Friday, July 31, 2009

Quizzes to Decide Ideology
If you want to help your kids decide what ideology they are, here are a bunch of quizzes they can take.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Empirical Support for Cell Phone Usage in the Classroom
I have put some of my ideas for cell phone usage on a list serve and have gotten some flak saying 1)our rules prohibit 2)the kids will abuse it if we have it. I really believe as with passing paper notes when I was a young teacher, that good teachers will 1) find a way to get kids not to look at cell phones (interactive teaching and interesting material) and over time will find good uses. At any rate International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) has a report out that looks at technological use in the classroom. Since I have a Ph.D., I am all about support (and for that matter questioning what you read), but this report cites empirical research that states the obvious. 1) we have always known that the best way to teach is to be interactive and to use tools that kids enjoy 2) that tool today is technology. As the study states (money pages are 6-8) , 10-17 year olds spend an average of 3:45 a day on cell phones and that 87% of 12-17 year olds are online EVERY DAY. Right now, unlike online activities, ideas for cell phones in the class are certainly limited, but that will change over time (see my next post for another idea for cell phones). So I am only advocating limited use and certainly NEVER to text friends.

Just in case you need more convincing, here is Sec of Education Arne Duncan advocating the use of cell phones.

Monday, July 27, 2009

All the news for McDonnell (R) vs. Deeds (D)
While you might not have figured out who was the Democrat when the two were talking guns in Saturday's debate, this is one of the only games in town (New Jersey being the only other gubernatorial race going on). So go here for all the news if you are in VA or even if you aren't as both parties (VA Gov Tim Kaine (D) is after all the head of the DNC) will be saying the results will show Obama's support (early odds are slightly better for McDonnell where as the Republican in Jersey is the overwhelming favorite over the incumbent.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ideological Composition of the Congress
Above is a great picture of the composition of the House and the Senate. It uses DW-Nominate scores which political scientists have been using for years to study the Congress. The site does a great job of explaining the ideological breakdown. If you want something really cool, go here and you can see how the ideology of the Congress has changed from the first one to the current one. It is put together by noted political scientists, Poole and Rosenthal. It is really cool to see how we have become much more ideological in the Congress as time has gone on.
Text Your Students with E-mail
I always get my students' e-mails and will occasionally send them a message. It is frustrating that half of them never check. In fact even after they e-mail me, they don't look for a reply. Normally I am much more advanced technologically, but this is certainly an example of where I am a digital immigrant. But here is a way to use cell phones, but not in the classroom. You could set up a database with their cell phone numbers and then add the code below depending on their cell phone and then they will receive a text. Certainly this way the kids will get the message. (Obviously this is one you'd want to check with the parents first to make sure they don't mind)









Just replace [10DigitNumber] with the ten digit phone number you are trying to reach (area+ local number).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Title IX
Obviously Title IX is one of the more controversial things you will teach in government class. So here is a good article from the WaPost today that can serve as a good starting point for class discussions.
Homeless Paid to Lobby
Well actually not paid to lobby, but paid to stand in line. For years lobbyists have been paying people to stand in line for hearings so they can be more efficient with their time. This article talks about homeless people being paid to help "democracy." (Photo from

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Obama Health Care Ad
As the Huffington Post says, "the gloves are off, in this piece that talks about the DNC targeting swing seats with health care ads. Of course what is VERY interesting is that these ads target DEMOCRATS that Obama wants to vote with him on health care!  

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Confirmation Hearings Comparisons

Interesting graphic analyzing the opening statements of senators for supreme court nominees.

The Real Unemployment Rate

Great New York Times article on the "real" unemployment rate, which takes into account people working part-time jobs but would like full-time jobs, and people who have stopped looking for work. The interactive map shows a few states over 20%!
Article here, Map here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is a great site to get more in depth information on the US government. It is a list of blogs listed by the New York Times. It does have some that I have listed in this blog, but many others as well including those on the Court, campaign finance and newspaper type blogs on the US government.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Confirmation Hearings Start Today for Sotomayor
For those of you who are teaching summer school (like me), make sure you go to live feeds at 10 am for the Sotomayor hearings. Before then, here is a primer of the "five senators" to watch in the judiciary committee hearings - one of which is the brand new Al Franken from Minnesota.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Game Templates
This comes from FreeTech4Teachers. I love using review games for my students and here are templates from Jeopardy, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, $25,000 Pyramid and more.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Instant Polling on Cell Phones
This would be a good way to explain the difference between scientific and non-scientific polling. It also allows the kids to do what they most want to do in class - get on their cell phones! Set up a free account and then you can have your students send in their votes. Our new blogger Jason told me about this site and he had his kids text 5 people to do the poll and, not surprisingly the people responded almost instantly so his poll was much bigger thant he class he was working with at the time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Huffington Post
Arianna Huffington was married to a conservative Republican member of the US House of Representatives from CA. He lost a race for the US Senate, divorced Arianna and she became a liberal Democrat, from whose angle the Huffinton Post is slanted. Having said that, many see the Post as the way that newspapers are going, but haven't yet reached. Either way, it is worth looking at and comparing to the standard online editions of newspapers.