Monday, December 28, 2009

Debt Ceiling Goes Up
Obama signed legislation to increase our ability to borrow up to $12.394 trillion dollars. That means that we have enough money to remain solvent for two more months.
Reapportionment 2010
This is a map that projects the 2010 census reapportionment for the entire US. It gives increases and decreases for each state.
Net Neutrality
Here is an interesting op-ed that charges that Google has been "punishing" companies by taking them out of Google searches and making sure that Google products go straight to the top of searches, bypassing the "Pagerank" algorithms used by Google. Since we have been discussing the bureaucracy, this is a great way to present it. Here is the proposed rule from Oct 27th from the FCC (and it is supported by the Obama administration). Its first few pages are fairly easy to understand. Here is a link that also mentions how just one word can make a significant change and a good way to introduce your students to the power of language in government. You can also do a quick search and find the pros/cons of the topic. Here is a bill that is also currently in Congress and here is the Wikipedia article on it. Several of these links I found on the Comparative Government site.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news about the economynews, and

Meet the Press
There are some great videos that one can find on Meet the Press and the other Sunday talk shows. Above is one with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs discussing health care.
Airborne Terror
Should government act because of outliers? Political Scientists would probably say no. Consider this post which gives figures going back to 2000 saying one has a one out of 16,553,385 chance of being on a plane that will have a terrorist (even a failed one) action. There is more here. Of course politicians have to get elected so they don't listen to political scientists. But it is food for thought to ask your students to consider for other exercises such as what should states be paying for now that they will all have tougher budget decisions next year. Should we base those decisions on the percentage of people in our society who are impacted (schools, reserch for diseases, technologically improving state government) or do we lenghten prison sentences and put more into prison building. Obviously there is no correct answer, but it would bring up party differences and the role of government.

Internet 3.0
This short video explains how we went from Internet 1.0 where you could see what others had designed to 2.0 where the average user can create their own projects to Internet 3.0 where we will be better connected between our projects and better able to see them from the computer, phones (look out Google is about to release its own phone- and I don't mean the Droid- which you will be able to use no matter what phone service you use) and other devices.

Friday, December 25, 2009

US Senate Site
Here is a blog for the US Senate which has daily updates and a Twitter feed. For example, while the rest of us were focused on health care for the last week, they senators also approved a number of Obama appointees.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Google Maps Follow Protests in Iran
Want to add Google Maps to your class and are teaching say Comparative Government, then here is a great way to do this.  This site has been following the protests in Iran. 
(Photo from

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Google and Texting and other uses for cell phones in class
If you have "Google" as one of the address in your phone, you can text a question and send it to that address and get a response. Here are a bunch of other ways to use texting (including several articles). I learned recently that our school district, while banning cell phones, actually leaves it up to the principal. You might want to check out if your school is the same. That is how I got permission for just social studies teachers to use it. The link above also shows one how to use which is a way to quickly go over a few multiple choice questions, have kids text the answers and instantly see a chart for the percentage of kids who have answered what question. Finally if you go to the search engine on this site and type in "cell phones," you will find many other suggestions for usage from this summer's postings.
Comparing the Senate/House Bills
Here and here are the differences between the House and Senate bills on health care. Now the senate has to vote on the bill. Normally then it would go to a conference committee, but I have heard the Dems might try to avoid that as it would give the Republicans too many opportunities to torpedo the bill.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Igoogle and Google Docs in the Classroom
Here is a video I made for teachers in my county to be able to use the aggregator "igoogle" and Google Docs.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

White House Video Channel
The White House has its own youtube channel. Above for example is one video of the president signing a bill to give more health care benefits to veterans.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Redistricting Game
Sometimes I take a look and see where my readers are coming from. A bunch of you have this site marked on your site which is where I found this version of the redistricting game.
A New Way to Read the News
This differs from a simple Google News RSS feed. It gives you graphics, stories in bried and great detail, remembers what you read the last time you were there. It is very much worth it to watch the video.
Check out this SlideShare Presentation: This is from Lina Trullinger, sometime contributor to this blog. It has great graphics and examples.
Interest Group Wiki Assignment
This not only gives you an online sheet for your students, but it has tremendous links so you can, for example, see where several lobbyists have worked, how they work, etc. and then ties it to the key topics learned in any government textbook.
Changing Unemployment Rates
Above and here, from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is the changing view of unemployment over the last four years. I found it here

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Seventh Grader's PLE
A personal learning environment is a pretty new term, but it is essentially an aggregator for all the sites you might use to perform your necessary functions. For example, you might have your Facebook page there, websites you frequent, Google Docs and more all in one place. I use for mine. Above is another aggregator called which a 7th grader uses to demonstrate how she does her classwork. It is very much worth a minute to watch it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Obama Decision Making on Afghanistan
This is a great article on how Obama came to make his decision to increase the troop levels in Afghanistan. It also comes with a tremendous graphic that includes so many people that one studies in government. Additionally there is a link to Obama's speech if you need it again. Since I am starting my policy unit in two weeks, this will be a perfect item to read for my students esp since it has so many references to so many exec branch players such as SecDef, SecState, CIA director, NSC, Chair Joint Chiefs, OMB, etc.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oovoo! is a relatively new video recording device. You have use it to have a video conference with up to six people which is a great way for your students to work on a lesson plan. Also, you can interview and record up to 1000 minutes which would be great if your students are making a video and want to put it into something like Movie Maker.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels + Google Docs
Until I started doing work with an online e-book group, I had never even heard of Flesch-Kincaid reading levels, but now that I am working on my National Teacher Certification I have to write about essay writing about my students. So to find out the level of a few articles they had to read, I simple copied it into a Google Docs document and pressed "word count" and quickly found that Federalist #10 and #51 are written at the junior level of college which the average Washington Post is on a 9th grade reading level.
Wordle on the Obama Afghan Speech
Above is the word analysis of the president's speech. If you haven't used wordle, it shows you the words in an article, speech, etc. and the bigger they are the more they have been said. It is a great exercise to compare newspapers from different viewpoints. I found this wordle here and it also has some great ways to have students look at the speech.
Charts on the Afghanistan War
This NYTimes page has a number of useful charts from the cost of the war (see above), to the confidence that Afghan and US citizens have in Karzai and the war, troop levels from NATO, and the number of troops we have over there.
Twitter Guidebook
Here is the ultimate Twitter "how to" guidebook. It tells you how to search, grow your community, have consersations and much more. I have only been on Twitter for a month or so, but have found it an amazing source for teacher ideas.