Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How a Bill Becomes a Law Interactive Flowchart

"In my quest to find appropriate materials for the US Civics course that I'm teaching this semester, I recently came across this interactive flowchart on the Lexis Nexis website. The chart has a very Web 1.0 look, but don't be fooled, it has a lot of detailed information. Click on any element in the chart to find reveal detailed information about that step in the legislative process." (From Free Technology for Teachers)
Hill Fundraising
This is a nice graphic as it shows the three major fundraising arms on the Hill. If you want more, go here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Short How To For Google Docs
If you follow these blogs, you know I have been exploring Google Docs as a way for teachers and students to share and store their documents/spreadsheets/PowerPoints, etc. online. Above is a 4 minute overview that is quite good about how to use the basic features.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Text and Wordles of Every Inaugural Address

Governing Dynamo has built a gallery containing the text of every US President's inaugural address(es). In addition to the text, the gallery includes a Wordle of every address and an image of the President who delivered that address. Finally, Governing Dynamo hosts a video overview of the Wordles in the gallery. The video contains audio clips of the addresses. You can view the video below.

Digital Democracy Contest

Empower students with this free, MacArthur grant winning contest.

Students learn how to navigate online Congressional data. Then they compete in teams to answer questions like:

* "OpenSecrets lists campaign contributions to Congress. How much did Senator Carl Levin's campaign committee receive from people who worked for lobbyists in the 2008 election cycle?"
* "OpenCongress lets you track Congress. Which Representative sponsored H.R.1 which became law on 2/17/09?"
* More questions

Learning objectives:

* Find several types of campaign contributions
* Investigate the voting record of members of Congress
* Investigate the revolving door of specific members of Congress

Justice, What's the Right Thing to do?

"Harvard is offering a free online course called Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? The course will explore compelling, difficult, questions of justice and morality. The course spans twelve lectures each exploring topics like "The Moral Side of Murder" and "A Lesson in Lying." In addition to the twelve lecture videos, the course website includes supplemental readings and discussion guides. The course website also includes the capability for groups taking the course together to create an online discussion circle."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Supreme Court Website on C-Span
Above is the intro video on this new site and here one with Sotomayor talking about when Obama called her to ask if she wanted to be on the Supreme Court. It will (starting Oct 4th) have interviews with all sitting justices. It also has an interactive timeline, virtual tour and much more. This (and the Supreme Court's own site will be a big help for you when you teach the courts).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Interim Senators
As you now know, Ron Kirk was named to replace Sen Kennedy. Here is a short explanation about interim senators and how they are picked. (Picture from the Washington Post)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

VA Gubernatorial Debate
Here are the highlights between Creigh Deeds (D) and Bob McDonnell (R) in their debate from two days ago. For those of you outside of VA, since NJ already seems to have been won by the Republican candidate, look for lots of $ to go into this race (already the RNC has pledged $7 million).

Monday, September 21, 2009

CNN Student News
This is done each school day and is a good way to stimulate conversation amongst your students.
Downloading Video
There are many sites out there, but here is a site that allows you to download a youtube.com video.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Great How Tos For Moviemaker
If you go here there are a bunch of how to connections for movie maker which I use to have my kids do a variety of assignments.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sliding Polls for Presidents
While Obama has had a slide in the approval rates, if you go here, it is obvious that he is not alone - at least if looking at Carter through George W. Above is Reagan's second term.
VA Governor's Race
Normally I would not promote my own state's elections, but with just two (NJ and VA) gubernatorial races this year, it is more note worthy than most. NJ seems to be a lost cause for the Dems, so look to VA for lots of $. The RNC just yesterday pledged to spend $7.5 for Bob McDonnell who had a huge lead until a report found out about a master's thesis where he said, among other things that married women should not work outside of the home. But here is an interesting tidbit from Larry Sabato showing that of the last eight VA governors, all have been elected from the opposite party of the president.

Listen to the Health Care Bill Read by Professional Voices

Don't want to read the health care bill? How about listening to it? "Diane Havens, a voice-over actress from New Jersey, recently narrated a legal thriller by Will Nathan, “Book of Business,” and in a customer review at Audible.com, “Philip” lauded her “gripping narration.” Her latest voice-over project is also legal in nature, but decidedly slower paced: along with about 60 other voice actors, Ms. Havens volunteered to record the proposed health care bill, H.R. 3200, a 1,017-page doorstop. The reading, available free at hearthebill.org, clocks in just shy of 24 hours."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Film Clip on Framers' Intent
Here is a 10 minute clip on the intent of the framers and starts with such basic items such as the differences between democracy and republic.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Intro PowerPoint to Government
Okay, this is a bit of a personal risk because not everyone (not even close to everyone) is going to agree with what I have up here for my Constitutional Foundations PowerPoint. But I should say that my students always do quite well on the AP exam despite demographics that would indicate otherwise. So, now that I am learning Google Docs, I will occasionally post some PowerPoints and assignments which is exactly what we do for new teachers in my department so that they can do well their very first year. If you wanted to download this one, just click on "menu" and then where it has the title "Intro Terms" you can right click and then "save as" to your desktop and then do what you want with it - or not! Below is a tutorial on how to make a Google Docs PowerPoint (or you can do to the US History Blog and see it right now). By the way, I only slightly change this for regular government since it is just an outline. Also since Google Docs allows changes to be made, this will be updated as I make my changes this year (and I always do that). (Pictures from Sabato/O'Connor and Magelby)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Watch CBS Videos Online
Obama on Sixty Minutes
It strikes me that Obama is going on television shows more than his predecessors (I can't even remember Bush going on 60 Minutes once), but it is still interesting to me and you can see it above. Here is a new poll (lots of questions and graphics) on Obamacare.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Google Docs and Federalism
Okay, call me a little behind the times, but I only just started learning Google Docs recently. What is amazing is how easy it is to embed video (from youtube or your desktop, but no where else) and pictures, etc. You can also easily link to outside sources as I have done on slide one. Also check out the video on slide two as it is a quite good (and concise) look at federalism. There are a bazillion templates for a PowerPoint and it can be shared with others online and you can download. Above is a very simple example that I did in one minute. Here is a video I made on how to make a Google Doc Presentation.

Another Government Help Site
I met one of the curators for this site at the AP Reading this year. They do a lot of videos and podcasts to help you out and have gotten some coverage in Chicago on the local networks. Above is a short video they did on selective incorporation which has been a free response on the AP exam.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Politics Works Quickly
Since all the students now know about Joe (Has He No Shame)Wilson (R-SC), here are some more links to help you. First off he first gained fame as a state senator by strongly supporting and then voting for the continuance of flying the Confederate flag over the SC state house. His remarks, though, have helped his 2010 (and 2008) opponent, Rob Miller, had raised $500,000 in the past 24 hours and the DNC has raised over a million (before it sends out the appeal letters using Wilson). Not to be left out of it, Joe Wilson has already released a commercial where he begins by noting his apology and then proceeds to attack Obama's health care plan and ask for your pledge (as you can see above). Finally, here is PolitFact which is a source that checks comments made by politicians and you can see it disputes Wilson's side.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Watch the AARP At Work
Above is a useful video from the Washington Post which you might want to use to show an interest group (AARP) using grassroots lobbying to discuss health care. With Obama speaking tonight to the country, this is something your students will probably have some knowledge.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Campaign Finance & the Supreme Court
Most of you know that the US Supreme Court will be hearing a case on campaign finance and whether US law can limit corporations. Of course, it will be months before we get a ruling. A great source of information is the Scotus Blog. The court is also going to release the transcript shortly after the 80 minute hearing - probably around noon. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the last time the SC released a recording of a hearing was for Gore v. Bush which I still use in the classroom as it covers so many of the concepts (federalism, republican form of govt, elections, different levels of courts and more all in the first 5 minutes).

Documentary on Running for Congress
Above is a film on Jeff Smith who ran against Russ Carnahan for Congress. According to the film, it is an engaging documentary that follows the 2004 campaign of Jeff Smith, a young political science instructor at Washington University who runs for the seat vacated by retiring congressman Dick Gephardt. Pitted against state Rep. Russ Carnahan, the scion of a powerful political family, Smith proves that an unknown with no money can make a difference, forging a campaign that ultimately poses a serious challenge to Carnahan

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This is a new site that allows you to make quizzes, flashcards, etc. It also allows you to share them with others (ie practicing for a test). It already has some questions up for history and government.