It is no secret that I enjoy two things, debating and snapping**. Prior to an observation last year, I decided to merge there two loves together (after being inspired by this video about Stanford’s Reading Like a Historian). Oh, please take the time to watch the above video! Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here.

My class was discussing European Imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. We had spent time discussing the five main motivations behind Continue reading

Posted on by Michael K. Milton | 1 Comment

History Lab Reports: A Template

Have you ever watched TV? Particularly a television program set in a high school (or with high school-aged people)? At the beginning of scenes that take place inside a classroom, there is brief shot to establish the type of classroom setting – if there are bunsen burners and the teacher is wearing safety goggles, it’s absolutely in a science class! If every student has the same book on their desk and appear to be reading it aloud, it must be an English class! When the teacher is at the front of the class lecturing near a map, it’s in history.

Yes my social studies friends, we get the boring one!

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The Be More Interesting Pledge

In a slight departure from my typical posts about education and social studies, I wanted to present this pledge to you! I will soon get back to blogging about the activities in my classroom but I felt the need to share this.


As more and more people (including myself) have become glued to their cell phones at the expense of personal communication, I have created this pledge in an attempt to reverse the trend. However, rather than focusing on limiting screen time for others, I plan on attacking this from another direction…

The Pledge

I pledge to be more interesting so others do not feel the need to be on their cell phone when they are with me! This does not simply mean to wear loud and distracting ties that squirt water – but to fully engage with those around me and discuss topics both light as well as deep. While I cannot will a cell phone out of another’s hand (I am not a Jedi yet), by providing lively conversation, ideally, my intended conversation partner will follow suit. Continue reading

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Social Media Meets the Enlightenment: Year 2

My students have taken on personas of Enlightenment thinkers (and Thomas Hobbes) and have begun to discuss their impact on today’s society.


Tomorrow is when the project really gets going! I would like my students to extrapolate the ideas of their philosophers into other historical situations. For instance, a question for Rousseau might be, “What are your views on communism and how it worked in Russia during the reign of Stalin?” To answer this question, students not only have to research communism, specifically communism under Stalin, but they also have to figure out how Rousseau would view both.


And this is where I need your help! If you are interested, please ask a question of a specific philosopher under the #MrMHWH. Tomorrow in class, we will research and respond to your questions. While we cannot get to all of your questions, we will do our best to respond to as many as we can.

I personally appreciate any and all help that you can give!

The Philosophers:

John Locke – @LockeinitUp

Rousseau – @SC_JJ

Beccaria- @BoneBeccaria

Voltaire – @VoltaireWorldII

Montesquieu – @Baron_MontesQ

Hobbes – @THobbes88

Wollstonecraft – @Crafty_Mary2

Please also include me on your tweets – @42ThinkDeep!

To find out more about this project, read this post about the experience last year.

Michael K. Milton ~ @42ThinkDeep

What better way to make the Enlightenment come alive than to have my World History students create Blogger sites and set up a conversation on Twitter!

In our activity, students were hired by a consulting firm to bring the ideas of the Enlightenment to a modern “tech-savvy” audience. In small groups, they assumed the identities of various philosophers (Voltaire, the Baron De Montesquieu, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Jean Jacques Rousseau) and wrote a blog post to reintroduce themselves to the world and to discuss how their ideas were incorporated into the United States of America. The posts were then shared under a common hashtag and students, as the philosophers, began interacting with one another.

For the next step, I wanted students to extrapolate the ideas of their philosophers into other historical situations. For instance, a question for Rousseau might be, “What are your views on communism and…

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Absolute Monarchy’s Ultimate Class Playlist: Pairing Music with History

When I began school this year, I decided to create a class playlist – finding music that encapsulated what we did for each day in class and posting it in the room for all to see. Not only will this give my students a “headline” of what we did that day, but it will both expose them to different music (I was upset they had not heard of The Pixies) and force me to reflect upon my lessons daily. This activity was inspired by the book Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison and developed through conversations about this book that I had with Dave Wallace (@DaveJWallace).

The discussion of the songs is not a focal part of the class, but a bonus for those who are interested (like a classroom “Easter Egg*”). Each day, I write out the song title and artist on a whiteboard and tweet it out with a video or links to the lyrics. I like the idea that a classroom (like the hit show Arrested Development) can be a layered experience.**

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Common Core State Standard Rubric for History/Social Studies 11-12

For the past few weeks, my colleague Todd Whitten and I have been sharing some work that we have done with the Common Core State Standards for History/Social Studies. During this process, we created rubrics based upon the 9-10th Grade Standards and the 11-12th Grade Standards. This week, we will be sharing those documents.

Below is what we created based upon the Common Core State Standards for History/Social Studies for 11-12th Grades. (Todd will be launching the rubric for the 9-10th grade on his blog later this week.)

When we were aligning activities with the Common Core (links below), this was our guiding document.

Let us know what you think! Continue reading

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Primary Documents, Social Studies, and the Common Core: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

Last week, Todd Whitten and I shared ways to hit the different Common Core Standards for Social Studies/History using technology. This week, we are launching our work on Primary Documents and the Common Core (check out Todd’s post on using John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government). While these are written for grades 11-12, they can be modified to accommodate other grade levels.

Before we get to the activities, I want to explain more about our vision of how we intend to use the standards in our classes. The standards are broken up into three sections: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. For simplicity sake, we are going to call them Green Circle, Blue Square, and Black Diamond. Continue reading

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Technology, Social Studies, and the Common Core: Part II

This summer I have been working with Todd Whitten on how we can integrate the Common Core Standards for History/Social Studies into the classroom for this upcoming year. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing what we have come up with both here and on his blog.

Yesterday, Todd began with a post on “iPad Activities for the Common Core in High School Social Studies.” While the title is long, he makes up for it by offering 14 innovative ways to hit specific standards. I hope you find today’s sequel post more Back to the Future Part II than Beethoven’s 2nd.

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Lessons from Superhero Movies: Teachers’ Edition

As the recent surge of superhero films is showing no signs of stopping, I felt that now was probably a good time to share lessons that I have gleaned from the current batch of superhero movies and apply them to the teaching realm.

The Dark Knight Trilogy

1. Always have tools in your utility belt. You never know when you may need to switch tracks quickly or scale a wall*.
2. You will have obstacles. Sometimes, lessons simply do not go as planned. You will occasionally fail. But as Thomas Wayne said (which Alfred would later repeat), “Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”**

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to a 1:1 Classroom* (Lessons Learned from Year 1)

As I was watching The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the way to New York City on Sunday, I came across this piece of dialogue:

Mr. Prosser: This bypass has got to be built and it’s going to be built!
Arthur Dent: Why has it got to be built?
Mr. Prosser: It’s a bypass. You’ve got to build bypasses.

This exchange happens when Arthur Dent attempts to save his house from demolishment for the sake of progress. Arthur, who was quite attached to his house, wanted to find out the reason why it was going to be demolished and was unsatisfied with Mr. Prosser’s answer.

This past year, my school went 1:1 (one student per device) with iPads. When I started the year, at times I acted like Mr. Prosser. I did not always think about the reason for using the iPad. “I’ve got to use technology because technology is great to be used!” I thought, “Why? Because it is there!” However, over the course of the year I have realized that technology is not a panacea. It is merely a tool in my utility belt. As a result I have taken a look back on my year and created tangible new strategies that will help make my management of a 1:1 iPad classroom much more effective. 

(image: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Lesson #1 

Avoid using technology solely as a gimmick

or…What’s tech got to do, got to do with it?

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