Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book TV: Sarah Binder - Politics or Principle: Filibustering in the U.S...

History of the Filibuster
I am somewhat biased here as Sarah Binder (videoed above) was my dissertation chair. But, this is quite an interesting short (6 minutes) history of the filibuster.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Supreme Court Information
As we watch the Elena Kagan hearings, here are some sites to help you teach the US Supreme Court. First off the Chief Justice always writes a year end report which, among other things, talks about the number of cases appealed to the Court each year and how many were given certiorari. It is a very short document that your students could easily digest.

SCOTUS Blog is another great resource. Here is a link they put together yesterday on year end statistics, graphs, etc. (including how often each judge voted w. each other, the number of 9-0 decisions (more on this than any other) and much more.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday Morning Talk Shows on Hulu
If you want to show your students a portion of the Sunday morning talk shows, look no further than Hulu . Above is one example with the entire show of "This Week."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New NYTimes Using Cell Phones
The New York Times poll that came out yesterday has a nice explanation of how it reaches people with unlisted (aren't they all) cell phones which are now necessary to conduct a reliable poll. I use polls to explain how and why politicians need to craft their language. Also, it is a great way to show how they can be biased (as in the NYTimes asking should we look into alternative fuels). Here is the entire poll.

Sunday, June 20, 2010 Weekly Sunday Morning Wrap-up as a weekly wrap-up of the Sunday morning talk shows. This might not add too much to your government class, but it does make for a mention with discussing the media as well as elite's influence on elections. Above is the one from today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

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Publisher Software from YUDU

US Government Reading List
Our AP US history teacher came up with the list above which is a rather comprehensive list of US government books. He uses it as a final AP US project. It also could serve as a AP Government summer assignment.

When I was at the AP Reading last week, a number of people had never heard of Wordle so here goes. You can take a written document, put it in Wordle and it will create a picture cloud which you can then use, as I have to compare articles. For example, the one on top is from the conservative Washington Times and the bottom one from the Washington Post. Coincidently today, Larry Ferlazzo has a tweet from this blog on using word clouds in the classroom.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

School's Out For Summer - But Not Here!
Believe it or not, my students are STILL in school until June 24th, but since I teach summer school, I plan on continuing to post blog entries all summer.

NY Times Blog
I am not happy that the NYTimes will be going to a monthly pay service in Jan 2011 (although I have learned that if you search for the article title + NYTImes on Google, you will be able to read every article). At any rate, "The Caucus" feature has a lot of great articles, video and features items very much in the news (Alvin Green, Nikki Haley). It also has a tremendous list of links which will keep me entertained for weeks and be a super asset for any government class.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Finding People on Twitter
I just got back from my grading for the AP exam where I spent some time trying to explain why I like Twitter so much. If you have never used it and want to find hundreds of resources, then watch the video above which explains how to find people and subjects. Also, if you type "Twitter" in my search engine on the upper left part of this page, then you can find some posts I have done on people to follow in education circles. I found about this video from a tweet from "larryferlazzo". I found about this video from a tweet from "larryferlazzo".

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is Obama Keeping His Word?
I just read about Politifact in The Promise which mentioned that it does a great job at following Obama's campaign promises. According to the site he has fulfilled 113 promises and is working on 252 others. The site also follows others (including journalists) and gives them a meter such as the one above as well as details to why what was true was true or accomplished.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Edmodo - A new tool for connecting in the classsroom

This past semester I used Edmodo in my AP class, and I thought it would be a great time to post about it on this blog since we are winding down/finshed with the semester and we now have time to explore ways to enhance our curriculum. Here is essentially a "review" of Edmodo.

According to their website, Edmodo is "a private social platform for students and teachers to share ideas, files, events and assignments." According to my students, Edmodo is a lot like Facebook for school (except it is unblocked!). According to me, Edmodo is awesome!

The process to sign up is easy and painless, and within 2 minutes you have created a class and have been given a code for your students (and only your students) to enter so they can enroll in the class you have created. From there you can send links, alerts, files, and assignments to all the students enrolled in the class. Here are some thoughts:

The Good:

  • Ease of use Edmodo is one of the easiest learning applications I have ever used. The students are familiar with the layout because yeah, it is a lot like Facebook and they can Facebook in their sleep. From a teacher's perspective organizing and publishing is also pretty easy.

  • Ability to stay connected with students From snow days, swine flu, extended absences, or just attending to a conference teachers are able to always connected with their students and give them new homework or remind them of homework that is due, or other upcoming events.

  • Its mobile Students can sign up to have alerts, notifications, links, or events sent directly to their cellphones. Also, Edmodo has a great interactive mobile site for iPhones and Droids (more on the Blackberry later).

  • It collaborative Students are able to post on the main message board for the entire class and have discussion about upcoming tests, assignments, readings, etc.

  • Its private Since you need an access code to sign up for the class, if you do not have one of those codes, you cannot participate in the class. This high standard of privacy has given me (and my administrators) great piece of mind and allowed for more leeway with allowing more social networking for classes.

  • Support The support Edmodo offers is amazing! I had a question, sent them a message and had a response within an hour. From what I hear this is true throughout their network.

The Drawbacks:

  • Student-student communication Students are not able to direct message each other unless you create specific groups that students can join. I can understand wanting to control this for younger students, but it should be an option for each class you created so older students could collaborate in real time on assignments by talking directly with each other instead of posting on the board for all to see.

  • Digital Divide Some students in our district do not have access to internet at home and do not have a cell phone (or with one text messaging) so being able to log on to check assignment becomes a little more difficult because they will have to access Edmodo from the school library.

  • Doesn't play well with Blackberry I have had a hard time navigating the mobile site on my Blackberry for whatever reason. It won't let me post/update from the browser. I hope they are able to change that soon so I can have the same accessability from my Blackberry as my students with iPhones and Droids do (I know, I know, fix the problem permanently by joining the iPhone dark side!)

The "Not Quite Explored Yet"

  • The Edmodo Calendar Ok, to be honest I have explored that a bit, but right now it seems a little too clumsy for me to do all my lesson planning in.

  • RSS Feed You can have an RSS feed from your favorite blogs fed right into your class page so the updates can be viewed by your students with ease. I am going to spend some time this summer looking for blogs to incorporate into my class sites.

  • Assignment Grading There is a feature that allows students to turn in their homework online. You can then grade it and score it right there online. The score will then show up on the students home page. A pretty cool feature that I look forward to exploring in the near future.

In closing, if you are looking for a great social networking site that is private, safe, easy to use for both you and your students check out Edmodo. If you already use it in class, I'd be interested in hearing from you and how you use incorporate it in your classroom. Feel free to comment below or contact me via Twitter @jjanczak

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Study Finds Blacks Blocked From Southern Juries

Here's why prosecutors try to keep African Americans off juries.

"Studies have shown that racially diverse juries deliberate longer, consider a wider variety of perspectives and make fewer factual errors than all-white juries, and that predominantly black juries are less likely to impose the death penalty."

Read the article in the New York Times.