Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama at the Republican Retreat
This video above has received a lot of buzz today, so in case you want to show it to your students, here it is. In it, Obama has an interesting back and forth with members of the Republican caucus in the US Congress. Skip to about 1:15 into the video to see the beginning of the exchange.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of the Union Interactive
This site has both the speech as well as a tab at the top so that you can see what the general theme is for each part of the speech. I am going to use it to quickly show the students key parts. It also has the text running along side the speech as well as analysis for each part.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama's Promises
This has both rollover feature that let's you see the promises Obama made in the campaign, what he has accomplished, what he still has to do as well as the details for each proposal

Explaining the American Filibuster

Sunday, January 24, 2010

State of the Union Bingo
Wednesday at 9 pm Barack Obama will give his first official (last year was not) State of the Union address which is required by the Constitution to be done from time to time. This lesson plan includes a history of the event as well as a Bingo card your students can use to follow the speech.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Finance Ruling Impact on the States
Here is an article that details the impact of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on the states.  It talks about how many states (see graphic above) have bans on corporate financing for their legislative races and even mentions that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R) lawyers hope that this will allow his pending case to end where he was charged with improperly using corporate donors. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Video Explanation of the S Court Ruling on Campaign Donations
This is a three minute video which you can use w. your students to explain the ruling today to allow corporations and labor unions to have their own ads in the last part of the election cycles.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Books of the Future or Should I Say the Present
The juniors in my school have been using e-books this year rather than a paper text. Some of them love it and others don't, but for me it is an important step towards what will be a much better product in the near future as you can see above.

Google Docs for Teachers
I can't say enough about how easy it is to have your students turn in work through Google Docs and then grade them. Additionally Google Docs is a tremendous way for students, and teachers to collaborate. Above is a nice how to video.

Town by town election results for MA Senate has a nice election result map that shows how a race can be won or lost based on the geographic differences in a state. You could use this as a launching pad to discuss the geographic differences in your state and how they change over time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Multiple Ways to Use Wordle
I have used Wordle on this site to show how you can compare two different sources on the same topic to look for bias. But I went to this blog and found the multiple uses you can see above including ways for your students to analyze their own writing and work. It is a great slideshow.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ripple Effect of High School Dropouts

The piece from this segment starts around 6:45 into the video.

This One Is For All the Marbles!
Yes, if Scott Brown wins he has said he will not vote for Obama's health care. It still would be a shock if it happens esp since no R has won a senate race in MA since 1972. But he has huge momentum as you ca see from above. It hasn't been announced, but I'm waiting for Obama to fly up there otherwise the D's won't have enough for a cloture vote on the final version of the health care bill. More

Thursday, January 14, 2010

USGS Recent Earthquake Data

If you are looking to put the earthquake in perspective you can use the USGS Recent Earthquake Data page and the get background info from the CIA World Factbook.
Debate Prep Website
This site has 528 different topics with arguments written by experts as well as summaries and links to help your debate team do additional research.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Short Films on the US Government from Fox News
Fox is running a series this week on the Constitution, executive branch, Congress, judicial branch and finally the states on Friday.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Electoral College/Virginia

My students often have a hard time understanding the Electoral College. Just last week I showed them two video clips. The first was the actual footage from the electoral vote in Virginia on December 15, 2008. (The Virginia State Board of Elections has two YouTube videos on their website. Part One is mainly filled with a speech from Tim Kaine. Part Two shows footage of the actual votes being cast).
I then showed them the official Electoral Vote count in a Joint Session of Congress on January 8, 2009. From what my students told me, this made the actual process easier to understand. Some students told me that they thought that the electoral vote was "digitally" sent to Washington. They also enjoyed watching Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelosi making small talk while they waited for Congress to come to order.

And, if you choose to be a bit silly with them, you can always show them Schoolhouse Rock's interpretation of the Electoral College.

Iowa Caucus
Above are two films on what it is like to actually vote in the Iowa Caucus. The bottom one has both Republicans and Democrats.
Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller
Former Fox commentator and conservative talk show star, Tucker Carlson is today launching his own news website. While he is very right leaning, he claims the site (an alternative perhaps to the Huffington Post) will be there to educate people on the federal government. Here is a WashPost review and here is the actual site. It is definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

As we head towards MLK Day next week, here and here are two great places for resources on him. Above is the video of his "I have a dream speech." While we study it as historians, it also had the very real political impact of putting pressure on Kennedy and the Congress to pass what became the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Coat Maker Transforms Obama Photo Into Ad

Should a business be able to make a profit off of what the president wears? See NY Times article.
Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision is Imminent
According to this article, the Supreme Court will soon make it easier to raise campaign funds, just in time for the 2010 elections. This article does a good job at looking at players on the Hill, interest groups and what the Supreme Court might say.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How the Federal Reserve Works
I was at the dentist with my son today and saw the Time Man of the Year article on Ben Bernacke. When I came home I searched for some easy explanation of the federal reserve for my class. Above is what I found.
Free Online Meeting for Your Students?
Like all public schools that I know about, we are not allowed to use Facebook to let our students to collaborate after school hours. Here, though, is a free site that allows one to have up to 10 people working together in a conference setting. Here are the features:

Desktop sharing, ten participants, switch presenter, remote keyboard, session recording and playback, whiteboard, transfer files, pointer, copy/paste, etc.

The Cost of Care: Comparing Health Care Costs to Life Expectancy

Check out this chart from National Geographic comparing the average cost of health care per person to the average life expectancy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Most Gerrymandered Districts

I found these Google Earth (.kml) files for the most gerrymandered districts in the US. The geographic data is correct. The office holders reflect the 109th Congress, but considering how gerrymandering helps keep incumbents incumbents, there are not that many changes. There is a .txt file that explains how the author created the files.

To see the files you must have Google Earth, then down load the zip, extract them to a folder, and double click.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Congress Page on New York Times

The NYTimes (which gets "it" in terms of technology) has added a Congress page which has a section for bills, acts passed (and the votes) and presidential nominations.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Converting a PDF to a Word Document
Boy I wish I had this a million times in the past. Go here to find a site that will convert a pdf to a word document. It will only work, though, if the original document was a word document and not a pdf. Also, I found this site on this blog.
End of the Year Federal Judiciary Report
This iNew York Times summary of Chief Justice Robets' annual report or you can go to the actual document which is fairly short. But to give a quicker overview:
1. There were 8,241 appeals to the Supreme Court of which 6,142 were in forma pauperis. This is pretty typical since most serious appeals to the Court need a brief by the Solicitor General or a number of amicus curiae briefs to get a writ of certiorari. Of these 87 had a hearing and 83 were decided.
2. At the Appeals level, there was a decrease of 6% to 57,740 appeals
3. The district courts saw a rise of 3% to 276,397 cases.
(Photo from NY Times)