and submit. 

Step 4: Selecting Americans for admission to the Great American Hall of Fame 






Bring the World into your Classroom with World Wonders Project

I recently discovered the Google World Wonders Project  which is a website that brings historical sites online.  The website is very interesting and educational because it uses Google’s Street View technology, 3D modelling, photos, videos and information to deliver an interesting medium to go on a virtual field trip. You and your students can truly explore the world from your classroom!


There are many interesting historical locations available to explore on the site, including the Palace of Versailles, the Historic Centre of Cordoba, Stonehenge and Hiroshima. I recently explored Independence Hall and was amazed at the collection of resources: videos, google maps, images, and in depth information about the location. I can’t think of a better way to learn about history, other than actually visiting the historic site!
Google also offers free, easy-to-use, and downloadable history resources which are designed in support and engage students in the study of history. The resources are clear, very well organized and FREE. I already found myself bookmarking specific historical sites to use for next school year.  Check it out today!

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.

Teaching with Documents

I try to incorporate as many primary sources into my teaching but I find it extremely difficult to find primary documents that are at my students reading ability and interest level. It sometimes takes me hours to find the right document or documents to compose a lesson.

I recently discovered a great website called Teaching with Documents, which has reproducible copies of primary documents from the  National Archives of the United States. The website also offers activities that are correlated with the National History and Civics Standards.

With the common core standards history teachers have been given the valuable opportunity to use primary sources in their classrooms.  Next year teachers are going to devote instructional time to the close investigation of history texts as well as teach our students to construct their own understanding and analysis of the primary materials. Teaching with primary documents encourages critical thinking and encourages a varied learning environment; all of which can improve our students skills and enthusiasm for history.






Preparing for the Oath with the Smithsonian

At the beginning of every school year I use some form of US Citizenship test to assess my students background knowledge of U.S. Government and U.S. history. I usually give a paper version of the quiz on the first day of school, but next year thanks to @Larryferlazzo  and his wonderful blog, I now have a digital version to supplement with my lesson. The Smithsonian along with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has just unveiled Preparing For The Oath.


It is a great resource for people preparing to take the U.S. citizenship exam but it is also an interesting and fun way to learn about U.S. history and government.  Preparing For The Oath  is a wonderful web-based learning tool that can provide students with an interactive practice exam, videos, and other activities that use sources from the Smithsonian’s collection and exhibition. The website offers a 100 MC practice questions from the naturalization test, lesson plans for teachers, definitions, and narration that can be transcribed for all learners. Check it out today!