Monday, December 28, 2009
Here is an interesting op-ed that charges that Google has been "punishing" companies by taking them out of Google searches and making sure that Google products go straight to the top of searches, bypassing the "Pagerank" algorithms used by Google. Since we have been discussing the bureaucracy, this is a great way to present it. Here is the proposed rule from Oct 27th from the FCC (and it is supported by the Obama administration). Its first few pages are fairly easy to understand. Here is a link that also mentions how just one word can make a significant change and a good way to introduce your students to the power of language in government. You can also do a quick search and find the pros/cons of the topic. Here is a bill that is also currently in Congress and here is the Wikipedia article on it. Several of these links I found on the Comparative Government site.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
There are some great videos that one can find on Meet the Press and the other Sunday talk shows. Above is one with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs discussing health care.
Should government act because of outliers? Political Scientists would probably say no. Consider this post which gives figures going back to 2000 saying one has a one out of 16,553,385 chance of being on a plane that will have a terrorist (even a failed one) action. There is more here. Of course politicians have to get elected so they don't listen to political scientists. But it is food for thought to ask your students to consider for other exercises such as what should states be paying for now that they will all have tougher budget decisions next year. Should we base those decisions on the percentage of people in our society who are impacted (schools, reserch for diseases, technologically improving state government) or do we lenghten prison sentences and put more into prison building. Obviously there is no correct answer, but it would bring up party differences and the role of government.
This short video explains how we went from Internet 1.0 where you could see what others had designed to 2.0 where the average user can create their own projects to Internet 3.0 where we will be better connected between our projects and better able to see them from the computer, phones (look out Google is about to release its own phone- and I don't mean the Droid- which you will be able to use no matter what phone service you use) and other devices.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
If you have "Google" as one of the address in your phone, you can text a question and send it to that address and get a response. Here are a bunch of other ways to use texting (including several articles). I learned recently that our school district, while banning cell phones, actually leaves it up to the principal. You might want to check out if your school is the same. That is how I got permission for just social studies teachers to use it. The link above also shows one how to use polleverywhere.com which is a way to quickly go over a few multiple choice questions, have kids text the answers and instantly see a chart for the percentage of kids who have answered what question. Finally if you go to the search engine on this site and type in "cell phones," you will find many other suggestions for usage from this summer's postings.
Here and here are the differences between the House and Senate bills on health care. Now the senate has to vote on the bill. Normally then it would go to a conference committee, but I have heard the Dems might try to avoid that as it would give the Republicans too many opportunities to torpedo the bill.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
This not only gives you an online sheet for your students, but it has tremendous links so you can, for example, see where several lobbyists have worked, how they work, etc. and then ties it to the key topics learned in any government textbook.
Monday, December 7, 2009
A Seventh Grader's PLE
A personal learning environment is a pretty new term, but it is essentially an aggregator for all the sites you might use to perform your necessary functions. For example, you might have your Facebook page there, websites you frequent, Google Docs and more all in one place. I use igoogle.com for mine. Above is another aggregator called Symbaloo.com which a 7th grader uses to demonstrate how she does her classwork. It is very much worth a minute to watch it.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Oovoo.com is a relatively new video recording device. You have use it to have a video conference with up to six people which is a great way for your students to work on a lesson plan. Also, you can interview and record up to 1000 minutes which would be great if your students are making a video and want to put it into something like Movie Maker.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Until I started doing work with an online e-book group, I had never even heard of Flesch-Kincaid reading levels, but now that I am working on my National Teacher Certification I have to write about essay writing about my students. So to find out the level of a few articles they had to read, I simple copied it into a Google Docs document and pressed "word count" and quickly found that Federalist #10 and #51 are written at the junior level of college which the average Washington Post is on a 9th grade reading level.
Above is the word analysis of the president's speech. If you haven't used wordle, it shows you the words in an article, speech, etc. and the bigger they are the more they have been said. It is a great exercise to compare newspapers from different viewpoints. I found this wordle here and it also has some great ways to have students look at the speech.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I have talked about this site before, but in the last year it has vastly improved. It now has all of the dockets by year, by topic, the justices on every court going back to John Jay, interviews and more. A GREAT site. I found about the changes from a tweet from a principal in NJ.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
In a few weeks, I will be doing my unit on policy and this site will be very helpful in discussing TANF as it shows the US as a whole as well as every state and county and what percentage of people (whites, blacks, children (but no Hispanics) are on welfare.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
This is an amazing sheet as it gives you all of the items to make a digital story (ie video, slideshow, etc.) with your classes. It even tells you how you can resize photos, add music, etc. Of course, all of the items are free. I have used digital stories with my students and find they are often ahead of me and the ones who aren't, learn from those who are. I found this item from a tweet from Larry Ferlazzo.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I'm sure this is worth much for teaching, but it is interesting. One of my US Senators, for example, is the fourth wealthiest in the Congress. I featured the site before as it has a lot to do with interest groups, money and Congress.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Lina Trullinger is an occasional contributor to this blog and has posted a great assignment in Slideshare (see above) that makes the kids go over the basic structure of Congress. Here is the rubric to grade it.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
When you talk about pork with your students, here is a great example detailing how Mary Landrieu (D-La) won $300 million for her state as a concession to vote to end the filibuster (another key term as is cloture which no newspaper seems to use). Here is a video of her explaining her vote.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
This is a great graphic from the NY Times which I found from a tweet today from Larry Ferlazzo. It uses 2008 statistics to show the median income, poverty under 18, overall poverty of every county in the US. You could show it to your students and ask them how the federal government might impact these areas (hint: power of the elected officials, what committees they are one, small states getting a higher per capita federal funding, etc.)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
My students challenged me today to try to get through a class without mentioning the word "Google!" I am not sure I can do it! Here are 100 tips you might want to have as you learn to work through Google Docs. In a way they remind me of word in the earlier stages, however there have been so many times I have wished all of my documents were on there so I would not have to log onto my slow to start school laptop or when I am at another house and want to look at something. Google Docs is getting better and better and for collaboration it can't be beat. By the way, I found this using a Twitter feed.
For those of you who care, here is my PowerPoint for our next unit on the executive branch and the bureaucracy. You will notice that I have a link to Bush because it is a great video showing the oval office and Obama has not yet made a similar one.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Ten Ways To Use Google Wave
Google Wave is starting to spread about (you need to get an invitation or go to the Google Wave page and sign up). For those who don't know what it is, I have the video above, but basically it allows you to chat with other people at the same time without pushing the "send" button. Below are many clever uses which I found here. It is worth your time to go through the list as for example they have a list of educators and their addresses so you could contact them. There is also one that tells you how you can video conference and if you wanted, you could look at videos together - all in the same screen. It also allows you to put Google Wave into Blackboard so you can use it with your students (imagine groups working at home and being able to see each other and at the same time working on a Google Docs item!). By the way I found this list here.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Now if you go to Google Scholar you will be able to get court case information, but there is more "Starting today, we're enabling people everywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and try the query separate but equal. Your search results will include links to cases familiar to many of us in the U.S. such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, which explore the acceptablity of "separate but equal" facilities for citizens at two different points in the history of the U.S. But your results will also include opinions from cases that you might be less familiar with, but which have played an important role."
Top One Hundred Technology Tools for Learning
You will probably see a lot more posts dealing with general technology as I adjust to my Twitter feed which has been growing quickly. Here and above is a great list of technological innovations one can use in the classroom. I found it from this Twitter site. Each one also has a link to the item's site. If you are using this site a lot, you will recognize many of the items.
Monday, November 16, 2009
This is a great picture (above and here) that shows how you can use Google applications in the classroom. I found it on Twitter from NMHS Principal whom I believe is a principal in New Jersey and judging from the Tweet film below is very much on top of technological uses in the classroom.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I just found this by tweeting and ended up seeing a post I had missed on FreeTech4Teachers. It is a short discussion of how and why to use Twitter for educators. Since I am just getting into this, I will probably have more ideas in the near future. Remember you can follow my tweets at www.twitter.com/kenhalla. They will be for all three of my educator sites (World, US and Govt) and will also be on the right side of all three sites.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I stumbled upon this website, but it is fairly cool. You can enter a name from the political establishment and see all of the connections. For example, one of my US Senators is Mark Warner (D-VA) and above you can see his Muckety map. This might be a fun assignment for your students to look at in class and it could be an assignment to look up some of the groups. Click on any of the + signs to see a new web.
Interest Groups at Work
This is a great article from the New York Times showing how pharmecutical company Genetech wrote many of the speeches made on the floor of the House or Representatives by BOTH parties prior to the vote this past week on health care. I also found the web above (which is interactive) at Muckety.com. Click on the small + sign and the web will open.
A few months ago I signed up for a Twitter account and then did nothing to it. Interestingly enough people started signing up, so I am going to start using my account. If you want feeds of all three of my teacher blogs (US Government Teachers, World History Teachers, US History Teachers), you can see the latest feeds on the side bar of this blog page or you can subscribe directly to the page by going to twitter.com/kenhalla
Friday, November 13, 2009
Interested in finding an efficient way to elicit student opinion? Try PollEverywhere, a website service that allows you to poll student responses live through the use of their personal cell phones. It is a free service if you allow only 30 responses, and you can pay a fee if you would like to receive more. I find it to be extremely useful in the classroom, as all students are allowed to express their opinions honestly and anonymously. Just simply create a poll questions of your choice and the results flash live on the screen. My students really enjoy watching the percentages change as the texts are received. I have an extremely opinionated student and this program allows him to see that there are other valuable opinions amongst his classmates. If your school has a strict cell phone policy you can just instruct them to put their phones away right after they have cast their opinion.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
|The Gross National Debt|
Largest Deficit Ever
It's funny being a blogger. Some days, there seems to be nothing to add and other weeks (such as this one), there is plenty. I just saw this short piece in the Wash Post that the deficit in October is the largest ever at $176 billion. Talking about this brings up so many government concepts, such as when the budget year starts for the federal government (Oct), what is the definition of budget, deficit, where the money comes from and what is the national debt which you can see embedded above this blog entry.
Health Care Ad
The conservative group. "60 Plus Association" has just released its first ad on the health care debate which you can see above. The AARP doesn't have an ad out yet, but here is their page on why they generally like the changes being proposed in Congress. Below the 60+ ad is one from the liberal group Moveon.org on the public option.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Data from the Census Bureau & Bureau of Labor on Google
This is a pretty powerful device that Google has just added to their array of tools. Anything you can think of on populations in the US can be made into a simple chart as you can see above from mine where the unemployment rate in the US is compared to Virginia and my home county of Fairfax. Below that is a video explaining the tool. You can get information on all of the following:
CO2 emissions per capita, Electricity consumption per capita, Energy use per capita, Exports as percentage of GDP, Fertility rate, GDP deflator change, GDP growth rate, GNI per capita in PPP dollars, Gross Domestic Product, Gross National Income in PPP dollars, Imports as percentage of GDP, Internet users as percentage of population, Life expectancy, Military expenditure as percentage of GDP, Mortality rate, under 5, Population, and Population growth rate.
One of my students found this site in completing a legislative project. It is a tremendous site that has every member of Congress, connections to all the committees, lists every bill before the Congress, who voted for them, who is the sponsor, a summary, connects them to the money list and much more. In short, you can do an entire assignment just with this site.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
If you go here, you will see an assignment my US government kids will be given today. There are an abundance of resources that I have found (from the WashPost and NYTimes). You will also see that I have made the assignment on Google Docs. The nice thing about that is that my students will only see one link. Additionally, if you were to say download the assignment and then upload it into your Google Docs, you could easily add links and questions and make it your own assignment.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
If you have been reading this blog a while, you know that I like Google products that help me in the classroom. For example the other day I set up an "igoogle" page to house all of my favorite sites. Blogspot is a Google hosted item which I use for this blog. Google Docs is a great way for you and your colleagues/students to share projects. My wife and I have our family calendar on the Google calendar (with different colors for each person) and it is synched with my school Outlook calendar. There are, of course, lots of great videos for the classroom on Youtube (owned by Google). Finally I like Google Mail, not just because it is a good e-mail system, but my kids can video chat through it with their cousins in Maine (we're in VA). I also read a great book this past summer appropriately titled Planet Google. So if you are hunting for new Google ideas the Google blog should be helpful to you as they tell you about the products and then show you how to use it with a short video. Today, for example, they released Google Dashboard which is a way to control the information that Google stores on you, which in my case is growing rapidly!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I am in the midst of my Congress/Interest Groups unit and this is one of the sites I am going to use next week. It already has items such as how much has been raised for the 2010 races. So my congressman has three opponents and has far outraised them. You can get information on historical elections. There is much more on the site.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Twenty-One Interesting Ways to Use Audio in the Classroom
Perhaps the coolest thing about the above PowerPoint is that it just appeared on my Google Docs page as I was added as a collaborator. It was made by Tom Barnett whose blog is here. I have been using Google Docs this fall for my students' group projects and love it. I even am going to try having students turn in some of their work this way as I am becoming frustrated by the clunkiness of Blackboard's way of turning in assignments. I'll do more on it later, but for now the twenty-one ways include podcasts with audacity, musical timers, recording projects in both audio and video and most importantly it includes all of the links for each idea.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I ran across this graphic on the The Monkey Cage blog. You won't find a political donor being sent to Bamako, Mali and unfortunately a career foreign service officer will never be the ambassador to Oslo, Norway.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Saving Paper By Splitting Your Screen
Two years ago I almost bought another monitor so I could see two screens at the same time as I was tired of printing out paper, using it for a minute and then throwing it away. Perhaps the people who view this blog know about the trick above, but in case you don't, please watch the one minute video and learn how to see and work with multiple documents/webpages all at once.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
We are doing confirmations in my government class so these links will be quite helpful. This site tells you what percentage of the ambassador picks for each country since 1960 has been political (defined as not career foreign service). Now this site lists every ambassador under Obama, if they are political or foreign service, if and or when they were approved by the senate and has a link to a biography on each one.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Here is a complete free online textbook from a group out of Philly that I have been working with for the last year. The book has several great features: 1) it is very easy to manuever since it is not a pdf such as the large textbook groups have for their online books 2) it has great links that will help you in the classroom 3) it has a super search engine that shows you where your information is in both the book and the Internet and 4) did I say it's FREE!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
If you go to youtube.com and type in "government class projects," you will see a myriad of ideas from other teachers. Above is a nice newscast that students did on current events. I am working on an idea where kids will have to do this and discuss the path of Obama's health care to date.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Health Care Support Falls Off
Remember that Pollster.com is an invaluable resource for the US government teacher. The poll above shows that Obama has his work cut with the liberals standing up for the "public option" and the conservative Dems wanting it out (see a few posts ago for some great links about health care). The poll above (or the ones below) are also a great way to talk about the number of people needed for a poll (generally about 1000 nationwide to be within +-3%). Here are the details on this poll and an explanation of how to use it.
Friday, October 16, 2009
The Living Room Candidate
This site is remarkable in that it seems to have every presidential from 1952-2008. Your students will get a laugh at some of the cartoon ones and be amazed at the way women are shown in some of the early advertisements. Above is the most controversial presidential ad of all time from 1964 which was only shown once on television.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Perhaps this is more for the teacher than the student, but I have used examples from Freakonmics when I ask students if government should make decisions based on outliers for political expediency or based on statistics. If SuperFreak is as good as Freak was, then you may enjoy the video blurb above on the new book. If you are into econometrics and want to see Levitt's academic papers (upon which his books are based), then go here.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Congress/Interest Groups PowerPoint
There are a bunch of ways to teach government. One of my department colleagues is going to his elections unit now since we have one in VA in a few weeks. I choose (after the Constitutional Foundations + Federalism) to go with the first article of the Constitution combined with interest groups. Obviously others combine political parties with interest groups. So if you are using my slides above to help you, just know that this is my, but not the definitive way to order a government course. Also, I have two recent links (one in the post just below this one) and one from a blog entry put up here by a fellow blogger last week. So, this PowerPoint will probably have a few changes in the next few weeks as I go through it. The graphs/charts are thanks to O'Connor/Sabato and Magelby/O'Brien.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I got this off from one of you - thanks. This site allows you to type in a member of Congress (mine is above) and see how many bills he/she has introduced, how many earmarks he/she have asked for & received. The site does not give its definition of earmarks, nor tell if the bills are for one's entire career (I suspect it is), but nonetheless, it is an interesting starting point.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Politics1.com is a site that is updated daily and has a ton of links for articles for the hot political topics of the day. It is not a site looking for attention like the Drudge Report, just a person who seems to love politics. There is also a link on Facebook for it.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
NJ Governor's Race
I've commented on my own state's race and now above is a poll from NJ's gubernatorial one. As this commentary will tell you, Corzine has been stuck at 40% for some time, but his ads are now taking points from Christie who has dropped significantly - but is still ahead. All of Christie's percentage losses are going to the independent in the race. Here is info on both races.
Monday, October 5, 2009
We are discussing federalism in my class and so that brought up executive orders. As if on cue, Obama signed one today mandating that all federal agencies measure their greenhouse emissions and reduce them by 2020. Here are all of Obama's since coming to office as well as everyone from FDR onwards.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
AP Multiple Choice How-To
Yes the study guides on Google Books are not complete, but here and above (starting on 9 nine) is the complete section from Barron's explaining how one tackles each kind of multiple choice question. It's not as good as the explantion in Cliff Notes - but I can't find that one online. Barron's for my money is the best study guide for multiple choice questions and the chapter summaries - and terrible for their examples of free response questions.