Monday, August 31, 2009

New Video Site for Obama Speeches
Here is a site put together by Politico that shows all of Obama's public speeches. For example, above are comments made by Obama concerning Sen. Kennedy. Right now there are over 200 videos on the site. It is part of the "Politico 44" site which I have mentioned before as it has so many helpful items for when you teach the presidency.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Great Map and Electoral Site
Wow this is a great site. It has short export commentary from a bunch of noted professors on previous elections. But the real draw is the technology presented here that includes historical electoral maps from 1840 to 2004. The maps are both cinematic (show changes and allow you to look at the sub state level for results) as well as interactive maps. It is put together by the Univ of Richmond and is really GREAT. I will be using it when I discuss previous elections.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Polling - Do's and Dont's
When you get to the polls section of your book, you may not want to discuss dependent and independent variables, but this has some interesting points to show how polls can be done poorly. The link deals with the health care debate.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Read Books Online
Ok, so this isn't for everyone, but iframe>'>Google Books has some pretty good ones such as Obama's one above, as well as Team of Rivals, The Nine and so many others. The great thing is that you can pull it up in a full screen and then just keep toggling down (as in no more turning pages). You can also embed the books as I have done above (to do it click on the "full screen" icon and then on "links" and then the code will appear. Be warned, though, that not all the books are complete (although any out of print one is).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"POTUS Tracker"
Here is a great device put out by the Washington Post. Have your students pick an issue (health care is probably the best one right now) and then select a month. The "POTUS (president of the US)" tracker will tell you what Obama has done that month from small meetings to large speeches. Then have the students tell you why he has gone where he has (swing senator on an issue, meeting w. majority leaders, etc.). At the beginning of the school year (my students won't start until Sept 7th), I will do one or two of them and as they learn more, they will have to do some as reinforcement of what we have learned. Here is a very detailed daily schedule for Obama.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cell Phones Uses - Podcasting
Go here to see a presentation on ways to use cell phones in class. The video takes you through each step and could easily be followed by you or your students. It is quite lengthy so I have put the highlights. But if you want to use the cellphone this is really an excellent how to video. All of the examples could be done at home if your school won't allow cell phones. Here is what is covered in the video

1. Record video or audio. You can use;;; (all of which are free). These sites also allow students to use landlines to make the podcasts. Gabcast will allow you make a podcast of up to one hour for each entry. It will also give you html which can then be put in your blog. Uses would include
a. getting authors to read their works
b. having students explain concepts that you are teaching
c. read poems
d. put clips from famous speeches and have kids explain them
e. radio broadcasts
f. audio interviews
g. sound clips from trips
h. ESOL students working on their language skills and integrating it with subject matter.

2. A second use of free phone conferencing is which actually allows you to have a conference call of up to 200 people! The advantage of using a cell phone is that you will not be charged long distance charges. Another is

3. You can have free online voice mail which are at and These will give you your own phone number and for those who don't want to give out your own number, this is perfect and better yet you can get the messages via your cell phone or online.

4. Audio e-mail are found at and These allow you to speak your message and it will be transcribed into a text message and even be set as an

5. Taking Movies: Using you can use your phone to make pictures and then will allow you to make a slideshow. You can have all the students in one class send pictures to the same site or have invidual sites for each student. You can edit the pictures, record audio which would allow you to make a digital storybook. You can then e-mail the slideshow, add it to a blog or even to download it. Imagine going on a field trip and having an instant slideshow created by the kids.

6. If you want kids to make movies, you can use the free site of They allow you to take movie clips with a phone and immediately upload it to the sites where you can edit the fim online and then publish it to a blog page.

7. This video also goes through

8. Sending free textmessages. textforfree allows you to send free text messages.

9. To create surveys you can go to


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Whipping the Vote - Good Example
Newsweek has a good example of whipping the vote this week. It very briefly looks at who majority whip Dick Durbin has to convince to vote for Obama's health care plan. What might be an interesting exercise would be to have your students look at Obama's travel schedule for the past month and surprise, surprise, your students will see that he has been going to swing states and districts to speak.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Transcribe Your Voice Into a Student Text Message
Yes, you heard it. You can use this free service to record a message for your students which will then be converted into a text message. If your parents are wary of giving a phone number to this site, you can always use the post a couple of weeks ago where I showed you how to e-mail a text message (and for that matter students can text you back to your e-mail!).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watch Know Videos
This site has a bunch of short videos such as the one above which describes the American republic and looks at it comparatively to other forms of government. The site also includes videos on Greek government, Marxism, School House Rock Videos, the Emancipation Proclamation, American presidents and civics. If you are like me you are building a library of links on your webpage and using short videos to enhance what you are teaching. I find it is also great to have these since students who miss can easily still learn the information. I find if it is a slightly longer one such as the one above (10 minutes) that I will give them some questions that I want to learn that are important concepts that we are learning.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Making Campaign Literature
My regular government students have to run for office each year. In the past I have had them make campaign movies. What is really fun is having groups be candidates that compete against each other. At any rate, above is a video that describes how to use "Movie Maker" which is in Microsoft Word and here is a way to actually make a campaign flyer that one would be proud to take door to door in a campaign.
Sotomayor Graphics: Did Hispanic Population Impact Confirmation Votes?
While most of the rest of the country is starting back to school in the next few weeks, I just finished teaching summer school, so I hope this can help you sooner than it can me (since I don't start until the second week of Sept!). Here is a graphic (party seen above) that shows the margin of victory for the Republican senators and the Obama vote in their state. Here is another graphic that shows the % Hispanic voters in the states of the senators against Sotomayor.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Social Security
I teach with someone who loves to talk about government, but hates to teach it. I keep trying to get him to use articles, websites, etc., but he prefers his worksheets! For me the beauty about teaching government is that you get to keep changing every year. Here is one example, a great articles on social security and the tremendous problems it is about to go through. It also uses such key words as means testing, Dept of Treasury, solvency, American Enterprise Institute (good ex. of a think tank), when you are eligible for it. So my students will have to answers basic textbook questions such as defining the words above, but then have to also give specifics about what is going on with social security right now. That we cover both what I need to do for the end of the year exams as well as give them a real world understanding.
Freshman Year on the Hill
This was given to me by one of my blog readers. It is GREAT as it gives articles and videos of two new House members. Above is one of the videos that shows Bono with the Congressman. The great thing about the videos (and the blogs) is that they are short and very useable in class.