Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Perry Ad

Based on the polls, not many people care, but here is the latest Perry advertisement nonetheless.  Remember, though, that Gingrich, while he has fallen in Iowa and New Hampshire is still ahead in South Carolina and Florida

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Google Apps for Education Learning Center

In October my county became a Google Apps for Education (GAE) county which means, among other things, that my students are now completely virtual.  But for those who have are still making the adjustment to GAE, here is a site that might make your transition smoother. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

New Site on Political Ads

This site is one more example of how the WashPost is finally trying to get into the digital age.  The site includes all the latest political advertisements by both the candidates and the super PACs.  Additionally it will tell you the cumulative and weekly advertisement spending for each candidate as well as where the ads are being shown.  Obviously right now you will see most of the spending in Iowa and New Hampshire.  According to the NYTimes, there have been 10,600 negative ads and 6000 positive ones in Iowa so far this year costing $3.3 and $1.3 million respectively. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where Do I Vote?

Well if your students don't know where to vote (assuming they are voting in a primary this spring or in their home location next fall), here is a precinct locator for all 50 states. 

Absentee Voter Guide For All 50 States

As I said below I am going to have my students get their phones out and mark in their calendars a reminder to vote this fall (my father is a political refugee from the Czech Republic so I feel pretty strongly on this).  Here is how your students (no matter your state) can register and then vote absentee this fall.  

My students are voting this spring - are yours?

My government students will be voting on March 6th even though most of them are not yet 18.  Any person who will be 18 on this fall's election day is allowed to vote in a primary and caucus in their state.  Obama is the only Democrat on the ballot, but Romney and Paul have already qualified (even though Perry and Gingrich haven't).  During my Ph.D. years I read several quantitative papers on what increases the likelihood of voting.  One of the independent variables is whether or not there is pre-registration (which is why I brought the registration ballots to class so my students would not forget that part).  A second one is being married, income and interesting enough just the practice of voting.  So on March 6th my students will begin that practice.  Even if they have lost their precinct card I will show them how to get the location online.  Next I will have them put our county's voting link in their phone so they will get a reminder to get their absentee ballot next fall and then by election day, I am hoping they will already have two votes under their belts.  Of all my assignments this year, it will be the most important.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Behind the Scenes w. Romney

New Perry Ad

The candidates will soon take a two day break, but there are still new ads coming out.  Here is the newest one from Rick Perry. 

Share Your Computer Screen or Take Over Someone Else's

Sometimes my students need help with something technical we are doing.  Well now I can take over their screen or they can see mine.  Well now I can easily take over their computer screen.  From the same makers of Screencastomatic (which I've blogged about before), you can now use Quick Screen Share to let someone else see what you are doing or even to take over their computer screen.  As with Screencastomatic you do not  need to set up an account and only need to let a small java file run to be able to do it.  A big thanks to Notanotherhistoryteacher for this heads up. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lots of New Politics

One of the items we study is the DCCC whose new webpage you can see above which reminds me of the famous Newsweek cover when Gingrich lost the government shutdown debate.  The group is trying to capitalize financially on the  House's refusal to approve the tax extension.  Here is a new ad from the DNC attacking Romney.  While we are at it, here is an endorsement by the Concord Monitor supporting Huntsman who has been campaigning overtime in NH. Here also is an advertisement with Anita Perry.  Finally for this smorgasbord, here is Newt's schedule for the last few days.  I like to show these kinds of things to my students so they can see how hard it is to be president.  Yesterday, for example, he was in three states. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Little Fun

I am one of those teachers who actually teach all the way up to winter break, but I do allow kids to bring in "learning food" so that we can relax a bit, but still learn.  Being a techie we spent a few minutes with "tech fun" as well.  For example if you go to Google, type in "let it snow" and after your screen has fogged up, use the cursor to write as if it were a fogged up window.  Other fun can come from writing "do a barrel roll" in a Google search engine or even seeing what you get when you write "where is Chuck Norris" in the search engine. Have fun and know that I will continue putting up updates over the winter break. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Prezi's New Feature

Perhaps capitalizing on the growing popularity of the +1 button on Google, Prezi has made it easier (and it was fairly easy to begin with) to create a Prezi as they too have a "+" button to add in the new features in your presentations.  Here is what I have posted in the past on Prezi.  

Redistricting Interactives

I've written about this WashPost site which lets you see the impact of redistricting and here is a similar one from the NY Times.  The latter one lets you see the changes from 1920 to the present.  


For some reason my students seem to confuse reapportionment with redistricting.  I just received this video from a colleague across my county, Rebecca Small, which should help my students in the future. 


This is a short on gerrymandering (they called it "gerry rigged").   The media always say that gerrymandering is what keeps politicians in office and political scientists claim it is the "incumbency factor." 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day to Day Polling on 538

As the short video above explains, Nate Silver of will now be updating his electoral forecasts each morning on this site.  Right now they have Newt with a 38% chance of winning the Iowa Caucus with 22% of the vote.  Paul follows with 20.3 and Romney with 20.2% of the vote.   

Polls - Gallup & RealClearPolitics

The Gallup poll organization has a page with all their latest presidential polls.  Above is the one released today showing Gingrich losing some steam. Another good polls page is RealClearPolitics which shows a similar trend in Iowa for Gingrich. Here is their election page. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Romney vs Gingrich vs. Paul (new ads)


Budget Game

Tomorrow my AP Gov students will have to look at the budget and balance it.  They will be using this interactive game that I found at the NYTimes last year.  Yes, they will be expected to do what Congress and the president can't accomplish! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Download Everything At Once In Google Docs

This year my county has introduced Google Apps, but due to our interpretation of COPPA, we are not letting our students (and since they can not be separated out, our teachers & administrators) share with someone outside of our domain.  If you have the same issue where you teach, it might be a concern for students who are graduating or leaving your school system.  Well a bunch of engineers at Google have a site explaining how to download any of their products in batch download.  Here is how you can do it for Google Docs.  Then, of course, you could tell your students (or fellow teacher) to turn around and re-upload it in a free Google Docs, so they take it with them to their next school. 

US Department of State Education Webpage

Yesterday I had a chairs' meeting for my county at the US Dept of State (there are many advantages to living in the DC metro area).  They now have an educational website you can use with your students which explains what diplomats do, what is the role of embassies, what is a consulate and much more.  There are plenty of interactives and more to come. 

Demographics on the US Congress

One of the teachers in my department just asked if I knew the demographics of the US Congress.  So, I searched and this is what I found.  It has race, religion, gender, marital status and age. 

Calling Long Distance Parents

Increasingly my students' parents have long distance numbers that I need to call to reach them.  While my school will provide me with a long distance calling card, it is much quicker to just go into my gmail and call from there.  As you can see in the picture above, you need to download a small file and then simply hit the "call" button and a dial pad appears.  Then you dial in the number and call from your computer.  Google just announced that they are allowing free calls (they keep extending it) through 2012. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Youtube Blocked At Your School? Here's A Solution

Thankfully my principal has finally agreed to unblock youtube at my school, but if that is not the case for you, then you should watch the video above. Youtube has tagged (so far) about 200,000 videos that they deem educational which you can see here.  Additionally there are no other videos to see afterwards.  Youtube allows you to see short video clips that back help the students visualize what you have just been teaching.  

Nate Silver's 538

Three years ago baseball statistician Nate Silver took his numbers to the presidential election trying to figure out who was going to be the next president and taking the leap of being the first person to accurately figure out the electoral college.  In the process he very quickly became widely respected and wasn't far off in the prediction.  He has done so well that the NYTimes has bought his blog and he has a book on the way.  If you want to see the role of statistics in politics (which is, by the way, what political scientists do), it is a great and very helpful teaching tool. His blog is called

If Not Romney or Gingrich, then Who?

The Republican party has made it pretty clear that it doesn't really want Romney (even if he is most likely to win the nomination).  But one of my favorite blogs,, makes an argument (yes, it is a real stretch) that Huntsman can win.  At any rate, above is one of his television ads.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Comprehensive Magruder's Ancillaries Page

Something like 90% of US students use Magruder's American Government for non AP classes.  Here is their rather extensive free ancillaries including quizzes for each chapter "progress monitoring online")

Give Google Docs a Try

Have you been reading this blog a while and wondered why I talk so much about the virtues of Google Docs.  Well without even getting a free account, you can go here and see of the great tools that come with Google Documents, Presentations (PowerPoints), Spreadsheets and Drawings.  The great thing is that you can do most of what you pay for with Windows and you can do it on any smart phone, tablet or laptop and collaborate with up to 100 people anywhere, instantly for FREE.

A great source for polls is Above is the most recent presidential one.  Run your cursor over the poll to see the names and to see the entire poll run it from side to side. 

New Perry Ad

Not that he is doing well in the polls, but this ad is getting a lot of negative buzz and already has over three million hits. 

US Government Games

Yesterday we had a remediation sharing meeting at my school with the other 26 high schools in my county.  One of the items that came up was US Government Games which allows one to test oneself on the executive branch, checks and balance, the branches of government and the Obama administration.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

LBJ Interactive Daily Diary

The Lyndon Johnson Library has created a great interactive feature of the president's daily diary. They have isolated 6 key events in LBJ's presidency and added audio, video and other primary documents to the daily diary. A great resource!

NYTimes Election App

You can now get an election app for your ipad from the NYTimes which will give you News, opinion, polls and live election night results.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Ads from Perry and Paul

My students love watching the campaign ads and they give us the chance to go over how much people can give to candidates ($2500, unless there is a caucus/primary and then $5K to the winner) or to a PAC ($5K) or to a super PAC (unlimited).  Here is an ad that will soon be on tv from the super PAC Making Us Great Again which supports Perry and here is one on Perry's fatih.  Above is Ron Paul's latest Iowa advertisement. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Federal Regulations

My fellow government teacher, Rich Hoppock, wanted to expand on what we do on regulations so found a lot of these links.  First off here is the definiton of regulation regulation and here is the US government site where you can find all our regulations and where students can see and make comments on them. Here is article from the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation.  It mentions the fact that the US government regulates noise on our television sets, so here is an article on Obama signing legislation into law in 2010 allowing this.  But this site tells you that we still have not actually approved a regulation allowed by this law. For the opposite point of view here is an article from the liberal leaning WashPost article stating that businesses have no problems, generally with regulations.  So our students will have to be able to define a regulation, tell who makes them, how they get enabled, what they think about them and what are the definitions of liberal and conservative.  If you want a funny regulation, here is one we have read in my class in the past on the size of cheese holes (pgs. 8-10)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pardons Reflect A Disturbing Trend

The power to pardon is one of the ultimate Constitutional powers bestowed on the Executive. Here in an investigative piece of journalism co-published by the Washington Post and Pro Publica, it is disturbing to see that even with an office within the department of Justice dedicated to sifting through all of those applications and making objective recommendations directly to the President, certain characteristics tend to draw the eye of this office and ultimately the mercy of the President. This article uses data from 500 of the cases considered during the George W. Bush administration and it also places the investigation into historical context.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More on Predicting the 2012 Presidential Race

Democrats Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin have gained some renown predicting presidential races (alas without always using multivariate regressions).  My students are going to have to look at their just released report looking at page 2 (Table 1) which shows Obama unemployment and his approval in all states.  Then I will want them to look at the changes in demographics in the swing states (in the subsequent pages) and using the page (post below) will have to predict who will win the 2012 presidential election.  Obviously this assumes a political science model where rhetoric has less to do than does the economy. 

Electoral College in Plain English

We just did the electoral college and the video above is a great short explanation of it. Here is a site (270towin)  you can use with it as it allows you to figure out the electoral votes that would happen if a state goes one way or another.  I am going to have my students look at my post on the economy in swing states and see who they think is going to win.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Annotate Any Video on Youtube

You can now go to EmbedPlus and put in a video url and it will allow you to put comments on it as well as start and end where ever you want in the video.  This might be nice if you want your students to show they have watched a video they are using in a project or to enhance it with outside information they have found about the video.  Above is the super PAC I posted about below, but with four additional comments.  Here is a link to it and here is a video explaining how to use embedplus.   I found out about how to do this from Notanotherhistoryteacher.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who Should You Vote For in the Presidential Election?

As we get closer to the presidential election, we will see more of these, but for now ElectNext asks you a bunch of questions and then selects the presidential candidate that is most like your views.  It does require that you have an e-mail to do the questions.  I found the site from a Tweet from "Techcocktail." 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Consulting for Your Department, School and District

Have led 15 district-wide, in-services for Fairfax County, VA (12th largest district in the US), as well as international conferences such as the Global Education Conference.  Initiated, piloted and implemented e-books for Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) district.  Teach a technology integration course which is applicable to all content areas.  Advise school districts regarding converting to teaching entirely online, including network requirements, preferred interface (laptops v. tablets) for student use and best websites to enhance online learning.  Featured in the Washington Post (here and here), in Education Week and cable television.  Worked with e-book companies, created an online course, am a national board certified teacher and have a Ph.D. in my primary content area (full C.V).  For consultation services for your department, school or district, e-mail me at  

Republican Super PAC

I've mentioned the new Democratic leaning super PAC (Priorities USA) below, well here is Karl Rove's super PAC, Crossroads GPS, which has a new ad out (above).  Another Republican one is Americans for Prosperity

Friday, November 25, 2011

Republican Primary Tracker

This is a great site from the WastPost which shows how many times each Republican presidential candidate has been to the early primary/caucus states.  Here, by the way are all of Obama's trips in 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Obama's Thanksgiving Pardons

While most students know what a pardon is, commutation is a more difficult term.  Here is a link to those terms and here is an article on those that Obama pardoned yesterday.  Here is a list of all pardons and commutations.  

Rmoney's First TV Ad

Friday, November 18, 2011

Election of 1800 in their own words

Thanks to the great US team in my school for this video.  People think that today's campaigns are hard, but the early US ones were more harsh especially with the two New York City newspapers dueling it out (and not even trying to be unbiased).  Above is what Adams and Jefferson said about each other. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Smart Song Raps

Tim Busch, one of the teachers in my department, just told me about SmartSongs which has a bunch of raps on US history and government.  Above is one on the three branches of government. 

Election Information From the NYTimes

Here is a page from the NYTimes which shows the races in the US Senate for 2012.  According to it, the Dems have 41 and the Republicans, 44 safe seats.  It then gives information on the races that will be hard fought in the next year.  Furthermore there are tabs at the top for the caucus/primary schedule for president in 2012 as well as a page for comparing the fundraising of the presidential candidates.   An exercises that might be useful for your classes would be to compare fundraising and polls and ask which occurs first "the chicken or the egg?"  In Cain's case, polls led to increased money raising and in Romney, it is probably the other way around. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Want To Blog?

Two weeks ago, creating a blog came up in tech integration course and it made me think that I have never had a post on how to create a blog such as this one.  The real question is what could you use it for.  It would be a great place if you do want to put up current assignments in a very easy way.  The only thing that is not on the blog entry is how to embed a video in it which means I will have to do another post on that soon.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Presenting at the Global Education Conference

At 7 AM EST (on Wed) I am making an hour presentation on the the Global Education Conference.  Here is what I will be attempting to show the participants.  I will be covering  splitting your laptop screen, igoogle, Google Docs, Screencastomatic and Remind101.  It is overly ambitious, but if you want to know how to do any of those things you can either go on Elluminate by clicking here to join the free class or go to my link and look at the how to sessions.  

The Fix and igoogle

One of the teachers in my technology integration course asked me how I can keep up with so much information online.  The short answer is igoogle (click here for a short video on setting it up).  One of the items I keep on igoogle is "The Fix" from the WashPost.  It has a lot of inside politics and it comes fast since it is a blog.  So for example, you could see the top ten senate races, Herman Cain's foreign policy "opps" moment, his polls numbers and more. 

Romney v. Republicans and v. Obama

As this NYTimes article points out, Romney is already fighting Obama as he moves (slowly) towards the Republican nomination.  Above is an ad he has from his new site  Below is the response the Democratic Committee made about how Romeny's ideas would work in Arizona (which they obviously believe could be a swing state). 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ideas for Using Google Docs

My county is switching to Google Apps so I made a short video cast above to show our social studies teachers some ways they can incorporate Google Docs in the classroom and with fellow collaborators.  If you want to know how to do each of the items go here, here and here for written how to sheets.  Here are videos explaining how to use Google Docs. I made the above video "on the cloud" using Screencastomatic.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Iron Triangle

One of the most important concepts taught (I believe) in political science is the iron triangle.  If you are looking for an assignment to consider on the topics, here is what the A.P. kids in our classes just completed.  All of the essays and PowerPoints, by the way were turned in using Google Docs. 

Perry on Letterman

If it is considered an 'in kind" contribution for Colbert to form a PAC (see second Colbert video below), does that mean that Letterman has to have all the Republican candidates on his show as well as Obama who was recently on Leno

Political Endorsements

As far as I know political scientists have not found any significant evidence that elected officials' endorsements make much difference with the electorate.  Nonetheless it is a concept that we need to teach in our government classes.  Above is my governor's endorsement of George Allen (R-VA) who was a former governor and US senator from VA whose presidential ambitions were shattered by his use of the word macaca.  Allen is running against Tim Kaine who is also a former governor and Obama's ex head of the DNC.  This race will be one of the big ones in the US, partly because VA will be one of the most targeted races for the presidency and partly because of the fact that it pits two former governors against each other.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

State Elections

About ten years ago David Poole started his passion was Virginia politics.  Today it is the leading online site in the US for information on a state legislature.  If your state doesn't have anything like it, you might want to consider using it.  For example, it lists every candidate for the house and state senate since 1997 and tells you where the money was raised and you can then see who else the person or group gave to in an election.  Furthermore there are maps of each district and there is even a redistricting section so you can see if a district became more or less Democratic or Republican.  It even has local races and, for example, here is my county - Fairfax.  One thing we do is to compare incumbents and challengers to see where each is raising money.  Also we look at targeted races to see how the state parties gives so much to those races.  In short it can help any teacher nationwide who is teaching about elections at the state and local level.   Above is a video explaining which senate races were targeted and why and the role of partisan gerrymandering. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Screencasts To Help In The Classroom

I love Screencastomatic as it allows you to record and very quickly upload into Youtube a screencast of up to 15 minutes.  Thursday one of my colleagues will be at a meeting and so he actually recorded two fifteen minute lectures where we spoke while showing the screen to his students.  So the kids will bring in their ear buds and once they are done presenting their projects, they will not miss a beat without their teacher.

As if that is not enough above is a video detailing how a friend/colleague can record their screen and send you a link to see what problem they might be having.  The site is called "show me what is wrong." For me this is perfect for students who are having problems accessing their e-books or really any problem they are having.  I found this video along with a bunch of other ways to create screencasts on FreeTech4Teachers.

Are You Adjusting Your Teaching?

This video is quite excellent and leads me to ask how you are adjusting your teaching in the 21st century. It is a take off on the very popular Shift Happens videos.   Yes, a baby did really Tweet as you can see here

Stopwatch and Splitting Your Computer and LCD Screens

I learned a trick from a 7th grade teacher in my building that if you want students to work more quickly - esp. using technology, give them a clock and break the assignment up into parts.  My favorite clock is this one.  It both counts up and down.  Also, if you have the new Windows on your computer, you can go here for an explanation of how to put one thing on you LCD monitor (the clock, perhaps) and another on your computer.  That way you could help a student with his/her work while the clock was on the LCD. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where's The Candidate?

If you go here, you can see which candidates are where in the early primary/caucus states.   

How a Bill Doesn't Become a Law

Be sure to preview this before showing it to your students as there is some bleeping (although no inappropriate words are heard).  It does, though, discuss how and why some bills do not become law even one as innocuous as discussing exercise. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Presidential Swing States

Here, according to the WashPost are the 13 swing states in the presidential election.  If you type in "electoral college" into the search engine on this site, you can have your students play some games seeing how Obama will do next fall depending on which way the swing states will go. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Federal Election Commission

You can find the Federal Election Commission (FEC) with a plethora of resources to help you teach your class.  Today we used it to have some fun looking up well known celebrities to see who they have donated in the past such as George Clooney, Puff Daddy and even Barack Obama.  Today the site also added maps to the homepage to make it very easy for people to locate candidates.  Here, for example, is my House member - Jim Moran (D-VA).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Super PAC Advertisement

I used to tell my students that the WashPost would write articles to help with my teaching.  Now that I use the Internet to help me teach I should amend that statement.  Tomorrow I am doing super PACs and just in time is a new one call Priorities USA Action which is written about here, here and here and you can see the first advertisement above.  

The Redistricting Song

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Instant Quiz for Your Students Online and on the Smart Phone

I am teaching a technology integration course right now for teachers (and will be again in the spring if you work in Fairfax County, VA).  One of my students, George Coe, found this new site which is similar to  Both all teachers to pre-make questions and have the students answer questions using their cell phones and computers.  So using Socrative or, if a student has an ipad or a laptop, but no smart phone, then they can still take the quizzes.  These are a great way to start or end a class and they also allow the teacher to instantly (either company) see what percentage of students selected each other for immediate feedback for the teacher.

Government and the World's Population

Frank put this video on our world history teachers blog site, but I am going to use it with my government students as well.  To me when you consider why people are living longer, it involves government (mandatory immunizations for kids - or not, medicare and its costs for our society, the implications a growing China has on the US and so much more.  Plus this is just a great (and short) video. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Colbert Defining a Super PAC

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert PAC - Trevor Potter
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC - Trevor Potter
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive
Thanks to my AP colleague, Rich Hoppock for finding these videos of Steven Colbert describing a Super PAC in the bottom video and the Colbert show defining a regular PAC above.  

What is a Super PAC

It used to be fairly easy to teach PACs.  They can give $5,000 to a candidate and another $5,000 is the candidate wins the primary/caucus.  Of course after McCain-Feingold, first came 527s and now we have "super PACs" thanks to Citizens United v. FEC.  First off here are all the posts I have done on Citizens' United and here are the ones I have done on 527s.  Here, though, is a super definition of "super PACs" and a graphic to go along with it.  Here is a graphic and definition on 527s.  Essentially they two institutions are almost the same.  The large difference is that a 527 must be limited to issues and is registered with the IRS as a tax exempt organization and deals with individuals.'  Both can accept unlimited contributions.  Secondarily 527s cannot talk to a candidate while super pacs have essentially no limitations and can accept any contributions even from corporations.  Essentially (and please respond if you think otherwise), super pacs have eliminated the need for 527s.  

Social Security Bringing in Less Than It Spends

According to this WashPost article, social security added $46 billion to the deficit last year, but is still "okay" since it has its own trust fund which is projected to be flush with cash until 2036.  Here is a graphic which shows both items. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Recording Using Your Cell Phone

It used to be that we had our students get a video camera from the library to take movies for their projects. With (yes it has been out a while), students can record (and even stream live) to the Qik site and instantly download it onto  (here is a post on how you can download from youtube) so you can use it as part of a presentation.  Qik is compatible with 200 types of phones and probably many of your students already have the app.  

Constitution Game

This will allow students to draw parts of the to the different parts of the Constitution such as preamble, articles, etc. 

Primary Resources and the Constitution

Here are a bunch of primary resources such as a picture drawn of the Philadelphia state house at the time, newspaper articles from the time, diary entries of George Washington, 


The WashPost has a great site where you can see redistricting by Repubs (as in they control both house of the legislature and the governor's mansion), Dems, split party, commissions and one state districts and see who is going to probably gain for each party. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Redistricting Game

I am about to do redistricting with my government kids and I always like to start with them playing the redistricting game.  I actually go to the second screen where they have to do partisan gerrymandering.  The game really frustrates the kids as there is no correct answer, just better results.  

Herman Cain Ad

This ad has been getting a lot of attention in the media for its simplicity.  Other than the recent Perry ad in Iowa, it like the other candidate ones, has been only online.  The WashPost blog, the Fix, has its ten favorite odd political ads. My personal favorite is this one which came in a race against Pelosi.  Of course, while Cain's ad is being ridiculed, he is ahead in the polls.  The link is a nice one as it explains how the poll was done and what the questions are.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Perry, First Up In Iowa

Rich Perry is the first, as of yesterday, to get an ad out in Iowa - which you can see below. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Ad War

I received an e-mail from a blog watcher earlier today asking if the ads below were on television yet.  The piece on today's NYTimes "broadcast" tells exactly what is going on with the two ads. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

e-book Simulation

This is a rather nice simulation on making a bill into a law.  It has a part where kids have to drag the steps of the law into the correct order as well as simulations where depending on each step you take, you see the different results - and problems and an example under Obama of how he got a law passed. 

Perry's Answer the the Romney Ad

So tomorrow my students will have to figure out which is better, the Romney ad below or this new one today from Perry. 

Tough New Anti Perry Ad by Romney

Here is the latest Romney ad and it is not one that Perry will enjoy. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I like making screencasts to show my students what they should do and/or teachers I am working with for in-services.  Above is a how to video I made for which allows you to make up to 15 minute screencasts (movies of what you are doing on the computer screen) and instantly upload them into Youtube.  Since you do not first need to download onto your computer (as you might do for Snagit) and then upload, it can all be done very quickly.  Finally it is entirely free which makes the price just perfect. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prezi and Bloom's

Here is a great way to get teachers to think of all the levels of Bloom's taxonomy and a super example of how you can use Prezi.

Who Has Raised What

Obama has raised more money than the Republican candidates combined.  Here is another NYTimes resource you can use to see each candidate.  You can also see from where in the country the money has come and who had done what four years ago.  For example at this point in 2007, Hillary Clinton had raised $91 million and Obama "just" $80 million while Romney had raised $30 million more than he has done this time. 

Political Donations

Besides knowing that each federal candidate can receive $2500 from an individual before a primary (or in the case of presidential ones, up until the convention) and another $2500 after securing the nomination and $5000 from a PAC, it has become more confusing in recent years how much and where a person can give to a candidate.  Here is a way your students can find out about how different sums of money can be donated to candidates for president. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hippo Campus e-book

Here are two e-books (one for AP and one regular) for US government.  The nice thing is that they have both the written text as well as video which your students can watch.  It also might be useful to link your site to concepts in the book that you want your students to review. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Focusing While Reading e-books

Because I have been pushing e-books for four years now, I get lots of good and some negative comments (the positives have greatly increased with this article from the WashPost on my classroom).  One negative comments is that it is harder to focus using online books.  Of course I point out that the kids' cell phones are never far away and that they already do so much of their work online anyway.  But the temptation is still there for sure.  Well I just read this post on FreeTech4Teachers for the site StayFocused which allows students to set a time limit for how much a person can be on a site before they will get kicked off and not allowed back until tomorrow.  If the kids are sure that it is a serious problem, then they will use it or perhaps their parents will have them do so or I could just be dreaming! Above is a video explaining it. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Federal Contribution Limits

With McCain-Feingold (BCFA) we now are seeing changes in donation levels for individuals every campaign cycle.  Now an individual can give $2500 (unless there is a primary and then it is $5K) and a PAC can give $5000.  Here is the FEC page with all the other donation rules. 

State of the States - Gallup Poll

Even though our election unit is a ways off, I am thinking (as you could see from a few posts ago) of my campaign manager assignment.  So now I found a site from Gallup Poll which shows "the state of the states" and includes changes in political affiliation, the economy and even health from 2008, 2009 and 2010.  My students will use this data in part to decide what states to target.  I still haven't figured out if I want them to spend "money" and if so if I have to have them come up with the sources.  If anyone has done anything like that, would you please post a comment and if you have it a link to your assignment.