Website of the Week: From Cave Paintings to the Internet (Gr. 6-12)

From Cave Paintings to the Internet – The history in information and media

This site has organized great events and advancements in information, media, and communication into one place that can be searched and viewed in a variety of ways. Events have been cataloged going back as far as 2,500,000 BC and as recent as the year 2013. View the vast collection of information in a timeline view, by theme, or by using a Google Maps interface. Each entry comes with a detailed description of the event, the players involved, and links to additional resource materials.


  • This is a great tool for students to have in their research toolbox. When studying or researching a topic, students could use this site to gain insight into the communication and social developments that were going on in the world at the time.
  • The site currently has 3,820 entries and is being updated on a regular basis.

Screenshot of map interface

For more information, please visit Richard Byrne over at

Website of the Week: U.S. Electoral Compass (Gr. 6-12)

U.S. Electoral Compass – How do political priorities change from state to state?

Hosted by the The Guardian News and designed by the social media monitoring experts Brandwatch, this interactive ‘compass’ displays the percentages with which Twitter and online news sites were talking about certain issues in the weeks and months leading up to the 2012 Presidential election in the United States. To activate the compass, choose a state from the list on the left-hand side of the page, then select a date between July 2nd and November 12th from the timeline along the bottom. This will then activate the electoral compass and display data on 30 different policy topics and issues. Change the compass results by selecting another date on the timeline and/or by choosing a different state.

The compass separates the results by political party; results in red represent conversations that included candidate Mitt Romney, results in blue represent those that mentioned Barack Obama. Along the right-hand side of the compass you will find the list of policy topics ranked by importance in that state, as well as some basic biographical information on that state.


  • This site has a lot of potential for several compare-&-contrast activities over time and by state.
  • Start a discussion with students about the role of social media in our electoral process and where they and/or their parents went to consume information about the election.
  • Since the site doesn’t tell us from which news organizations they pulled their data from, ask students to evaluate the credibility of these results.

Thanks goes to for sharing this find.

Website of the Week: The Battle of Gettysburg (Gr. 6-12)

The Battle of Gettysburg – U.S. Army

From, this site provides a brief overview of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The site uses photographs, audio narration, sound effects, and an animated map depicting troop movements to tell the story. Included in the narration are brief biographies of both military leaders as well as the experiences of common folk during the battle. Use the links at the bottom of the interface to access additional information on weaponry, battle statistics, and an epilogue to these events.


  • Use this site to introduce this event in the Civil War timeline, asking students to pick out people and events to conduct further studies of in the future.
  • While this is only a brief overview of the battle, this site could be a helpful tool for students who are absent from class and need to keep up as the unit progresses.

Screenshot of the site interface window

Website of the Week: YTTM (Gr. 3-12)

YTTM – YouTube Time Machine

Back in 2010 I reviewed YTTM which at the time had just debuted and was still in beta testing. Now here we are, it’s 2013 and YTTM is out of testing and continuing to provide a unique way to access streaming video content. YTTM combines the growing library of videos from YouTube with that of a timeline that stretches from present day all the way back to 1860. Obviously there were no videos (or YouTube for that matter) back then, but the timeline is based on the year the video was made OR the year that the video content is related to. At each year marker, the site tells you how many video sources it is pulling from and also allows you to filter videos by up to seven categories.

The only downside to the site is that the videos are displayed randomly, so it can be difficult to locate a video later unless you can remember its title. If you are in the position where you’d like to recall a video from YTTM in the future, click the YouTube logo found in the bottom-right corner of the player. This will transfer you to and the original video post, where you can either bookmark the page or copy-&-paste the share link for the video.


  • This site lends itself quite nicely to the task of comparing and contrasting a variety of visual and media components such as imagery, dialog, etc.
  • Use the Search bar in the top-right corner of the interface to look for videos on a particular theme. When I did a search for ‘president’ I was able to find video footage of President McKinley’s inauguration for a second term circa 1901.

Website of the Week: Cuban Missle Crisis (Gr. 6-12)

Cuban Missile Crisis – Role-play as President JFK

This simple and straight-forward site asks students to sit in the ‘big chair’ as President John F. Kennedy at the time when the United States was facing the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Students will need to consult with each of their cabinet of advisers to get their perspective on the matter by navigating the image map on the page. Students should also consult the brief put together by the CIA. Finally, based on the data they have collected students must choose from five possible actions to take.


  • Use this site to develop personalities and scripts in order to role-play the event in the classroom. Have students gather research on the major players so that they may better portray them in the simulation.
  • Ask students to hypothesizeĀ  how our current president might have handled the situation differently.

A screenshot of the main page with the 5 possible choices listed

Website of the Week: The National Archives

The National Archives – America’s historical documents

Recently, Richard Byrne over at shared a Civil War resource (General Lee’s map of Gettysburg) from the historical documents section of the U.S. National Archives website. In addition to the Civil War, the site has additional documents around the Constitution, Emancipation, the Louisiana Purchase, and even the Apollo 11 flight plan. These documents can be viewed online as well as downloaded to your computer, often in hi-resolution format.

In addition to historical documents the site has sections devoted to ancestry research, World War II photography, and the recently released 1940 Census. There is also a section devoted specifically to teachers that contains lesson plans along with materials for school tours, getting started with primary resources research, and where to find related resources from their network of state and regional locations.

Website of the Week: The Economics of Seinfeld (Gr. 7-12)

The Economics of Seinfeld – Connecting video clips to economic concepts

The Economics of Seinfeld has put together a listing of video clips from the popular “show about nothing” known as Seinfeld to help illustrate a variety of economic concepts and topics. The site has connected over 100 video clips to economic concepts such as intellectual property rights, unlimited wants, supply & demand, movement along a demand curve, trade-offs and more. Each video post is accompanied by a description of the clip, the season the episode aired, the duration of the clip, and comments from other users to help expand the discussion.


  • Please note that the site does not host the actual video clips but rather links to them from other sources, so it would be advisable to take the video clip(s) you would like to use in class for a test drive.
  • Ask students to investigate other popular shows and series to find examples to help illustrate the concepts being discussed in class.

For more information, please visit Richard Byrne over at

Website of the Week: Quiz Factor (Gr. 4-12)

Quiz Factor – Free, fun quiz questions and answers online

This UK-based site contains hundreds of online quizzes covering a wide variety of topics. You can search through their general topics list that include Animals & Nature, Geography & Travel, Literature & Books, Music, Science and more, or you can search for topics alphabetically. The site employs three types of quizzes: Time Trials, the Ladder Board, and True/False. With an account (free) you can take advantage of their newest feature: create your own quizzes and host them on the website.

FYI: I tried my luck at the Robin Hood Time Trial quiz and got 16 out of 20. Can you best my score?


  • If you have access to two computers, divide students into teams and challenge them to who can get the best score in a Time Trial quiz.
  • Because the site is not Flash-based, these quizzes can be accessed from an Apple iOS device, such as an iPad or iPod Touch.

Website of the Week: Yong’s China Quest Adventure (Gr. 1-7)

Yong’s China Quest Adventure – An interactive learning game

Yong’s China Quest provides an interactive approach to learning about China and Chinese culture. While the site is more game than academic, students will be exposed to bits and pieces of information on clothing, figurines, and weaponry as they try to solve puzzles. Where the real learning takes place is by taking the vocabulary and phrases mentioned and asking students to research them for more information. (For example, what role does the Qilin play in the Chinese culture of the past? How about present day?)


  • Use this site as a fun reward activity for students after putting in some hard work and time into their Chinese studies.
  • As suggested above, have students select a topic mentioned in the game and conduct further research to be shared with the rest of the class. This research extension is what some are calling “Google Jockeying.” More information on what this is can be found on Richard Byrne’s blog Free Technology for Teachers.

Google Apps Tip – Historical Imagery

Historical Imagery – Using Google Earth to see change over time

Historical Imagery is a fantastic, yet often overlooked tool found in the free application Google Earth. This tool allows the user to view a location on the planet at different points in time thanks to Google periodically updating its maps with newer satellite images.

To use, find and turn on the Historical Imagery button in the menu bar. This will display a timeline bar with several white marks spaced along it. Each mark represents a different satellite image taken at certain times. To see this tool in action, check out the MLTI Minute video podcast, episode #187: “Using Historical Imagery.”


  • This could be a great tool to use with students to show the impact and change of the landscape over time as a result of human construction projects within the last 20 years or so.
  • I’ve included two screenshots below of our middle school to show how the landscape has changed since its construction.


Middle School of the Kennebunks in May of 2010 and in April of 1998: