Masters of the Mountain: The Incas

The Incas were a mightly civilization that lived throughout the Andes mountains on the western side of South America. Like the Aztecs, they reached their peak in the 1400’s, but were conquered by Francisco Pizarro and his Spanish conquistadors in 1533. Despite the lack of a written language, the Incas are well known for their achievements in government and law, their masterful use of rope and roadways to send messages and their beautiful mountaintop cities.

Check out the follwoing link for some readings about the Incas:

You can also explore more online resoucres including websites, presentations and games with this link:

Leave me a comment and let me know what you discover.


Proving Aztec Hypotheses With Wallwisher

After viewing Diego Rivera’s The Great┬áCity of Tenochtitlan, my students wrote several hypotheses describing what they believed Aztec life was like in the capital of Tenochtitlan. We used and our History Alive textbook to find evidence to prove or disprove the hypotheses. Once students had drawn their own conclusions, they posted their findings on a virtual classroom wall provided by

Here are our conclusions…


Did The Mayans Predict The End Of The World?

Recently, whenever I mention the Maya, I always have a student exclaim that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012! He or she knows this because the Mayan’s predicted it hundreds of years ago. Can this prophecy be true? I certainly hope not, but I turned to the experts to find the truth.

Here is an explanation of the prophecy from the History Channel:

The media is picking up on this doomsday prophecy. It is getting attention from news organizations and Hollywood movie studios alike. Below is a clip from ABC News discussing the prophecy and it’s potential validity.
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In hopes that this prophecy is nothing more than a misunderstanding, I turned to the experts on time and space, NASA. I found that according to NASA, “Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.” The experts agree that the Mayan “long count” calendar comes to an end on December 21, 2012, but instead of the end of the world, a new cycle will begin the process all over again on December 22. Although this explanation isn’t as exciting to my 8th graders as the end of the world, it highlights the expertise in astonomy and mathematics that the Mayans possessed to be able to create such an accurate calendar.

Justinian & Theodora: A Couple For The Ages!

Justinian and his wife Theodora ruled the Byzantine Empire at its height, but who is the man behind the myths, fame, and jewels?

Are we really to believe Theodora rose from the daughter of simple circus performers to become the most powerful woman in Byzantium? How did she go on to save her kingdom and improve the lives of its women?

Flocabulary’s “Gettin’ Byzzy With It” Highlights The Importance of the Byzantines

Many students think that after the city of Rome falls around 500 A.D. the Roman Empire is lost forever, but the truth is that the empire’s eastern half continues on and thrives for hundreds of years. It is known as the Byzantine Empire and is ruled from the great city of Constantinople on the Black Sea.

The city of Constantinople is blessed by geography to be a natural center for trade between Asia and Europe. As a result, it becomes one of the richest cities on Earth. It is the birthplace of a branch of Christianity known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and home to the amazing Hagia Sopia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) and Hippodrome.

The Byzantine Empire is credited with preserving the ancient knowledge of the Greeks and Romans and for delivering the Code of Justinian, which greatly impacted legal systems around the world. Under the rule of Justinian I and his wife Theodora, the empire expanded to new heights and protected the rights of women!

The following clip uses Flocabulary’s “Gettin’ Byzzy With It” song to illustrate some of the greatest achievements of the Byzantine Empire.

Wouldn’t You Get Tired Of Fighting After 100 Years?

For over 100 years, England and France battled (literally) over the control of disputed lands in France. From as far back as William the Conqueror’s victory at the battle of Hastings in 1066, England and France had been connected through feudal alliances of the nobles. The English sought to keep control of these lands in France, while the French naturally wanted to be free of English interference. Interesting subplots to this story include the emergence of new forms of weapons including the longbow and cannon and the story of Joan of Arc, a young French girl who rallies the French to eventual victory.

An easy to understand overview of the Hundred Years War can be found here.

First hand accounts of Joan of Arc’s trial can be found here. You can see her responses to the questions of her inquisitors and the testimony of others that was used to condemn her.

Below is a National History Day video project produced by Dana Neidinger for her high school NHD competition.

Below are music videos intended to explain two key topics of the Hundred Years War: The battle of Agincourt and the story of Joan of Arc.

A Plague On Both Your Houses (And All Of Europe!)

In late 1347 a deadly strain of bacteria was carried to Europe on board trade ships traveling from Asia. In three short years, this microscopic organism would change Europe forever by horrifically causing the death of tens of millions, maybe more.

Check out an article from the History Channel that gives a brief overview of the “Black Death” here. You will find information and short video clips about the Bubonic Plague.

Watch this edited version of “The Plague” by the History Channel.


Below is a music video intended to explain the key topics of the Bubonic Plague.


See The Magna Carta In Person

One of the four remaining original copies of the Magna Carta is now permanently on display at the National Archives in Washington D.C. courtesy of David M. Rubenstein. It is housed in a protective case alongside the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to help preserve the 800 year old document. Now, it is open to the public to view (for free too)!

You can visit the National Archives site to learn more about the Magna Carta and it’s influence on the United States here.
You will find a translation of the document, a picture with the ability to zoom in, and lots of information.

Here is how the experts at the National Archives keep the Magna Carta safe:

Below is a podcast by Mr. Zoller that does a good job explaining the history behind the Magna Carta. He also compares the government of Medieval England with that of America today.

Let’s Review!

Please take time this evening to review your notes, textbook and my videos to make sure you are ready for the quiz tomorrow. I have created a review for you to watch that will highlight the setup of the quiz and what you need to know. Please view it and let me know if you have any questions before the quiz. You can send me an email at!