Monday, September 17, 2012

The Reality Behind Reality Shows

Old television        I know I cannot be the only one who has noticed a huge surge in the reality show genre that seems to be consuming all of the "educational" channels on television.  I sometimes wonder what has happened to the History Channel.  It now has a schedule of Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Top Gear, Cajun Pawn Stars, etc...There is now a History Channel 2 that contains the original History Channel shows that actually discussed history.  It is all fine and dandy because I will admit, I have watched some of these reality shows.  This same phenomenon is true of all the other educational channels such as TLC and The Discovery Channel.  While it may reflect a change in the preferences of the American people, I also see it as a way for the media to glorify average, blue collar jobs.  The epitome of success to most Americans is making tons of money and being on national television.  By glorifying these everyday jobs, it encourages all Americans to pursue these type of jobs in hopes of having television success.  America has hit hard economic times since 2008 and the result is less and less prestigious, high paying jobs.  Many people can no longer afford to go to college.  This leaves many with the future of a blue collar job.  Luckily our media curbs our depression by bombarding us with footage of the average Joe and his very common job.  Is it good or bad? I would like to know your opinion.  While it helps us be content with what we have it also does not push us to seek more and work harder to achieve greater success.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Historical Costumes

17th Century Costumes        For those of you who really like to get into the era you are currently teaching your students, you should definitely think about creating costumes.  Butterick has some clothing patterns just for this with the label of "Making History."  Vogue also has some patterns labeled "Vintage Vogue" and they consist of an array of 1940s-1960s styles.  Finally, Simplicity also has an assortment of historical costume patterns.  Hopefully you know a seamstress who can help you put the costumes together.  You can also check eBay and other websites such as Majestic Velvets for pre-made costumes at a pretty reasonable price!  Otherwise, you can use YouTube to find helpful tutorials on how to follow patterns.  I once portrayed Pauline Cushman, a Union spy during the Civil War, as a set induction for a class.  It really caught the attention of the class.  Yes, you will have to spend your own money for these costumes but in my opinion it really adds something special that the students never see and will never forget.  Hey, it might foster a lifelong interest in history for a child.  You never know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Copyright Free Media Sources to Use in Your Classroom

        Today I want to share with you a number of resources I rely on for copyright free media.  I use these sources for everything from mood music in the classroom to sources for creating videos.  You can direct your students to these websites as well in order to prevent plagiarism and foster creativity. - I LOVE this website.  It provides completely free stock footage you can use in your projects or presentations and it has a huge variety of videos.  Some of the video quality is not so great but sometimes you can find some high definition videos.  If you use their videos, you just have to be sure to add, "Additional Footage provided by" in the credits.  Here is a short video I put together with Civil War Reenactment video clips: has some high quality music and videos but it is going to cost you after a one-week trial.  They typically have deals going on that allow you to pay a reduced membership fee so definitely put in your email address to catch these deals.  The Footage Firm's sister sites, and offer a small amount of free media (with no hidden fees) that come from the original Footage Firm website. also has some high quality videos but just like Footage Firm, it will cost you after a one-week trial.  This website also offers music, sound effects, After Effects templates, and green screen effects.

If you are into green screen/chroma key video editing, there is a great YouTube channel created by a user called FootageIsland.  There are all kinds of free green screen clips.  This channel gets updated regularly.  I have already used many of the clips found on this channel and they work great if you do not have the time or resources to create your own green screen animations.  Your students will love it too.

Digital History is where I found my music for the Civil War video above.  It is a really neat website with teaching tools and era music that can be used in projects.  However, the website is going through some design changes so not everything may be available right now.  Be patient!

I hope you will also check out my YouTube channel!  I create many green screen videos and have a few tutorials as well.  I will be updating it with more social studies related material as time goes by.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Soomo Publishing

        In this post, I want to feature Soomo Publishing.  This company creates web-based textbooks and, more up my alley, amazing music videos.  Ever heard the song "Apoligize" by OneRepublic?  Chances are you probably have.  Check out how Soomo Publishing recreated this song:

        Fantastic, right?  This would be such a great way to get your students interested in US Government or US History during the Colonial Period.  Soomo Publishing has also produced a video taking Lady Gaga's song "Bad Romance" and turning it into a plea from Alice Paul for women's rights in the 1910s.  It would be great to have these lyrics printed out to pass out to students.  Here is a link to the lyrics for "Apologize." I cannot wait to see what they come up with next.  This is why you should add their YouTube channel to your favorites!

My New History Blog

Old Manuscript        Here is where you will find helpful and interesting resources I have come across as I journey through my educational career as a social studies teacher. There will be everything from historical book reviews to the latest technology news for social studies teachers. I will also be posting my own ideas about my classroom that you may put to your use. Check back often. I hope to update the blog at least once a week.