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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 Reflections



The bell just rang, and my awesome class just left room 104. We are all about to enjoy an extended Memorial Day weekend due to a lack of snow days. At some point this week, many of our classes discussed the significance of Memorial Day. Some even heard about the lives of the amazing people I served with who died in either Iraq or Afghanistan. After hearing such stories, and since this is a social studies class, I'm sure you understand why I think this would be a good opportunity to pause and reflect as we start to end this year's social media adventure.

 I spoke of how I would like to do something more as a school on days like today. I hope that next year I can put something together....and If I don't, perhaps you will! The two articles below are about what students from the high school that I went to in South Jersey do. Further, the news video below is both informative and moving.


Action News: Southern Regional"Southern Regional Flags"

(and the principal in the video was my middle school gym teacher!)

So how can you respond to this post? If you do something relating to Memorial Day (service, parade, television show. etc), please share. Maybe you have an idea of something we can do as a school next year, and please share if you do. Perhaps someone you know, or even a relative generations back lost their lives while serving our country. If so, you can write about it here. Maybe you can research about the day or about someone that made such a sacrifice, and you can write about it here. I don't feel comfortable creating a "Memorial Day rubric", I just ask that it is at least a paragraph in length and shows thoughtful reflection and originality. Fell free to respond to others comments as well. 

I'll see everyone on Wednesday!


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Let's Explore our Local History!


Earlier this week while I was in Morristown, I saw a sign on the road. It was for a National Historic Park called "Fort Nonsense." I never heard of this place, even though I have been teaching history nearby in Denville for well over ten years now. How did this place (with such an awesome name) escape this history-obsessed person for all these years?

If you missed my tweets, I'll share with you some photographs I took.



To learn more about Fort Nonsense, and to decide whether it was nonsense or not, read more about it from the National Park Service Website:

NPS: Fort Nonsense



Your task: What local historic landmarks exist near where you live? Explain the historical significance of a location in the comments section. (Don't just copy a paragraph from Wikipedia- do some research and put it in your own words!) Please make sure that you do not choose a place that another student wrote about. Since we live in different towns, it will be neat to learn about!
A Contracts additional requirement: Send a picture that you took (it can be a selfie!) so that I can add it to the post. For the ultra-motivated- tweet a small video clip or even make a YouTube Video Tour!Check back for follow up questions as well.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Social Media in the Classroom: An introduction


Yes, there are thousands and thousands of uses of social media in the classroom, all of which I will tell you about right now.
(Okay, not really, but if you don't get that please watch this clip someday:)

Instead, today is meant to be a brief overview of the benefits of social media in the classroom with hopes that in the future we can focus and collaborate on some of the specific ways to utilize it.

So what better way to begin then by diving in and trying it. Skype is one of the popular social media tools in the world of education and we are going to have a Mystery Skype right now! Hooray!
(Note: When done in class we usually schedule about 45 minutes for the Skype. We also do some pre-planning, but we have a school willing to do a 15  minute sample with us to give us the idea.)

Rules for Mystery Skype:
1. Goal: To guess the other school's location (country, state, city, etc) before they can guess yours.
2. Only ask yes or no questions.
3. We will work in groups, each group will ask one question at a time. Make sure to listen to the other groups question and answers. You don't want to waste a question by asking the same one twice!
(In class, each group has one person who asks the questions and one person to record the responses.)
4. Use the Atlas as a guide. Take notes!
5. Be careful! If you are wearing MCST gear, don't go on camera and give away our location!

Examples of General Questions
1. Is your school East of the Ohio River?
2. Does Route 9 run through your state?

Avoid Broad Questions such as:
Do you live in NJ?
Do you live near a city?

__________________  Okay, now time to do this________________________

After the Skype and we celebrate our win or mourn or loss:

Why do we Mystery Skype? 


* Are there other ways we can use this or modify it for other classrooms? 

______________ (This is my way to transition in today's blog)_____________________

Some facts and figures about social media in education, and why training is important:
Social Media in Edu (and Worrying!)    (Where image below is from/ info. from 2014).




Student made video on using social media in the classroom- honest feedback that includes both the advantages and disadvantages: 




...and if you'd rather read their ideas then listen to them, or to see them using social media, check this out:


Food for thought: Students are being exposed to social media in education now in elementary and middle schools, so it is up to us to remain relevant (think of Joan Rivers without the plastic surgery.)







- To take advantage of Social Media the most, it's key to use the ones that students are on the most
(SnapChat is the flavor of the month).
- It's also important to know the disadvantages of them, but the point of today is to not scare you away so we can address that later.
-Also, while it is unreasonable to use a bunch of forms of social media, blending two or three of them will find ways to reach out to more students (ex: some students aren't allowed on SnapChat or Twitter, but most can go on YouTube.)--- (or have students pair up- students who are allowed on SnapChat can text important info. to students who aren't.)

-What if you don't really want to be the one doing all the connecting? Can you have students do it for you?




A great way to start using twitter is to connect with other eductors. Various chats occur throughout the US and world on various educational topics. They can be a great place to gain new ideas and resources.
Chat schedule






For when you need stuff to read:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Crimes Against Humanity



This past November 15th I attended a workshop at Ramapo University.  It was titled, "Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and Mass Atrocity: Definitions, Politics, and the Quest for Justice."

Although many students saw my tweets about it and we discussed it the next day, I held off on blogging on it until now. I wanted to wait until we finished our Enlightenment unit- until we knew how the Enlightenment philosophers stressed the importance of human dignity and until how that knowledge was meaningless unless it influenced political power.

During the day we heard from various guest speakers and culminated with developing sample lesson plans on how students can best utilize this information. While I am not copying every tweet from that day, here are a majority of them below. Use the prompt in blue to comment when you are done reading the post.



  1. Next up: teaching abt justice in punishing & preventing , crimes against humanity & mass atrocities w/
  2. international Ct on Rwanda was the 1st time a court said RAPE can be a form of as women have a baby of a different ethnicity
  3. The made a International Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994
  4. In just 3 months about 800,000 Tutsi were killed in Rwanda
  5. After presidents plane shot down, a revenge movement was formed in Rwanda ( 1993)
  6. 1993: Arusha Accords to settle war Btwn Rwanda govt and RAF. Did it work?
  7. Rwanda in 1990s: 85% Hutu, 14% Tutsi, 2% Twa
  8. Dr Lewis: " is difficult to prove in court bc you have to prove INTENT to eliminate a group "
  9. Presentation: international criminal courts in the 1990s-2000s
  10. "It is our goal today to try to achieve some clarification abt terminology and changing legal concepts abt genocide" - Dr Michael Riff



Dr Lewis's conclusion on tribunals:
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