Monday, January 31, 2011

Where Are the 2012 Candidates

Hard to believe they are all being followed, but the 2012 campaign is alive and well and you can go here to show your students where the Republicans are traveling. 


Tomorrow I am helping to put on an in-service for teachers in my county who use e-books with their students.  If you are interested , there are both a number of links for each topic in government that you can use in your classroom as well as some useful tools that we will be going over from Google Docs to Wordle to Pdftoword to a bunch of other items which can be found here.  Also if you use Magruder's, you can click here for another presentation that a colleague of mine is doing. Here is the link for the activity plan.


Congressional Budget Office

The CBO is one of the those items that we have to teach our government students, but it certainly is one of the smaller points.  But lately it has been getting a lot of ink, first for going against Speaker Boehner and saying Obama Care will save money or more recently for saying that if there are no changes the 2011 budget will have a deficit of $1.5 trillion.  Here is the CBO's website

Friday, January 28, 2011

Income Taxes in the United States

Whether discussing the budget process or monetary policy, the Tax Foundation has extensive, user-friendly data that lists the income tax rates in the United States dating from 1913 to present.

Frosh House Class of 2011

This page has several great graphics that show the make-up of the 2011 House freshmen.  It also looks at them in terms of presidential elections as well as who are the endorsed Tea Party members. 

Tea Party Website

This is why I can no longer reading the newspaper in paper form.  Today I was reading this article on why Congresswoman Bachmann was not looking at the viewer in her Tea Party retort to the State of the Union and that article led me to this website set up by the Tea Party people. Of course if you missed my earlier post on the Tea Party, I have found some quantitative proof that the movement is more of a media sensation than something that it is going to have real legislative. Having said that the WashPost says that 126 House members were endorsed by FreedomWorks (the group started by Dick Armey which essentially is the Tea Party)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First Presidential Ad of 2012

As far as I can tell this is the first political ad for the 2012 presidential race - in this case - by Tim Pawlenty who used to be the governor of Minnesota.  It goes with his book, Courage to Stand

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fact Checker for the State of the Union

Yes, I am home as my county called the day for rain (!), but that means lots of posts.  This one is from PolitiFact which goes through the State of the Union and the Republican response detailing how truthful the major statements are. 

If you have never heard of, take a look at it as it is a quick way to see the key words from text - and in government to look for bias.  For example, the top set of words is from the text of Obama's speech (+ applause!), the middle is from the liberal leaning WashPost and the bottom from the conservative leaning WashTimes.  You can click on each of the images to make them larger. 

Public Opinion

We just started our public opinion unit.  This short video is a great way to talk about "word and message testing" and "instant response" and see what people think about parts of his speech. 

State of the Union Highlights

This is what I will show my students today - knowing that they had to watch it at home, this is a quick way to see the highlights. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Polls and the State of the Union

For all its hype,, has a nice graphic and explanation on how the State of the Union speeches help (barely) as much as they hurt presidents in poll numbers. If they are right, that would mean that Obama, who is now at 50% approval will not crack 55%.  

The Key Words of 75 State of the Union Speeches

This is a great graphic that has a graphic for key words from 75 State of the Union addresses.  What a great way to show students how much and how little has change over time. 

A bit of the debate on repealing the health care law.

State of the Union Guests

I like to have my students guess as to who will be in the gallery besides the first lady.  Having "prop people" used as a visual is a device started by Ronald Reagan and discussed in this article from today's WashPost.  The articles doesn't mention that all presidents keep a list of such "prop people" and use them in speeches around the country to highlight their speeches - nor that Obama will soon start a "tour" to promote his main points and go only to states or districts that the White House considers swing votes. Above is a "Qwiki" for perhaps the most famous "prop," Lenny Skutnik, used by Reagan to show his herorism. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Qwiki State of the Union

Ok, let's try again with Qwiki.  Above is am embedded search on the State of the Union speech.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

SOTU 2010: Fact Checker

The Washington Post has included this analysis of the proposal's from President Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address. Depending on how much on an introduction you want to do in class before Tuesday's address, it could be helpful to include this in your plans as a comparison.

State of Union Bingo

One way to get your students more interested in the State of the Union speech is to play it as a bingo game.  Here, here ., here and here are examples. 


So perhaps this is just the tech nerd side of me as I am not quite sure what to make of this, but nonetheless it is cool.  Now entering the "alpha" phase (meaning you can enter in your e-mail and 24 hours later you can use the site), Qwiki is a new search engine that creates a little movie for you.  Here is what I got on the state of the union address.  You do have to have an account to see my link above (which you can get in 24 hours), but here are some other examples. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sunday Talk Shows

Sorry about the lack of updates, but I have been rather sick the last week (yes I did make it to school) and am now back.  Above is a preview of tomorrow's Sunday talk shows.  If you ever want your kids to watch them, you can go to Politico on Fridays and you can see a movie such as what I have above. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and other Review Games

I got this first tip from one of my readers, Marchelle Conway.  This is a site that lets you enter in your questions and answers for jeopardy and it instantly creates the game for you.  You then store it on their site and can see what others have developed. Here are other games you can use like Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune and $25,000 Pyramid.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rrehinking Advanced Placement

is the title of an article in the New York Times today. Although it focuses on the changes that are coming for AP Biology and AP U.S. History, it's interesting to read the philosophy associated with the "New AP".

Saturday, January 8, 2011

State of the Union

The American Presidency Project is a great source for documents, the text of inaugural addresses, election information and other news pertaining to the American Presidency. In the audio/video archive, you can also find radio or video clips from State of the Union Addresses, radio addresses, press conferences, etc. from Presidents Hoover-Bush.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Incumbency Advantage

Ask a political scientist what they think of non partisan gerrymandering and most will tell you that the "incumbency advantage" is much more important than how a seat has been drawn. The graphic above and here shows that point beautifully.  Here is a short article arguing that the 2010 advantage was down a bit to 5% and another graphic showing it was about 6%.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bit Torrent

One of the fastest growing companies on the Internet is BitTorrent.  It allows you and others to download huge files very quickly.  This would allow your students, for example, to work on a video together that one of them uploaded onto say  The video above explains it.  The downside is that you (or your students) will have to download a small file and not all schools allow this without permission.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

CSPAN Supreme Court

As long as my fellow blogger is mentioning it, here is CSPAN's great site on the US Supreme Court and here, for example, is one of the videos which is on granting certiorari and uses interviews with many of the sitting court's justices.

CNN Election Center

This is pretty amazing as it has the 2010 election results (as well as 2008. 2006 and 2004).  Each page has the Senate, House, exit results, polls, issues, etc.

Offer from C-SPAN

I just ordered and read this over break. The timing was perfect as I start teaching the Judiciary when I return. It's a pretty good read. And you can't beat the price. What's missing is an interview with Kagan that you can find here: C-Span Interview with Kagan

A special offer for C-SPAN Classroom members:The Supreme Court,
C-SPAN's latest book, is available directly from its publisher at a very special price - just $5.00, plus shipping and handling. This is a discount of more than 75 percent off the original hardcover price.

This edition is the first book to tell the story of the Supreme Court through the eyes of the Justices themselves. You'll find ten original C-SPAN interviews with current and retired Supreme Court Justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Sonia Sotomayor.

You can order copies of The Supreme Court at this very special $5.00 price. Use promo code cspan to get the discount.