Digital Primary Sources for U.S. History

Have you explored the U.S. History Primary Source timeline available on the Library of Congress Website? It is a massive collection of incredibly useful digital primary sources that you can share with your students. A great activity that you can have your students complete with these resources is to analyze the resources with the SOAPS process. I have created a Google Forms template that you can use for that activity.
All you have to do is find a primary source applicable to your current topic, then post that link and the SOAPS Google Form in a Google Classroom assignment. The resources are very high definition and full on fascinating!

Micro-Explorer (Life Cycles)

Here is a new hybrid activity that requires your students to explore a digital game board to find the answers for the accompanying paper based activity. There are 15 answer choices hidden on the game board on post it notes. Each answer has an accompanying point value. Students record the correct answer and point value for each answer on their answer document. If the total of their correct answer point values matches the teachers secret answer key number then they have the correct answers and they win the game.

I have a template for this activity so I can make multiple versions with different themes and answer choices for another subject area and topic.

Link to the Digital Game Board You may direct students to this page or post the link in your Google Classroom.

Link to the PDF of the printable files for this activity

Form Publisher

Form Publisher is a Google Forms add-on that will take the information you conveniently receive via Google Form and turn it into a fancier and printable version. Sounds like Autocrat, if you have ever heard of that. Perhaps this will be a little more user friendly than Autocrat.

I am thinking I could use this to automatically generate a Certificate for anyone who submits a badge request form. Let’s give it a try and see if it is easy enough.

It took a minute for it to finish working and install so don’t panic there.

Looks like I need to have a template prepared and ready for this process.

Here is my template certificate that I made in Canva and downloaded as a PNG. I then made that template the background image on the Google Slide template file. Then I placed this file in my Google Drive where I could find it easily.

It went through a 4 step process and then told me it was ready for me to try my form.
It didn’t seem to do Jack Squat so I decided to investigate to see if it was an easy set up or if I should delete this web post all together and see what was next on my to-do list.

This makes more sense now. It should have prompted me to do this first. The Form Publisher App identified the two questions on my spread sheet so it knows where to pull the template information from. I just need to make sure that the template has the same wording as the column headers to make it work. See image below.

It did not like <<timestamp>> being in my template and would not use it for the date.
Template Markers are the key thing to check. They need to matchup for it to work. There are also some other settings tabs you can check. Which will include Naming conventions and sharing options.

It worked! I got an email of the certificate in my email account as the teacher and one in my other email account as the student! Check out my certificate below! As the teacher I did not have to do anything. As the student I submitted my form and got my customized certificate as a receipt/reward.

So this is a winner. You can of course use this to create far more important documents like truancy letters, or tutoring invitations once the student picks their preferred time and day. This was definitely far less intimidating and confusing to set up than Autocrat. I would not hesitate to recommend this product and I have never dared to recommend Autocrat. With Autocrat i just figured it out for people. This you can handle on your own.

Top Ten Tech Tools 2023 UPDATE

Remember that a great lesson is a balance of these tools as well as traditional lessons and activities. If you use individual devices only instead of actually teaching you will bore your students to death.

10 Google Classroom

Google Classroom should be your go to tool for sharing assignments and communicating information with your class. Google Classroom is Google’s Learning Management System. I couldn’t imagine running a class without it anymore. Check out the link above to learn more about Google Classroom.

9 Google Sites

Google Sites is another valuable tool for sharing lessons and information with your students. You can build interactive web pages to present lessons through text, videos, images, maps, and more. You can even embed Google Forms or slides into a Google Sites page. That means you can create lessons with assessments or check for understanding activities built in. Having students research and learn a topic themselves to create a website explaining it to others is engaging on the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy as well as developing excellent real world skills.

Here is an activity I created to help 4th and 5th graders learn to build a Google Site. The drag and drop block format of Google sites is very intuitive and easy to use. Here is an example of a lesson built in Google sites with imbedded Google Forms, Slides, and Drawings.

8 Google Slides

Google Slides is the Swiss Army tool of the Google Suite. You can use it to make graphics and interactive assignments as well as presentations. You can publish slide shows to the web to share them like websites. You could add music to a published slideshow and share it like a video. You can imbed web cam videos or YouTube videos directly into a Slide to reinforce concepts when teaching a lesson.

7 EdPuzzle

EdPuzzle is a Fantastic tool that lets you imbed check for understanding questions into videos from YouTube, Khan Academy, Vimeo and more. EdPuzzle also gives you data about how much of the video your students watched. You can prevent students from skipping ahead. If you use multiple choice questions you can seet an answer key to have them graded automatically. EdPuzzle integrates with Google Classroom to seamlessly post assignments between the two. Check out my Lunch and Learn presentation on EdPuzzle. This unit on Civil Rights and the Reconstruction Amendments includes two example EdPuzzle activities.

6 Flipgrid

Flipgrid is now Flip, by the way. Flip is a FFANTASTIC tool for collecting responses from students verbally or as a video which is an absolute game changer for ESL students. Flipgrid is a very easy and engaging way to collect responses from students. Flipgrid allows students to record video responses. It also lets them upload a prerecorded video or photo. The app lets students customize their video with Emojis and more. Here is my page about using Flipgrid in class. Flipgrid works across most devices and platforms. It also integrates with Google Classroom.

5 Teachermade is one of the coolest tools I have ever seen. Teacher made lets you take your existing worksheets and overlay interactive elements to allow students to complete them digitally. Teachermade has lots of answer options that even grade student responses for you. Here are my resources about teacher made including an introduction and a walk through making an assignment, Teachermade does integrate with Google Classroom.

4 Nearpod

Nearpod is one of several interactive presentation tools that you can use live in class to keep students engaged and constantly check for understanding. You can also assign Nearpods to students to be completed at their own pace. Learn more about Nearpod here. Nearpod has replaced Peardeck for me on the top ten.

3 StudyStack

StudyStack is a tool that lets you take flash card formatted information and upload it into a system that will convert it into a dozen or so different game based activities for your students. Learn more about Studystack here.

2 Wakelet

Wakelet replaces Padlet for me now because it is FREE and a little bit cooler. Check out my review of Wakelet here and get inspired to find ways to incorporate it in your classes.

1 Canva

Templates for everything for you and for your students to make every amazing kind of project that you can imagine from infographics to greenscreen video productions. Please explore these Canva resources to find out how you can take advantage of your free district premium Canva account!

Canva Video Green Screen

I did some serious searching lately to find a free and easily usable tool for students to create green screen videos on a Chromebook. An additional qualifier I had in my search criteria was the ability to green screen “live” where students could see the background changed on the screen while recording. I did not ever find the perfect tool. I tried several including WeVideo, Kawping, Screencast-o-matic, etc…

I DID how ever find a suitable alternative that will let students edit green screen video but will not stream it live.!! I read that and thought duh….. Of course can do that. There is one catch to keep in mind. You can only use video clips that are a maximum of 90 seconds in length. That should be a great strategy and lead to students sticking to short easy to accomplish takes and scenes when filming. They can still string those clips all together when editing.

Let’s make an example video! I made the background video in Canva. I filmed the Bluescreen video with a school Chromebook.
The Process: Load background video or photo. Paste video to remove background of. Click Edit video. Then select remove background. Reposition and resize your video as needed before downloading.

The Results


Let’s take a look at another tool to help you get prepared for the new school year. I am writing this post in April (2023) intending for you to read it in August later this year. I can already tell you today that AI assisting with lesson plans has been fantastic. By the time this is being sent out though we may have already fallen to Skynet and this email may be bouncing off of full email inboxes and servers. If so, It was a good ride. Come visit me at my bunker. I’ll have plenty of supplies to keep us all going.

Hopefully you are happy safe and at work right now excited about the start of the new 2023-2024 school year. This spring I have used AI by way of ChatGPT and BARD many times to develop writing prompts, math word problems, grading rubrics, project ideas, essay questions, even entire assignments. The AI has produced some amazing quality work for you guys whether you know it or not. Often it needs a little tweaking but sometimes it is ready to copy paste and go.

Curipod is a website, created by an innovative group of Norwegians. They call it a Curiosity Platform. Curipod uses AI technology to develop ready to use lesson plans on any topic for any grade level. It is super fast and super easy. got to and create an account with your Google login. Then simply feed the AI prompt a topic and specify a grade level, You can even paste a TEK to give it stricter guidelines, then sit back and watch as it delivers the goods to you.

Here are my instant results from a request for 5th grade Theme and Main Idea over TEK 5.8A (infer multiple themes within a text using text evidence;). The lesson started off with an interactive survey the class element. It identified the learning goal. Explained what a theme is. compared it to other elements of a story. Dropped some facts about theme. Gave a think pair share activity. It offered a relaxing fun brain break activity (love that). Then it asked students to call on prior knowledge and experience about the theme of 5 very famous stories they have surely read before. That was a complete interactive and engaging lesson that checked out pretty well for zero effort. I spent more time finding the TEK to copy paste.

Do we all still have jobs this fall? Has the AI eliminated teachers?

Quick Tip: Digital Notebook Template

I have talked to you before about Digital Interactive Notebooks. I have even given you an update. Well here is another update that brings to you a ready to be assigned template for a Digital Interactive Notebook. This template is already set up with a hyper linked table of contents that will leap you around in the notebook to 15 different possible units that you can use, a reference material section, and 4 bonus other sections that you can use for end of the year review or more. Simply assign this Slideshow to your students in Google Classroom so that they each get their own copy in their Google Drive. Slides include student directions to lead them along with customizing their notebook for your course.

This template offers students the opportunity to customize their notebook with their own personal Cover images and title images for each unit. Students can change the background of activity slides to an image of their activity that you push out to them through Google Classroom announcements.

You can have your students turn this notebook in to you via Google Classroom when ever you want for a notebook check then simply return it to them. Are you stuck wondering what kind of assignments you can give for a digital interactive notebook? Well then we will cover that in an upcoming quick tip as well.

Quick Tip: YouTube Upload a Video

Yes you do. You do have a YouTube account. Even if you have never used it, it is there. You can upload videos that you make to your YouTube account to share with your students. Come along as we add the very first video to my school google account. It’s super easy.

Quick Tip: Wakelet

Wakelet is a tool that you and your students can use to curate and or share digital content. You can use Wakelet to make a shareable interactive class news letter, to share resources that you want your students to use, or to collect digital assignments from your students that you want them all to be able to view. Have students make a digital portfolio of their work in Wakelet. You could require to gather all of their research resources for a project on a Wakelet board so that they can easily find them to cite them later. Students can collaborate together on a Wakelet. Here are a few other good ideas. Pro-tip when customizing the design of your Wakelet board you can also add a unique background image to better communicate the theme of your assignment.

We will take a quick look at a Wakelet in this video. Below you can further explore the Waklet I made on the year 1988.

Quick Tip: Quizlet Flashcards

Do your students know they can study your Quizlet sets on their own as flashcards?

Google Forms Locked Mode Resolution

Are you having trouble with with students being able to access a Google Forms quiz that you created to be assigned in locked mode? Several factors can lead to these quizzes being inaccessible by students. Mrs. Blair at Lovelady HS has found a solution for you. She has been able to avoid this issue when she sets the “locked mode” from the Google Classroom assignment posting and not from the Google Form when creating it. Have you had this same experience!? Sounds awesome. Let me know. Thank you Mrs. Blair for your awesome discovery.