The Week That Was In 505

We had our first snow day of the year this week. We also had a field trip to a vocational school. That left Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for learning. As we ended one unit on foreign affairs in the early republic, I found that I was 3 weeks ahead of schedule. I had to make a new unit.

I was asked how I am to Jackson with it being early February. The fluff gets cut out. I could have done my blogging unit from last year, but I didn’t feel like draining myself urging/motivating students to write every day. Plus, EduProtocols help getting through material. The protocols are familiar so I don’t have to waste time explaining and re-explaining.

If I need to improve upon anything, it’s using more formative assessments throughout the lesson. I use a lot of Quizizz and Gimkit as a check for understanding. However, I need to incorporate more things like haiku, 5xGenre, Retell in Rhyme, or maybe some Penny Pedagogies from EMC2Learning.

The new unit I created is a unit I haven’t had time to focus on in years’ past. It’s the Age of Jackson. I wanted to begin the unit with an introduction to Andrew Jackson because he has a lot of interesting history. Here is a layout of the unit I had in mind:

  1. Students will be able to analyze the impact of decisions made by Andrew Jackson on the United States.
  2. Essential Question – What impact did Andrew Jackson’s presidency have on the nation?
  3. Learn about Andrew Jackson’s background.
  4. Learn some vocabulary (spoils system, tariff, secede, sectionalism, Indian Removal Act, Trail of Tears, Jacksonian Democracy)
  5. Learn about the Election of 1824 and 1828.
  6. Learn about the battles Andrew Jackson had with people (Spoils System, National Bank, Tariffs, Indigenous People).

Monday – Fast and Curious, Great American Race

Tuesday – Snow Day

Wednesday – Thin Slide, Number Mania

Thursday – Field Trip

Friday – Andrew Jackson Vocabulary TIP Chart


We used Monday to finish up the early republic and foreign affairs unit. We used the Jeopardy style Gimkit (This is a favorite of mine – I love how you can wager your money at the end) as an assessment. The students did okay (I feel like I didn’t do a very good job on this unit). The averages were as follows: 81%, 74%, 75%, 59%, and 84%. Considering we began in the 40% to 50% range, maybe that’s good?

The class that got a 59%, I had to do something different. I created a Great American Race EduProtocol. It’s easy to set up. I found 17 index cards – one for each student. I wrote a number on each card and a term, person, or phrase on the other side. All the terms were related to the unit:

  1. George Washington
  2. Federalists
  3. XYZ Affair
  4. Embargo Act
  5. War of 1812
  6. Monroe Doctrine
  7. James Monroe
  8. Thomas Jefferson

When the data tells us something is not working, then we need to stop and do something different. All too often, the data is overlooked, we blame the students, and we move on. Or, if we reteach something, we reteach it the same way we taught it before. The Great American Race was something different.

The students made a slide with 3-4 clues and a picture. I compiled all the slides together and shared the slidedeck. Some slides I had to help correct. But, I tried to give feedback as the students were creating slides. After I shared the slidedeck, students had the rest of class to find the answers to all 17 slides. This Great American Race served as their assessment and they did an excellent job as most students found 13-17 answers for the slides.

For my other classes, when they finished their Gimkit, I gave the students a Virtual Story Dice template from EMC2Learning. I gave them 2 options:

  1. You can choose 9 random story cubes to make random connections with anything you learned in the unit.
  2. You can choose 9 story cubes to retell a story or series of stories from the unit.

The students that needed a challenge, challenged themselves. The students that needed to keep it simple, did just that.


Wednesday we began a new unit on the Age of Jackson. Andrew Jackson is an interesting person. The stories that surround him are interesting to most 8th graders – his duels, carrying a bullet in his chest and arm, being held as a prisoner of war at the age of 13, and on and on.

We began class with a Thin Slide – 1 pic, 1 word or phrase – find the most interesting fact about Andrew Jackson. The most interesting fact earned a piece of candy. I set a timer for 3 minutes and let the students explore. Here are some things they shared.

After the Thin Slide, we transitioned to a Number Mania. One thing I’m tired of is the use of a birthdate as a fact. For some students, it’s a good starting point. However, it’s tiresome see the most basic of facts shared on a Number Mania, or in student writing. I wanted a way around this, so I thought and thought and changed the approach of the Number Mania.

When students opened the Number Mania slide, they read a statement, “Andrew Jackson was nicknamed Old Hickory due to his toughness, stubbornness, and controversial leadership.” The students had to read, and find four numbers with facts, to support the statement. Number Mania as textual evidence.

I also had the students add a title, icons, pictures, and wanted them to be creative. Overall, the students did a fantastic job. I used my new favorite tool – Mote – to give feedback. If you haven’t checked out Mote, please do so. I rarely buy things out of pocket unless it’s life changing. I purchased Mote. With Mote, I leave feedback within Google Classroom private comments as audio. It tells me when the student listened to it. It also allows the students to respond with audio, or marking the feedback as, “I’m understanding,” or “I need help.” Here are the tech tools I purchase out of pocket:

  1. Gimkit
  2. Screencastify
  3. Mote

After the Number Mania, I set up a Gimkit Kitcollab and students created their own questions about Andrew Jackson. I love how the questions come up, I can give feedback, and I can accept or reject questions. The students enjoyed creating their own questions, and then play a Gimkit mode with their questions. I plan on deleting some questions, and letting them build their assessment through the entire unit.


Friday was used to learn some vocabulary. I wanted a lesson to get the students, moving, and with no chromebooks. I turned to the Resource Rumble from EMC2Learning.

Around the room, I had 8 chests with a card in each. The card contained a vocabulary word and definition. I gave each student a TIP Chart. TIP stands for Term, Information, Picture. The students worked in groups of two to three filling out their tip chart.

After each chest was complete, the students brought me their chart so I could approve. It also allowed me to give feedback on their paraphrases and pictures. In the process, students earned Legos. They had to use the Legos to create something related to a new vocabulary word.

I wish I could share this resource, but visit EMC2Learning for this and other great templates.


The Week That Was In 505

This week in 8th-grade social studies, we delved into the War of 1812 with a unique and interactive “This or That” choice board assignment. Students were given the task of exploring different aspects of the war, but with a twist. Instead of traditional options such as writing a diary entry or creating a political cartoon, students had the choice of creating either a Netflix series or a Yelp review about the War of 1812.

The “This or That” choice board was a hit with the students, as it allowed them to think creatively and engage with the material in a way that was both fun and meaningful. The Netflix series option gave students the opportunity to develop a plot, characters, and a setting for a fictional show about the War of 1812, while the Yelp review option allowed them to explore different perspectives on the war from Federalists or War Hawks.

In addition to the War of 1812, we also covered the Monroe Doctrine. To do this, we followed a CybereSandwich format, where students read a section of the textbook, took notes and discussed them in small groups. But to make it more interactive, we also did a variety of activities such as Retell in Rhyme, Upside Down Learning, or the new 5xGenre.

All in all, it was a great week of learning about these important historical events. The “This or That” choice board and the various activities helped to make the material more engaging and interactive for students. The student’s understanding of the War of 1812 and the Monroe Doctrine was greatly enhanced as a result, and they had fun while doing so.

I have been using ChatGPT in a variety of ways – differentiating for various reading levels, creating 2 truths and 1 lie, creating essays with factual errors, creating questions for readings, and even writing the opening to this blog post that you just read. (I wanted to try this out to see what it could come up with. I was specific with my requests for writing this opening. But this blog is too personal for me to have a computer write it.)

Monday – This or That War of 1812

Tuesday – This Or That War of 1812

Wednesday – This Or That War of 1812

Thursday – Monroe Doctrine CyberSandwich, 5xGenre

Upcoming Shows – EdPuzzle Live with Corippo, EduProtocols+

Monday and Tuesday

The War of 1812 is often overlooked and under taught. Last year, I used a This or That Choice Board template created by Stephanie Howell (@mrshowell24). I like this style of choice board because each new column builds on the previous one.

For this particular choice board, I created three I Can statements:

  1. I can identify and describe 2 causes of the War of 1812.
  2. I can analyze perspectives of Federalists and War Hawks when deciding to go to war or not.
  3. I can identify and describe 1 effect of the War of 1812.

For the Explore column, I wanted two activities to introduce the War of 1812. I decided to add a Frayer because it’s familiar. Plus, I could have paper copies of a Frayer. I also included an EdPuzzle as a choice. EdPuzzle is familiar for all the students, and I always try to choose videos that are under 10 minutes. This particular video on the War of 1812 was created by EdPuzzle and is around 7 minutes long.

In the Read column, I had a Thick Slide as an option because it’s familiar to the students. I also used ChatGPT to create questions with the textbook section. I pasted the textbook section into ChatGPT and asked it to create five questions. Some students like the traditional read and answer the questions (even though it makes me cringe). The questions also allowed me to have paper copies. Both the Thick Slide and questions focused on causes, reasons for war, and effects of the war. The Thick Slide or questions could be used as a resource. Everything we do in 505 has a purpose.

In the Connect Column I wanted students to think of the War of 1812 from the perspective of a Federalist or War Hawk. The options were an Empathy map or Dialogue slide. The empathy map has students thinking about the war from a Federalist or War Hawk perspective. The Dialogue slide had the students creating a conversation between James madison and Rufus King. These two men were mentioned in the article from the Read column.

The Create column I changed from last year. This year I had students write a Yelp Review as a federalist or War Hawk. Students also had a choice of creating a Netflix series. The Netflix template is familiar. The Yelp Review was new.

Some students had trouble thinking about how to write a Yelp Review so I got on ChatGPT. I literally asked it, “Write a yelp review about the war of 1812 from the perspective of a federalist.” Sure enough, it spit out an amazing review. I copied and pasted the review to a Google Doc, shut off the ability to copy and paste, and shared it with students. (The review, however, didn’t identify 2 causes of the war or effects of the war. But, it was a good starting point for students.)

Overall, this choice board was successful. The students enjoyed it, and did a nice job completing all the activities. If I could change one thing, I would change the Connect column. Something about doesn’t seem to fit. I might add in more of an exploration of the war and it’s battles. Maybe a Number Mania? Maybe focus on some of the people? I don’t know….this is me thinking out loud.


I was hoping the students would be finished with the Choice board by Tuesday. In my mind, Monday and Tuesday were enough. However, I gave them another day. I felt like I was going too fast and rushing them through stuff. Every now and then I need to remind myself to slow down.

When Wednesday rolled around, I had some students finished with everything. Most were behind. For the students that were ahead, I wanted them to have a day where they could review, and make connections with the he content they have learned up to this point.

To help with this, I went to EMC2Learning and found some Penny Pedagogies. Penny Pedagogies are quick, ready-to-use lessons that can work with any subject area. The Penny Pedagogies I chose were (I cannot share these – please visit the EMC2Learning Site):

  1. Linking Logs – Students add people, places, events, ideas and find the connections with each layer.
  2. Upside Down Learning – Students retell the real story of an event. Then underneath they create a false story by changing some minor details.
  3. Content Crossword – Students play on a scrabble board using letter tiles and making words and connections related to the content.

Overall, it was a good day. The students that needed to finish Netflix or Yelp reviews had a chance. The students who were finished had an opportunity to review content, make some connections, and take their thinking to the next level.


Thursday we learned about the Monroe Doctrine. I began with a Thin Slide and asked the questions, “List a continent in the Western Hemisphere.” Students had 2 minutes, 30 seconds to locate and list a continent. This was done to build background knowledge and give the students a sense of location.

After a quick discussion, we used a remixed CyberSandwich. Students read and took notes for ten minutes. I used a Main Idea note taking strategy where students looked up who, where, what, why, etc. with the article. Then students discussed their notes. This was followed by a simple twist of bazinga, 2 important facts, or questions. This is a great way to get a sense of students learning, and a great way to get your class communicating and collaborating. What do these 3 categories mean?

  1. Bazinga – students wrote on the board a fact that surprised them.
  2. Two important facts – students wrote on the board two important facts.
  3. Questions – students wrote down a question they had from the article.

Students could choose to contribute to any category. It allowed me to clear up any misconceptions and answer any questions.

We ended the CyberSandwich with a Retell in Rhyme. The students had 10-15 minutes to write as many couplets as possible. They did okay. I need to use this more often in class.

Throughout the day, however, I changed the CyberSandwich summary to a 5x Genre. I found the template on the EduProtocols Community on Facebook. The 5x Genre has premade genre’s, or focus areas, for students to write about. This EduProtocol has students shift their thinking while writing about content, pictures, or videos.

Instead of having premade genres, I created 8 different genres, or focus areas and we rolled dice. I timed each writing prompt 4 minutes, but then shifted it down to 3 minutes after two rounds. The students loved this new EduProtocol. I was going to stop at 4 rounds, but the students asked to do another round. The dice added a new level of fun.

Here were the eight different focus areas:

  1. Informational (Did you know…)
  2. Use Rhyme (Monroe made a statement clear, Europe stay out of here.)
  3. Narrative (Once upon a time…)
  4. Persuasive…(This is the best/worst because)
  5. Point of View (Europe)…
  6. Angry Tone
  7. Happy Tone
  8. Haiku…(3 lines, 5-7-5)

Upcoming Shows

EdPuzzle Live Event – To learn more about EduProtocols, 505, or any of the lessons you see on hear join Jon Corippo and me on the EdPuzzle Live show Feb. 9, 2023 at 7:30 PM est. In this Edpuzzle Live we’re exploring how teachers can create student-centered learning experiences using EduProtocols. Register for Free.

EduProtocols+ To learn more about EduProtocols, implementing EduProtocols, and connect with other teachers and coaches, sign up for EduProtocols+. Join Dr. Scott Petri and me as we do a live show each month to discuss implementing EduProtocols in the Social Studies classroom. Also featured on the site:

  1. Nearly a dozen live EduProtocols-based shows featuring effective instructional practice.
  2. Access live, video and AUDIO versions of all the shows + each show comes with a companion guide with all the links.
  3. Exclusive access to reusable lesson frames and resources not found in any of the books.

The Week That…Why?

““I will keep constant watch over myself and—most usefully—will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil—that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.” – Seneca

I truly believe stoic philosophy has a place in teaching. I truly believe it can make classrooms better. I truly believe it can help us create a better classroom experience, not only for ourselves, but for our students.

Why did I get into stoicism? I started listening to the Daily Stoic podcast (Ryan Holiday) on the way to school each morning. I never heard of stoicism. Didn’t know how to define it. However, as I started listening, the messages within the philosophy reminded me of some of the ways I think about the world. I’m not a religious person by any means. I don’t turn to religion for guidance and reflection. But stoicism gives me a way to reflect and think about the world around me. It gives me a way to become a better person.

Why did I begin writing each week for The Week That Was In 505? It stems from the quote from Seneca above. Everyday should be up for review. What we put up for reflection is that what we can learn from. Reflecting is the most important part of teaching.

As I’m typing these blogs, I’m outwardly sharing my thoughts and lessons with the world. However, I’m inwardly criticizing myself and thinking about BETTER.

Find ways to reflect. Find ways to be critical of yourself. Even if you think you have the best lesson in the world, be critical of it. I, we, can all find ways to improve each day…not only for us, but for our students.

The Week That Was In 505

This week we started a new lesson titled, Foreign Affairs of a Young Nation. We are taking a look at George Washington’s advice, and foreign policy, mentioned in his Farewell Address. We are also taking a look at how our first presidents involved our country in world affairs. Did they practice isolationism? Did they involve us in world affairs? At what cost?

Last year, part of this lesson was a blogging unit I out together. This year, as I mentioned in older posts, I’m taking a new approach. I’m using some classic rack and stack combinations of EduProtocols. Moreover, I’m trying some new rack and stack combinations.

I began this new lesson with some vocabulary using the Pile of Words strategy created by Jay McTighe. We followed this up with some Fast and Curious on Quizizz. The next day brought a CyberSandwich with Washington’s foreign policy with a Fast and Curious. Then we used a Hero’s Journey and Archetype Four Square combination with presidents.

The stories of the first few presidents trying to uphold President Washington’s advice is a perfect match with the Hero’s Journey. The Archetype Four Square is a great way to reflect on the presidents. It’s also a great way to get students making connections with evidence and reasoning.

Monday – No School

Tuesday – Pile of Words, Fast and Curious

Wednesday – CyberSandwich, Frayer, Fast and Curious

Thursday – Hero’s Journey, Archetype Four Square, Fast and Curious

Friday – Hero’s Journey (Jefferson), Archetype Four Square, Fast and Curious


Every year I try to discover new, and better, ways to teach vocabulary. I’m always looking for new strategies. As my co-author, Scott Petri, mentions from a Marzano study, students get 55% of their academic vocabulary from social studies classes. Teaching vocabulary correctly is important.

One of my new favorite strategies is the Pile of Words created by Jay McTighe. I went through the new lesson and made a list of important words. The words were already listed out in the History Alive chapter. However, I always add in a few extra words of my own. For example, I added the word: foreign policy.

When students came into class, I had the list of words posted on the Newline board and pronounced each one. I gave students 5 minutes to go through the list and pick out words they already knew. This was an interesting one because most students only knew one word out of the ten listed. The one word they remembered came from last week’s lesson: XYZ Affair.

Next I had students go through the words they didn’t know. I gave them 15 minutes to lookup and define the unknown words. I gave them this much time because they had so many words to lookup. After the timer went off, I had students discuss the words and categorize them. I have found that many students like to create categories FIRST. I try to coach them up and have them sort words FIRST, create categories SECOND. After the discussion, I had students predict what the lesson was about.

This time around, I didn’t do a fast and curious. I didn’t give any background information to the lesson. I wanted the predictions to be based purely on the vocabulary. Here are some predictions:

  1. “War and politics and how George Washington’s Farewell had an effect on what is going to happen or if it will help them. Amd america expanding or other countries expanding”
  2. “I think we will learn about how the U.S expanded and kicked out Spain colonies,Great britain colonies and french colonies. I also think we will learn about how different countries were involved with each other and how dIfferent words Involved U.S history.”
  3. “This lesson is going to be about how wars were fought over disputed land claims in north america, the body of the foreign policy, about treaties, the war of 1812, the monroe doctrine, and finally, about blockades and embargoes.”

Following the Pile of Words, students completed a Quizizz for a Fast and Curious. The Quizizz was a combination of vocabulary and content. The class averages were: 49%, and 52%.

Unfortunately, I had to leave for the 2nd half of the day. Therefore, I changed my lesson plan completely. This is the beauty of EduProtocols. I switched my lesson to a Sketch and Tell paired with an EdPuzzle, and a Quizizz set up as an assignment. Whenever I’m gone, I try to leave FAMILIAR activities. The students understand Sketch and Tell, Edpuzzle, and Quizizz.

There was no guest teacher to cover my class. They were in the “learning lab” (sarcastic quotes) with supervision. Even in that situation, I had 75% student engagement. I’m defining engagement in this situation as students opening ONE of the assignments and completing it.

On the Sketch and Tell I left, students had to define four words, use it in a sentence, and create a picture to represent the word. The words I left were: embargo, impressment, neutrality, isolationism. The EdPuzzle video was a review of Washington’s Farewell Address. The Quizizz was 15 questions with a combination of vocabulary and content knowledge.


I began class on Wednesday with a Fast and Curious. I did this so I could give some feedback on the commonly missed questions and give feedback with vocabulary related questions.

Following the Fast and Curious, students completed a Frayer with the words neutrality and foreign policy. The template I used was created by Amanda Sandoval (@historysandoval). I felt like this word was important to understanding the textbook section about Washington’s Foreign Policy.

Following the Frayer, we began a CyberSandwich with George Washington’s foreign policy. We are getting better and used the process of a CyberSandwich. The reading and notetaking took eight minutes. I had the students add four important facts to the Venn Diagram and discuss for 3 minutes. Finally, I had students write a paragraph and submit it through Socrative.

I like having students submit their paragraphs through Socrative for these reasons:

  1. Everything is in one spot. This means good feedback and quick grading.
  2. If I have class tiem leftover, I hit the “start vote” button on Socrative. Students read each other’s work and vote for the best paragraph. Then I will take that paragraph with the most votes, start a new Socrative question, and have students add more to the paragraph. Maybe I will have them change the topic sentence. Maybe it’s adding a vocabulary word. Either way, it makes them think differently.

We have been focusing on writing paragraphs with topic sentences, details, and a concluding sentence. If you knew some of the students who wrote those, you would be proud (I am). I have some awesome students!

We ended class with a Fast and Curious Quizizz. The class averages were: 60%, 62%, 65%, 58%, 68%. This was followed by some quick feedback for the most commonly missed questions.

Thursday and Friday

I was driving to school Thursday morning listening to my Daily Stoic podcast and thinking, “What the hell am I going to do today?” I do my best thinking in the car, mindlessly driving. It hit me about 5 minutes out from school – The Hero’s Journey and Archetype Four Square. It’s something new for the students, I have templates ready, and it’s a different way of comprehending. Plus, it works perfect with the stories of presidents trying to keep us out of wars against European countries.

France attacking ships. The XYZ Affair, Insecure John Adams losing popularity. Jefferson paying ransoms to pirates. France and Great Britain impressing sailors. It works perfect with Hero’s Journey. How can these presidents follow Washington’s advice and avoid conflict?

Typically, I would do a low cognitive first rep with Hero’s Journey. I would suggest having the students map out a commercial with Hero’s Journey. However, I took a chance. I went for it. I read the textbook section about John Adams and did an I do, We do, You do with three boxes on the Hero’s Journey. For example:

  1. I do – I completed the problem on my own as I talked through the problem with the students. (France was attacking US ships.)
  2. We do – I asked the students, “What was the background to the problem?” They responded with, “France was mad at the Jay Treaty.”
  3. You do – I asked the students, “Your turn. Who is the helper or hero?” Some students said, “John Adams.” Other students said, “Napoleon.” They were all correct.

For any student needing extra help, I showed them some Hero’s Journey examples with Cinderella, Moana, and Harry Potter.

Once students were ready to go, I let take over on their own. They completed the Hero’s Journey with John Adams. With some feedback, they did a really nice job.

Following the Hero’s Journey, we completed an Archetype Four Square on John Adams. This a great way to get students reflecting on historical figures, using evidence, using reasoning, and making connections. Most students chose John Adams as a rebel. Some chose him as a magician. I said to them, “There are not right or wrong answers, only better answers. Justify your choice with evidence. Why is it the better choice?”

The next day, to keep reps going, students completed a Hero’s Journey and Archetype with Thomas Jefferson. I told them to focus on one problem Jefferson faced – Great britain and France attacking our ships or Barbary pirates. Overall, this second rep was better and I will provide it as a choice when we study the War of 1812.

The Week That Was In 505

This week we continued our study of the Early Republic. Last week I mentioned that I don’t have the energy to do the normal lesson I run – a blogging unit about the Early Republic. As a result, I decided to change how I teach this lesson to following the textbook structure paired with some EduProtocols.

The structure of the textbook for this lesson is okay. It seems disjointed. For example, it focuses on Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion with the Farewell Address. Then it switches to Federalists versus Democratic Republicans. The chapter concludes with John Adams.

The next lesson focuses on foreign involvement and goes back to Washington again. Then it discusses John Adams and the XYZ Affair. This is followed by Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana, Madison’s War of 1812, and ends with the Monroe Doctrine. The set up is weird. I liked how I had my blogging unit set up – focusing on one president at a time. But, it is what it is.

This week we began with a lesson on Federalists and Democratic Republicans.Students focused on writing paragraphs about these two political parties. This was followed up with some review and a Peardeck lesson on John Adams. We reached the end of the unit with more review and a final assessment.

Monday CyberSandwich (Federalists), Fast and Curious

Tuesday – CyberSandwich (Democratic-Republicans), Fast and Curious

Wednesday – John Adams Peardeck, Fast and Curious

Thursday – Review Day, Fast and Curious, Word Up Wednesday

Friday – Hexagonal Learning, Fast and Curious

Extra activities I created on the fly: Assessment Choices, John Adams Primary Source (adapted from Rosalie Metro), Frayer (@historysandoval template)


The main question for this unit is, “How did the Federalist and Democratic-Republican visions for the United States differ?” Last year, I created a choice board for the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. This year, I divided up the political parties into two days as we did a CyberSandwich.

Before our CyberSandwich, I ran a five minute Fast and Curious with Gimkit. The Gimkit had basic vocabulary from last week and new questions related to content from this week. After five minutes, the class averages were: 47%, 67%, 72%, 52%, 74%. I gave some quick feedback and we transitioned to a CyberSandwich.

I ran a typical CyberSandwich with a 10 minute reading and notetaking. I had students write down four important facts (beliefs) from their notes and discuss with a partner. Then we focused on writing a basic paragraph with a topic sentence, details, and a concluding sentence.

One thing I changed this time was the use of Chat GPT. If you don’t know what that is, please visit my blog post about this amazing site. I used Chat GPT to change the reading level of the textbook section so a third grade student could understand it. I went to Chat GPT and literally type, “Convert this textbook section into something a 3rd grader could understand.” Within seconds, I differentiated for several students and copied the converted article to a Google Doc. AMAZING!

At the end of the CyberSandwich, I ran the same Gimkit again for five minutes. This time class averages went to: 72%, 70%, 80%, 65%, 83%.

As the day continued, I began to think about Chat GPT again. I wanted to know how I could use it for feedback. I began copying and pasting student paragraphs into the chatbot asking it, “Grade this paragraph on Federalists.” It spit out some great feedback. It was fairly consistent. However, I learned to be more specific with my requests.

I decided to change my requests to, “Give feedback about the paragraph based on the topic sentence, 3 key beliefs of Federalists, and a concluding sentence.” Amazingly, it gave incredible feedback. It even picked up on students only identifying one key belief of Federalists. I was able to get feedback for 90% of my students in less than an hour. I copied and pasted the feedback as a private comment into Google Classroom.

I also found commonalities in the feedback and used it for a teachable moment on Tuesday.


From Chat GPT, I found commonalities in the feedback with weak topic sentences and using more details. Before we began to do a CyberSandwich about Democratic-Republicans, I shared the feedback with students. We discussed writing topic sentences and including more details. I provided a model paragraph as an example.

The students are really great with including information right in front of them. For example, they are great at including three key beliefs. However, they are weak with adding their own thoughts, or more information. This same feedback would be said again on Friday with the Hexagonal Learning.

Again, I used Chat GPT to differentiate reading levels for the students. We ran a typical CyberSandwich with a 10 minute read, 5 minute discuss, and a 10 minute summary write. This time, however, I wanted students to focus on feedback to improve their paragraphs. I felt like the topic sentences and inclusion of more details was better after the feedback, example, and more reps.

After the CyberSandwich, I ran another Fast and Curious on Gimkit. The class averages were as follows: 81%, 81%, 80%, 71%, and 86%.


I hate lecturing. Sometimes it needs to be done. Sometimes I need to explicitly say why things happen, or explicitly say connections between historical events. Wednesday was reserved for a PearDeck. I prefer Nearpod, but I didn’t have time to convert my slides.

I had a PearDeck about John Adams and his presidency. It focused on the Election of 1796, XYZ Affair, Alien and Sedition Acts, and the Election of 1800.

The PearDeck was interactive with some Sketch and Tell built in. It contained some summary writing practice as well. Now, I don’t know how you view student engagement. I view students engagement as, “Enthusiasm, curiosity, optimism, motivation, or interest toward a lesson.” With my definition, student engagement is not great with PearDeck or Nearpod. If my definition of students engagement was: “Listening attentively, participating in discussions, turning in work on time, and following rules and directions,” then these tools are awesome. I had 88% student engagement throughout the day.

A quick Chat GPT note to add – I copied and pasted some of the paragraphs from the PearDeck slides into the chatbot. I requested it to, “Create a multiple choice question for this paragraph.” It was awesome because I suck at writing questions.

My last period of the day saw we were doing a PearDeck. They flipped out. It’s a small, good class. I don’t take offense to stuff like this. I simply asked them, “What do you want to do?” They responded, “Anything but a PearDeck.” Then I asked, “Does anyone want to do a PearDeck?” A few raised their hands. For the rest I created a new lesson with an EdPuzzle video and a primary source analysis. Everybody was happy. Some even mentioned, “I’ve never seen a teacher just completely change a lesson on the fly like that.” My response, “Never fear when Moler’s here.”

At the end of all the lessons, I had students complete the Fast and Curious Gimkit again. I added new questions about John Adams. This time scores took a dip. However, the scores were fascinating as EVERY class averaged a 76%. (76%, 76%, 76%, 76% and a 76%).


I was feeling the Fast and Curious wasn’t enough to check for understanding. I created a bunch of review activities. Here is what I put together:

  1. Gimkit for Fast and Curious – same questions and the class averages were: 84%, 84%, 85%, 78%, and 87%.
  2. Word Up Wednesday – students were still struggling with Federalists and Democratic-Republicans beliefs. I saw this on the Gimkit data. This worried me, and so I had students partner up to research the beliefs of the political parties, write definitions, and apply images.
  3. Frayers – one class really needed something different. I had them do the Gimkit and I took the most commonly missed questions and developed a series of Frayer Models. The most commonly missed questions related to: Federalists, Democratic Republicans, Washington’s Farewell Address, and the Alien and Sedition Acts.
  4. Find 6 errors – I asked Chat GPT, “Write a short, nonfiction text about the Alien and Sedition Acts and include 3 factual errors.” It wrote the article, I copied and pasted it to a Google Doc, and added in the errors myself from the Chat GPT suggestions. In the past, I would have done this myself and it would have taken an hour. With Chat GPT, it took 30 seconds. I had students get into groups and they had 8 to 10 minutes to find a correct the six factual errors in the article.

Overall, it was a good review day. Lots of different activities. One students even mentioned, “This class flies by.” Yes, when you’re doing multiple things in one class period, yes it does. When you’re working bell to bell, yes it does.


We used Friday as the day to wrap up the lesson about Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. I posted Hexagonal Learning which is a familiar lesson for the students. Hexagonal Learning was created by Betsy Potash (@betsypotash) and featured in Kim Voge’s (@kvoge71) book, Deploying EduProtocols. The template I used was designed by Stephanie Howell (@mrshowell24).

On Thursday, one group of students completed a Hexagonal Learning template. They turned it in, and I gave them some feedback. What appears to be awesome work was vague, and needed more details. Here is what they turned into me:

The students didn’t like my feedback, but it was helpful. I used their template as an example for my other classes. For every class, I posted this example (names removed) and had the students grade it on a 4 point scale. Most students gave this a 3 or a 4. I gave this a 2 or 1.5. My classes were surprised to learn this grade. However, I explained, “These students simply rewrote the information in the hexagons with a sentence. No extra information. No extra detail were added.” This analysis really helped the students with completing these activity. The discussions among partners was awesome too!!

One of my classes (a different class from Thursday) started complaining about Hexagonal Learning. So, I put together a list of choices:

  1. A solo iron chef – design a slide about Federalists, design a slide about Democratic-Republicans, use the information to construct a paragraph answering the essential question. – by yourself
  2. Netflix – create a series about the fight (beliefs) between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Your series description should answer the essential question above. -by yourself
  3. Hexagonal Learning – Use and connect all the hexagons. Add in new/missing information for 8 connections. (an example in bright green is provided) – partner/2 people

This class was really appreciative of this change and addition of choices. Typically, I don’t get much from this class. BUT, most students finished their choice. It was awesome.

At the end of all classes, I ran a Gimkit for 7 minutes and took their average as a grade. I had one criterion – you must answer 22 or more questions. Anything less than 22 questions resulted in a 1 out of 10 grade in ProgressBook. The class averages were as follows: 87%, 87%, 87%, 84%, 91%. Overall, a successful week despite me feeling like this lesson is disjointed and not great.

More Chat GPT Stuff

I thought of two more ways to use Chat GPT:

  1. 2 Truth and 1 Lie – have it create a list of 2 truths and 1 lie related to social studies content. Absolutely amazing and a great way to get students thinking.
  2. Odd one out – have it create a list of 3 items with 1 item being one that doesn’t belong. This is great, but I wish the items were more closely related to create more a discussion and debate on the odd item out.

Using Chat GPT to Enhance Learning

Chat GPT is the current, controversial topic in education. I understand the disdain of people with this new tool. However, having an immediate, negative reaction is way too easy. Throwing up your hands and questioning why we even have to teach is way too easy.

I see a tool like Cat GPT and think, “How can I use this to make my life easier? How can I use this to enhance my instruction? How can I use this to enhance my feedback?”

What is Chat GPT? Rather than me explain it, I visited the chatbot and asked it to describe itself. Here is a screenshot of that query:

In other words, artificial intelligence to answer questions, have conversations, or write essays. However, what can it be used for to help teachers? Here are some ways I have used Chat GPT in my social studies class:

Differentiation – I wanted a quick way to differentiate for multiple levels of students within my social studies class. I took a textbook section we used for a CyberSandwich and I asked the chatbot to, “Rewrite this textbook article for a 3rd grade reading level.” I also asked it to, “Rewrite this textbook article for a 10th grade reading level.” Within seconds, I have differentiated for various reading levels in class.

Feedback – the more specific you are with your queries, the better. During our CyberSandwich about Federalists, I wanted students to write a summary about Federalists and their beliefs. I wanted students to focus on topic sentences, 3 key beliefs, and a concluding sentence. Later that night, I decided to see if Chat GPT could grade. At first, I was asking it, “Grade this paragraph about Federalists.” The feedback was okay. I changed the query to, “Give feedback on this summary about Federalists focusing on the topic sentence, 3 key beliefs, and a concluding sentence.” The feedback was AMAZING. I was able to give feedback to 90% of my students by copying and pasting it as private comments through Google Classroom. I also picked up on commonalities of feedback and gave class feedback on improving topic sentences and adding more details. Based on the feedback, the paragraphs with our second CyberSandwich with Democratic-Republicans was tons better.

New ways of thinking – I asked Chat GPT to, “Create a nonfiction, short text about the Alien and Sedition Acts with 3 factual errors.” In seconds, it created a short text that I copied and pasted to a Google Doc. It suggested errors that I manually put in myself. That day, I had students get into groups and gave them 8 minutes to read, identify, and correct all the factual errors.

Questions – I am the worst at creating questions. During one of my lessons, I needed some quick questions to add to a PearDeck. I got on Chat gPT and asked it, “Create multiple choice questions based on this passage…” I copied and pasted the passage from the PearDeck slide and I have multiple choice questions within seconds. I also copied and pasted a textbook section and asked it, “Create multiple levels of questions for this textbook section…” Within seconds, I had multiple DOK leveled questions I could copy and use.


This new idea falls under questions.

  1. Create a video using Screencastify and upload the video to Youtube.
  2. Paste the Youtube URL into YouTubeTranscript. This will automatically create a transcript.
  3. Copy and paste the transscript into ChatGPT and ask it to make questions.
  4. Load your video into EdPuzzle and copy and paste the questions into the video.

As I hear, or think about, new ways to use Chat GPT, I will keep adding more information to this post. Is this system perfect? No. But, it can provide ideas to get us thinking. It can be used to save time. It can be used to enhance learning. It’s definitely a game changer…in the right hands.

The Week That Was In 505

Back at it with a three day week and a new unit. We began the Early Republic unit where we focus on the first five presidents of the United States. I decided to make some changes to my unit this year.

In the past, I used this as a blogging unit. Students would learn about Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, create a character, and blog from that characters perspective. They would analyze the decisions of the presidents from their character’s perspective and party affiliation. I would infuse the lesson with EduProtocols, and it was awesome. However, I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I’m worn down. As much as I love this unit, and set up of the unit, I don’t have the energy to ready 115 blog posts. I don’t have the energy to motivate students to keep blogging and writing.

With that being said, I decided to use the lesson from our History Alive book and infuse it with EduProtocols. In my opinion, a regular textbook lesson, infused with EduProtocols, is just as effective and engaging as my blogging lesson.

The first lesson in my unit focuses on political divisions in the early republic. We look at the different viewpoints of Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. We also focus on George Washington, his cabinet, the Whiskey Rebellion and a growing divide between the political parties.

This week’s focus was on some vocabulary and the George Washington presidency. Here was our week of learning:

Wednesday – Thin Slide, Pile of Words Vocab, Fast and Curious

Thursday – Word Up Wednesday, Iron Chef, Fast and Curious

Friday – Nearpod Farewell Address, 3xCER, Fast and Curious


I’m always searching for better ways to introduce vocabulary. On Tuesday, I happened to see a Tweet from Stephanie Howell (@mrshowell24) referencing a blog post from Dr. Catlin Tucker (@Catlin_Tucker) about a vocabulary strategy called Pile of Words. When I dove into the blog post, I realized the strategy was created by Jay McTighe. As I read about this strategy I was intrigued and had to use it with my eighth graders. The strategy works like this:

  1. I looked through the lesson and compiled a list of the most important vocabulary words.
  2. I added the words to a slide deck.
  3. I had students partner up into groups of two or three and discuss the words they knew.
  4. The students made a list of the words they knew and wrote their own definitions. (5 minutes)
  5. Then students made a list of the words they didn’t know and looked up the definitions. (10 minutes)
  6. Then students discussed what they learned and categorized their words. They created their own categories.
  7. As students discussed, I walked around asking questions.
  8. Finally, I had students predict what the lesson would be about.

I used this strategy with no context to the lesson. It was interesting to read some of their predictions. Some were great, Many were okay. The students need to get better at thinking beyond what’s in front of them. They need to get better at making connections. They need to get better at articulating their thoughts. Here are some responses:

  1. “I predict that this lesson will be about the first few presidents who had relations with the creation of the U.S. government, The different views that can be taken on the government and constitution such as loose and strict construction, and actions that were taken in revolt to certain things and what the government did in reaction to this.”
  2. “I can predict that in this unit we will be talking about people’s political beliefs and what people do in order to protect their rights. I can also predict that this unit will be about founding fathers and connecting to past lessons. Finally predict that we will be learning about new things about the government.”
  3. “I think this lesson will be about the government along with the political parties. We’ve heard many vocab words relating to this so i think that it makes sense for this lesson to be about government and political parties.”
  4. “This lesson will be about views on government, actions, and the people who were involved and their actions.”
  5. “I think that it will be about what happened after the constitution was written and after George Washington was elected.”

The last two responses listed reflect many responses. I’m trying to teach students to add more thought, and more details, to their writing. Either way, the main focus of this vocabulary strategy was engaging students with something new and building some background knowledge. Here is a group example from a class period:

After the completion of the Pile of Words strategy, we did a quick Thin Slide EduProtocol. I played a song entitled, Hail Columbia, and had students use one picture and one word to show the mood of the song. Many students mostly listed happy or proud for the mood. I timed the Thin Slide with song length – three minutes. At the conclusion of the song, students presented their slide. We finished class with a Gimkit fast and Curious with vocabulary and unit related questions. The initial class averages were as follows: 54%, 52%, 67%, 53%, and 63%.


Thursday was another day to try something new. I reviewed the Gimkit data and determined the most commonly missed questions related to the presidential cabinet and the Whiskey Rebellion. As a result, I found a Word Up Wednesday template created by Shaun Moriarty (@MoriartyHistory). The original concept of Word Up Wednesday was created by Ryan Stephans (@Coach_Stephans).

Before the lesson began, I created two different slide decks. One slide deck contained the word Whiskey Rebellion. The other slide deck contained the word Presidential Cabinet. Here was my procedure for the lesson:

  1. Students got into groups of two to three.
  2. I timed the first round for six minutes.
  3. Students claimed a slide on the slide deck and began collaborating to complete their slide.
  4. Students had to define the term in their own words.
  5. Students had to find a GIF, meme, and image representation of the word.
  6. Students had to use the word in a sentence, find a historical example, and find a modern example.

The first round, students really struggled to complete the slide. However, most students quickly learned the importance of dividing and conquering together.

The students also struggled with finding historical and modern examples. I had to pause the timer at one point and show them how to find an example. Furthermore, I had to give some ideas for examples. I’m really trying to help them critically think….I really am 😩. At the end of it all, the students really enjoyed beginning class with Word Up Wednesday.

When transitioning to the Iron Chef, I made sure to mention the words from Word Up Wednesday were important because it was time to understand the historical significance of them. The Iron Chef for the day was about George Washington’s cabinet and the Whiskey rebellion. For the Iron Chef reading, I took two major sections from History Alive, condensed them down and use the important information.

I set a timer for 18 minutes to have the students complete their slides. They worked individually as they added pictures, changed the title, answered the questions, and completed the secret ingredient questions. Here are some examples:

To wrap up class, we used the same Gimkit from Wednesday. I ran the Gimkit for 8 minutes. This time class averages were as follows: 67%, 65%, 73%, 58%, 76%.


Friday we transitioned to Washington’s Farewell Address. In years’ past, I usually began with Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, and Hamilton vs. Jefferson. This year, I used Washington’s warning about political parties to set up to for next week’s topic of Federalists vs. Democratic Republicans. Through this reflection, I like beginning with political parties better. It just makes more sense to me. The structure of my current lesson, however, is the path I chose so I’m sticking to it.

When students came in, I had a Nearpod code on the board. In the Nearpod, I put together some slides to help students make sense of Washington’s Farewell Address. Here was my setup:

  1. Slide 1 – intro slide
  2. Slide 2 – What do you know about George Washington? collaboration board.
  3. Slide 3 – two minute intro video on George Washington (this served as review of his cabinet and Whiskey Rebellion from Thursday).
  4. Slide 4 – context slide about the Farewell Address.
  5. Slide 5 and 6 – translate Washington’s Farewell Address drag and drop slide.
  6. Slide 7 – Washington’s main warnings – fill in the blank
  7. Slide 8 – A link to a 3xCER slide deck.

It was important for me to help students translate Washington’s words into modern english. With the words translated, followed up with a fill in the blank summary of Washington’s warnings – it would only serve to help the students complete the 3xCER. If I didn’t have students translate his words, the 3xCER would have been a disaster.

I gave students 12 to 15 minutes to complete the 3xCER. They did an excellent job placing claims (Washington’s warnings) in their own words. They used quotes from the Farewell Address as evidence. Finally, I wanted them to think about Washington’s reasoning for the warnings. For the most, the students’ reasoning was okay. They still needed to add more detail and thought. Here are some examples:

To conclude class, we did a Fast and Curious with the same Gimkit. This time class averages were as follows: 72%, 75%, 78%, and 83%. Not all classes were able to do the Gimkit.

The Week That Was In 505

December, so far, has been the longest month ever. In my past 11 years of teaching, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve missed school. This year, this semester, I have missed 15 days, A combination of sick, personal, and professional.

Since Thanksgiving it’s been a multitude of issues – flu, covid, pink eye, other random viruses, the axle broke on my car during rush hour, and a death in the family. I finally got around to getting a Christmas tree – the $2.99, tabletop special from Kroger.

Chances are it will go without lights, but we’ll put some ornaments on it. However, that tree seems pretty symbolic of my December…so far.

Now, back to school. This week my goal was to finish the Constitution unit. I had two more remaining items – popular sovereignty and federalism. I was hoping to try some new things with these topics, but that wasn’t the case. I decided to stick with what I knew, and what I had available. As a result, we go through popular sovereignty, federalism, and did a review for the Constitution unit.

By the end of the week, I gave my Constitution citizenship test again. I asked the same 10 questions I asked three week ago. I like to take the first results and compare them to the second, or last, results after the students learned basic principles of government within the Constitution.

Due to some of my absences, I offered different challenges for students with the Citizenship test. I made a fil in the blank version with Quizizz and a multiple choice version. The results were great considering I felt like I did a poor job with this unit.

Monday – Popular Sovereignty CyberSandwich, Fast and Curious

Tuesday – Federalism Mystery Box Sketch and Tell, Federalism Notes

Wednesday – Resource Rumble Review

Thursday – Branches of Government Breakout, Citizenship Test (version 1, version 2)

Friday – Gimkit Reviews


Popular sovereignty was up first this week. The goal for this lesson is to have students understand the idea of popular sovereignty, and to have students identify the idea of popular sovereignty in the words of founding documents. I began class with a Quizizz that had students show their understanding of the definition for popular sovereignty and examples of popular sovereignty. The class averages were as follows: 45%, 50%, 55%, 47%, 65%. After the quiz finished, I asked all my classes, “What is the commonality among all the questions?” Each class was quick to understand the word ‘people’ in all the questions.

Next, I had a reading about popular sovereignty. I chose to read this article because I like to read to the class. Plus, Story Time with Moler is a crowd favorite. Some students also had the opportunity to watch a video about popular sovereignty. I scaffolded the CyberSandwich with these questions:

  1. What is popular sovereignty?
  2. List 3 ways popular sovereignty is expressed in a democracy.
  3. Include 1 quote from a founding document that shows popular sovereignty.

At the conclusion of the reading, I had students complete a Sketch and Tell for their summary. I think it’s important for them to take this abstract idea and construct it with an image. With their summary writing, I offered these four things to focus on:

  1. Define popular sovereignty.
  2. One way in which it is expressed today.
  3. A quote from a founding document.
  4. Concluding sentence

Here are some students examples:

After the CyberSandwich, we took the Quizizz again and the class averages were as follows: 80%, 88%, 93%, 95%, and 98%. This lesson is what I consider to be simple and basic, but it’s pretty powerful and produces consistent results.


The lesson on Federalism is one of my favorites. I set up this lesson as a mystery box lesson. I was hoping to combine the mystery box with a CyberSandwich, but I didn’t have time to set it up this year. In years’ past, however, I have run out of time for the Sketch and Tell portion. As a result, I cut out the Quizizz this year.

Here is the set up:

  1. Students come in and I have Oreo’s hidden in a mystery box.
  2. I have a guided notes sheet and I go through notes on Federalism.
  3. I start off the lesson with a hint to the mystery box: the number 3
  4. I go through expressed, concurrent, and reserved powers.
  5. At the end of the lesson, I give more hints to the mystery box – stuff, milk, filling, and Sam Porcello.

By the end of the lesson, students usually guess what’s in the box. They completely understand why the Oreo relates to Federalism. Last year, I had students create a picture with the Oreo. This year, some of my classes created pictures with Oreos representing expressed, concurrent, and reserved powers. Other classes I had them use Google shapes. Some classes I trust, some I don’t – it’s that kind of year. Here are some students samples:


Wednesday began with a student asking me, “Moler, can we do something where we get up and move?” I replied, “Yep.” Then I changed my entire lesson plan. I asked the class to give me five minutes as I wrote down eight review questions for a resource rumble.

All of the questions related to branches of government, checks and balances, popular sovereignty, and federalism. Basically, anything on the Citizenship test I was going to give to them again.

I can’t dive into the details, and set up of a resource rumble, but it was a fun time. The students love that review game and I’m glad a students spoke up.


Thursday I was away from school for a funeral. So, I left the Citizenship test and a branches of government break out. (The branches of government breakout was a file I purchased on TPT about 7 years ago – therefore I can’t share it. I’m ashamed I admitted that 🤦‍♂️).

When I gave the citizenship test 3 weeks ago, I told the students the goal was to get six or more questions correct. Here are the results from the first time:

1st – 2/18 got six or more correct, 26% class average.

3rd – 0/29 got six or more correct, 24% class average.

5th – 2/24 got six or more correct, 25% class average.

7th – 2/20 got six or more correct, 27% class average.

8th – 3/14 got six or more correct, 34% class average.

After three weeks of lessons involving oreos, sketch and tells, choice boards, CyberSandwiches, and other EduProtocols, here are the final results:

1st – 18/18 got six or more correct, 89% class average.

3rd – 25/29 got six or more correct, 83% class average.

5th – 20/20 got six or more correct, 92% class average.

7th – 16/20 got six or more correct, 81% class average.

8th – 13/14 got six or more correct, 96% class average.

The caveat to this is it’s a combination of fill in the blank and multiple choice quizzes. However, I set up the Quizzes like this:

  1. Fill in the blank – students could take this quiz up to two times.
  2. Multiple Choice – students could take this quiz once.
  3. They could not take both quizzes. I encouraged them to challenge themselves and go for the fill in the blank.

Most students, however, chose the multiple choice test. In fact, 65% of my students chose the multiple choice, while 35% chose to do the fill in the blank.


Friday, I was out for the funeral again. Last day before winter break – I didn’t know what to do. I created a Friday Check In and put together a Gimkit of all first semester material. A very last minute, cliche thing to do, but I was making this in the hotel lobby at 10:30 PM. Story of my life – constantly finding ways to get things done, barely keeping my head above water. However, I usually manage to find a way.

With that – happy holidays!

The Week That Was In 505

This week we continued our unit on the Constitution. I focus on the principles of the Constitution – separation of powers, checks and balances, individual rights, popular sovereignty, federalism, judicial review, and limited government.

This week’s focus was on individual rights and judicial review. I was hoping to get to popular sovereignty, but a calamity day and a sudden switch to remote learning changed my plans.

Overall, it was a good week. Teaching the Bill of Rights is one of my favorite lessons. I try to find ways to help students engage and connect with government.

With my judicial review lesson, I used to have students go through Supreme Court cases. However, I needed a change. I put together a lesson with some EduProtocols. I was able to lead one, 48 minute class through a Fast and Curious (twice), Frayers, and a reading paired with a Thick Slide. The rest of my classes, with my absence, struggled to get through a Fast and Curious and Frayers.

Monday – Bill of Rights lesson

Tuesday – A modified version of a Resource Rumble (EMC2Learning)

Wednesday – Fast and Curious, Frayer, Thick Slide

Thursday – Calamity Day

Friday – Review Gimkit


On Monday, I began with a Fast and Curious Quizizz with the Bill of Rights. Most people remember the first two amendments, then it goes downhill from there. My Quizizz is ten questions long. The beginning class averages were the following: 45%, 42%, 38%, 25%, and 51%.

Next, I handed out a paper I created using Google Docs – it contained ten empty boxes for students to take notes. I asked the students to number the boxes and they could write notes or draw pictures. Whatever helped them the most. Then I proceed to act out the first ten amendments. I give the students ways to remember the ten amendments. I received from Dave Burgess a long time ago. Here are two examples of what I do:

  1. 3rd amendment – I talk about the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Goldilocks made herself at home and the 3rd amendment prevents the quartering of soldiers.
  2. 6th amendment – I show a clip of a pick six interception by Mike Hilton against the Steelers from the 2021 Bengals season. Then I mention how you need to be speedy to get a pick six. This leads to a fair and speedy trial.

I can’t share the rest of this because it’s Dave’s lesson. This lesson is one of my favorites. It’s engaging, the students laugh, I laugh, and it works. As I’m acting out the amendments, I keep coaching the students and reminding the students how to remember the amendments.

At the conclusion of the lesson, I have the students put away their amendment notes. Then I start of the fast and curious Quizizz again. I listen for the students making connections as the questions come up. For example, 3 bears, no quartering of soldiers, 3rd amendment. The class averages were the following after the lesson: 83%, 83%, 91%, 97%, 100%.


The day after the Bill of Rights lesson, every class begins with that fast and curious Quizizz from the previous day. I gave the students 3-4 minutes to answer the ten questions. The class averages were as follows: 80%, 81%, 85%, 88%, 95%. A slight drop, but still awesome class averages.

Now that we learned about the Bill of Rights, I wanted students to be able to apply the amendments to real life Supreme Court cases. I found a bunch of cases involving students and schools. Here are some of the examples I found:

  1. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) – Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. (2021) – Freedom of Speech with Social Media
  3. Ingraham vs. Wright (1977) – School Punishment

Around the room, I had eight envelopes up. Six of the envelopes contained Supreme Court Cases. Two of the envelopes had some checking for understanding stuff – a Quizizz and EdPuzzle. The EdPuzzle was a quick 2 minute video on how a case gets to the Supreme Court.

The students worked in groups of three to four and had forty minutes to complete as many of the envelopes as possible. Each of the students had to do 2 things:

  1. Discuss and guess which amendment was in question with each of the Supreme Court cases.
  2. Guess how the court ruled in each case.

Each group brought their papers to me and they did a fantastic job guessing the amendments involved. They were all pretty surprised on how the Supreme Court ruled when I told them the results of each case. After I checked their papers, I gave each group a piece of a question. I typed out this question, “Which amendment gave 18 year olds the right to vote?” I cut the question into eight sections. The groups had to piece together the question, find the answer, and the answer unlocked a lockbox.

Inside the lockbox were ten QR codes. Nine of the QR codes were NOT winners. Only one QR code was the winner. Surprisingly, three groups actually chose the winning QR code. I have no clue how.

Now, eighth graders are pretty tricky and sneaky. I know they share my secrets. As a result, I changed the question and lock box code during the day. The other question I typed was, “Which amendment limits the president to two terms?”


The use of Supreme Court Cases on Tuesday leads to a lesson on judicial review. I found an article on iCivics about Marbury vs. Madison. The iCivics article was good, however, I put myself in my students’ shoes and realized I needed to clarify a few things. Basically, I took the articles and reworded some sentences, added a few sentences, and changed some words.

I don’t know why, but background information leading to Marbury vs. Madison is easy for me to understand. However, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the ruling in the case. I had to read it a few times to process it, and figure out to explain it to 8th graders.

When students arrived in class, I had a Quizizz up on the board with 9 questions about Marbury vs. Madison. I’m only sharing one class in this post because I had to leave school early. The class average for the first quiz was 48%. I went over some important words and questions such as: writ of mandamus and judicial review.

Next, I had students use a Frayer with the Supreme Court and Judicial Review. They copied and pasted a Google definition, paraphrased that definition, added 4 characteristics, and added a meme or gif. The students had 8 minutes to complete both Frayers. I really liked how they used information from the EdPuzzle video about the Supreme Court. For example, many of them included that the Supreme Court only hears about 1% of cases that are submitted. Some included that nine justices serve for life.

Next I had the students read the article on Marbury vs. Madison. I also included a History Channel link to a 3 minute video on the case. Students had the option of reading or watching and listening. Many of them chose to do the reading.

The students read about Marbury vs. Madison, and highlighted, for 5 minutes. Then I challenged them to design a Thick Slide using recall with what they just read. Some of them answered the challenge, but most students did not. That’s okay. The Thick Slide had students sharing background information for the case, defining judicial review, including arguments, and decisions, and adding relevant pictures. Here are some samples:

After twenty minutes, we took the same Quizizz again and raised our class average to 83%. My main goal from this lesson was to have the students understand the importance of Marbury vs. Madison and understand Judicial Review. With understanding the importance of Marbury vs. Madison – 85% got that question correct. With understanding Judicial Review – 85% got that question correct as well.


No school – calamity day. Staff had to report, but I had to stay home and take care of my daughter. This has been the month from hell with sickness – flu, pneumonia, coughing, and pink eye.

I used the opportunity to plan for our remote learning day on Friday.


Friday was a remote learning day. This means that I keep things simple. I put together a Constitution review Gimkit. The questions related to the branches of government, Bill of Rights, and the judicial review. For 2 weeks of material, the class averages were okay – 74%, 76%, 79%, 70%, and 84%. At the conclusion of the game, I reviewed the most commonly missed questions. The data was telling me, however, that I need to go back and reteach the Separation of Powers. I may have an Iron Chef or a Retell in Rhyme for next week.

The Week That Was In 505

Saturday night I began to feel weird. Sunday I felt even worse. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to school Monday. It’s rare for me to get super sick, but it seems to be happening more frequently the last few years. Rather than being concerned for myself, I was more concerned how I would begin the Constitution unit being absent from school.

I thought about it, and decided the separation of powers would be the best way to go. Most students are familiar with branches of government, and I had a self-paced choice board. I reviewed the choice board and made a few slight changes. I replaced the Quizlet link with a WordWall link, I changed the Quizizz links, and I replaced the EdPuzzle link from last year with a new video.

Normally, I don’t like to begin the Constitution unit with the Separation of Powers, but it was the best option. With Thanksgiving break, typical school interruptions, and my absences this unit on the Constitution seems to be disjointed, piecemealed together, and rushed. I’m not liking it so far.

I need to slow down a bit and build in more review opportunities. However, I have 2 more weeks before winter break begins. (Last year I had 4 weeks for this unit) I also need to focus more on vocabulary. As a result, I’m currently stuck on:

  1. Do I slow down by adding more gamified review opportunities and vocabulary review? – Doing this means the unit will not be finished before winter break. Our winter break lasts 17 days this year and that’s a loooong time and will affect their 2nd scores on the citizenship test.
  2. Maintain my pace? – I do build in review opportunities with Fast and Curious, and I can get this unit finished by winter break. Most students will probably do well on the citizenship test when I give it again.

I think too much.

Monday – Separation of Powers Choice Board

Tuesday – Separation of Powers Choice Board

Wednesday – Separation of Powers

Thursday – Checks and Balances Breakout (Created by Dominic Helmstetter)

Friday – Choice Day – What Do You Need?

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

The easiest way to begin the Constitution unit, with my absence, was with the Separation of Powers choice board. I created this choice board last with intentional activities for multiple processing styles. The choice board includes different activities such as Frayer, create an infographic, concept sort, EdPuzzle, etc.

Last year’s version had a Quizlet, but I changed this to a WordWall. If you haven’t checked out WordWall, please check it out. I pay, out of pocket, for certain edtech tools (Gimkit, Blooket, Screencastify) and WordWall was instantly added to the list. This site can be used to turn content into review games. It also contains many premade games in the community. Since I already had a concept sort, I created a Separation of Powers game where students wager points before they know each question. They LOVED it.

With all of the activities, students had multiple ways to learn about the different branches of government. They had multiple ways to create learning artifacts they could use to design a superhero as the application activity.

The choice board also contains clear learning goals and an application activity. The learning goals are:

  1. I can identify characteristics and powers of the executive branch
  2. I can identify characteristics and powers of the legislative branch
  3. I can identify characteristics and powers of the judicial branch
  4. I can explain why we have separation of powers
  5. I can create a representation of a branch of government through superhero

The application activity if one of my favorites during the year. I have the students choose a branch of government and turn it into a superhero. While I was out, they could draw a superhero and upload the picture to an action hero template from EMC2Learning. However, when I returned, instructed the students to do the activity on paper. Here are some superhero drawings:


I followed up separation of powers with checks and balances. However, I needed something to get the students collaborating, communicating, and moving. With many lessons, I can easily think of something: CyberSandwich, lecture, some sort of a Gimkit assessment, etc… I needed something new.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I think too much. I came in Thursday morning fully prepared to lecture and do a Gimkit. Then I remembered my friend, Dominic Helmstetter, has amazing government lessons that he does with his freshman class.

I opened up Twitter and found this amazing escape room that Dominic put together. The escape room had some review material, guided notes on checks and balances, a built in assessment, and four locks to solve on with a Google form.

I honestly couldn’t figure out the locks early on Thursday morning, so I made copies of all the files and reworked it for my class. I ended up creating a a 3 step process escape room. Here is what I changed/added:

  1. Iron Chef Review – I took the branches of government review material and deleted the information. I turned it into an Iron Chef. Students worked in groups of 2 or 3 to complete the branches of government Iron Chef. Students had to complete their slides, with my approval, before I gave them the clues/notes sheets on checks and balances. This Iron Chef served as a review for Monday and Tuesday’s separation of powers choice board. If students understood the material, the Iron Chef was easy to complete and wouldn’t hold them back from escaping within 40 minutes. Groups that understood separation of powers finished their Iron Chef slides in under 10 minutes.
  2. Clues/Notes Sheet – The clues/notes sheet is a fill in the blank sheet that paired with a checks and balances chart. I changed some of the blanks to fill in on the sheet. The blanks that students filled in actd as the Google form lock answers.
  3. Assessment – The assessment contained questions relating to the branches of government as well as checks and balances situations. I had to change some of the wording for the questions. This was a nice assessment option to check for student understanding. At the end of the assessment the students got 4 words to unscramble. These words helped unlock one of the four locks on the Google Form.
  4. Lockbox – I have a 3 digit lockbox that students were competing to unlock. If they successfully unlocked all four locks on the Google Form, I gave them a question to unlock the lock box. The question was, “How many total senators and representative make up Congress?” The lockbox code was 535.

When students came into class on Thursday morning, I gave brief directions and gave the students 40 minutes to escape/or breakout. They had a ton of fun. They were communicating, collaborating, engaged, and moving. I love breakouts!


Friday I was out again taking care of my family. Due to me being out for three days this week, students were ALL OVER the place in terms of work completion and understanding. I needed something to address all those needs. So, I stayed up late on Thursday night creating a Google Doc titled, Decide Where Are You and What You Need.

This doc had 4 parts/choices to it:

  1. I need to finish the superhero drawing from lesson 4.1 as well as some other missing work.
  2. I’m confused about Checks and Balances and need to learn more. (Choice Board inspired by Amanda Sandoval)
  3. I understand Checks and Balances but want to explore how it applies to the real world. (Thick Slide news article summary)
  4. I understand Checks and Balances, but I want to learn more about the importance of limited government. (Limited Government lesson created by Amanda Sandoval)

Each part contained a directions video and links for the assignments. Did students take advantage of the options? I have no clue and will know more on Monday. Until then, my beloved Bengals play the Chiefs on Sunday – Who Dey baby!!