Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Huffington Post has a cool site called Fundrace, where you and your students can search for campaign donations.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Well this won't be on any tests, even the AP exam, BUT it since I have had several posts on pork, it is interesting to see that there is a way around that for those who claim to be against it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pork Personified

Not sure how to define pork spending for your students.  Well look no further than Sen. Tom Coburn's "Wastebook" which has tons of vivid examples.  If you want the short list, go here.

More on Census Changes

This article on 538 details that most of the top gains to House seats in terms of population are in Republican districts and most of the losses are in Democratic seats.  Here is an analysis why even though Republicans will pick up in the House, redistricting won't be as much a gain as one would think.  What is also interesting is that under the new Electoral College changes which begin in 2012, there would be no change in the outcome of all previous elections for the past 100 years had they been in effect then.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shift in House Membership by State

Here (which means it won't last long), there is an interactive graphic where you can see how many seats (if any) that your state is going to lose or gain based on the 2010 census in the House of Representatives.  Here is the accompanying article and here is a second one.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Youtube Blocked At Your School?

I have been using to quickly show only the portion of a youtube video I want in class. It is great for schools where youtube is blocked.  But two others that you can use are ViewPure and which also give you a new url which will get you around the block your school may have.  I found these last two at a new blog I follow called "The Pursuit of Education Technology Happiness."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Senate Conviction of Federal Judge

Not sure how I missed this, but for the eighth time in US history, a judge has been impeached and convicted.  The Senate voted on Dec 8th.

Edublog Winners

Every year I go here to see the Edublog Winners.  If you haven't done it, you will find some amazing new resources both in blog form as well as Twitter to add to your daily RSS feeds.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


First off, I have always had a hard time defining "pork" which this resource does.  Secondly it gives what it considers the pork in the federal budget year by year since 1991.  Here is an article on recent pork spending in Congress. Finally you can find a number of other "goodies" including videos, "awards," and more at the Citizens Against Government Waste website.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Facing History and Ourselves

This site has a number of resources to add to your US history class.  This video, for example, is a video of one of the African-American students who went to Little Rock High School when it was trying to integrate.

Great Summary of Online Resources

Super Book Of Web Tools For Educators -
If you are a high school teacher skip to page 36.  There is also a section on ESOL teaching as well as online teaching. It is very definitely worth your time to go through this and see what you can find that is new to you.  Even with my great use of technology, I found it helpful.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vote IQ

I found out about this new site called Vote IQ today.  It has profiles of 700,000 politicians, but more importantly it allows students and teachers to communicate in a social platform that looks somewhat like Facebook and so will be easy for your students to be able to use.  Best of all, it's free.  There are also a number of quizzes such as this one which helps students see if they are liberal or conservative.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

US Budget Process

Next week I will begin the budget process with my students. In case you haven't done so here are some links.  First off Obama today signed a continuing resolution to keep our government open by continuing last year's spending levels for the next two weeks.  The Congress must pass thirteen spending bills by September 30th and has yet to pass one.  The rest of the budget process may be found here. As I tell my students if they worked liked the US Congress, they would simply put off their tests until the week before the AP exam - and then they would move that too and pay for it using next year's tax dollars (see US debt above)!

Before Charlie Rangel there was...

Jimmy Traficant who was kicked out of the House for violating House ethics rules.

The Future of Computers

Okay, this is just pure fun - but for those I certainly hope it shows the future of our phones/computers (will there be a difference) and ipads.

Republicans Presidential Candidates Money Stats

My students always seem surprised when I saw that most presidential candidates run for four years and like crazy for the last two (Obama, for ex. slept in his own home just two nights the last year of the 2008 campaign). Here and here are updates on the fundraising already going on among Republicans and what they are already (mostly on other Republican candidates) their money on. Here is a chart that shows their polling.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Google Translate Goes Audio

I have been using Google Translate to e-mail students' parents who do not speak English.  They usually write me back in their native language and then I tranlate it back to English.  Well now, if you want, you can listen to what was written.  I'm not sure the language teachers will like it, but it is still fairly cool.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GAO & Natural Gas Emissions by Companies

Our students certainly need to know about the GAO, but much of their research can be a bit far fetched for our students.  Well I heard this story on the way to school today on how companies are needlessly emitting enough natural gas each year to run 700,000 homes a year.  So I want to the GAO website and had my kids look at this page which has a video showing the gas and a summary of the report.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Split Screen on a Mac

So whenever I go to the mall (which is not often), I like to stop by the Apple store and play with the new gadgets.  While I prefer a Mac, I have never been able to easily (yes you can drag the windows and re-shape them) split the screen in half the way you can on a Windows based computer (go here if you don't know how).  Well (and I am getting no $ for saying this), but you can try new software (for a temp fix) or pay $7 to be able to easily snap (as you can on Windows 7) the screens in half on your Mac.  It comes from PC World, so I think you can trust it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Supreme Court Cases, 1973 to Present Online

Not that you'd want to have your kids sit through an entire S Court case, but this is AMAZING.  Here I thought the S. Court was just releasing its audio cases this year and now if you go here, you will see pretty much ALL cases' audio since 1973 from Roe v. Wade to Citizens United v. FEC,

Complete Edwards e-book

Here is the complete Edwards AP Government e-book.  We have been only using e-books with our students this year.  They fight it in the beginning, but by the second semester seem to prefer it over a real book.

Google Docs from Your Smart Phone

Last year one of my AP students actually did her entire assignment on a smart phone when her power was out.  I, of course, praised her, but now it is even easier to do from a phone, an ipad or if you have an Android, you can do write a document simply by speaking. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mid-Term Elections Interactive

This New York Times interactive, "A Historic Shift", shows the results from the mid-term elections. It provides in-depth graphics that compare 2010 to 2008, party control of the House over the last fifty years and also the demographic groups that contributed to the Republican "wave".


Several of my students have added themselves to my Twitter (kenhalla) feed.  When I tell them that I only put up content and technology links through it, they seem somewhat saddened that I don't put up anything personal.  That, is, of course, the same belief that many educators have of Twitter when I tell them how many resources I get on it.  If you want to get free information quickly, I'd suggest setting up a Twitter account, watch minute video above (taken from web20classroom on Twitter), go here for suggestions on how to get a group of people to follow (I started by plugging in "education," "social studies," "history," and other items like this.  You can also go to my Twitter list and look at the people I follow and follow the ones you like.

Use Gmail to Make Free Long Distance Calls

If you are like me then you are having to call many long distance numbers just to reach parents who, like their kids, are increasingly keeping their old phone numbers when they move.  My school district gives us a long code we can use for long distance numbers, but now I am going to use the new feature in Gmail as it allows people to call anyone's phone (be it a land line or cell phone) for free anywhere in the US.  I used it yesterday and it is as clear as a normal phone call.  Looking at the picture above, just click on the part on the left side of the Gmail where it says "call phone" and a key pad will appear on the left side of your screen.  Just type in the number, press return and the call will be made for you.  For those of you who have no land lines, this can also save on your minutes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fantasy Supreme Court

Well first we had fantasy sports' leagues and now we have one for the Supreme Court.  There are already over 200 schools signed up for this site which allows you to look at current Supreme Court cases, make predictions and compete against students at other schools.  Above is a video explaining it and here is the website.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Yes we are going over expressed powers of the president.  Here is a link for every country where we have ambassadors and how many are political as opposed to career diplomats. Above and here is a graphic that basically shows what parts of the world attracts political ambassadors.

Presidential Pardons

We just spoke about pardons today, so here is a link from Wikipedia that tells how many people were pardoned by each president and who are the ones that were notable.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What is Redistricting?

This video first tells us why we vote on Tuesdays and then defines redistricting in depth (5 minute video).  There are a bunch of videos that "Why Tuesday" does and can be found here. Also, the redistricting game mentioned in the video can be found here.  I have used it with my kids and find it quite helpful. 

Iowa Caucus Explained

Above is a short explanation of the Iowa Caucus.  This uses pictures to explain the points

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Slide Show on 2010 Midterms

The timeline in slide #4 does a good job illustrating the swings in 1994, 2006, and 2010.

Campaign Finance Article

This article illustrates why campaign finance is just broken.

Rank Choice Voting

Friday, November 19, 2010

Google Docs

I had a student tell me today that he was so happy I had helped him with Google Docs and that not only does he use it in every class, he can't imagine how he existed without it.  While this video is for Google Apps (the paid version), you can do almost everything in the video for free.  For example, I have the my kids' schedules on one of my calendars, my wife's on another and mine on the last one.  About the only thing you can't do for free is to e-mail or give access to every teacher in the school or district.  Beyond that you can do all of this. If you are into Google Docs or the power of cloud computing this 12 minute video is well worth it. I found this at , but I find most of my Google Docs info at the blog for it and in the upper right hand site of my account where it says "New Features."

Edublog Awards

So, in a sense this is a shameless plug that if you like this blog, you'll go here and nominate and vote for it for an Edublog Award.  It is quite an award to get and would be a nice reward for the hard work of my fellow bloggers.  If you want mine, I like FreeTech4Teachers as a blog and "ShellTerrell" and "web20classroom" on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jing: A Great Technology Tool

Although I am always looking for new ways to bring technology into my classroom, I often am overwhelmed in trying to determine what will truly be useful. Jing is a tool that allows you to capture screen shots and narrate images, among other things.

Podcasts of US History

Every year we have a few students who request the textbook online.  Well this has been put together by a AP US History teacher and has podcasts for all of US history.  It is broken up into units that will match your textbook and is very easy to follow.

US Constitution Website

This is an amazing website that looks at every aspect of the Constitution including individually breaking down each part of the document and then doing court cases and much more.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

US Budget Interactive

Here is a chance for your students to see if they can fix the US budget.

How to Use Google Docs

I am presenting at the online Global Education Conference on Tuesday November 16th at 8 AM EST.  The conference has over 300 free sessions.  If you are interested, I will be doing a session on using Google Docs with your students and peers.  In a one hour session, you will be trained to create a create Google documents, Presentations (PowerPoints), drawings, folders and how to share them with your peers and how to easily grade your students work online.  To get to the session, click here and then put "Halla" in the search engine and when you get to my link, click on the Elluminate session.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Behind West Wing Weekly

West Wing Weekly is a weekly behind the scenes of what it is like to be president albeit with a propaganda twist.  Above is a look behind the scenes of looking behind the scenes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Amazing Resource for AP Government

This page has every single assignment for the entire year of AP US Government.  If you are new to teaching the course, you will love it.  I am going to "borrow" some of the assignments myself.  You will find assignments as well as PowerPoints for the entire year.

Demographic Breakdown on Midterm Election

Here is a nice pictorial breakdown on the midterm elections.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Midterm Election Results

I saw a nice graphic in a Time magazine article at my parents' home, but can't find it online.  So, of course, saved me as here are the midterm results for both houses for the last 80 years.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Did The Tea Party Affiliation Make A Difference?

Well, first off using the NYTimes definition of a Tea Party member, 61% LOST their races, but it should be noted that the overwhelming number of them ran against Democratic incumbents and even in this Republican year, that is still a daunting task.  But, this article from the Monkey Cage (which is done by several political scientists), they do explain (in simple statistical terms) that being a Tea Party member improved one's vote total by a "whopping" 1.3%.  In short, the Tea Party makes for great news stories, but as Christine O'Donnell's campaign showed, there isn't statistically that much there. By the way, Jill Lapore has a great book out talking about how the Tea Party (and most of us) have forgotten some of the realities of that era.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Global Education Conference

I am presenting at the online Global Education Conference on Tuesday November 16th at 8 AM EST.  The conference has over 300 free sessions.  If you are interested, I will be doing a session on using Google Docs with your students and peers.  In a one hour session, you will be trained to create a create Google documents, Presentations (PowerPoints), drawings, folders and how to share them with your peers and how to easily grade your students work online.  In a few days I will give you the Elluminate link and you can attend the session for free.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rubric Maker

When I first became a teacher one of the hardest things I found was how to grade essays and presentations.  Well if you go here, all you need to do is fill in a few parameters and gives you a rubric for literally anything you need (essays, debate, play, brochure, letter and lots more).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Twitter and Campaigns

It is too soon to make much of this, but the NYTimes has a moving graphic that shows the number of people tweeting on campaigns over the last couple of months. If nothing else, it does reflect some of the key campaigns (except for O'Donnell's and then it just reflects what is in the news).

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google Docs on Youtube

There is now a youtube channel for Google Docs. Most people know about Google Docs (ie word documents) and Presentation (ie PowerPoint), but few know about charts and my new favorite - drawings which is better than Microsoft Paint. Above is how to make a Google Docs Drawing which I use for my map quizzes and tests.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Roberts Court's Influence on Elections

Here is a nice long explanation WashPost of how the Citizens United v. FEC decision has had on this year's campaign. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Midterm Projections

The October issue of PS Political Science & Politics included forecasts for the midterm election. I took the projections to create this graph.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Money Raised This Fall

The Dems and Repubs are neck and neck with party building, but that is not true of individual campaign fundraising and outside groups as you can see here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ladd Ehlinger Ads

So apparently the video on Barney Frank's opponent that was written about below in the NYTimes is not out yet, but above is another one producer Ladd Ehlinger, Jr. did that your students will enjoy as it features the characters in the Wizard of Oz. Judging by his ads, he works with candidates who have no chance of winning as this one (John Dennis) is for the opponent of Nancy Pelosi and the one featured on the NYTimes (Sean Beilat) is running against Barney Frank.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reid vs.Angle

Since we all must teach about the majority leader of the US Senate, the closeness of Harry Reid (D-NV)'s race is rather intriguing.  Here is the HuffingtonPost/Pollster has Angle ahead by 1.6%.

Where Are the Tea Party Candidates?

Really this blog is not THAT much into the NYTimes, but the paper has such a good online presence, that it's hard to avoid mentioning them repeatedly.  For example, here is a page on the Tea Party Candidates that shows that slightly more than half of them are in solid Dem districts and have no chance of getting elected.  Even O'Donnell is in a Dem leaning district.  It does bring up for your students the horse race mentality that the press likes to embrace even if it doesn't really exist in many districts.

The Making of a Political Viral Video

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Changing the Education Paradigm

This is a very interesting video that essentially (in a very entertaining way) describes how our schools were created for an industrial age and asks if we are preparing them for our current world.  I laughed at part of it as I thought of someone who this week complained that I was expecting my students to work too much online - as if they won't need it after high school!

Iowa Caucus Results

This is a website that I use with my students when discussing primaries and caucues. Although the image I've posted has results from 2004 and earlier, 2008 results are available as well. It's a good source for students to draw conclusions, discuss name recognition, etc.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Impact of Citizens United v. FEC

This is a short video detailing the impact of last year's Citizens United v. FEC on this year's midterm elections.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

US Government Cliff Notes

Here is the entire outline of US government from Cliff Notes.

Scary Music & Truth in Negative Ads

Few Lawyers Argue Lots of S Court Cases

This article makes me want to get back to my doctoral research class when I studies the judiciary to look more in depth at this phenomena.  It talks about how more and more cases are being argued before the S Court by S Court experts who are highly successful at getting to the court and getting their desired outcome.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How to Splice a Video Quickly

Did you ever want to show only part of a video.  Well go to splicd and you just enter in the start and end times as well as the url and you will be all set. Here is a how to video. It only takes one second to make your new video and you even both a new url and code to embed it.  I found this bit from this ed tech site.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Video and Audio of S Court Oral Arguments

For years I have used Bush v. Gore to highlight with my students what an oral argument (and it is a great one to use as there are about 20 governmental terms used in the first five minutes).  Well starting this month, if you go to "oral arguments" and then "audio" on the main page of the Supreme Court's webpage, you can actually hear the week's arguments each Friday.  There are also two released videos of previous arguments.  HERE are the first oral releases from this year's court.
I have spoken about the Huffington Post before, but the Daily Beast is another online only e-paper which is even more political than Huffington is.

How to Read a Poll

Vote Easy

Cool site called Vote Easy helps people determine which candidate matches their beliefs.

The Problem with Polls

I've talked about poll problems before, but this is a great piece from which details that polling is facing problems not just because some do not call cell phone users (which are now the 20/30 crowd), but because people do not like the robo calls, do not speak English and several other reasons.  Also, when you go to the page you can see the probability of each targeted House race going D or R as well as the Senate and gubernatorial races.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Teaching the Tea Party

The Tea Party movement has been getting more and more media attention and we will soon see how it impacts the mid-term elections in November. There are still many unanswered questions though. Will this "movement" evolve into a true third party? What exactly do they stand for?

Two resources that may be helpful when teaching about the Tea Party Movement are: Tea Party Time: The Making of a Political Uprising, an article from Time Magazine. Also, NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr speaks about his feelings on the Tea Party Movement in this clip from All Things Considered. Both audio and a transcript are included.

Campaign Spending by Third Parties

Last year's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allowed corporations to give unlimited donations to third parties running ads in a campaign.  If that third party is running only issue ads (as opposed to promoting a candidate) it does not have to tell where the money is coming from (therefore getting around the 30/60 requirements of McCain-Feingold). So here is an article explaining that and from now until the election you can go here and see the top interest groups, where they are spending and which party's members they support.  It will be updated weekly until the election. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Supreme Court

Here is a nice visual which shows how often each justice voted with the majority and minority.  It also allows you to click on the justices and see which person they voted with the most.  Next it has the key cases and how the justices voted.  Finally it has a game which allows you to see if you can sit the justices in order of seniority (I missed one!).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Interview People via the Web

I have been looking for a free service for a while to interview people via the computer.  The most I have found is ones that allow a free month.  But thanks to "ShellTerrell" whom I follow on Twitter (from Germany), I found Wetoku.  All you do is give a link to the person you want to interview and get online at the same time and push "start."  Immediately you have a link and embedded code to put on a website.  The only disadvantage is that it is not as good quality as some of the other paid ones, but for the price it is excellent.

Health Care Explained

I was told about this video by Terry Geoghegan. It is produced by the Kaiser Foundation and tells (in a simple way) how the new health care law works.

How to Use Google Docs

Yes, there are some videos (go to the browser to find them), but the item below is for those who prefer reading to know how to work Google Docs.

Google Docs - Tipsheet and Resource Guide

Friday, October 1, 2010

CSpan S. Court Video

One cannot say enough good about CSPAN that has made all of their videos public.  I have even talked about their amazing effort to link their videos to all parts of the Constitution.  Above is one such great video that talks about the upcoming court cases this year and the decision to release oral arguments at the end of each week. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Google the Federal Government

This is a site that lets you look up anything dealing with the federal government.