History Blogs / Resources

OK, most of the history resources here aren't technically "blogs" so much as research-friendly sites. They have, however, proven quite valuable to my poor students (and often me as well) either this year or in classrooms gone by. Do with them what you will. 

Crash Course History - Crash Course History is part of a series of YouTube videos by John Green (yes, THAT John Green), his brother, and a variety of experts on various topics. I've assigned a number of these as 'Required Viewing' for my darlings, but many are helpful even if I don't. In addition to those specifically categorized as American or World History, there are crossovers into Mythology, Philosophy, etc., which can very much help illuminate some rather murky topics for both them and me.

Hip Hughes History - Keith Hughes is one of the most prolific history preceptors on all the interwebs. While his strength is AP U.S. History, he covers a variety of other topics effectively and energetically. Less visual than Crash Course, my kids tend to come to Hughes second rather than first. Still, I find him a valuable resource on too many topics to count. Also, I like his hair.

History Summarized (Overly Sarcastic Productions) - This is another video series by folks who seem to have a variety of interests, sometimes use 'R'-rated language (sorry), and who at times might think they're funnier than they are. And yes, I realize it's ironic that I'd make this observation about ANYONE, ever. Still, the history videos I've watched so far are pretty decent - heavy on info, good perspective, and they're interesting enough. Since they cover some stuff not well-covered by Crash Course or Hip Hughes, and cover other stuff differently than either of those, I figured they're worth including. And honestly, the more I watch, the more they grow on me. 

Ancient History Encyclopedia - What a lifesaver. Well-organized, easy to search, and loaded with well-researched articles. Ancient History Encyclopedia has all the conveniences of Wikipedia minus the periodic chaos inherent in the format. It's writers are legit qualified and able to zero in on the essentials, while still writing with enough "voice" to keep things interesting. This is one you can peruse for fun but still feel all uppity about how educational you're being.

Essential Humanities -  This is a new one to me this year, but so far it looks quite promising. It's easy to search, and seems to be a big fan of timelines centering around particular topics. It does have a bad habit of linking to things on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary site which don't always exist, but that's an irritation rather than a deal-breaker. As far as online sources go, I've found this site second only to Ancient History (above) in terms of validity and usefulness.

Atlas Obscura - I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it has some fascinatingly random articles about stuff scattered all over the world and across the timeline. Most pieces are fairly short and give just enough background information to frame what you're reading. It's fairly easy to search and has lots of pictures, so... yay. On the other hand, it's full of ads and pop-ups to the point that it's sometimes not worth the headache. Also, the tight focus of the short articles can be a downside if you don't already know the basic background information to whatever you're searching. I wouldn't START here for my research, but it still has some fascinating bits once you have a foundation.

The Smithsonian Magazine - This one is quite readable, although it's not organized as or intended to be a research site. This is the online magazine of the Smithsonian Institute - you know, the museum and research people largely powered by the U.S. Government from back when we used to believe in education and knowledge and facts and stuff. So on the one hand, if you do find an article about whatever you're looking for, it's probably well-researched, well-written, and not particularly hard to read. On the other hand, you're just as likely to run into a giant photo essay about the color-changing powers of the octopus or the renewed efforts to colonize Mars. Still, it's worth checking out once you've exhausted the standard options, or if you're just looking for something to surprise you.

The History Blog - As the name suggests, this is a History Blog - meaning it's not really intended as a resource for research or for the casual reader. Posts tend to be uber-specific and focused on current historical discoveries, with subjects like "Largest Old Kingdom obelisk fragment found in Saqqara" or "Irma canoe could date to the 1600s." So I'm not sure I'd START here for anything you're trying to learn about for the first time, but I'm including it for the extensive variety of stuff it tackles and because even though I don't think I use it much, I still keep ending up here poking around from time to time.  

Strange Company: A Walk on the Weird Side of History - Need I explain why this is one of my favorite things on the interwebs? Yes, the unifying theme is the odd or inexplicable, but you'll learn a surprising amount of normal, useful history along the way. And don't neglect the weekend link dumps - OMG the cornucopia of it all!

Boston 1775 - This blog is a miscellany of information about New England just before, during, and after the Revolutionary War, and about how that history has been studied, taught, preserved, politicized, mythologized, lost, recovered, discussed, described, distorted, and now digitized. It's surprisingly fascinating for something so seemingly specific. Also, apparently there were blogs in 2006 - who knew? 

Mimi Matthews (Romance, Literature, History) - Matthews primarily writes about society and personalities of the 19th century. I realize this may not sound fascinating on the surface, but I find myself sucked into reading her posts more than just about any other history-driven blogger. Who knew hoop-skirts and cat funerals could shine so much light on our culture and our humanity - then and now?

All Things Georgian - this has nothing to do with the American South, and everything to do with, um... the Georgian Era. Sarah & Joanne, genealogists and historians, spend their time immersed in this era, determined to ensure that in each blog there is at least one piece of information that is not already in the public domain. They're writing books and everything, so they must know what they're talking about, right? I like this one. 

Shorpy - Historic Pictures Archive. How could I resist? As you might figure out from the focus on photography, most of it's centered on the past 150 years or so...

Education & Educational Blogs and Reference

Although I'm no longer trapped in Oklahoma, you'll no doubt see my #oklaed bias reflected in this list. That's less about my clinging to the past and more about the ridiculous number of insanely talented writers and educators concentrated in a state doing more than just about any other to destroy the very concept of quality public education or government of-the-by-the-for-the. Then again, self-defense is a primal drive, and educated people wouldn't vote for the entrenched powers of Oklahoma, even with all the gerrymandering and dark money lies. I wouldn't want them to get smarter either, if I were the Oklahoma GOP.

Curmudgucation @palan57 - Curmudgucation may be the most consistently funny-because-it's-true site out there, on the subject of education or anything else (although I suppose it's also possible that bitterness simply resonates with me more than some). I don't always agree with Mr. Greene, but he does have that whole 'make you think' thing going. To be honest, I'm often rather jealous at how much better he is at it than I am.

A View From The Edge / @edgeblogger - Rob Miller is an Oklahoma educator/administrator who offers solid commentary on public education issues, sometimes referencing Oklahoma specifically but often addressing the larger struggle for sanity facing our poor broken nation. Reliable substance, usually with a dose of mirth - or at least a wry comment or two. Mr. Miller usually manages to stay warm and likeable even when dealing with frustrating topics. 

The Zen Teacher / @thezenteacher - I realize the theme may throw some of you, but Dan Tricarico somehow just... I mean, yes - it's really Zen. And yes, it's often small things designed to help you focus and feel and process and - Look, it's completely legit accessible non-crazy and you should at least check it out. I'm better for visiting each time I do.

Three Teachers Talk / @AmyRasmussen - @ErikaBogdany - @LitReader - @JackieCatcher - This is one of those blogs I almost don't want to like. It's filled by multiple ELA-types (more than three, plus regular guest-bloggers), and the focus is usually on reading and writing. Some of it is very content-specific (I can't claim I'm too worked up about thoughts on a good Poetry Unit), but other times they get me all challenged and inspired by how I approach literacy, and reading novels, and writing just about anything, in my class. 

Mr. Anderson Reads & Writes / @MrAndersonELA - Peter Anderson is an English guy with enough pedagogy and academic history to be all kinds of credible, but with a focus on the practical and the useful for real teachers and real kids in real classrooms. I don't even teach ELA and I benefit from almost every post I read here. 

OKEducationTruths / @okeducation - Probably the most tenacious and substantive Oklahoma Education watchdog around. Sometimes quite hilarious, but the facts come first and hard. OKEducationTruths is generally smarter and better informed that me - thank goodness!

Fourth Generation Teacher / @ClaudiaSwisher - A retired educator who's seen it all (or who's at least seen a lot of it), Ms. Swisher speaks with experience and tenaciousness about education issues, largely as they unfold in Oklahoma. Generally only posting when she's driven by events, she nevertheless appears when needed - like Batman. FGT tends to be in the middle of major events and reporting firsthand, or as close as one can get to it without being arrested. Essential reading for those of you in the "We'd Rather Not Even Be OK" state. 

Teaching From Here / @TeachFromHere - Scott Haselwood is one of those math types who also writes pretty darn well and has a broad, passionate perspective on all things public ed. That kinda breadth, I suspected a #CommonCore influence - but we checked him out, and he's clean.

For The Love / @MeghanLoyd - Meghan Loyd combines the insights of a veteran with the heart of a young educator passionately focused on what's good for kids. I've been known to harass her about her 'unicorns and rainbows' approach, but just between you and me... I'm really glad she's doing it. Go read her. 

This Teacher Sings / @MrsDSings - Mindy Dennison is quite an interesting character. At heart she's a vocal music instructor passionate about the arts and educating the whole child. When something gets under her skin, however... well, let's just say she's been getting a tad snarky. I know, I know - whatever will we do? I love Mindy's writing and I love her heart. 

L.Z. Marie / @LZMarieAuthor - Marie is an English teacher and writer of history-laden fantasy books, both of which make her interesting but neither of which landed her on this page. Her webpage/blog is full of interesting literary tools and insights - symbols and metaphors to look for or consider when writing yourself, ponderings on the writing process, and other quirky-accessible bits of brilliance. You can get lost there and learn your way out days later, so bring supplies.

JennWillTeach / @JennWillTeach - Jennifer Williams is charter #11FF and one of my favorite voices on all of social media. While she has some golden posts here already, I'm partly including her in hopes it will pressure her to blog more often. In other words, can we focus more time and energy on entertaining ME, please?!?

Diane Ravitch / @DianeRavitch - This is her home page, but it links to her personal blog as well as various published articles and such. Ms. Ravitch is one of the most important voices in education today and has been nothing but gracious and supportive the few times I've interacted with her. 

The Becoming Radical @plthomasEdD - Paul Thomas is an educator and writer who packs particular punch when discussing race and equity and dismantling our cultural myths, assumptions, and dissimulations. Challenging reading, especially if you come from my world, but reliable balance of scholarship and readability.

The Jose Vilson / @TheJLV - Math teacher, writer, and activist who makes me think far too hard and makes me very uncomfortable more often than not. I'll keep reading until I figure out exactly why. In the meantime, I learn more than I squirm - definitely worth a follow.

If there's a favorite blog I haven't listed, but which you think should be included, let me know. I'm all kinds of accommodating like that.

Please Sir