Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Civil War Wanted Poster & Plaque

My classes are currently starting the Civil War and some students have had a difficult time seeing two "different Americas" and understanding point of view. To help this and cover some of the many abolitionists, generals, and politicians of the day we just completed this project

Students read about and analyzed various Civil War-era figures as either criminals or heroes based on how they are viewed by the North or South. The famous abolitionist John Brown for instance was said to possess a “transcendent moral greatness” by Henry David Thoreau. Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, however, called him “nothing more than a murderer, a robber, a thief, and a traitor.” Many of my students like people from history to be simplified as either "good guys" or "bad guys", but it's important for students to understand why someone can be seen as both. 

One one side of this worksheet, students create a commemorative plague to honor the great accomplishments of one of the assigned figures. They must name their award, come up with 3 reasons why he/she is being awarded, an appropriate date, and write down who is presenting the award. Here is one sample:

On the opposite side of their worksheet is a template for a wanted poster to capture him or her as a known criminal. This side must include a picture, last known location, reward, who the person is wanted by, and 3 crimes/reasons why they are wanted. Here are a completed versions on Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant:


On the students' list of possible choices, I included Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B Stuart, Robert E. Lee, Robert Gould Shaw, William T. Sherman, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Ulysses S. Grant. However, you could certainly add any number of Confederate or Union figures depending on your curriculum.

All of the resources needed for this project can be downloaded here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Civil-War-Wanted-Poster-Plaque.

Thanks & good luck!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Animated Battle of Antietam Map

The Civil War Preservation trust has a lot of incredible resources for helping teachers cover the Civil War. This includes iPad, iPhone, and Android apps for each major battle, an entire curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school, and a ton of other resources for teachers.

To me however, the best resource they have created is this animated map and video of Antietam. Created in honor of the battle's 150th anniversary, it does an amazing job of showing how the death toll mounted so quickly and terribly. The flash video mixes in reenactments and video footage with the animated troop movements on computer-generated maps for a truly amazing multimedia experience. This is exactly the type of media that Students of History supports - it uses technology effectively to support learning, makes the content relevant and engaging, and is effective for all learners.

Definitely recommend you check this out when you cover the Battle of Antietam in your classes!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

American History Vocabulary Football League

One of the most important parts of teaching history is helping students to learn vocabulary. However, many of my students traditionally struggled in their history classes due to difficulty with content and academic vocabulary. I wanted a way to make learning essential vocab more engaging for them and hit upon the idea of combining it with their love for football and competition.

The resulting Vocabulary Football League (VFL) has completely revolutionized my teaching. An otherwise dreary activity becomes much more fun and I have students actually LOOKING FORWARD TO QUIZZES now! This entire year-long package can be downloaded here.

How it works is each week students are placed in groups of 4 and assigned a real NFL team. Each week they are given a set of 12-15 words like the one below:

Over the course of that week, we cover that material and students are responsible for looking up and defining those words in the notebook like so:

At the end of the week, students take a 10 question vocab quiz on those words. To differentiate for learners in my classes, I allow some classes to take the quiz open notebook, others to use a word bank, and my upper level students are not allowed any resources. Allowing students to take quizzes open notebook encourages them to complete the definitions for homework on their own time and I've found helps vocabulary comprehension. Here is a sample vocab quiz on the Revolutionary War:

I have students write their answers on the opposite side to ease grading and prevent cheating. Included in this download are all 16 sets of VFL vocabulary terms from US History that cover the early colonies through World War II and 32 corresponding quizzes. Since my students sit in groups at tables, I created 2 different versions of each quiz (hence 32 quizzes for 16 sets of words). .As a bonus, I included 2 "playoff" quizzes and a "Super Bowl" that use terms from throughout the year. 

I have been doing this with my classes for 6 years now and they all LOVE it! The kids get so into the competition that it turns quiz day into an exciting event! Inside the zipped folder you will find a directions sheet with all 32 teams to use, your 16 lists of vocabulary ready to print, and all 19 quizzes ready to go. This can last you all year long!!

Hope you find this project as powerful as I have!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Essential Knowledge of the Civil War

Many of my high school students have limited English proficiency and lack the background knowledge that comes with attending school in the US for your entire life. To help them grasp large topics, I created simple to read, 1 page overviews of our unites in American History.

This one (which you can download here) covers the American Civil War. Vocabulary that students need to know if defined and each aspect of the war is explained in simple terms for students so that they do not need to rely on background knowledge.

The 2nd page is a worksheet of 8 open-ended and multiple choice questions based off the reading. These questions guide students toward the essential information they need to know.

Here are some sample images of what the worksheet looks like:


This worksheet can be download by clicking here. Hope you can find this useful for your students.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

World War II Service Plaques for Navajo Code Talkers, Tuskegee Airmen, Rosie the Riveter, & Nisei Soldiers

This downloadable creative, fun activity for World and American History classes has students reading short, one page stories of minority groups that helped during World War II. These include one page each on:

  1. The Navajo Code Talkers
  2. The Tuskegee Airmen
  3. Rosie the Riveter
  4. The American Nisei Soldiers

Here are some sample images of what the readings look like:

Each page is simple and engaging for middle and high school age students, and is based on state and Common Core Standards for history. Students then use the information they read to create commemorative plaques that honor that group for their service.

To differentiate for your classes, higher level students can read and complete all four. Lower-level readers can be placed in groups of 4, with each student reading a different story, completing a plaque, and then sharing his/her plaque with the others. English language learners or special education students can be placed in groups with all the same story to create a plaque together, and then present theirs to the rest of the class.

Here are some sample, completed plaques from a student:


As a final activity or for homework, there are 10 review questions in which students identify characteristics of each of the four minority groups.

This is a fun activity for students to learn about some of the groups whose amazing bravery and contributions helped American through World War II. Click here to download this activity for your classes and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One Year of World History Warm Ups

Last week we posted a video preview of a year's worth of warm up questions from US History to help start each class period. The video below is from a World History II class that covers material from the Renaissance & World in 1500 up through the present day. Each class period begins with one of these slides and allows students to get settled in and right to work. 

Each of these visually engaging slides contains pictures, cartoons, charts, or quotes from World History based on state and Common Core Standards. You'll find slides to start off great lessons on the Protestant Reformation, Age of Exploration, Enlightenment, World Wars and more. The powerpoint file can be downloaded by clicking here and used immediately or edited to suit your needs

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

100 Warm Ups from US History

One of the best classroom management strategies I have found is to have a warm up activity ready for students immediately upon entering the classroom. Over the past several years, I put together this 100 slide powerpoint of daily warm ups. One is up on the projector every day for my US History classes and usually connects to a lesson we covered the previous day. Each slide is visually engaging, with pictures, cartoons, charts, or quotes from history and connects to state and Common Core Standards.

Here is a video preview of the entire year's worth of warm up questions:

The full powerpoint is available to download here. Since using these warm ups I have found my students are immediately more engaged and are demonstrating greater comprehension of the material.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Martin Luther Protestant Reformation Pop Up Notes

This visually inventive graphic organizer is like a pop-up book for students to organize essential information on Martin Luther, his 95 Theses and the  beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

To reinforce the problems within the Catholic Church, students cut open the church doors and write the problems of the church underneath the doors. So the problems are literally inside the church!

Here is a completed version from a student's notebook:

Included in the download is a simple powerpoint that guides students through the esential information. Here are some sample slides:


This is a fantastic, creative activity that works especially well with my English language learners, special education students, and visual or kinesthetic learners. You can download the entire bundled lesson plan here!

Hope you find the lesson useful!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dinner Party Lesson Plans

One of the most difficult things about planning a wedding was the seating arrangements. My wedding had tables of 8 and we struggled to put together groups with things in common who would enjoy each other's company.

This process got me thinking that this would make for a great lesson plan! Students have to think critically about various figures in history to seat them at a table with things they have in common. It makes for a great review after presenting information on a lot of people. Here are 2 I've used in World History that you can download and 1 from US History:

Age of Enlightenment Salon Party

One of the most difficult units for my World History II students is the Enlightenment. There are a lot of very similar people they need to know, all with difficult names. This Enlightenment Salon Party is a fantastic way for students to process their learning. I first present the important figures of the Enlightenment in this powerpoint you can download for free here. Here are some sample images from the powerpoint:


French Revolution Dinner Party

This next lesson on the French Revolution has students place 8 key figures like Robespierre and Louis XVI in a way that keeps the dinner from turning into a "reign of terror".  Besides just identifying people as Jacobins or monarchists, students must make connections between various ideas and philosophies. The lesson includes 8 short biographies students can read in groups and discuss. Here are some sample images from this lesson:


Gilded Age Dinner Party

Lastly, for American History, I created this lesson for a Gilded Age Dinner Party that includes both Robber Barons and Progressives. Like in the French Revolution lesson, students read biographies of 8 people and must think critically to seat them next to others and justify their seating arrangements.

Cyber Monday Sale!

We're throwing a 20% off sale at our online teacher resource store in honor of "Cyber Monday". Every Students of History resource is 20% off for the rest of today. Please head over to our our store and check out our powerpoints, graphic organizers, worksheets, bundled  lesson plans, and more!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Louis XVI "Harry Potter Magic Portrait

Want to really get your students attention during a typical powerpoint presentation? How about if the old portraits look around the room, smile, laugh, wink, and sneeze! I got bored adding the same old portraits to my slides and tried to think of a way to make them more engaging.

I thought back to the magic portraits in the Harry Potter movies and then found a way to make them! The program CrazyTalk allows you to edit any portrait into a moving "magic" video. It takes a lot of work to make them perfect, but I started on a few and got addicted.

A free sample of an animated King Louis XVI embedded into a powerpoint slide is available for download here.

You can see the complete French Revolution powerpoint with many of these moving magic powerpoints in this video:

The actual powerpoint file with all 24 slides and 9 videos is available for purchase here. You can edit this powerpoint or use it immediately as is in your French Revolution lesson to startle your students!

Video on the American Revolution

This was the 2nd video Students of History produced and features 3 more high school students explaining essential state and Common Core Standards in American History. This episode focuses on the American Revolution - why it happened, key events, and the results. Again, it was written and narrated entirely by students - in a way the "flipped classroom" model, but in a more fully developed way.


Imperialism in 3D Powerpoint

Over the past few years, 3D blockbusters have dominated the box office. The draw that these have had me wondering if the technology could be brought into the classroom. Perhaps surprisingly, the technology has been around for a long time. Anaglyph 3D images were actually developed in 1852! As a result, a number of fantastic anaglyph 3D images are available that can be used in your classroom. These use the old, cheap red/cyan 3D glasses you might remember from early 3D movies.

I bought a package of them for cheap on eBay (search for "red/cyan 3D glasses") and created a few powerpoint lessons that utilize the images. When I passed them out as students entered the door, they were immediately engaged and excited for the lesson. This one is on The Age of Imperialism for my World History II students. It includes over 30 fantastic 3D images that relate directly to the content World History students need to know.

Here  are some sample images from the lesson:

Here is a link to where you can purchase this powerpoint. I created a graphic organizer that students used for the powerpoint and they placed in their notebooks. This can be downloaded for FREE here.



The Early American Colonies Video

Here is one of our first Students of History videos! This one covers the early American colonies. The video was written and narrated entirely by high school students. The concept of the "flipped classroom" is that if students watch videos like this at home before coming to class, it leaves more class time for questions, debate, and higher level discussion. We also believe that sometimes students can better explain topics to their peers better than historians, authors, or even teachers. 

Hope you enjoy it and please let us know in the comment section if you have any feedback!


Welcome to the new blog of Students of History! We believe that students should take ownership of their learning in history and have the power to do so through creative use of technology. Our goal is to provide resources to engage students in their learning of history and social studies. We can be found at the following sites:

Youtube: youtube.com/studentsofhistory

Twitter: twitter.com/studentshistory

Facebook: facebook.com/StudentsOfHistory

Our store: teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Students-Of-History

Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for more posts on how to improve history education!