Top Ten Reasons to Read This Page

Academic writing is not my strong point. Neither are bubble-tests. I wish I could show my smarts for test grades in other ways. Such as:
  • NEW 11. Film Critic / Video Essay: "I just uploaded my video essay on to youtube! I’ve never uploaded anything on to youtube before so I’m glad that everything’s working well so far. I had a lot of fun making this video, i watched Life is Beautiful a few years ago and fell in love with it so I knew that this would be a good movie to analyze. I went out to buy it this week and then ripped it with Mac The Ripper. I then converted it into m4v form using Handbreak and then chopped up the scenes with MPEG Streamer. All of these softwares worked really well, I’m glad we were encouraged to use them because they made the whole process a lot easier. I then did the final editing onto iMovie and that’s where I recorded my audio as well. I hope everyone likes the video essay, it came out a bit lengthy but I felt it necessary to include as many scenes as I did.
  • 10. I'm a talker. Listen to me for ten minutes and I'll show you I understand more than the test scores show -- and I'll be way more interesting when doing it. (Go to Podcasting.)
  • 9. I'm an artist. Let me make graphics -- drawings, comics, posters, etc -- that show my understanding so my scores are higher, and my class-work is more interesting to me.
  • 8. I'm a clown. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do history the way I'd like to. Let me get playful like they do, and I'll show you my smarts while (trying to) make you laugh and think at the same time.
  • 7. I'm a musician. I'd love it if I could write and produce music about things I find interesting in this class for a history grade.
  • 6. I'm interested in film-making. I'd like to practice the basics -- pitching a movie idea by writing a short "treatment" of the plot and characters, or writing scenes in screenplay form and directing short snippets of them -- and get test credit for it. (Go to Scriptwriting and Filmmaking.)
  • 5. I'm a poet / rapper / songwriter. Let me set this Chinese history stuff in verse and give me credit for it.
  • 4. I'm a gamer. Let me imagine video games about this stuff and write business pitches explaining how they would help students learn Chinese history through gaming. Or let me design and create a game about history. (Go to Gaming and Coding)
  • 3. I'm into business. Let me create business plans selling historical tours to China (or other ideas). I'll plan itineraries, make the brochure for the history/culture tourism niche, and maybe make a buck off this class in the future by showing people there's more than the bloody Great Wall to check out in China.
  • 2. I'm a creative writer, not an academic essay writer. Let me write imagined scenes based on the history -- slices of life, dialogues, first-person letters -- or just more personal impressionistic pieces instead of doing the dry stuff.
  • 1. I'm a journalist. Let me write feature articles about stuff that interests me in a magazine or newspaper format. Or let me do TV or radio announcing with it.

If you're none of the above? Talk to me.

Skype Recorders for Podcasting

Podcasts are a life skill. Real-world professionals make them now as a normal thing. They're as easy as recording and editing a Skype conversation. And they're fun, because you're basically a DJ or Talk Show host informally conversing with others on your show.

I'll give Unit Test Credit for any group that podcasts.

I'd love it if you recorded Skype conversations between you and other class members discussing this stuff. A podcast about Confucianism, Taoism, eunuchs and concubines, the Opium Wars -- You do this for each unit's "Wave," and talk naturally and reasonably intelligently about the events of that unit, talk-show podcast style, and all you have to do is upload the audio file for a grade. Your grade will be higher if you add production values -- music to the intro and conclusion, a "Brand Logo" for your podcast series, even an iTunes channel for it -- the way the pro's do it. We know you're in high school, so we don't expect professor-level analysis. Instead, just high school students discussing their impressions of this vast story.

Here are some tools that allow you to record Skype calls.


  • Ecamm Call Recorder (USD $20): I own it, use it for my own podcasts, and it's a great deal. It records video-chats too, as movies.
  • iChat: Standard Mac software already on your machine. Only works for calls between Mac users, so no Windows users can join the talks. Video and audio conference free with Macs. In menu bar, click "Video > Record Chat."


  • Freecorder: Says it's free. Doesn't record video-chats, but does record audio from Skype calls.
  • Powergramo: Free. Same as Freecorder above. An Australian friend says it's good and simple.
  • Super Tintin: USD $16. Records Skype video and audio chats.

Gaming and Coding

M.I.T. has a free download called Scratch that allows you to make all sorts of games and animations. Download here.

Scriptwriting and Film-making

Cross-Platfrom: Mac and PC

  • Celtxhelps you produce all types of media - film, video, documentary, theatre, novels, machinima, comics, advertising, video games, music video, radio, podcasts, and however else you choose to tell your story.

  • You can use Celtx for the entire production process - write scripts, storyboard scenes and sequences, sketch setups, develop characters, breakdown & tag elements, schedule productions, and prepare and circulate informative reports for cast and crew.

PDF Readers

Great for reading the textbook files: highlight, bookmark, annotate, etc. Adobe Reader seems buggy, so these free alternatives might help you.

Cross-Platform (Mac and Windows)

  1. Ocular pdf reader: add bookmarks; add comments; highlight; add lines, arrows, and shapes; add text-boxes; covert pdf to text; select parts to save or copy as text or image; .


  1. PDF-xchange viewer: lets you annotate, highlight, and more.


  1. Skim: view and bookmark PDFs, highlight and underline selectable PDF text, and a Full Screen and Presentation mode. It also allows the adding of circles and boxes, as well as being able to embed and edit notes