Videos that Make for Great Teacher Professional Development


education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

While I normality like to post my ideas and thoughts on education and technology. Occasionally, however I come across a post that is just so outstanding and on the mark that I feel it is just too good not to pass on to my readers. “Ten Videos Every Educator Should Watch (and Reflect on)” was written last February and while I have written about and discussed many of the videos contained in this post I really like the fact that they are all placed together for teachers to look at and think about. This is the time of year when many teachers have the time to look at and think about new ideas and teaching strategies. So I encourage any teachers looking to expand their teaching techniques, philosophies and teaching strategies to look through these outstanding videos and reflect on them.

Click here to read Ammar Merhibi’s “Ten Videos Every Educator Should Watch (and Reflect on)”

And Ammar thanks for taking the time to put this post together. To read more from Ammar Merhibi check out his blog “Eductechnalogy

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Great Teaching Resource “Teacher First”

This past weekend I found a great resource that I wanted to share “Teacher First”.  I have looked at this site before but never really took the time to look at all of the available content.  It is quite impressive and has some great units and lessons that are engaging and well developed.  This site offers a wide variety subject specific resources and can be a great place for teachers to bookmark and visit when developing their lessons. Check it out at

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The First Two Steps to Ensure a Successful Lesson

The bell rings and students are beginning to filter into your classroom.  As a teacher you need to grab their attention and refocus it from  previous classes and what just happened in the hall, on to your subject.  This is often a daunting task and one that can seem impossible at times.  I have found two strategies that have been quite effective in getting students focused and  ready to learn in class.

Step one: “Baiting the Hook”

First have a learning target on the board everyday for them to read.  How often as a teacher do you hear, “What are we going to do today?” or my favorite,  “Are we doing anything in class today?”  After you have trained them to look at the whiteboard for the learning target they will form a habit of look for and reading the learning target each day.  This will start to refocus the students on your subject and topic of the day.  I tell my kids to help me out and remind me if the learning target is not on the whiteboard.

Step Two: Reeling Them In

The next thing is to captivate their attention.  This can be done through many different types of bell-ringing activities.  One of my favorites is to use a movie clip to get them talking about the topic of the day.  This catches their attention and ca be very effective in engaging your students.  A couple of great sites to use are MOVIECLIPS ( and AnyClip (  These sites give you short clips on many different subjects from modern films that always get the kids excited and engaged.  There are many different types of bell ringer activities here below are some links to a few lists of activities that have been useful to me in the past.  Doing these two steps at the beginning of each class is an effective way to refocus your students and get them learning in your classroom.

Here is a list of some ideas for bell ringer activities:

  1. —Political Cartoons
  2. Historical and Current —Video Clips —
  3. Online —Games and Activities —
  4. Art and Images
  5. —Pre-assessment & Review —
  6. This Day in History —
  7. Short Readings

Other Links I have found useful:

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Project Based Learning with Primary Sources

Historical Scene Investigation is a great website to use to incorporate not only technology in your classroom but also primary sources as well.

Historical Scene Investigation


This is a project based website that provides lessons focusing on U.S. history.  Here are the topics covered on this website.

  • March on Frankfort
  • Case of Sam Smiley
  • When Elvis Met Nixon
  • Dropping the Bomb
  • School Desegregation
  • Children in the Civil War
  • Antonio Slave
  • Constitution Controversy
  • Boston Massacre
  • Lexington Concord
  • Bacon’s Rebellion
  • Jamestown Starving Time

All of these lessons have a student and teacher sections and include all readings, worksheets and links to other WebPages.   This is a great site to use in your class but also to see a great way to setup similar content projects.

Click on this link to check out this website.

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State of the Union Speech Great Lesson Plan!

Here is a great lesson created by the New York Times for the State of the Union Address tonight.   Wish I had found this lesson earlier but will find a way to incorporate it into my lesson for today.  It is worth a look!  At least for discussion topics in class.

See it here at this link:

GPS Technology in the Classroom (LESSON SETUP)

Well as I stated in my last post, I was looking to create a hands on lesson that would get students up and moving in the week before Christmas break, since they are so wound up anyway. So this was my plan.  It seemed to have worked very well with my 8th grade students. I will post again once I get the results of my survey from the kids completed.

Lesson Learning Target:

Identify and explain at least two reasons why the United States entered into WWI.

Set Up:

This lesson required them to move to five different locations throughout the school. To locate each of these locations they had to solve clues left for them at each location. As they solved each clue, they were required to answer the question, “How does this impact the U.S. involvement in WWI?”  Their goal was to write a memo that will convince the President to enter into WWI. This memo must include at least two facts that they discover on their quest. Each student is provided with an organizer handout and a copy of the blank memo they will turn in at the end of the lesson. I set this lesson up to last about 2-3 days.

Students started in the computer lab, and I gave them their first clue. This took them into the library and they found a biography of Woodrow Wilson. Students learned about the President of the United States at the time of WWI. Here they also received some GPS coordinates that sent them out on to the football field.

At the second location on the football field they receive a cipher key. This allowed them to decipher future clues that they were to find on this quest. The first thing that they deciphered was grid coordinates to another location.

The third location provided a clue that sent them back into the computer lab to research and find clue number four. Here the students learned about public opinion in WWI and Executive Order 2594. They began to see that public opinion on the war had to change, before the U.S. could enter WWI. Finally, they received another clue hidden in this room.

The fourth location provided the students with a clue to the final location and dates of the sinking of the Lusitania and Sussex. Here students were informed about the importance of these events on the American public opinion.

The final location provided the students with the Zimmerman letter that they need to decipher key elements of the letter to ascertain why this letter was so important in our entrance into WWI.


Once they have completed the quest, they had to sit down as a group and figure out how everything was connected. This led to some very good conversations among the students. Even students that typically aren’t engaged participated. I was encouraged by the level of engagement by all students. I do realize that the novelty of this new type of assignment was part of the engagement, but students seemed genuinely interested in the lesson. The conversation that I heard and the group dynamics seemed to work effectively. Students seemed to enjoy themselves. I even had to plead with some kids to move on to their next class. I anxiously await their memos and the survey results.

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