2015 - History Gal

Surviving the Last Few Days Before Break

A Christmas Tree with text next to it that reads My Favorite Lessons to use Right Before Christmas Break

You can feel it in the air. Your students are vibrating with excitement. Christmas break is almost here. BUT, it's not here yet...

Here are a few lessons I've created to help me survive until Christmas break:

Middle Ages Game cards
In World History, we usually are learning about the Middle Ages around break time. This simulation is a student favorite! It takes students through a simulation where they make decisions about a fictional kingdom during the Middle Ages. Students begin by randomly picking a fictional kingdom profile and a treasury card. Their kingdom's profile will guide some of the students' answers as they face 18 scenarios with several options. Student answers determine whether they gain or lose gold coins for their treasury. While the simulation's kingdoms and scenarios are fictional, students will enjoy connecting the scenarios to what they've learned or will learn about the Middle Ages. Afterwards, students will write a creative story that incorporates what they've learned about the Middle Ages and two of scenarios in the simulation. It comes with both print and digital versions so your students can play they are in-person, remote, or hybrid!


If you are looking for a fun activity that incorporates technology, students really enjoy this Christmas Traditions Around the World Scavenger Hunt (it also includes a version without QR codes!). It also includes a digital version so remote students don't miss out on the fun!

My students always loved playing Bingo. This Christmas Traditions Around the World game makes learning about Christmas traditions lots of fun. And, it includes a digital version to play during a video meeting!





In Civics, I like to bring out Doodle Notes - if it's a Presidential election year, we'll go over the Electoral College and if it's not, we'll go over How a Bill Becomes a Law. These both include print and digital versions to make your life even easier!








My U.S. History classes work on map activities...

Students complete a map activity for the Civil War. It's perfect for helping students understand what the United States looked like at the start of the Civil War including its western territories, where significant battles occurred, and which states were Union, Confederate, or Borders states. It's also a great way to incorporate geography into your unit. Students will label, color, and draw on the map and then answer a few questions.






What are your favorite activities do to before Christmas break?

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The Importance of Critical Thinking in A Growth Mindset Class Culture

by History Gal

Welcome to Chapter 4 of Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci: "Why is Critical Thinking Important in a Growth Mindset Class Culture?"

This post is part of a book study blog hop so to get caught up, you may want to check out these posts first:
Chapter 1: What are Mindsets, and How Do They Affect the Classroom? by Brigid from Math Giraffe
Chapter 2: What Are Some Ways to Begin Building a Growth Mindset School Culture by Ellie from Middle School Math Moments
Chapter 3: Why is a Differentiated, Responsive Classroom Important to a Growth Mindset Culture by Leah Cleary

Musings of a History Gal
Think back to when you were in school...
Can you name one of the "smart" kids from your class? How about one of the "not-so-bright" kids from your class? Were they always the "smart" or the "not-so-bright" kid? I can easily name classmates that fit into these categories and, as far as I can remember, they were always "that" kid. It's easy to fall into the fixed mindset culture where we think that people have fixed abilities and levels of intelligence.

A growth mindset culture challenges the fixed mindset perception by believing that a person's intelligence can grow and develop. Growth mindset is a very interesting concept. It means that, as teacher, we actually need to challenge our own personal mindsets about our students and what they are and are not capable of.

Musings of a History Gal

I think back to my teaching days. One of the major differences between my lower and upper level high school U.S. History classes was the amount of critical thinking opportunities I gave my upper level classes versus my lower level classes. My upper level students were expected almost daily to engage in critical thinking while my lower level students only had the opportunity once a week or so. In Chapter 4, Ricci explains a project where children in 53 classrooms were given the opportunity to engage in critical thinking by playing carefully chosen computer games. The results were really staggering! Low performing students showed huge growth in reasoning and the teachers perspectives of these students changed dramatically. And after her project, Ricci concluded that a growth mindset culture and increased opportunities for critical thinking can make a significant impact on students and their schools.

Musings of a History Gal
I would love to see a project like this take place at the high school level. What would be different? What would be the challenges?
I suspect that a major challenge is that by high school, students have bought into the fixed mindset culture:
They are the smart kid.
They just don't "get" math.
English is too hard for them.
Dates just don't stay in their brain.

Almost more challenging than the mindsets of high school students, is that of high school teachers. If we want the mindsets of our students to change, our mindset has to change, as well. One way to change is to incorporate more opportunities for our students of all levels to engage in critical thinking and actually believing that they will be successful. However, Ricci notes in Chapter 4 that she doubts that simply increasing the amount of critical thinking engagement will do anything unless it is accompanied by a growth mindset culture. So, the two must be incorporated together.

Intrigued by a growth mindset culture and want to learn more? Here are some great resources for middle and high school teachers:
How to Weave a Growth Mindset into School Culture by Katrina Schwartz
Even Geniuses Work Hard by Carol S. Dweck
6 Ways to Teach Growth Mindset from Day One by Angela Watson

Ready to learn about Chapter 5? Head over to Brittany's post at The Colorado Classroom.

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Resources for Teaching about Veterans Day

By History Gal

From the Office of Public Affairs:
History of Veterans Day
This article gives a brief summary of why Veterans Day is on November 11 and the Congressional Resolution that made it a Federal holiday.

History Channel:
Bet You Didn't Know This About Veterans Day
This includes a video and a brief article.

CNN: Memorial Day is Different Than Veterans Day
This also includes a video and a brief article to help illustrate the differences between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

The Guardian: Why Doesn't the United States Observe Armistice Day?
This is thought provoking editorial great could lead to some good class discussion or could be used as an interesting writing prompt.

Eyewitness to History: Armistice - The End of World War I, 1918 
 This is a primary account of the World War I Armistice.

Remembrance with The Royal Legion
This beautiful site explains Remembrance Day.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Remembrance-Day-In-Flanders-Fields-A-World-War-I-Poetry-Analysis-1914696This lesson connects perfectly to Veterans or Remembrance Day. Students learn about John McCrae and the poem "In Flanders Fields."

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It's Election Time Again!

Two boxing gloves in front of an American Flag
It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about the presence of crisp fall days or spooky season- I’m talking about Election Time! 

2020 is an interesting year for presidential elections and debates.  And although most of you have students who cannot vote yet, it’s never too early to teach about the voting process and elections in the U.S.  On November 3rd, voters will hit the polls (or will have participated in early voting or mailed in their ballots!)  There two main candidates for this presidential election.  One is our current president, Donald Trump.  The other is Joe Biden.  While all the candidate rhetoric, snide remarks, and unveiled tax plans can be scary, it is actually a fun time to be teaching U.S. History or American Government. If you're looking for a way to incorporate the election into your class, check out this freebie, Propaganda in Politics!


Two boxing gloves one with Republicans and another with Democrats are punching each other

According to Britannica.com, propaganda is the “dissemination of information—facts, arguments, rumors, half-truths, or lies—to influence public opinion.”

Use this freebie to teach your students how to recognize propaganda in the media, so that one day they will be informed voters!

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Thriving on a Teacher's Salary: Don't Pay Retail

By History Gal
Thriving on a teacher's salary requires effort. It's not easy and I have to make a constant effort to maintain our budget. One of the ways I do this is by not paying retail.

Here are a few ways I do this:

1. I negotiate non-essential bills. Every year, we get a notice that our cable television bill is increasing. Our budget is set. If the cable bill increases, then we have to take money out of the amount budgeted for groceries or savings. Yes, we enjoy having cable television - especially during college football and basketball seasons - but not at the expense of eating or saving. So, every year, I call the cable company and tell them we will cancel our subscription unless they give us the same price we currently have. Every year, they do. I do the same with our newspaper subscription and our cell phone carrier. These are luxuries that we have worked into our budget and if they become too expensive, we will have to cancel them.

2. I visit retailmenot before I go shopping. This site compiles current and valid coupon codes for almost every place I shop so I don't miss a promotion.

3.  I sign up for emails from my favorite stores so I can get coupons and notifications of sales. I also  participate in retailer reward programs like Pampers and Kellogg's Family Rewards. I enter codes and/or have my grocery store cards linked to the programs so I earn points. I typically wait until holiday time and redeem my points for free photo gifts like Christmas cards and photo books that are normally too expensive for me to purchase.

Musings of a History Gal4. I don't pay for magazine subscriptions. I love to get magazines in the mail, but I don't like having to pay $20 a year for each of them. I find discounted and free subscriptions offers online. I also visit Recyclebank to earn points to redeem for free magazine subscriptions.

5. I comparison shop. The internet makes this a fairly easy task.

6. I ask retail stores if they will match a competitor's price or take a competitor's coupon.

7. I learn stores' coupon policies. Did you know that many retail stores will let you use multiple or expired coupons even though the small print on the coupon says they won't? I didn't either, until I asked!

Musings of a History Gal8. I am willing to walk away. This works well with big ticket items like appliances and cars. If the
price isn't quite as low as you wanted, tell the sales person that, thank them for their time, and start to leave. If there is wiggle room in the price, the sales person will offer you a lower price. We did this with our most recent car purchase. We were fortunate that we did not need a new car. We just wanted a bigger car for our bigger family. We gave our offer to the sales person and said when you are ready to sell this car and this price, give us a call. A few weeks later, they called, and we got the car at the price we were willing to pay.

9. I buy items when they go on sale at the end of the season. For example, each Halloween, we make bags of goodies to hand out to trick or treaters. These bags consist of spider rings, stickers, and pencils that I bought the previous November for pennies. If I paid retail for these goodies, I'd have gone way over budget!

10. I ask for educator discounts. I ask the stores I frequent and the utility companies we use if they have educator discounts or special programs for educators. Surprisingly, many of them do!

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For other tips on Thriving on a Teacher's Salary check out:
Musings of a History Galhttp://musingsofahistorygal.blogspot.com/2015/09/thriving-on-teachers-salary-1.html


Thriving on a Teacher's Salary #1

Woman at computer - Thriving on a Teacher Salary by History Gal

Living on a teacher's salary is hard. It became really difficult a few years ago when an unexpected visit to the emergency room resulted in a huge medical bill. All of a sudden, our monthly budget had to cover a monthly hospital payment. Money that was budgeted for things like buying groceries and paying for our daughter's dance class went towards paying down a huge medical bill. I decided there had to be a way for me to save on our monthly budget and I found several things that actually worked! I'm going to be sharing these tips over the next several weeks and I hope you will find them helpful wherever you are in your financial journey.

Tip #1: Stop Going to the Mall
Before kids, I used to go to the mall frequently just to see what was in the stores. I'd always buy something.  
My strategy is simple: If I don't go to the mall, I don't spend money.
The same goes for the outlet center that opened just miles from my house. It's been open 5 years, I've gone once. If I go to the mall or the outlets, I have a specific purpose and, more importantly, a specific budget.

Tip #2: Stick to a List
Have you ever ventured into Target for one item and ended up with a full cart and a $200 receipt? It's easy to do and it's happened to me many times.

So I make a list and do my best to stick to it.

Tip #3: Getting Paid to Shop Online, really!
I do most of my shopping online. It is easier than dragging my kids all around town. A few years ago, I discovered a site called Rakuten (formally Ebates). It actually pays you back for shopping online! Whenever you shop online, first visit Rakuten. Simply click on the store you want to shop and Rakuten redirects you to the store. Viola! You get a percentage back on your purchase. Percentages start at 1% and can go as high as 10%. Yep. You get money back for buying items you were already going to buy. There are no gimmicks or extra things to do (well, you do have to create an account!). Go to Rakuten first, shop, and every quarter they'll mail you a check or send it via PayPal. It's that easy. If you'd like to sign up, you can use my referral link or just go to Rakuten to sign up.

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You May Also Like These Posts:

Musings of a History Galhttp://musingsofahistorygal.blogspot.com/2015/09/thriving-on-teachers-salary-1.html


Websites to Use with Egyptian Pyramids WebQuest


What is Labor Day, anyway?

Musings of a History GalYesterday, schools were closed and most of us were home from work. But do you know why the first Monday in September is a Federal holiday?

Here are some sites that explain Labor Day:
United States Department of Labor: The History of Labor Day
History Channel articles and Videos: Labor Day
Time Magazine: Why We Celebrate Labor Day

Here are some sites that explain some notable events throughout the history of labor in United States:
Notable Strikes of the Gilded Age
Chicago Workers During the Gilded Age
University of Virginia's Documenting the Other Half
Library of Congress: Homestead Strike
Primary Source: "I Will Kill Frick"
PA Labor History Society video: Homestead Strike of 1892
Primary Source: July 1892 article about Homestead Strike
Labor History of the Pacific Northwest Encyclopedia
PBS: Triangle Factory Fire
Rise of the American Railway Union 1893-1894
Mother Jones Museum
PBS Video: Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?

Here are some events in the news now:
Kentucky Doesn't Have Any More Working Union Coal Mines
NPR: Northwestern Football Players Lose Union Bid
NPR: Washington Berry Pickers Push for Exclusive Union Contract

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The Power of Toons!

Today, I'm joining up with Teaching Trio for Technology Thursday!

I love comics and I especially like to incorporate comics and toons into my lessons.
Musings of a History GalMusings of a History Gal

Musings of a History Gal

3 Reasons You Should Use Cartoon Images in Your Class:
1. Toons make boring lessons, homework, worksheets, and even tests more fun.
2. They make high school students smile (believe me, high school students can be a tough audience!)
3. It shows students you have a sense of humor.

Don't know where to find great cartoon images? One of my favorite illustrators has some awesome resources for teachers! Since 1996, Ron Leishman has been putting up awesome toons daily on his site Toonaday. You'll have to sign up for a free account, but once you do, you can download his daily toon and access the last 30 days of toons. You are free to use these toons in your classroom and for personal use. If you'd like more of his toons and/or would like to use his toons for commercial use, Ron has a Teachers Pay Teachers Store: Ron Leishman Digital Toonage and a subscription site called ToonClipart.

What are you waiting for? Go add some humor to your classes!

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Back to School Hack #4

Teaching can be overwhelming. If all teachers had to do was teach, it would be great. Instead, teachers also have to grade assignments, tests, and projects; maintain websites or blogs; answer emails and voice mails; go to department meetings, staff meetings, district meetings, parent meetings and professional development meetings; go to morning, lunch, and afternoon duties, and the list goes on and on. There just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything that needs to be done, done.

 Here are some tips that will help you keep your sanity this school year.

1. Set aside one or two days that you will stay 1-2 hours after school to get things done. On those days minimize distractions. Shut the door (turn off the light if that will help convince co-workers and students that you're actually gone), turn off or silence your phone, and unless a task requires you to get online, stay off the internet. It's time to get things done.

2. You don't actually have to grade every assignment. Really. Let students grade their own classwork, quizzes and even the matching/multiple choice/true-false parts of tests. Require graders to use pens or markers to grade so they can't change answers.

3. Use grading rubrics for projects and essays. Rubrics will help you grade faster.

4. Multi-task. When students are watching a video or working well on an assignment, take a few minutes to enter grades into the computer.

5. Make entering grades easier by having a colored folder for the graded papers that need to be entered for each class. When assignments are turned in, alphabetize them and place them in the folder- no more hunting for names as you enter the grades! You can make the alphabetizing easier on yourself by creating a seating chart that places the students in alphabetically order and having the students pass up the homework assignments through the rows. Another method is to assign each student a number that corresponds to their alphabetical order. Students are required to put their number along with their name on everything they turn in. Once the assignment is turned in, simply put them in numerical order!

6. Create templates for documents you use frequently so you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time.

7. Each afternoon, pull together everything you need for your classes the next day and place them together.

8. Set boundaries. You are not a doctor who is on call 24/7. Tell students and parents that you will check email (and voice mail) between the hours of 7 am-5 pm Monday-Friday (or what ever hours you pick) when school is in session and you will respond within 24 (or 48) hours. Stick to it.

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Want more back to school hacks? Check these out! 


Back to School Teacher Hack #3: Pinterest

The Musings of a History Gal

For this week's back to school hack, I'm joining up with the ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for a great link-up about Pinterest!
back to school
If you think Pinterest is just for collecting recipes and DIY ideas, you're missing out! Pinterest is an awesome place to find ideas and inspiration for your classroom.

Tip#1: Follow Good Boards

The trick to finding good ideas for your classroom is to follow good boards. Secondary Solutions compiled a list of 10 Pinterest Boards Secondary Teachers Should be Following.


Some other great boards include:

The Musings of a History Gal
back to school

back to school
back to schoolback to school 

 Tip #2: Switch It Up  

Change up an activity you do each year by adding a Pinterest twist. This year I decided to switch out my usual student interest form by adding a Pinterest twist where students create a board with images that represent their interests. 


Tip #3: Let Students Create Their Own Boards  

The Musings of a History GalWhen you start a new unit or topic, have students create Pinterest boards about the new topic. Then, they can send you their completed boards on a designated date for a grade. Set guidelines for the types of pins they should use, a minimum number of pins, the types of descriptions you want them to write, and have them complete a brief written assignment explaining why they chose the pins they placed on their board, their favorite pin, what they learned, etc.

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Back to School Hack #2

Why is it that the pre-planning or teacher workdays are always packed with meetings? It's hard to prepare for a new school year when you're stuck in meetings all day! To help you out, I've pulled together a list of 10 of my favorite FREE back to school downloads from Teachers Pay Teachers. I hope you'll find them useful!

Tired of the same old syllabus you've used for years? Check these out!

Looking to refresh your first day activities? Look at these!

Looking for something different for a first homework assignment? Students won't mind completing these!

Lastly,be more organized this school year!

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