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

Welfare Interactive Map
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

Digital Storytelling
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

Richest/Poorest Members of Congress
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

Edublog Awards
Each year these awards are given out to the best blog sites on the Internet. If you want to see the categories and think that this site has been helpful to you, you might want to nominate it by going here.
A Very Cheap Interactive Whiteboard
I found this on the FreeTech4Teachers site. If you watch the video above, you can see for about $30 how to create an interactive whiteboard using a "Wiimote." You can get more information on how to do this by going here.

Legislative Assignment
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

12 Ways to Publish Online
Okay, this comes from FreeTech4Teachers and includes Google Docs, SlideShare, Empressor, Zoho, SlideRocket and more.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A $300 Million Earmark
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.
AP Comparative
One of the most respected AP Comparative people in the country is Ken Wedding. If you want to see his blog site, go here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Poorest Counties in America
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.)
Thirty Tips to Use Twitter
I've only been using twitter for the past week, but I am amazed at how 140 characters can enhance one's teaching. If you want to give it a try, I'd recommend going here for some quick help.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quizzes on Google Docs
Perhaps I am getting too far afield with all the "Google stuff," but above is a video that tells you how you can create a quiz with all types of questions in Google Docs and then allow your students to take it.
Visual Health Care Plans from House and Senate
This is a great visual that shows the competing health care plans for cost, provisions and coverage.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

100 Google Docs Tips
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.

Executive Branch/Bureaucracy
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.

Above (click on the full screen icon to read it) is a great idea from Lina Trullinger and here is a link to the redistricting game.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Latest Poll Numbers
You can see that Obama's numbers seem to have (temporarily) flatlined. Remember there are many surveys on On the bottom are the numbers for health care.

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

Court Cases on Google Scholar
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

ePortfolio Mashup for Google Apps in the Classroom
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

Interactive Map, 1960 to Present
The WashPost certainly is trying to get its readers to go online. Go here for one example, where the Post gives a map from 1960 to 2008 showing the state by state changes in voting for president.

Twitter & Education - #140conf LA from RealPlayer SP on Vimeo.

Twitter Resources
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 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 Click on the small + sign and the web will open.
Twitter Feed
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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Student Polling Website

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 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.

School Newspaper v. Justice Kennedy

"Justice insists on pre-approving school newspaper article." So much for free-press.

Financial Literacy

"Economics teacher Heather Hanemann has developed a curriculum based on several of the Planet Money podcasts."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Health Care Debate Resources
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

Health Care Bill
This is a great graphic that looks at the 39 House Dems that voted against Obama's health care vote. Basically it comes down to the ones voting against Obama's plan are in districts where McCain won in 2008.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Google Blog
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

Plug this Blogsite?!
If you live in the DC area you know of Jay Matthews who came up with the Challenge Index which features the top AP schools in the country. He and Valerie Struass are looking for the best education blogs. If you like this site, you might consider clicking on the article and leaving a comment or by e-mailing either Jay Matthews at or Valerie Strauss at (note you have to copy and paste the addresses into your e-mail). I heard about the article from

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

VA Electoral Results for Last 12 years
If you are from VA, you will like this as it gives you county by county results for the state wide races for the last eight elections.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Open Secrets
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.

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.