Category Archives: websites

A TOP Experience

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Selfie at the Brandenburg Gate.

We all know that travel can enrich our teaching, provide us with experiences that we bring back to our students to will help them to better grasp historical events and far flung locales. This fall I’m bringing Germany back to my students.

Mid-July and hot as an oven outside with just under a month until we report back for another school year. Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with your family and probably too the opportunity to partake of some professional development. If you stayed close to home I bet you checked out a Kansas Impact Institute, #ksedcamp and/or Podstock.  If you decided to go a little farther afield you likely spent a week or three with the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Gilder-Lehrman, or any number of programs provided by foundations and museums around the country.

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This summer, I had the honor of being selected a TOP Fellow. If you haven’t heard of the Transatlantic Outreach Program, please check them out; if you’ve attended one of their workshops or their reception at NCSS – you need to apply! TOP sends six groups of educators to Germany every summer for two week tours that are truly extraordinary. Every tour is tailored to the interests of the selected educators and lovingly crafted by one of the TOP employees who will guide your trip. Continue reading A TOP Experience

Professional Growth and Development: The Monticello Teacher Institute

Joe Zlatnik is an 8th Grade American History teacher at Basehor-Lindwood USD 458.

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“I am as happy no where else and in no other society,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “and all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello.”

Professional development opportunities, when relegated to our buildings, is often dull, not specific to our content, and, worst of all, uninspiring. Fortunately, there are a number of quality professional development opportunities for Social Studies teachers that will significantly impact us as educators. Coming up in November is the Kansas Council for the Social Studies Conference in Salina. The next month, the National Council for the Social Studies will have their annual conference in Washington D.C. While both of these are great opportunities to learn from some of the brightest minds in our profession, there are other professional development opportunities that are impactful on a more personal level.

This past July, I had the honor and privilege of being selected to take part in the Monticello Teacher Institute: The Barrringer Fellowship. This weeklong experience allowed me to spend time in Charlottesville, Virginia immersing myself in the world of Thomas Jefferson. We spent time at Monticello itself, the special collections library at the University of Virginia, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, and a multitude of locations significant to Jefferson’s life or the study of his life. Continue reading Professional Growth and Development: The Monticello Teacher Institute

It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 2)

Flubaroo_small_promo_440x280Building off of my last post about Google Forms, I want to introduce you to an add-on called Flubaroo which can turn your form into a self-graded quiz (yay for efficiency!).  The steps are very quick and simple, like most things in the Google universe, and is a great way to save some trees and implement technology in your classroom.

Continue reading It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 2)

Maps as digital storytelling tools

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I love maps.

Seriously. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love maps.

I spent countless hours during my growing up summers in the cool basement, browsing through boxes of old National Geographic magazines – searching for and studying their wonderful maps. And even today, the monthly arrival of the National Geo mag means nothing gets done until I flip through all the pages checking for those very cool inserted maps. We have more than a few old geography textbooks in my house. Atlases. Gazetteers. Boxes of state maps collected during trips. Folded city maps.

When I left one particular school district, I even took the pull-down maps with me because I knew they were being replaced over the summer and would get thrown out. (That’s just between you and me, of course.)

So today when I ran across the book titled A Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers, my to-do list got pushed to the back burner. It’s a very cool book that captures a wide variety of map styles and tells a powerful story about how people view the world: Continue reading Maps as digital storytelling tools

It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 1)

imgresHoly Google!  Have you gotten the opportunity to start using all of the amazing Google resources in your classroom yet?  I am kicking myself for not implementing these tools in my classroom earlier, and I haven’t even been teaching for very long!  I want to take the opportunity to share a few very short and quick strategies with you that I have used in my classroom and that are very simple to implement in any classroom, and are also very quick and easy.

Trust me. I know what most of you think when you hear about a new piece of amazing technology that you can use in the classroom – a used car salesman probably comes to mind when I start talking and you immediately want to tune me out.  I also know what it is like to get information overload on new strategies and then forget about them two days later because it is impossible to use all of them in your room in the short window of time you have before you information overload again at the next inservice day.

The great thing about these Google resources is they are something that you can create in five to ten minutes and they can be used immediately in your classroom!  It is seriously a very good thing that my plan period is 1st hour because I am planning and creating Google activities the day I teach them on a weekly basis. Nothing says professional teacher quite like procrastination!

First, I want to introduce you to one of the ways that I use Google Forms in my classroom. Continue reading It’s a Google World and I’m Just Teaching In It (Part 1)