2016 - History Gal

The Coloring Revolution and Why Your Students Should Be Doing It

By History Gal
It seems like every store I've gone into recently has a display of adult coloring books. Some stores are even hosting wine and coloring nights! What is this trend all about? Well, it turns out coloring helps adults unwind and relieves stress. By focusing on coloring, adults set aside their worries and their stressful schedules and are transported back to a simpler time. I admit, that I was a skeptic. But, I tried it and it worked!


Confessions of a Teacher Who Lets Her Students Play with Food

By History Gal
I like to keep my students guessing about they'll be doing in class each day. And, one of my favorite
twists is to let my students use food as a manipulative. In particular, I like to have my students use gummy bears to create scenes that represent various topics. It may seem a little odd, but my students (even my too cool for just about anything Seniors) love this change of pace. Here are some different ways I've used gummy bears in my classes.


How I Cut My Grading Time by at Least Half

By History Gal
I teach high school on the alternating block schedule - meaning I teach 6 class in total, but I only see 3 classes a day. I have a total of 173 students (!!!). So on days with quizzes or tests, I end up with 173 quizzes or tests to grade.

Here's some scary math:
If it takes me just 15 seconds to grade each student's 25 multiple choice question quiz, it'll take me about 45 minutes to grade them all. If it takes me 1 minute to grade 100 matching/multiple choice questions on a test, I'll spend almost 3 hours grading those tests (not even including any written parts!). I don't know about you, but there's a lot I'd rather be doing than all this grading!

10 YouTube Channels That Rock!

By History Gal
I am slightly obsessed with finding quality YouTube videos for Middle and High School Social Studies classes. Let's face it, there are A LOT of bad YouTube videos out there and it can be painful to find a video that is entertaining, yet educational.

So here's my list of 10 YouTube Channels you should check out, bookmark, and maybe even subscribe.


Survival Tips for Teaching a Subject You Hate

by History Gal
Want to know a secret?

Just because I'm a Social Studies teacher doesn't mean I love every subject that falls under the category of Social Studies. In fact, when I began teaching, I had an intense dislike of World History!

My first job was my dream job - teaching all U.S. History classes. Then, my husband and I moved to a different state. I found myself teaching, of all subjects, WORLD HISTORY! I had to figure out how to teach a subject I hated without making my students hate it, too.


What is Google Drive?

By History Gal


I am not tech savvy and am usually the last to jump on board the latest technology craze. I learned about Google Drive two years ago when my 8 year old daughter came home needing to access her Google Drive account so she could complete her homework. Not to be rendered technologically obsolete by an 8 year old, I opened a gmail account and began to delve into Google Drive. Now, I use it all the time! Now, my goal is to help my husband, who is a Luddite at heart, start using Google Drive to reduce massive amount of paperwork that swamps him as a high school history teacher.


Teaching the Space Race


What Happened Today in History in July?

July 1, 1997

Hong Kong returned to China. Read a New York Times article about the transfer of power from Great Britain to China.

July 2, 1881

President Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau. He died a few months later on September 19. Was his death related to being shot? Read this primary source to find out!

July 3, 1863

General Pickett led an infamous charge. Do you know what battle it was during? Watch this video to see if you were right.

July 4, 1826

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. Did the two men ever become friends? Visit PBS to learn about their political rivalry. Read at least one letter Jefferson sent to Adams here. Read at least one letter Adams sent to Jefferson here (scroll down and pick the volume that says Thomas Jefferson).

July 5, 1975

Arthur Ashe became the first African American man to win Wimbledon. Learn more about his life here.

July 6, 1946

"Bugs" Moran was arrested. Why? Watch this video to learn a little about him and then explore the FBI's vault.

July 7, 1900

Warren Earp, the youngest brother of Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan, was killed in a bar fight. Warren was not involved in the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, but after the murder of Morgan and the wounding of Virgil, Warren joined up with Wyatt and Doc Holiday to take vengeance on the murders. View a timeline of Wyatt Earp's life to learn about what led up to the events at the O.K. Corral and what followed. For more information, read an article about Warren Earp.

July 8, 1918

Earnest Hemingway was wounded on the Western Front. His experiences helped him write what book? Watch this video to see if you were right.

July 9, 1850

President Zachary Taylor died. How did he die? Read this brief article to learn about his death. Why was his body exhumed in 1991? Watch this video to find out!

July 10, 1962

Patent for the three-point seat belt is issued. Check out the patent. 

July 11, 1804

Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Why? Read about it here.

July 12, 1984

Geraldine Ferraro was names the first female vice-presidential candidate for a major political party in the U.S.. Watch a NY Times video about her.

July 13, 1787

U.S. Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance. Examine the document here.

July 14, 1881

Billy the Kid was shot and killed. View a timeline of his life and then read an account of his murder.

July 15, 1606

Rembrandt was born. Visit the J. Paul Getty Museum to read a brief biography and view some of his work.

July 16, 1945

The fist atomic bomb was successful tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico during the Trinity test. Explore the Department of Energy's site on the Manhattan Project.

July 17, 1955

Walt Disney opened Disneyland in California. Learn about its construction here.

July 18, 1863

Union Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and 116 of his men from the 54th Massachusetts Infantry were killed in an assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina.View the casualty list and then learn about this history of the regiment here.

July 19, 1799

The Rosetta Stone was found. Visit the British Museum to learn why it was important.

July 20, 1969

Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Go to NASA and watch this historic act.

July 21, 1925

The "Trial of the Century" also known as the Scopes "Monkey" Trial ended. Read the article about the trial - be sure to click on the links to view the primary sources! Then listen to some songs.

July 22, 1934

John Dillinger was shot and killed. Read the FBI criminal files about this mobster and then view a New York Times article about his death.

July 23, 1914

Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Do you know why? Read this primary source to see if you were right.

July 24, 1911

Machu Piccu was discovered. Read about it here.

July 25, 1898

Puerto Rico was invaded during the Spanish-American War. Visit the Library of Congress and learn more about Puerto Rico's role during the war.

July 26, 1956

Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal. Go to the BBC to learn why the world cared.

July 27, 1794

Robespierre was overthrown. Watch this Crash Course to learn who he was and why he was overthrown.

July 28, 1932

Eviction of the Bonus Army. Listen to a NPR story about the event.

July 29, 1862

Confederate spy, Belle Boyd, was captured. Watch a short video about her.

July 30, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law. Visit the National Archives to get a little history and view the law.

July 31, 1777

Marquis de Lafayette joins the Continental Army as a Major-General. Go to the History Channel to learn more about him.

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What Happened Today in History in June?

Musings of a History Gal
June 1, 1980

CNN, the United States' first 24 hour news channel, was launched. Read about CNN's first 25 years.

June 2, 1886

Grover Cleveland became the first and only president to get married in the White House. Go to White House Weddings to learn about Cleveland's wedding and others that occurred at the White House.

June 3, 1800

John Adams became the first president to reside in the nation's new capital, Washington, D.C. Go here to learn about the new capital.


June 4, 1989

The Chinese government cracked down on protestors in Tienanmen Square. View Frontline's timeline of events that led up to the massacre.

June 5, 1956

Elvis scandalously performs "Hound Dog" on the Milton Berle Show. What was so scandalous? Watch it here.


June 6, 1944

D-Day: Allies invaded France. Go to the BBC and watch an animation of the D-Day Landings.

June 7, 1692

Earthquake destroyed Port Royal, Jamaica. Go to the Port Royal Project to learn why this is a good place to search for sunken pirate treasure. Be sure to explore the site and discover the archaeological findings.

June 8, 1968

James Earl Ray was arrested for the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Read the New York Times article about his arrest.

June 9, 1973

Secretariat became a Triple Crown winner. Read about this great racing horse.

June 10, 1752

Benjamin Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm. Go to PBS to see why and what he learned.

June 11, 1509

Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon. Go to PBS and meet all 6 of Henry VIII's wives and learn which ones escaped with their lives and which ones weren't so fortunate.

June 12, 1963

Medgar Evers was assassinated. Go to the NAACP to learn more about him.

June 13, 323

Alexander the Great died. Go to the National Geographic and read about his dramatic life.

June 14, 1846

The Bear Flag revolt began. What was is? Watch this video and then read this primary source.

June 15, 1776

Delaware became its own state. Learn more about Delaware here.

June 16, 1884

America's first roller coaster opened at Coney Island, NY. Explore the American Experience: Coney Island,

June 17, 1972

Watergate burglars were arrested. Learn more about these men here and read the Washington Post story about their arrest here.

June 18, 1812

War of 1812 began. Compare and contrast the American view of the war with the British perspective.

June 19, 1953

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed. View the FBI reports to learn why they were executed.

June 20, 1975

The movie Jaws was released. It was inspired by this true 1916 event.

June 21, 1956

While being questioned by HUAC, Arthur Miller refused to name suspected Communists. What was HUAC? Go here to find out. Who was Arthur Miller? You may have seen his play: The Crucible. Watch the video about why he wrote the play.

June 22, 1944

President Franklin Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill. Visit the National World War II Museum to learn more about the bill and its importance.

June 23, 1972

Title IX was signed into law and impacts athletics programs across the nation. Go to the NCAA and read their FAQs about Title IX.

June 24, 1675

King Philip's War began. Read this article to learn how the war impacted Connecticut.

June 25, 1876

The Battle of Little Big Horn occurred between the Sioux and Cheyenne and General Custer and the 7th Calvary. and . Read a primary account of the battle and another account by Lakota Chief Red Horse.

June 26, 1541

Francisco Pizarro was assassinated by rivals. Learn about Pizarro's conquest of the Incas.

June 27, 1829

English scientist James Smithson died leaving a will bequeathing his entire estate to a country he had never visited, the United States, under the stipulation that it be housed in Washington, D.C. under the name Smithsonian Institute. Read more about his unusual bequest here.

June 28, 1914

Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated, sparking World War I. Learn the basic facts about the assassination here at the BBC.

June 29, 1613

The Globe Theatre burned down. Take a virtual tour of the theatre and then read about the playwright who made it famous.

June 30, 1936

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was published. Read an interview with Margaret Mitchell and then read Mental Floss' 10 Fascinating Facts about the book.

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A Fun Idea for End of Year Tests

By History Gal

My daughter and her friends will take two End of Grade (EOG) tests this week. Last week, her teacher sent all the parents an email asking us to send in envelopes for the students to open on the mornings of their tests. Inside the envelope, we could place quotes, motivational messages, pictures, etc. to help motivate our kids and to ease some of their test anxiety. What a great idea!

Until...I started thinking. What if I write something that makes her erupt into tears? What if I include something that inadvertently adds to her fear of the test? That would just be a disaster!

All of a sudden, this simple request from her teacher began stressing ME out! I thought about not doing it. But, quickly tossed that idea aside when I realized it would even be worse if she was the only one in her class without an envelope to open.

free downloadSo, I went back to brainstorming and I came up with the idea of creating some jokes to make my daughter smile and hopefully laugh before she has to get serious and take her tests.

Now, joke creation is definitely not my forte! I got some help from Leah Cleary who is a master of words and my joke idol to create six joke puzzle cards. I divided them up into two sets and put each set into an envelope.

Musings of a History Gal

Musing of a History Gal

Hopefully, these joke puzzle cards will not make my daughter erupt into tears or add to her test anxiety, but instead give her a good laugh before she has to sit and take, in my daughter's words, a "long and boring test."

If you think your own child or class would like these joke puzzle cards, click below!
Musings of a History Gal

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Stopping the Parent Freak-Out Over End of Year Testing

By History Gal

It's that time of year. Almost every email, phone call, and correspondence from my daughter's school reminds us that End of Grade testing is almost here. Her teacher talks about it. Her friends talk about  and even parents are talking about it.

I get it, but I don't like it. It's the season of high stakes testing. Jobs and even funding rests on the performance of the students on these tests. And, as the tests get closer, I see my daughter and her friends become more and more stressed about taking these tests.

*NEWSFLASH* Stressed kids don't perform well on tests!

Here are 3 things that we are doing at our house to help our daughter:

1. We are making a conscious effort to downplay these End of Grade (EOG) tests. Our daughter is a high achiever. She wants to do everything well. And, she has it in her head that these tests carry so much weight that she will fail 4th grade if she bombs them. Talk about some self-imposed pressure! When she brings up her EOG tests, we tell her they are no big deal; that they are just a way for her to show off what she already knows; and that no matter what she scores on the test there is no way she will fail 4th grade.

Musings of a History Gal
2. We are making our actions match our words. We can't tell her the tests are no big deal and then contradict it with our actions. The other day, my daughter asked if she could skip her 6:00-6:45 ballet class next week since the next day she was taking an EOG. My answer? No. If I let her skip ballet class just because she has a test the next day, I'm subconsciously telling her that this test is so important she needs to skip her extra-curricular activities. It would give extra validation to her stress.

Musings of a History Gal3. We are making our actions match our words. I repeated this on purpose because it is hard to stop the parent freak-out. I mean well when I talk to her each day about how she is feeling about the test, if she is studying for the test at school, if she thinks she is ready for the test, etc. I mean well when I put her to bed extra early the night before the test and have a breakfast of champions the morning of the test. I mean well when I remind her to wear comfortable clothes and to wear her hair back so it won't be in her eyes on the day of the test. I do all of these things because I want my daughter to perform well on the test. However, am I helping or hindering her? If I really believe and want my daughter to believe that the EOGs are no big deal, why am I doing these things? Making my actions match my words is harder than it seems. I definitely haven't perfected things. But, my hope is that through my words and actions, my daughter will come to the realization that EOG tests, while long and boring, are nothing to stress and worry about.

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What Happened Today in May?

What Happened in History? May by History Gal

May 1, 1960

Soviets shot down an American U-2 spy plane. Read the official communications between the US and USSR about the incident.

May 2, 1960

Dick Clark escaped unscathed in the Payola Scandal. What was the Payola scandal? Read this article to find out and then watch an interview with Dick Clark discussing the scandal.

May 3, 1942

The Battle of Coral Sea began. Watch this video to learn about the battle and why it's important.
History Gal

May 4, 1980

Josip Broz Tito, the leader of Yugoslavia, died. Go to the New York Times and read an article of your choosing about Marshall Tito.

May 5, 1904

Cy Young pitched a perfect game. Learn more about him at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

May 6, 1937

The Hindenburg exploded. Listen and view the eyewitness report.

May 7, 1954

The French were defeated at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Watch a BBC documentary about the Siege of Dien Bien Phu.

May 8, 1541

Hernando deSoto reached the Mississippi River. Watch this PBS video about the explorer and his accomplishments.

May 9, 1887

Buffalo Bill's Wild West show opened. Read an article about the show and watch the film clips. Then, read about some of the show's stars and watch some show footage of Buffalo Bill.

May 10, 1980

US government gave Chrysler a $1.5 billion loan. Watch this video to learn more.

May 11, 1969

US paratroopers fought in the Battle of Hamburger Hill. Watch this video to learn about the battle.

May 12, 1975

The US freighter Mayaguez was seized by Cambodian forces. Visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum to view images and learn more about this international incident.

May 13, 1846

President Polk declared war on Mexico. Explore the PBS site US-Mexican War.

May 14, 1796

Edward Jenner tested his smallpox vaccine. Visit Dr. Jenner's House to learn about smallpox and his important discovery.

May 15, 1972

Alabama governor George Wallace was shot. Read a Washington Post article about the attack.

May 16, 1770

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette got married. Visit the Chateau de Versailles and read about their wedding. Then, take some time to explore the site and learn more about the two.

May 17, 1954

The US Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education. Read the transcript.

May 18, 1871

Chief Santana led a massacre of a wagon train near Red River, Texas. Visit the Kansas Historical Society to learn about him and then view the digitized primary sources.

May 19, 1588

The Spanish Armada set sail. Read about the armada and the significance of its defeat.

May 20, 1873

Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a patent for blue jeans. Read about the history of Levi jeans and check out at least one of the videos.

May 21, 1927

Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris. Read an article about his feat and then spend some time exploring the site.

May 22, 1455

War of the Roses began. Check out this Shmoop video.

May 23, 1701

Captain Kidd was executed for piracy and murder. Read his biography and then read to see if his sunken treasure was discovered.

May 24, 1883

Brooklyn Bridge opened. Read an eyewitness account of its construction, some facts about the bridge and then view some primary sources about the bridge.

May 25, 1977 

The movie Star Wars opened in theaters. Check it out here and watch the opening crawl.

May 26, 1927

Last production day of the Model T. Read some facts about the Model T and then watch "Driving a Model T."

May 27, 1703

St. Petersburg was founded. Read a collection of primary sources about Peter the Great.

May 28, 1940

Belgium surrendered to the Germans. Read this article and then view the photographs, maps, and film footage.

May 29, 1953

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mt. Everest. Explore Scholastic's site on Hillary.

May 30, 1431

Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Watch a 5 minute summary of the Hundred Years War.

May 31, 2005

Deep Throat was identified as W. Mark Felt. Read a Newsweek article about the sources including Deep Throat that helped topple Nixon and watch a short video about why Felt revealed himself 30 years later.

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Thriving on a Teacher's Salary: Let's Talk Credit Cards

by History Gal

You know the slogans.  You hear them on the radio and see the commercials on television and online. You get mailings from credit card companies enticing you with fantastic rewards and bonus points.

So, how many cards are in your wallet? I intentionally have just 1.

Reality Check #1: Credit card companies don't offer us credit cards out of the goodness of their hearts. Credit cards companies run a business. If they weren't making a profit, they wouldn't be enticing us to sign up.

Credit card companies make their money by charging businesses fees when a customer uses a credit card and by charging us interest on any unpaid bill balances we carry.  Do you know what the interest rates are on your credit cards?  Did you know that if you make a late payment, credit card companies can increase that interest rate? For example, if I were to miss a payment, my credit interest rate jumps from 18% to almost 30%! 

Credit card companies are now required to show you how long it would take you to pay off your credit card bill if you just made the minimum payment and what the total cost would be.

Imagine you had a balance of $3000 on your credit card and you pay the minimum balance of  $30 a month. If you did not charge another penny to this credit card, it would take you 15 years and over $6000 to pay off your credit card bill!

According to a 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances by the U.S. Federal Reserves, 38% of Americans carry credit card debt. If you have credit card debt and are wondering where to even start in paying down your debt, check out Credit Card Insider's article How to Pay Off Debt.

Reality Check #2: When you make a credit card purchase, you are getting a 30 day or so no-interest loan from your credit card provider.

Thriving on a Teacher's Salary
It's not free money. It's a loan with terms and conditions. Yes, I love the ease of making purchases with my credit card, but it is really easy to overspend since I don't have to actually pay for my purchases until later.

My mom gave me very important piece of advice when I got my first credit card as a freshman in college. She said to treat every credit card purchase like a debit and deduct it from the balance in my checkbook. That way, when the credit card bill arrived, I would have already deducted the money from my account and all I would have to do was write the check. It's a strategy I use to this day. There is no stress when the credit card bill arrives because I know the money is there in my checking account. At any given time, I know exactly how much I have left in my account to spend because I have counted that credit card purchase, not as a loan, but as if I had actually used my own money for the purchase.

Reality Check #3: You may not need all those credit cards in your wallet.

When my husband and I made the decision to live on just his teaching salary so I could stay home with our kids, we took a long, hard look at the credit cards we were carrying and made the decision to cancel all but two (one for him and one for me).

 I probably had half a dozen retail credit cards from some of my favorite stores. I realized that these cards encouraged me to spend more than I really should. It was too easy to buy $300 worth of clothes and just swipe the credit card. I canceled the cards and cut them up. Now, I always say no when the sales clerk asks if I would like to save an additional 20%. Of course, I'd love to save that extra 20% - I am a bargain hunter at heart - but, I have committed to staying within our budget and not overspend. Maybe, you don't have the same problem I had. But, if you are carrying debt on multiple cards - especially retail cards - it may be time to take your own long, hard look at what you are carrying in your wallet.

Credit cards definitely have their uses and I use mine almost daily. It is just important to use credit cards as part of a budget and not as a way to buy more than you can afford.

What are some ways you keep your credit card spending in check?


Looking for some other ways to Thrive on a Teacher's Salary? Check out these posts! 

Musings of a History Gal
Musings of a History Gal

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What Happened Today in April?

April 1, 1923

The Beer Hall Putsch helped Hitler rise to power in Germany. Read a primary account of the coup.

April 2, 1513

Ponce de Leon discovered Florida. Go to the Mariner's Museum to learn more about Ponce de Leon and the age of exploration.


April 3, 1882

Jesse James was killed. Go to the Biography Channel  to read or watch a video about about his life and his death.

April 4, 1968

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Visit the National Archives to read primary sources from the Report of the Select Committee on the Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives.

April 5, 1951

The Rosenbergs were sentenced to death for spying. Read the FBI article about the Atom Spy Case or visit this site about their trial.


April 6, 1917

The United Stated entered World War I. Read Wilson's message to Congress.

April 7, 1994

Rwandan Genocide began. Read the BBC report that explains how 800,000 people were killed in 100 days.

April 8, 1935

WPA was established by Congress. Download this PDF from the FDR Presidential Library about the WPA.

April 9, 1865

Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Read a primary account of the surrender.

April 10, 1970

The Beatles break up. Read the Rolling Stones article about why the band broke up. Don't know who the Beatles are? Go to their site and listen to some of their music.

April 11, 1814

Napoleon was exiled to Elba. Read 6 reasons why exile to Elba isn't that bad.

April 12, 1864

Fort Pillow Massacre occurred. Watch this video to learn more.

April 13, 1919

Amritsar Massacre occurred. Read an article from The Telegraph about the massacre and why it is such a low point in British history.

April 14, 1912

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and later sinks in the icy North Atlantic. Visit National Geographic to view pictures of the sunken ship, see the crash scene, and more.

April 15, 1947

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Visit PBS to learn more.

April 16, 1917

Lenin returned to Russia. Visit a timeline of Lenin's life. Be sure to click on some of the primary source documents!

April 17, 1970

Apollo 13 returned to earth. Go to the National Air and Space Museum to learn about this successful failure.

April 18, 1906

A massive earthquake shook San Francisco. Just how big was the quake? Visit USGS' site about the destructive quake.

April 19, 1775

The American Revolution began. Go to the Library of Congress and investigate what happened.


April 20, 1999

Mass shooting at Columbine High School rocked the nation. Listen to a NPR story with Sue Klebold.

April 21, 1918

The Red Baron was killed in action. Who was he and how did he die? Click here to learn!

April 22, 1970

The first Earth Day was held. How can you help the environment? The EPA has some suggestions for you!

April 23, 1954

Hank Aaron hit his first career home run. Go to the Biography Channel and watch a short video about this amazing baseball player.

April 24, 1916

Easter Rising in Dublin began. Go to the BBC to learn about this movement.

April 25, 1719

The novel, Robinson Crusoe was published. You can read the ebook here or watch this video.

April 26, 1986

Nuclear accident at Chernobyl made the area a ghost town. Click here for some background on the disaster and then watch this video with footage from 2014.

April 27, 1773

The British Parliament passed the Tea Act. Look over the primary sources at the Library of Congress.

April 28, 1967

Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted. Read this New York Times article to learn why.

April 29, 1992

Police officers were acquitted in the Rodney King case and riots break out. Go to Frontline and read their interviews with key people from the case.

April 30, 1945

Hitler committed suicide. Read the Time magazine article about his death.

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4 Ways to Incorporate the Men's College Basketball Tournament into Your Social Studies Class

by History Gal

I live in the middle of a college basketball mecca. People around here go crazy for their favorite college team and students are no exception. The men's college basketball tournament kicks off today at noon. Students will sneak out their cell phones and even teachers will have the games streaming on their computers to see if UNC Wilmington knocks off the either loved or hated Duke University. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, I decided to embrace the tournament.

Here are some things that you might like to try:

#1 - Make copies of a printable bracket and let students fill out their brackets with a pen or something not erasable. I do not allow cross-outs. If they mess up, they have to re-do the bracket. As the tournament progresses, take a few minutes at the beginning of class to update and tally student brackets.

How to Score:
1st Round: 1 point for each correct pick
2nd Round: 2 points for each correct pick
3rd Round: 4 points for each correct pick
4th Round: 8 points for each correct pick
5th Round: 16 points for each correct pick
Final Game: 32 points for correct pick

#2 - Graph Making -  Use the student choices to create graphs showing how many students picked each school in each round. Place the number tallies on the board.  Each round students are challenged to create different types of graphs to show the data.

#3 - Use the tournament as an excuse to squeeze in a geography lesson. Have students label a map of the United States with the states, important bodies of water, and the sites of the tournament games.

By History Gal

 #4 - Use the tournament to reinforce cardinal and ordinal directions by having students write sentences about the locations of the schools in the tournament and where the students live.
By History Gal

I hope you enjoy these activities and enjoy the craziness of the men's college basketball tournament!

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Today in History: March Part 2

Musings of a History Gal

March 16, 1850

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter was published. Read the book for free from The Project Gutenberg or just watch this 3 1/2 minute video.


March 17, 461

St. Patrick died. Watch this short video to learn more about him.

March 18, 1766

Parliament repealed the Stamp Act. Visit the Massachusetts Historical Society learn about the Stamp Act, the Stamp Act Crisis, and its repeal and to view primary sources.

March 19, 2003

The War in Iraq began. The National Archives has a wealth of information to examine about the war.

March 20, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson sent troops to Alabama. Why? Visit this NPS site and the National Archives.

March 21, 1980

President Carter announced the U.S. would boycott the Olympics being held in Moscow. Read an article from 1980.  Click here to learn more about why the U.S. boycotted.

March 22, 1933

President Roosevelt signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act signaling an end to Prohibition. Read FDR's letter to Congress.

March 23, 1919

Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party. At the Biography Channel, read his biography or watch the video.


March 24, 1989

The Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska triggering a massive oil spill. Go here to learn more.

March 25, 1911

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 145. Visit Cornell University's site or watch a PBS video to learn more about the fire.

March 26, 1953

Jonas Salk announced he had a polio vaccine. Read about it here.

March 27, 1912

Japanese Cherry trees were planted along the Potomac River. Click here to learn the history behind the trees.

March 28, 1979

Nuclear accident occurred at Three Mile Island. The U.S. NRC explains the accident and PBS explains how a nuclear reactor works.


March 29, 1929

President Hoover had the first telephone installed in the Oval Office. There had been a phone in the  White House since 1878, but this was the first time the president could make a call from his own desk. Visit Elon University's history of the phone from 1870s - 1940s.


March 30, 1867

The United States purchased Alaska in what was known as Seward's Folly. Visit the Library of Congress to learn more about the purchase from Russia.


March 31, 1889

The Eiffel Tower opened in Paris. Discover more at the Eiffel Tower's official site.

Click here to view Today in History for March 1- March 15 and to download a FREE worksheet for your students.
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Today in History: March Part 1

March Today in History Part 1

I admit it. I am a history nerd and I love learning about history. When I taught, I'd love to start the class with a little lesson on what happened this day in history. I'd often pick events that were topics that we didn't necessarily have time to cover during our race to cover the curriculum. I thought others might like to do this too so each month, I'll have a list of events that occurred "Today in History" along with links to great sites you send your students to. I hope you like this new series!


March 1, 1932

Charles Lindbergh III, son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, was kidnapped. Read the FBI file about the case here.

 March 2, 1904

Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born. Check out some of his political cartoons from the World War II era or this video about some of his training videos like Private SNAFU.

March 3, 1820

Congress passes the Missouri Compromise.Visit the Library of Congress for some great primary source material regarding the debates and the passage of the compromise.

March 4, 1944

The execution of Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the head of Murder, Inc., is carried out. Read about this 1920s and 1930s crime syndicate and then read about the 10 most terrifying members. Want more information? Here's a 45 minute documentary about the syndicate.

March 5, 1770

Boston Massacre occurred. Click here to watch a short History Channel video.
Today in History: March Part 1

March 6, 1475

Italian Renaissance painter, Michelangelo Buonarroti, was born. Read a PBS article about him and view his works.

March 7, 1936

Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland. Check out the British National Archives to learn what the British wanted to do.

March 8, 1950

Volkswagen began production of the VW bus. Watch a commercial for it.

March 9, 1841

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Amistad mutiny. Click here, to see what the court ruled. Don't remember what happened? Here's a short article to help you out.

March 10, 1970

Army Captain Ernest Medina and 4 other soldiers were charged with the 1968 My Lai Massacre. Digital History has a summary of the events and lots of primary sources.

March 11, 1818

Mary Shelley published Frankenstein. Haven't read the book? The Project Gutenberg has the ebook just for you! Or just watch this video.

March 12, 2003

Backlash against the Dixie Chicks began. Don't remember that? Here's a little background.

March 13, 1781

Uranus was discovered. Click here to find out why it took so long.

March 14, 1950

The FBI debuted its 10 Most Wanted List. Visit the FBI's anniversary site to learn more.

March 15, 44 BC

Julius Caesar was stabbed to death. Read an account of his death.

Click here for Today in History March 16 - March 31.
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5 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Women's History Month

By History Gal

1. It was a celebration started in 1978 by a school district in California.

On March 8, 1978, the Sonoma school district created a week-long celebration to honor women's contributions to our history, culture, and society.

2. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women's History Week.

In 1981, Congress made the week official and in 1987, the National Women's History Project successfully petitioned Congress to change it to a month-long celebration.

3. March 8th is a significant date.

These days, women's contributions to history are celebrated all month long in March. But, March 8 is a particularly important day. It is International Women's Day. The first International Women's Day events were held in 1911 and, in 1975, the day became even more widely known when the United Nations began sponsoring it.

4. Every year either Congress or the president must proclaim March Women's History Month. 

While it is pretty much a symbolic gesture, March is not officially Women's History Month until the ceremonial proclamation to honor women's contributions is issued by the current president or Congress.

5. Since 1987, each Women's History Month has had a theme sponsored by the National Women's History Project. 

Previous themes include "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment" and "Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams." This year's theme is "Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business."

What do you do in your classes for Women's History Month? 

Teaching our students about the contributions that women have made to our world is very important. Check out these resources that could work in any classroom:

Celebrate Women's History Month in the ELEMENTARY CLASSROOM

Study Significant Women in History with these 


More MIDDLE SCHOOL RESOURCES for Women's History Month

Check out these Women's History Month resources for HIGH SCHOOL!

When we teach our students about significant women, we shed light on some of the greatest humans in history, dismantle stereotypes, and inspire our students. Thank goodness we have an entire month to celebrate!

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