Resource Highlight: National Repository of Online Courses (NROC)

The National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) is a library of online course content for students and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement. It’s a non-profit project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, an education think tank that is well-funded by competency-based education advocates like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  It also receives funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and from NROC member institutions. has video presentations and interactive activities called simulations available in history, government, sociology, and economics.  These are openly available, and the content collections come from Chattanooga State University, National Geographic, Dallas Learning Solutions, the Virginia Historical Society, and Tom Christian and Thorp School District.

Marked as “contributor content” are the Statistics course and Religions of the World course.  These are available to NROC members only.

Resource Highlight: the Met Museum’s Open Access

Looking for digital images for your students to use in projects? The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made thousands of public domain images available.

On February 7, 2017, The Metropolitan Museum of Art implemented a new policy known as Open Access, which makes images of artworks it believes to be in the public domain widely and freely available for unrestricted use, and at no cost…We encourage you to explore the images of artworks the Museum believes to be in the public domain by visiting Collection and selecting the “Public Domain Artworks” filter in the left-hand column.

The featured image is a silk dress from the 1750s from the collection that is not currently on display.  For more information on the availability of images (and data from images that are still restricted), read the rest of their post here.

Famous Women Inventors for #WomensHistoryMonth

For Women’s History Month, check out one of the inventors profiled at Famous Women Inventors.  For example, Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr (pictured above):

Although better known for her Silver Screen exploits, Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) also became a pioneer in the field of wireless communications following her emigration to the United States. The international beauty icon, along with co-inventor George Anthiel, developed a “Secret Communications System” to help combat the Nazis in World War II. By manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception, the invention formed an unbreakable code to prevent classified messages from being intercepted by enemy personnel.

Lamarr is a great example of someone who doesn’t fit the geek stereotype, which can lead to a fruitful classroom discussion.  And hat tip to Gringa of the Barrio for alerting me to this resource!

[Image is a publicity still from the movie Comrade X (1940). By MGM / Clarence Bull – eBay item 262147225708 – Archive copy at the Wayback Machine (archived on 18 November 2015), Public Domain,

Japanese-American Internment

Recently, Newsday did a wonderful story interviewing some of the local survivors and descendants of Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II under Executive Order 9066.

“I don’t know what to expect in the future,” she said. “The government cannot repeat this, what happened to the Japanese-Americans. [The government] signed off and apologized for doing this. So they better not try to do it again.”

Some of the interviewees note that the internment camps are not covered in school.  Does your social studies textbook cover this painful episode in American history?  If not, use WorldView Software’s resources:

  • American History II:
    • Chapter 11 Overview: World War II and the Post-War Peace
    • Document: Japanese-American Internment (“Executive Order 9066” and “Instructions to All Japanese Living on Bainbridge Island”)
    • Internet Project: The Home Front
  • Basic American History II
    • Document: Japanese-American Internment (“Executive Order 9066” and “Instructions to All Japanese Living on Bainbridge Island”)
    • Internet Project: America’s World War II Effort
  • U.S. Government
    • Document: Japanese-American Internment (“Executive Order 9066” and “Instructions to All Japanese Living on Bainbridge Island”)

[The featured image is “Manzanar from guard tower, summer heat, view SW, Manzanar Relocation Center,” photograph by Ansel Adams in the Library of Congress.]

BulbgraphOnOffWhen assigning students an unguided essay, remind them they can refer to the “How to Write an Essay” tutorial for help.

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The Origins of Black History Month

“It started as a program to encourage the study of Black History and was a week-long celebration in honor of Frederick Douglass (Born Feb. 14th) and Abraham Lincoln (Born Feb. 12th) and this is why Black History Month is in February.”
— source: Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Origins of Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson (National Park Service)

[As the post explains, the origins of Black History Month lay in Black History Week, initiated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926.  Dr. Woodson was a pioneer American historian, setting the standard for rigor and accuracy in recording African American history.  You can read more about his life in this profile by Lerone Bennett, Jr.  Dr. Woodson’s home in Washington, D.C. is preserved by the National Park Service (it is currently undergoing structural repairs).

To learn more about African American history in general, check out WorldView Software’s American History I and American History II Theme: African Americans (also in Basic American History I & II, which are suitable for middle school students).]

What’s at Stake: Government-Supported Humanities

Government support for scientific research is going to be the subject of another march on Washington, D.C. very soon. And support for both basic and applied scientific research is clearly important: it’s led to important discoveries that impact our health and well-being on a daily basis.  Basic research provides the building blocks for applied research:

Major innovation is rarely possible without prior generation of new knowledge founded on basic research. Strong scientific disciplines and strong collaboration between them are necessary both for the generation of new knowledge and its application. Retard basic research and inevitably innovation and application will be stifled.

For example, studying systems biology has led to a new understanding about how medications can interact in the body, and how they’ll interact with the food we eat. Practical outcome: if you’re taking iron supplements, taking a stomach medication like Pepcid will reduce the amount of iron that your body will actually absorb, and eating foods high in vitamin C will increase the amount.

But the federal government doesn’t only fund science!  It also funds the humanities: history, art, philosophy, literature, and languages — all the aspects of human cultural constructs.  The National Endowment for the Humanities funds a tremendous amount of work by local governments, universities, public libraries, and independent scholars engaged in the production, dissemination, and preservation of culture.

A small sample from the list of NEH grant recipients in New York’s 1st congressional district (the east end of Long Island) in the past ten years can illustrate this more clearly:

  • a public library needing to purchase storage furniture to rehouse and preserve collections of books, maps, photographs, diaries, and whaling logs used in research and exhibitions on the history and culture of Sag Harbor, New York, from the eighteenth century to the present.
  • a musicologist requesting assistance in preparation for publication of volumes 4, 8, 13, 19, and 21 of the complete online digital edition of the secular music of Luca Marenzio.
  • a town needing training in disaster preparedness to preserve the town’s historical records from 1640 on, comprising over 6,500 cubic feet of manuscripts, maps, bound volumes, photographs, newspapers, and other published and unpublished materials.
  • support for four Iraqi professional archaeologists to attend an intensive training program in Remote Sensing and GIS and to survey archaeological sites in the key Nippur, Uruk and Eridu survey areas for evidence of site damage from looting and development, recording new sites, ancient landscape features and intra-site details.
  • a professor writing a book on how people with cognitive disabilities have been and should be dealt with in philosophy both with respect to what is due them and with respect to what is conducive to their good.

NEH funding made a re-creation of John Donne’s “Gunpowder Speech” possible, a project that made a virtual reality St. Paul’s Cathedral: the featured image is St. Paul’s Churchyard, looking east, from the west; from the Visual Model constructed by Joshua Stephens and rendered by Jordan Gray.  Important because the five hundred-year old cathedral burned down in London’s Great Fire of 1666.  The project allows us to experience what it was like for someone in 1622 (minus the smells, of course) — very different from the present-day cathedral!  And if you’re thinking “that’s nice, but I don’t see the connection to real life” think about how useful this technique would be for solving crimes, or diagnosing illness long distance, and so on!

Does an organization in your community have a project that needs funding? Involving your students in the grant application process could be a real learning experience, demonstrating the importance of federal government funding for the humanities.

BulbgraphOnOffUse social media such as Instagram to document student’s finished projects.

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Resource Highlight: Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Words can change their meaning depending on the era and context in which they are used.  You can use words to enrich your units just as much as images, audio, and video.

For example, do an in-depth investigation of the cultural flowering that was the Harlem Renaissance. Start by reading the background history in WorldView Software’s American History II (Chapter 8: American Changes during the Roaring 20s).

Then read the poetry, view the paintings, listen to the music, and watch the dancing!  (This finding aid and teacher’s guide from the Library of Congress have a wealth of materials beyond those listed above.) And then maybe imagine a scene at a nightclub, with characters using their particular patois, written with the help of Green’s Dictionary of Slang, which has a limited edition now available free online.  Oh, and obviously don’t call someone a hep cat if you don’t want to look hopelessly unhip:

definition of hep cat from Green's Dictionary of Slang

[The featured image is “Drawing with Two Colors,” a print from 1915-1920 by Winold Reiss, a German-born artist who lived in New York City and whose work was deeply affected by the milieu.]

BulbgraphOnOffUse social media such as a Facebook group to take and share class notes, share study resources, and ask questions.

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