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Urban Noise Pollution

By linking the noise model to national U.S. population data, we made some interesting discoveries. First, in both rural and urban areas, affluent communities were quieter. Neighborhoods with median annual incomes below US$25,000 were nearly 2 decibels louder than neighborhoods with incomes above $100,000 per year. And nationwide, communities with 75 percent black residents had median nighttime noise levels of 46.3 decibels – 4 decibels louder than communities with no black residents. A 10-decibel increase represents a doubling in loudness of a sound, so these are big differences.

— Source: Urban noise pollution is worst in poor and minority neighborhoods and segregated cities

[Very interesting post on human geography of noise pollution and hypothesizing about its causes from Discard Studies.  For more information about human geography as a concept, check out the “Human Geography” chapters of WorldView Software’s World Geography.]

Resource Highlight: War Poetry

For war poetry of the First World War (and information about its poets), plus poetry about Iraq, Afghanistan, Falklands, Sierra Leone, Palestine/Israel, the Holocaust and Vietnam go to The War Poetry Website.  It’s British editor David Roberts’ website, and includes poetry submitted by readers as well as collections by well-known published authors.

You’ll find not only poetry, but audio and video readings, author biographies, contextual backgrounders, and footnotes explaining obscure phrases.  For example, Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est is there, and the first footnote reads:

1.  DULCE ET DECORUM EST – the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean “It is sweet and right.” The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.

There’s also an introduction to the type of jingoistic pre-World War I poetry to which this poem directly responds.  Textbooks (even digital textbooks like ours) are great at providing context, but they can only provide so much detail.  This site is a great resource for teaching war through the eyes of poets: small details as well as emotions and sweeping themes.

This Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended “the war to end all wars.”  Hopefully none of your students have experienced war firsthand and hopefully none ever will.

Re-Blog: Are Zombies Real?

Suitably spooky post covering history, science, and culture from Gringa of the Barrio. Happy Halloween from WorldView Software!

Gringa of the Barrio

(Originally posted 10/3/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Lovers of horror and science-fiction are most likely big fans of the Walking Dead series as well as any movie or book that is zombie-related. A visit to New Orleans will result in any number of Voodoo and zombie trinkets being purchased and brought back home. 

The first famous literary mention of zombies occurred in 1810. Robert Southey wrote of brain-eating monsters in his book History of Brazil. As the word morphed throughout the English reading world, zombies became known as once-dead humans that re-animate without intelligence or self-awareness. Their only purpose was to serve a master and survive upon human brains.

Are zombies real? Should a person have an after-death back-up plan? Should the dead be buried with emergency beacons to activate in case they inadvertently awaken? Should a trusted loved one be appointed to deliver a coup-de-grace if…

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Finding Your Roots: Aka Ted Danson And More Anne Hutchinson Myth-Making

The series in itself is interesting, but we had two issues with that particular episode: it presented myths as history; and some of its guests were remarkably—suspiciously, even–ignorant of extremely well-known stories of American history…How we wish that Danson would learn the truth about his ancestor. He would learn about the first serious challenge to the puritan state in America, how it rose to that challenge and used it to craft the first separation of church and state in English America, and how one intelligent and charismatic person can turn a society on its head.

— Source: Finding Your Roots: Aka Ted Danson And More Anne Hutchinson Myth-Making

Provocative post from The Historic Present about flaws in the way history is presented in the popular show “Finding Your Roots” on PBS, focusing on Season 4, Episode 3 and actor Ted Danson’s ancestor Anne Hutchinson.  Raises interesting questions about the stories we tell ourselves, how history is used and misused to bolster present-day narratives, and about which stories an American should know.

painting of courtroom scene
“Anne Hutchinson on Trial” by Edwin Austin Abbey (1901)

What Maps Are Not

Calling your attention to two great blog posts by northierthanthou: “A Map is Not a Territory” and “Map Ain’t Time Either.” Both explore the judgments that are made by mapmakers, and how their decisions can mislead readers.

From the first, which discusses differences between a AAA road map that omits “Indian Country” sites and one that is specifically for “Indian Country”:

The issue doesn’t seem to be resolution. The Arizona and New Mexico map has a higher resolution than the one for Indian country. I somehow doubt that anyone hatched a plot to hide Tsaile from Ken. My guess, is that the criteria for selecting what to put on each map simply differs, and that the difference was enough to make Tsaile disappear (along with quite a few other things, actually).

And from the second, which discusses how various maps visualize Native American culture areas:

This placement on teh map isn’t from time immemorial; it begins at the cusp of the 1400s, give or take a bit, and that enables us to place their entrance into a sequence of events for the region. They were still settling into the total territory on this map when the Spanish began exploring the region, arriving well after their Pueblo neighbors. Knowing that helps to put the map in perspective. Not knowing that invites an a-historical reading of the map.

Questions to discuss with students: What do the maps you use in class omit? What do your mental maps omit?  When you’re designing a data visualization, what are the most important factors to consider?  Do click through to read the entire posts, if only to see the maps in question!

Resource Highlight: PennSound

Looking for audio of contemporary poetry — possibly spoken by the author herself? PennSound at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing is “an ongoing project, committed to producing new audio recordings and preserving existing audio archives.” It is an online archive of poetry audio recordings that makes tens of thousands of digital files available to the public for free. PennSound also has an internet radio station, podcasts, and videos (and a small selection of classics).

PennSound is all about making audio files that can be played universally, with all metadata intact. Its manifesto in short:
1. It must be free and downloadable.
2. It must be MP3 or better.
3. It must be singles.
4. It must be named.
5. It must embed bibliographic information in the file.
6. It must be indexed.

You can use poetry to introduce or summarize a section or topic, or to illustrate a point.  For example, do you have juniors and seniors making plans for life after high school?  Why not play Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and have them dissect its meaning?  Thanks to Penn Sound, they can also ponder the improbable path the recording took to get to them: from aluminum platter to reel tape to digitization!

Screen capture of Robert Frost page on PennSound