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• Explain why European exploration led to cultural clashes and interchange between the Europeans and the native peoples of the areas they conquered. • Relate the events stemming from the Renaissance to the Age of Discovery. • Analyze the impact that took place in Africa and the Americas due to slave trade. • Explain the reasons why Europe was invested in South and Southeast Asia, and the impact of its involvement. • Recognize the ways in which the Columbian Exchange advanced Europe's position in the global community, while decreasing the power of other nations.

My great-uncle Hans was the executive officer (1 Wachoffizier) of the German submarine U-618 during WWII. While on patrol, the sub's activities were recorded in the log (Kriegstagebuch, or war diary). After the war, captured German naval records were microfilmed and archived by the British Admiralty, and copies are stored in the National Archives. Another u-boat researcher, Jerry Mason, was kind enough to send me digital copies of U-618's war diaries, and so I have begun to translate them.    Aside from the family connection, this project is motivated by my interests in WWII naval history and the role that intelligence and cryptography play on the battlefield. Clay Blair's books on the subject are worth a read ("Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters", "Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted", "Silent Victory"); for a great fictionalized account of cryptography's role in war, see Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon".   I've... read more

So you finished your first AP class, and you think you did pretty well. You're taking three of them next year in preparation for college admissions, so you're definitely going to relax over the summer, right? No! While the school year is still fresh in your brain you should consider the following: 1. How could I have been better organized? 2. Where did I struggle? 3. What are my goals for next year, and what do I have to change to achieve them? One of the very first things you can do is get an early start! And it doesn't have to feel like work, make it fun! But by taking a few simple steps over the summer you will be ten steps ahead in September! Are you taking AP Government & Politics? Watch a Sunday news show every week, and write down words, terms, things you don't understand and go look them up online. Watch The West Wing. Read Newsweek cover to cover. Are you taking AP American History? Pick a topic you really enjoyed in middle school social studies... read more

Everyone knows that demonstrating the ability to think critically on tests and assignments and in writing is the way to your teacher’s or professor’s heart. But how do you do that when you don’t even know what critical thinking is? Although “critical thinking” is a much debated term, I would simply call it your ability to analyze a given issue or problem. Okay, great, you say ... so what the heck does that mean? Well ... it depends. There’s all sorts of different types of analysis. A math problem, for example, requires a different type of analysis from say the analysis of a world history essay prompt. Trying to figure out ... or analyze ... , the different reasons why your dog threw up on your favorite pair of sneakers is a bit different from trying to figure out why the author of novel chose to kill off the main character of the book you were just assigned to read. Although, I can see where my description of analysis above might frustrate those expecting a straightforward... read more

The 2013 AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May: May 6 through 10 and May 13 through 17. Click on the following link for more precise dates: For those taking the AP European History, AP US History, AP World History and AP English Language and Composition, the dreaded DBQ section is upon you! Are you ready? Rather than demonstrating extensive knowledge, a confident time management strategy is key to succeeding on this particular part of the test. Because there is so much to do in so little time, students without one may find frayed nerves and draw blanks in the examination room. Receiving a packet containing three-to-sixteen original document sources and an unfamiliar essay prompt question that requires those sources to be organized in response around a sound thesis is enough to make any high-school kid break into a cold sweat. But you don't have to worry, here are some quick tips for developing... read more

In Daniel 5, Belshazzar gets the "handwriting on the wall" (that's where the modern phrase comes from) and Darius the Mede conquers him without hardly a fight. Having drunk soldiers for gate guards will do that. This is the end of Babylon as far as reigning kings. Then Darius takes over and the Medes and Persians reign (as noted in Daniel 2). However, archaeologists could not find Belshazzar if their life depended on it. Outside the Bible, that is. The Book of Daniel was the only historical reference for this king. We had, from archeaology, a complete list of the last kings of babylon and the kings of Persia who took over. Belshazzar was absent from the list. In fact, Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon. So the archaeologists said that Daniel had to be wrong. He was historically inaccurate. In doing this, they made two mistakes: 1) They attacked the champion on a lack of evidence (the bible has always been right and will always be right and is eventually vindicated);... read more

At my regular tutoring job, my new AP US and world history students will sometimes tell me, in detail, just how much they loathe the subject of history. When I ask them why they feel that way, the answer is almost always the same - they've got a dull history teacher at school. This makes me sad. Ever since I could read, I've loved history, and now, twenty years and change later, it's still my favorite subject to read and write about. The old cliche "truth is stranger than fiction" really is true - history is full of amazing characters and unbelievable tales that even the most imaginative fiction author would be hard-pressed to come up with. But history doesn't have to be exciting! Find a sufficiently dull teacher and it can become the purest kind of torture. The teacher who emphasizes names and dates above all else - the teacher who reads straight off of prepared Powerpoint slides, never deviating from the textbook - these are the teachers who truly kill the subject... read more

Nearly all high school and college students have a research paper requirement. Many college students are likely facing imminent research paper deadlines as the semester ends. Writing research papers can cause a lot of anxiety. This article will teach you how to narrow your research topic, clarify your thesis statement, and sort and organize your research to help you simplify your final editing process. Editing for Both Quality and Quantity. One common issue is having a research paper that is either too long or too short. Narrowing and clarifying your topic will help you write a better thesis statement and help you use only your most important or interesting facts and information. A properly focused topic will help save time by helping you use more specific keywords and phrases for your Internet search. You’ll be able to collect the facts you need in no time. Narrowing Your Topic. Many teachers or professors give students a broad research paper topic. For example, your high... read more

Many of my students have told me that Social Studies or History is their worst subject. When I ask why, they say they “just don’t get it”. I usually find out that they have a hard time connecting the dots. For example, they learn about the American Revolution but don’t understand how it connects to King George III and the Declaration of Independence. This article gives parents, tutors, and teachers some hints and tips for helping students connect the people, places, and events of history to improve their comprehension. 1. Use historical thinking skills. The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) is a UCLA - based organization dedicated to collaborating with schools and teachers to provide “engaging and exciting explorations of U.S. and World history.” (From the NCHS mission statement; use this link to visit their website: One powerful tool they created is their list of five historical thinking skills teachers, parents, and tutors can use to... read more

As you know, all teachers (and tutors!) were once students. So they know all the pitfalls that can cause a student to not get their homework done. The reason can be social - maybe the student wants to get his or her work done but the distraction of all the social media is too much to resist. The reason can also be academic - maybe the subject is difficult, such as challenging concepts or perhaps they're faced with an assignment that didn't get explained well enough to be done independently. Or sometimes it's the dreaded PROCRASTINATION. That can be the worst of all reasons to not get work done because the longer you procrastinate, the more the work piles up and then the student becomes "paralyzed", overwhelmed by the mountain of work that has accumulated. When procrastination has gotten the better of you, the important thing is to not let yourself be so overwhelmed that you don't do the work at all. Here's what you do: PRIORITIZE AND GET STARTED! It is a simple phrase... read more

Well, for my first blog, I'd like to discuss the tricks of writing a quality history paper. First of all, there is an excellent guide for new and experienced writers called Writing History by William Kelleher Storey. This book walks students through every stage of the writing process, from narrowing down topics to revising drafts. I recommend this book to any student interested in history, especially those considering on pursing history studies in college. The first trick I can offer to students is to pick a broad topic of interest when preparing to write a paper. As you research the topic, you will be able to narrow down a more specific topic that interests you. For example, if you are instructed to write a paper on a certain aspect of World War I, start by doing a quick reading of major World War I events. Through this reading, you might find that Hitler's use of concentration camps interest you. Now that you have a general topic, you might try a second general reading to get an... read more

When using the internet, it is important to make sure you have a quality source to site from. There are a varity of websites and blogs that are written with bias or an agenda, you always want to be confident you've sited a professional and not an ideologue. Colleges and libraries have a database you can access that have quality sources, and most everyone should have free access to them, but if you're like me, and you like to use something your professor hasn't seen or possibly is unaware of, then I suggest you look into the Library of Congress and the National Archives as a primary source. If you are looking for professional opinions, then I would suggest finding professors that have published works. They can be a great secondary source that can either confirm or dispute your thesis and theories. NEVER use blogs! Never use wikipedia, although some material on wiki is a good place to start your research; to gain some perspective on your subject, most professors will not accept wikipedia... read more

The worst thing for a student can be summer vacations. The last thing on their minds is to keep up on what they learned throughout the previous school year. They want fun, freedom, excitement. None of these are often used by students to describe learning or school. However, it is important to their continued mental development that they maintain their level of understanding from school year to school year. Too much time is lost at the beginning of each school year trying to catch back up. This slipping backward can be avoided by doing simple skills every day during summer vacation. Math students should continue to work on math problems throughout the summer. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division can be done easily without pen or paper. A trip to the store or gas station can be a quick quiz for most elementary math students if a motivated parent or sibling is willing to ask them questions. Fun and entertaining math problems can be found online as well that can engage a... read more

This blog is specific to the AP (Advanced Placement Exams). Not to date myself any further but how things have changed. When I was in High School, there were only a handful of exams that a student could sit for in terms of Advanced placement exams. There were your basic sciences, such as Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, and of course English Literature and US Government. However, nowadays, students have up to 34 AP exams to choose from, ranging from Chinese to Art History to French or any other subjects a student could imagine. So why sit for these exams? what are the advantages? First is the tangible benefits, which are: 1. Taking and acing the AP exams are much cheaper than paying for college credits at most major universities. Thus, students who prepared in advanced, no pun intended, could easily see major financial savings. 2. By passing AP exams and earning college credits, you graduate sooner. Also, allowing you to have either a lighter course load or allowing... read more

(A glossary of the words spelled in all capital letters in this blog post appears at ITS end. See how much you can understand without looking at the glossary. Students: Remember to write new words in your vocabulary journal.) Introduction EVIDENCE of the Christian holiday Christmas is everywhere in December. The TWELVE days of Christmas begin on December 25, commonly called Christmas Day. December 26, more commonly in the United Kingdom than in the United States, is known as Boxing Day. However, at the time that this Christmas CAROL was written, BOXING DAY was also called the FEAST OF STEPHEN. This refers to Saint (St.) Stephen, a ROMAN CATHOLIC SAINT. The Holiday Song The LYRICS of “Good King Wenceslaus” (below) were written by John M. Neale (1818–1866). This carol was first published in Car­ols for CHRISTMAS-TIDE, by Neale with Thomas Helmore (1811–1890). This book was published in 1853. The MELODY comes from a 13th-cen­tu­ry (1200s A.D.) Latin spring... read more

My emerging tutoring passion is assisting ESL college students with their coursework. Most of them must also hold full-time jobs to support themselves and often their families as well. Many require online courses to get college educations. They could not earn a college degree any other way. Do textbook publishing companies realize how much cultural bias is written into their online ancillary (supplemental) materials? Do teachers of online college courses realize how hopeless these students feel about merely passing a class when their grades depend on online multiple-choice exams consisting of 60 items to be completed in 60 minutes (60 in 60), for example? This may be a subtle form of cultural bias, but bias it is. Frankly, as a native speaker of American English with a master’s degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison, I’m not sure I could pass a 60 in 60 exam. I would like to challenge the instructors who teach these online courses and college administrators... read more

For many of us remembering back to high school History classes can be painful. The material was presented in a dry manner having students remember dates and places. This has always been a problem with teaching History because students are given the similar information year after year. So how do we address this problem? For a History teacher who wants to engage their students it means a lot of extra work. Using resources outside of the textbook is imperative. For instance when discussing the "Gold Rush" Sam Brannon is discussed even though you won't find him in most textbooks. We will also discuss why Johann Sutter whose land the first gold was found on may not have wanted outsiders to know of the find. We also explore if "Gold Rush" is an appropriate name considering that the gold was know about since the 1600's. We also use more primary sources than most classes because we investigate the writings of primary people involved in the events we are studying like reading... read more

One of the big questions students have is why do people follow controversial leaders? By using the concept of a "Hero or a Villain" we can make history easy to understand for our students. With this concept students have an opportunity to the actions of leaders from both their supporters and opponents view points. In this way students gain a well rounded and knowledgeable basis for judging historical events and people. Let me give you an example. Let's take the case of George Washington and his colleagues To us as American's they are definately hero's because of the many freedoms we enjoy today. To the British at this time period they would be considered villains or what we call today terrorists because they were trying to overthrow the government. This will lead to a discussion of when is someone who is fighting the government a "freedom fighter" and when are they "rebels". These kinds of opinion driven discussion keep students engaged and interested... read more

World History, European History, American History, Government & Politics, Religion, English, ESL/ESOL, Vocabulary, and Public Speaking can be challenging courses--especially if they are presented in a tedious and boring manner that doesn't facilitate or encourage learning the subject. These courses can be very fun because each of these course interrelate to each other. The world ethnic groups each touch our lives on an individual basis. Having worked many years in various forms of the travel sector. Whether it was as a hotel/motel desk clerk, customer service agent with two well-known car rental agencies, or as a customer service agent with a national airline, I have discovered the importance of each of these courses in relating with people daily. Having traveled traveled much of the United States, to Cairo, Egypt, and having taught English as a second language in South Korea for one year, I understand the thrill of known some historical information about these areas and the language... read more

I worked with a really great student today. She was studying for her AP History exam and was nervous, but she had already worked very hard and just needed to be refreshed in some things. I was really impressed because she had been very proactive and gone out and found the hardest questions she could that might be on her upcoming exam, things that she hadn't learned in class. She spent a great deal of time asking me questions and we both got very excited by all the connections she was able to make after she learned the things she had missed before. I have so much confidence in her for the AP exam and I'm excited for all the things she learned on her own, with me, and in class.

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