Saturday, May 30, 2009

This is a pretty interesting blog on all things about the Supreme Court. Obviously there is a lot on Sotomayor, but there are also some statistical charts, lots of helpful links and even what is going on in the court each day.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

NYTimes Piece on WJ Clinton
Part of the reason I am putting up this Sunday's NYTimes Magazine piece on Bill Clinton is because it is written by Peter Baker who went to the high school where I now teach. The other reason it is here is because it is rather interesting, perhaps not for your students, but for you - the teacher.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here is a useful way to present the Sotomayor nomination to your students.

Wordle Comparisons for Sotomayor
As you can see from a couple of blogs down, allows you to put in an article and it will spit out the most prominent words with the most used ones being the largest. So the top "wordle" is from the Washington Post (liberal) and the one below is from the Washington Times (conservative). To do what I did above is as simple as cutting and pasting and would be a very useful exercise for quickly showing the bias of the media.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor Vote is 35-11!
When Sonia Sotomayer, the Obama nominee for the US Supreme Court was voted on for the 2nd circuit, her Senate vote was 67-29. If you only look at those still in the US Senate, then her vote would be 35-11. More Here is a timeline on her life.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Washington Post now has a page on polls - and not just theirs, but lots of them. The blog page has graphics, results and explanations.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Competitive Elections
While this is put together by a Democratic strategist, it is a good analysis of how many competitive House of Rep seats there will be in 2010 and also how many gubernatorial seats and state legislatures could switch in the next few years. It is also short, so could be used with students or a good tool for the teacher.

Obama & Cheney Dueling Speeches on Terrorism

Which wordle is Cheney's and which is Obama's?
Create your own at

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

AP Review Site
This site promises to be one of the best out there, if it becomes similar to the AP US one that the Princeton Review already has up. The government site has a quite detailed vocabulary list with definitions, but it promises to soon have its outline up. If it is like the one on the US site, it will be nearly a complete book. In fact if the site mirrors the AP US one, it will also soon have lengthy tests as well. Stay tuned as I will update you when it is all up.

"Election Day" Film Giveway

Updated May 21st:
We have had an overwhelming response to our Election Day DVD offer! Thank you all so much for your interest. We made the decision this afternoon to give away 75 DVDs instead of 50 due to the volume of emails we received. That being said, we already have 75 interested educators. You will be receiving confirmation emails over the next few days.

If you're not one of the lucky 75, we encourage you to request that your school library purchase Election Day at

Our seven other documentary films and our Media That Matters collections are all popular with young audiences!

Thank you again for your interest and we hope that the film is helpful in teaching your students about voting processes around the country!

Jolene Pinder
Arts Engine

A generous offer from Jolene Pinder, the producer of Election Day.

"I'm a producer at a documentary film company called Arts Engine here in NYC. I'm writing because I stumbled across your blog and wanted to contact you about an educational outreach project we're organizing for our recent film, Election Day.

Election Day follows an eclectic group of voters over one day, namely Election Day 2004, from the early morning until well after midnight. Capturing people from all walks of life, including an ex-felon voting for the first time at age 50 and a Native American activist working to get out the vote on a South Dakota reservation, the film presents a glimpse of the real life stories that lie underneath the complex electoral process. As these stories intertwine, audiences take in a portrait of American elections that is expansive, revealing and intimate. You can read more about the film here.

As part of an outreach grant we received, we'd like to distribute 50 free copies (free of charge, no shipping cost at all!) to History and American Government teachers around the country this fall. The film also comes with a comprehensive discussion guide developed by the national PBS series P.O.V. (the film was broadcast on P.O.V. last November). We had many successful high screenings around the country. We find that the film really works with the high school audience because they have a chance to see what it's like to vote in many different parts of the country.

The first 50 people to reply will get a free DVD (complete with special features)."

Please contact Jolene at

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Politico Late Night Playback
Above is the playback that appears on each week that might be enjoyable for your students when they want to see the lighter side of politics. Of course, is mostly a serious site.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

McAuliffe in NYTimes
I'm not putting this up because I support him (I actually don't), but this fall there are only two governor's races in the US and VA is one of them.  Here is a long article and video on Terry McAuliffe, who was the chief fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton and a former DNC head.  He has a 10 point lead amongst the three Dems running for the June 9th primary.  The other two are Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds.  In the last 100 years, only current US Senator Mark Warner (D) has won the governor's mansion without having been in a previous office which Moran, Deeds and Bob McDonnell (R) have been or are. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Week in Rap

Week In Rap 5.8.09 from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

Maybe I'm late to this site, but here's a link to The Week in Rap, where "A week's worth of news rapped. New every Friday."
Medicare and Social Security Are Running Out
I know most of you are not interested in Social Security and Medicare right now and are more into finishing up the year, but if you are like me you might want to squirrel this away for next year. Here is a Wash Post (sorry I live in the DC area so I mostly read it and the NYTimes) and there is an article it it today that says the Medicare will mostly (see the article to understand the "mostly") run out in 2017 and Social Security will be unable to pay full benefits beginning in 2037 unless something is done. It's actually a good article because it is short and to the point as is the NYTimes article.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

School's Out for Summer! - NOT HERE
It seems crazy to even be talking about summer break since I teach until June 18th, but I have friends across the country who are already getting out, so I if you are a regular here, just know that I plan on blogging all summer and thanks for coming here as we were over 14,000 hits last month.
Summer Assignments
While I still will have my students until June 18 some schools across the country are already getting out for the summer so I decided to put this together now. I have long struggled with what to give my AP government students over the summer. If you would like some others' ideas, click on the different links. There seems to be a pattern a)essay on controversial topics b)book reports c)questions on the Constitution
  • Choices: This one is nicely done and gives the student the choice between following various news sources (listed), looking at the Constitution, reading a book from a list or looking at Fed #10 and 51.
  • Election: This has students read a book on the election of 2008 and answer questions in an essay
  • Book list. This has an exhaustive list of books to read and some good general questions students need to answer no matter which one they select
  • Book report: Founding father's. A short list of books on the Founders and question to go with them.
  • Book report on the intellectual origins of the constitution.
  • Book: More detailed questions for Hardball
  • Book list (another one) and detailed instructions how to prepare the book choice for class discussion
  • Another Hardball one, but with very detailed questions for the book
  • Controversial Topics: This teacher has the students read a chapter from a book with controversial topics and write a paper defending one side or the other
  • This one has students reading Hardball and summarizing some Supreme Court cases
  • Essay: this one, very nicely details how the student should write an essay - if nothing else it is worth a look for that
  • Multi-part one that looks at the Constitution, Federalist #10 and 51, party platforms and vocab
  • Essay response to a current news piece + quiz on the Constitution which this teacher has very nicely laid out all the parts to learn
  • Federalist Papers: read Federalist #10 & 51
  • Another Hardball one, but with very detailed questions for the book
  • Sabato. This goes along w. the first two chapters in Sabato and O'Connor's book
  • Vocabulary words. This has A LOT of words for the students to look up. Honestly it might be better as an end of the year review which you could "borrow" later for your own students.
If you want even more ideas go here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Magruder's Quizzes
Here are a bunch of quizzes you can take that go with the Magruder's textbook. It's not every chapter, but it was made up by a teacher and does give one answers.

1. Federalism (Ch 1-4) & Principles of Government
2. Executive Branch (Ch 13-17)
3. Judicial Branch (Ch 18-21) & another one
4. State and Local Government

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Political Cartoons
Above is a cartoon from the Miami Herald and here are all from the same cartoonist. Here are the ones from the Washington Post.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pick the Next Supreme Court Justice

Cool interactive site to go through the possible nominees to replace Justice Souter.
Free West Wing Episodes
A lot of teachers like to use episodes from "The West Wing." Here are a bunch of episodes which you can show to your classes.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Supreme Court Justices

The New York Times had a great graphic on the comparing the ideology of justices when they first join the court and tracks their ideology while they are on the bench. The full article on replacing Justice Souter can be found here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Supreme Court Nominations
In light of Souter's decision to go back to New Hampshire, I thought it would be helpful to look at previous Court justices. Here is a very interesting document as it has all of the nominations from Washington-Bush that did NOT become Supreme Court justices. The first is William Patterson in 1793 and the most recent is Harriet Miers in 2005. What is really interesting is that the document includes everyone, even if, as with Miers, there were never any hearings. Here are all the "lucky" ones that made it to the Court, along with when, who nominated them and more.
Nice Overview - Almost a Book
Despite the cheesy picture above, this is a pretty good overview of all aspects of US government including the definitions. It is also very organized and easy for a student to follow.