Ms. A's Class

Integrating U. S. History with Educational Technology

Deborah T. Aufdenspring
New Technology High School
Napa, California


(Click here for quick e-mail to me. I particularly welcome e-mail from students and parents. If you've already read this introductory page with its descriptions of my other pages and of New Technology High School, and want quick access to those pages, click here for a Site Index.)

Welcome to the web site for my classes at Napa's New Technology High School.
I teach the history part of a combined U. S. History and American Literature class at New Tech. I team-teach with my colleague, Sandra Mings-Lamar, who is responsible for the literature part of the course. Farther down this page is a brief description of what it's like to teach at New Tech, a school where all students and staff members have Pentium grade computers on their desks.

There are currently about 20 pages at this site. They are roughly broken into four categories. The first category, aimed at parents, deals with information about the class and information about me. The second category of pages, aimed at my students, is intended to help them with their studies and with life after New Tech. Thirdly, there are a number of pages, aimed at the community and parents. that show off my students' work. It's wonderful to work with these young people and I'm thrilled that the net gives me a chance to show everyone what they can do. The last category of pages is aimed at teachers. I'd like to share with my colleagues some lesson ideas that have been fun.

Some of these pages are mirrored at the New Technology High School web site. If you are having trouble accessing any page here (particularly those with sound files), try New Tech. An apologia for the pages follows near the bottom of this page. Some words about copyright are also at the bottom of the page.

If you are one of my student's parents, you might find my Course Outline and Class Guidelines interesting. If you want to know more about me, there is a page with FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Ms. A. I've also included my resume, partially for student and parent information, partially as an example for students in my Internship class. [Students at New Tech are required to work, and all teachers teach a (work) internship class.]

If you are one of my students, I have a number of pages at this site that you might find useful. Homework Help - History is a page with example links to historical periods we will be studying this semester. Homework Help - Search and Cite Site is a page that contains links to a variety of search engines, reference works (including a Spanish/English dictionary), research paper citation guidelines, and bots. Homework Help - Chat will be a page where you'll be able to chat with me online about homework and school two evenings a week. I don't know the exact date when the chat function will be functional, but I'll let you know in class.

I've also included a page for both students and their parents called Juniors - Careers and College. This page contains links about SAT's, finding a college or vocational school, finding scholarships and applying for student loans, and about real life in the workplace.

Since all work and no play makes for a tiring time on the net, there is a page with some (school related) Fun Links.

Tipper Gore, left, wife of the Vice-President, listens to Devina Whitley, standing, explain her music video analysis project. I look on from in front of the window, and think, "Wow, what a great place to teach."

If you are a parent or a browser from the community, I'd love to show you some of our students' work. One of the first projects we did this year was to have our students analyze music videos (rock, country, metal, etc.) An example of that analysis was shown to Tipper Gore (see picture above) when she visited the school. Another lesson we did was to have students write haiku about the Roaring Twenties. We figured if you could distill an historical event into 17 syllables in three lines of poetry, you were on your way to mastering the concepts surrounding that event. You can hear students read their haiku if your browser will process .wav files (most will). Otherwise the text is there.

We had a Congresssional hearing at New Tech in January, chaired by Congressman Frank Riggs. With Sandra, I put together a web page for the event that was part explanation of a Congressional hearing, part explanation of New Tech High for the committee, and part assignment for our students. An amended page is now available that contains some of the testimony that students mailed to the committee after studying the issues being heard. This is a huge page and a lengthy download, but worth it. It also now contains the testimony of our superintendent, Dr. David E. Brown , and the school's director, Mark Morrison.

In addition to the student work above, here is a page of assorted cool student work that deserves, for one reason or another, web publication.

I often present lesson plans and assignments to our students as web pages rather than giving them handouts or writing on our whiteboard. Here are the web pages that introduced the students to Music Video Analysis and writing Haiuku about History. The music video analysis page, with its captured video stills, is another huge page that requires a lengthy download.

Another project that I loved, I did last year at Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp, California. This was an exercise in "Virtual Verse", made possible by a mini-grant from Central California Computer Using Educators.

Once or twice a year we play Pictionary© in history class. But we don't use the board game and its subject matters. Students draw at the whiteboard trying to communicate concepts such as "vertical integration of the oil industry", (e.g., Rockefeller and the oil trust). Like the use of image in the haiku lesson plan, I felt that if a student could draw a picture of one of these abstract historical or economic concepts, they would be well on the way to mastering the concept. The use of the Pictionary© paradigm is not something I came up with. I don't know what innovative history teacher first developed this lesson plan or I'd send them roses and give them credit.

Some teachers might be interested in how we grade the multimedia history projects our students turn in. The multimedia grading rubric presented here was cobbled together from work other teachers did before me; it's not particularly original. As with the Pictionary© lesson plan above, I wish I knew the teachers' names who created the parts of the rubric so that I could give them credit.

I have also placed a quasi-BulletinBoard at this site where some of the comments or corrections about the site that are e-mailed to me will be posted. This page might also function as a place where former students of mine can post a paragraph or two to let me (and any of their classmates who browse in) know what they are doing now.

Lastly, there are two sites I would recommend to teachers. I had the good fortune to work on two different statewide social studies projects sponsored by the state of California. The LegiSchool Project was sponsored by the state Legislature. The California State Archives is developing curricula for our schools and is sponsored by the Secretary of State's office.

Please note: On my site, I have included a lot of outside links to other people's, or organization's, web pages. I'd like to remind students and parents that the content of those web pages is subject to change. If you find anything on any of the web pages I've linked to that has changed so that it is not suitable for our classroom use, please let me know.

Teaching at New Tech

Our Integrated History/English classes have approximately 66 students in them, which is a lot in some ways. In other ways, it isn't such a large class because there is a Hewlett-Packard Pentium computer at every desk, and students and teachers are all tied together throughout the day. Even though we are physically present together in the room, it is often more important that we are electronically present together. Students and teachers are linked at all times through e-mail and a new beta version of Lotus Notes, an intranet program commonly used in the business world. Our school was founded with a business orientation.

Students at NTHS take classes in Multimedia Design, Computer Applications and two college level classes, as well as the usual math, English and history classes. Each teacher also teaches a work internship class as all students are expected to work a job.

In this technological environment, Ms. Mings-Lamar and I designed our class to take advantage of the state-of-the-art technology available at NTHS. Textbooks are used as reference material and from that framework students use the internet (they can connect at will), the Electric Library and CD-ROMs to access primary and secondary sources in their studies, We have no physical library. Students work in groups and individually to produce papers (Yes, we still do that. There is no replacement for writing.) and projects that employ web technologies, PowerPoint presentations, databases and spreadsheets, video and animation to demonstrate what they have learned.

Teachers, too, are presenting material in new ways. As mentioned above,
I often present lesson plans and assignments to our students as web pages rather than giving them handouts or writing on our whiteboard. There are advantages to this in that the assignments can include multimedia components and can point students to particular resources on the web they might not find on their own. The web pages are put together quickly with a page editor (in this case Adobe's Pagemill) rather than being written in HTML. 

We wanted our class, which has the mind-numbing title of "Integrated United States History and American Literature," to make use of technology resources that could connect students to research, other resources and people throughout the world. At the same time, we knew that processing information, synthesizing material and, most importantly, appreciating the human story in both history and literature required time to read and think and ponder. Weaving together these approaches remains an exciting experiment and challenge.

For more information about New Technology High School, visit New Tech's home page, or read a couple of articles that were transcribed from TV stories done about the school on CNN and MSNBC. (Note: I don't know how long these news organizations keep their stories in their archives or how often they might change their story URLS, so these might turn into dead links.) Additional information about the school is available in the middle of the Congressional Hearing page at this site.

You might also be interested in knowing who our business partners are. Without them, we wouldn't exist.


Apologia - I hope this page is being presented well on your browser. Some of the pages take a while to load because of the pictures of the school and students. Others are slow to load because they were originally designed to display on our school's intranet server. I included the pictures in order to give some images of a fairly unique high tech school. If you're not interested in what New Tech feels like, turn off the image loading feature of your browser. The pages will load much faster.

Copyright - Some of the pictures at this site are video-capture stills from TV broadcasts. Copyrights remain with the respective broadcasters or their subagents. Use of those pictures at this site and in the classroom are deemed to be "educational fair use" under the current Copyright Act, although permission for use has been, or is being, applied for. Additional copyright information can be found on the "Analyzing Music Videos - Assignment" page. Content from contributors to this site, such as students and administrators, is deemed to be copyright by the respective contributors, but available for use under the last two sentences of this paragraph. All other content at this site is Copyright 1996 and 1997 by Deborah Aufdenspring. Educators are free to use my content in the classroom. Only attempts to sell that content are prohibited.

I'd like to thank my co-teacher, Sandra Mings-Lamar for all of her input and for just being a great person to work with. I'd also like to thank my school and its staff and the district for making a lot of this possible. Mostly, I'd like to thank my husband, Gary, for being a wonderful husband, and for all his help with this site.

Thanks for looking at my pages, particularly if you're a parent.


Site Index - Ms. A's Class:

Ms. A's Class Home Page - descriptions of pages; what it's like to teach at New Tech; site index.
Course Outline and Class Guidelines - themes of study; behavior and grading policies.
Homework Help - History - example sites for the quarter's history themes; general reference history sites.
Homework Help - Search and Cite Site - search engines; bots; dictionaries and reference books (sites).

Homework Help - Chat - future "chat with Ms. A" site.
Juniors - College and Careers - college information; scholarship and loan information; career and workplace information.
Analyzing Music Videos - Assignment - web page used to introduce students to an "Analyzing Music Videos for Historical and Social Content" assignment.
Analyzing Music Videos - Student Work - students analyze videos by Billy Joel (Leninrgad) and Metallica (Right Now).
Haiku and History - Assignment - web page used to introduce students to haiku and using haiku to describe historical events; haiku on the Gold Rush, Gettysburg.
Haiku and History - Student Work, Roaring Twenties - student haiku on Marcus Garvey; Teapot Dome; the Palmer Raids and more events from the 1920's.
Congressional Hearing At New Technology High School - information about the Congressional Committee and about New Tech High School and its business partners; witness testimony; student assignment and completed projects. This is a huge page and a lengthy download, but worth it.
Life in the Fishbowl - showcasing other student work.
Pictionary© and History - using a Pictionary type game in teaching U.S. History.
Virtual Verse - digitizing student poetry for the community, parents; poetry slams.
Multimedia History Projects Grading Rubric - one way to grade multimedia projects.
Some Fun Stuff - all work and no play, etc.
FAQ about Ms. A - teachers are human, too.
Resume - Deborah Aufdenspring - more teacher info.
Sandra Mings-Lamar - An introduction to my co-teaher at New Tech.
Quasi-BulletinBoard - A place for some comments about this site to be posted and for former students to update me (and former classmates) about their lives.


E-mail me.

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