Friday, September 4, 2015

The EU Nightmare

As usual there is far too much to discuss with my government students starting with day one.   For my AP Comparative students here is an article I am thinking of using early on as it explains why there are so many Syrian refugees descending on Europe today.   It would be a good way to explain the structure of the European Union as well as the pros and cons of the organization in general - knowing that the AP questions were finished last April.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Power of the Media

I think one thing textbooks do poorly is cover media - perhaps because it has changed so much in recent years.  This is a great article on how the media is influencing Ben Carson's rise (thanks Frank Franz).  It implies that if the media would back off Donald Trump, he would fall in the polls.  But Trump has a press conference before each speech and is proving that there is no such thing as bad coverage.

Below are the dueling ads from Trump and Bush and here is Trump's Twitter feed which is interesting to say the least.  

Flipping, Federalism and the First Lesson for the Year


So on day one I always meet my kids and do an exercise to get to know them a bit.  Towards the end I will give an overview of the course.  The first assignment will be to watch the video below on how to take notes from something like Crash Course.  As with a book, students don't want to think so will just do bullet points and I won't allow that.  But in a flipped class it is important to be able to know how to take notes from a video. So they will have to watch the video below and then take similar notes about what is going on in Kentucky (see video above).

The issues brings up federalism, states' rights, cooperative federalism, equal protection clause, 10th amendment, the Federal court system, certiorari for Obergefell, precedent, supremacy and the list goes on and on!
 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Sharing AP Comparative Resources


Wednesday at Fairfax County's social studies in-service Rebecca Small and I are presenting on two AP Comparative items:

  • how to prepare for and to grade AP Comparative FRQ questions.   We each graded two different questions this past June and will be sharing our insights.
  • why it is important to be an AP grader (here's how to do it) at least once
  • we would also like to follow my department mate Wendy Feilen and start sharing AP Comparative resources across the US.  We would like to share tests (first and second chance ones), assignments, flipped videos, PowerPoints, etc.  If you are interested I will need you to fill in this form Once I share the folder with you (broken into the EU and six nations as well as tests), I'd ask that you submit at least three items within a month of joining - one of which is a test.  If you are a new teacher to AP Comp - tell me and we'll work on a way around this).  
  • If you are in Fairfax, we will be in room 447 during the "C" session on Wednesday.  

Tips to Teach Your Students in Their Online World

This coming Wednesday September 2nd I am going to try to get through a number of items in a one hour presentation at the FCPS Social Studies in-service during sessions A and B in room 447.  I'll let the teachers decide where to start and then if don't finish everything, they (or you) can have this post to learn the rest.  The goal is to meet your students in their world - online!  We will look at:

  • how to create a video either for a flipped class.  The video below explains the process and here is a more detailed one. 

  • how to create a YouTube play list for one's flipped videos - be they your own or others.

  • how to use Twitter for class warm-ups and discussions. Below is a video on how you can follow a hashtag using TweetChat.  Here is what it looks like to be in a live hashtag discussion that we used on our government classes last year.  

  • how to use Quizlet for student review.  Its power was proven to me when my own children found it on their own and started using it to prepare for assessments.  The video below shows you the amazing features, from traditional flash cards to a multitude of games.  Here is how you can make a Quizlet set of questions.  Honestly I rarely make my own, but rather do a search and find one that suits my students and give the link to them.  

  • how to use Blackboard Collaborate on snow days for my AP students and below is a video explaining the few features you need to know as a teacher to run such a class.  If your district has access to it, it only takes 30 seconds to make you a shell.  If you don't then here are alternatives you could consider using for free on a snow day.  Below is a very informative video on all the tools you might want to use for snow day sessions or evening reviews.

Friday, August 28, 2015

What Shape Will Your Classroom Be In This Year?

For the first 24 years of my teaching career, I have had my classroom in a U shape an idea I took from my 10th grade English teacher.  The thought was to facilitate discussion in the classroom.  This year, though, I am trying a new idea.  I am using a much smaller desk so that I be out of the way and my students will be seated in groups of four.  While I do use the front of the room to bring context, with flipping, my students are doing much more work on their own (or in groups) while I move around the room to check for understanding and to see if they need help on what is being done.  I am curious to see how this set-up works.

If you want to change your room, here and here are two ways to lay out your room to see if it will work for you before you move the actual desks.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Catching Cheating Using Google Drive

Now that Google Classroom is finally getting better than using Google Drive, I will tell you how to catch cheating in Google Classroom later in the fall, but for now if your students turn in assignments using Google Drive below is a very quick video showing how to catch copying in your class and between sections of different teachers.  Of course, most just copy from the internet which means you only have to copy a short questionable portion and put it in a Google search which is almost as effective and a lot cheaper than things like Turnitin.com.  If you are in Fairfax County, I am doing two technology in-services at our social studies in-service gathering on Wednesday September 2nd in room 447 at West Potomac H.S. during sesions A and B.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Join the AP US Government Page on Facebook

There is a lot of good sharing, including documents, on the AP US Government page on Facebook.  If you ware interested in joining go here and submit an application. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Screencastomatic for Flipping Your Class


I have made every single one of my flipped videos with Screencastomatic. It is entirely free and while you can set up an account, I never have as it uploads your videos straight into YouTube.  The only limitation is that the free version only allows you to create 15 minute videos, but if you are going over that, you are breaking the rules for flipping (since it takes double or more the time to watch and, if necessary, take notes on flipped videos.  If you want to see what they look like, you can look at my Playlist.

The video above shows you how to create a video and get going. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Remind to Text Students


Students live on their smartphones.  Use Remind to reach them.  The video above explains all of it in four minutes. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Google Classroom


Until recently I was not convinced that Google Classroom was any better than Google Drive.  But Google recently announced that you can now add apps on it and one might assume that it is going to get better.  The best part is that the students can see the due date and you can share either a link or anything you have in Google Drive (be it your Google Apps for Education or your personal account). Above is a video showing how to set up the classroom and here is the help center.  Look for me to have more videos and tips on Google 's Chromebook and the Google Classroom as we move into the fall.

Below is how you can add items from the web to Google Classroom. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Diigo for Bookmarking and Class Groups


Long ago I stopped putting my bookmarks on Explorer, Chrome, etc. as I didn't not want to be married to one laptop.  Think about it.  Your school laptop is re-imaged probably once a year and each time you have your bookmarks deleted.  There is a way you can suck in your Chrome, Mozilla or Explorer So Diigo is a great way to save your bookmarks on the cloud.  You can set up your own account or login using Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo.

Below this is a video explaining how to sign up and above is one showing how you can use groups in a class.   If you use it with your students they do not have to have a Diigo account nor even share their email (although that allow them to be updated with alerts). 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Deeper Learning Through Technology

So I still have books to sell!  Mine - in case you are new to the blog is about personalizing the education of your students and is called Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction.

  • The book starts with an overview of terms you might want to know such as "the cloud" as well as laws that govern the use of technology with your students.
  • It then looks at how you can expand your collaborative team beyond your school walls using technology.
  • Next it goes over step by steps ways to include Google Drive in your classroom.
  • It includes a chapter on flipping the classroom - how to make your own and find ones others have done.
  • The next chapter looks at what you do in your classroom after you have flipped it and your kids are ready for higher level assignments as well as collaborative projects
  • Not to be forgotten is a chapter on assessing your students and how they fit in a classroom that is looking after each student's needs.
  • Finally I look at a school system that has made many of the changes I have mentioned above.
Most importantly the book
  • shows the teacher and administrator in step by step fashion how to carry out everything I discuss
  • has many examples of how each item discussed has been used in the classroom
  • gives you - your collaborative team or school assignments to carry out on a schedule that fits your needs.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Countdown Timers

Richard Byrne and I were teaching our third of three technology for the Social Studies classroom today when a teacher asked me how I keep my students on task in a flipped room.  One trick I mentioned is countdown timers projected on the front of the classroom.  Believe it not the kids sense the time restraints.  Like anything it isn't good to do it every day, but can be one trick in your hate. Here are several types and the one above is what Richard suggested.

Partisanship in Congress in Two Neat Diagrams


Just look at this image from Vox which shows polarization in Congress from 1949 to the present. Political scientists Poole and Roosenthal and the two given credit for the research on Congressional polarization.  In fact if you know how to do multivariate regressions, they have a data set for every single Congress.  Below is there image (a little better than Vox). You can find a larger image and lots of others here.

I found the Vox diagram on the Facebook page for AP US Government teachers.