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Why You Should Let Your High School Students Color in Class

by History Gal

I've always liked to color. By the time I was in high school, I had a collection of colored pens to use while I took notes during lectures. I also doodled flowers and shapes in the margins of my paper as I listened to my teachers. As an adult, I still have a collection of colored pens and you can still catch me doodling during meeting and webinars. Because of my tendency to color and doodle, I often incorporated ways for my students to color in class. I always had containers of crayons, markers, and colored pencils ready for students to use. They made posters, brochures, picture books, colored maps, and so much more. And then, my friend Brigid of Math Giraffe introduced me to the idea of Doodle Notes - a way to join my love of coloring and doodling with note taking.

How to Make and Use QR Codes in Social Studies

a blog post by History Gal

If you’ve been in a classroom recently, you probably have noticed there is a ton of digital learning taking place. There are cell phones, iPads, Chromebooks, etc. Students love technology and the more we can incorporate it into our lessons and activities, the more engaged they might be. One type of technology that I love to use in my classroom are these things called QR codes. You've probably have heard of them, but do you know how to make one? Do you know how you can even use one? If you don’t, no worries. I am here to help!

Ways to Make Black History More Than a Month

by History Gal

As history teachers part of our job is to introduce our students to a variety of historical perspectives, experiences, and opinions. While, these diverse voices were critical to the development of the United States, most of our textbooks and the curriculum we are required to teach don't always put these diverse narratives at the forefront. That means it falls to us to do it. Truthfully, it's hard. It's extra work and time that teachers don't always have. Usually, when January moves into February and Black History Month is splashed all over television and social media, I remember to take a look at my lessons and evaluate how well I am doing at incorporating the diverse voices and experiences that molded the United States. If you are like me, here are a few tips to help your lessons become more inclusive throughout the year.

Sites for Early River Civilizations WebQuest

Page 1
Guns, Germs, and Steel: Variables

Page 2
Early River Civilizations Podcast - Scroll down to watch the video
(Requires Flash)

Page 3

Page 4
Dig into History: Ancient Mesopotamia
Create an Exhibit
(Requires Flash)
Pyramid Builder
(Requires Flash)

Page 5
Ancient India
Ancient China

5 Survival Tips for New High School Teachers

In the weeks before my first teaching job began, I alternated between feelings of exhilaration and feelings of total fear. It was my dream assignment, teaching 11th graders U.S. History. Thanks to my time student teaching, I felt confident in my teaching ability. And, I knew the content. But, it is completely different to step into someone's class and teach versus being in charge of your own classroom. I learned a lot that first year. It was challenging and one of the hardest of my career, but what I learned helped shape me and helped me become a better teacher.

Here are a few things I wish someone had told me before I first set foot into my classroom.

Integrating Geography into Your History Class

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "Geography?" Chances are, it isn't "History." But, geography and history are intimately intertwined.  It's extremely difficult to teach history without touching on geography. Geography helps us understand why civilizations emerged in Mesopotamia, why certain economies developed, why wars were lost, and even why some civilizations flourished while others failed. Students cannot truly understand a period of history without also understanding the geographical context surrounding that time period.  

One way to incorporate geography is to use the 5 Themes of Geography as a lens to view history.
Location:  Every civilization and country has an absolute and relative location. The absolute location of a civilization significantly impacts the history of that civilization. Through the centuries, changes in transportation and technology have changed the relative location of civilizations and countries.

Place: Every civilization and country has physical and human characteristics. These characteristics shaped the developed of the civilizations and countries.

Human and Environmental Interactions: Civilizations and countries depend on, adapt, and modify the environment around them. Examples of this stretch back to the Neolithic Revolution and are prevalent today.

Movement: Throughout the millennia, history was shaped when people, goods, technology, and ideas spread throughout regions and the world.

Regions: Areas with similar characteristics have formed and changed throughout history.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Cell Phones in the Classroom

By History Gal

I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones in the classroom. Do you?

WHAT I LOVE: Smartphone technology is amazing! Since we don't have daily access to computer or tablets at my school, it's great to be able to tap into the technology that students hold in their hands for lessons and activities. 

WHAT I HATE: My students don't (or can't) disconnect. It's a constant battle to get them to put their phones up when they aren't being used in class for a lesson or activity.

I WONDER: Do the things I hate like the constant distraction of smartphones and the classroom management headache outweigh the benefits of using and incorporating smartphones into my lesson and activities?  

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