Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learn Boost

I have gone paperless and have most of my students that way as well.  So, when I saw a rather "busy" desk of one of the teachers in my dept. this morning, I suggested he try an online lesson planner (since that and a dictionary were two of the items on his desk).  Well after a little research I found LearnBoost which not only has a planner, but also a gradebook, attendance and a calendar and all for free. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Multivariate Regressions

OK, perhaps this goes beyond what you might want to do w. your government students, but I have been thinking about it for some time as we talk about dependent and independent variables when we cover polls.  Well here are datasets you could use from several different sources and here is how you can run the regression in Excel. Doing this would show your students the importance of say, income, gender, age, etc. in voting. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Census by County

I have done other posts on census data by city, town, etc., but here it is done by county.  All you have to do is to run the cursor over where you live and the statistics pop up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

President Obama Complying with the War Powers Resolution


March 21, 2011

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

At approximately 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on March 19, 2011, at my direction, U.S. military forces commenced operations to assist an international effort authorized by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council and undertaken with the support of European allies and Arab partners, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya. As part of the multilateral response authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, U.S. military forces, under the command of Commander, U.S. Africa Command, began a series of strikes against air defense systems and military airfields for the purposes of preparing a no-fly zone. These strikes will be limited in their nature, duration, and scope. Their purpose is to support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. These limited U.S. actions will set the stage for further action by other coalition partners.

Find the full text at the White House.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Install or Update Multiple Programs At Once

One of the reasons I can hardly wait for the new version of Google CR-48 to come out this summer is that I can purchase a cheap computer and keep everything on the cloud. Until then I will have to deal with viruses as I did with both of our family laptops last weekend.  Thankfully there is a quick way to install multiple programs of your choosing and not have to sit around waiting for each to follow.  Go to Ninite and look at the long list of most, if not all of what you want.  Thanks @cuevash (who was a teammate of mine in college) for the great tweet. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Comments in Google Docs

Almost all of my AP students now submit their essays to me via Googel Docs.  I love it because since they now are using the platform for a number of their assignments in school, they look to see when I have graded the assignment (which is easy since it bolds the title in their portfolio) and really take the time to look at my comments (which has not always been the case in the past).  But now as you can see from the video above the teacher (or the collaborator) can leave a comment and another person can respond (or more if there are several people working together on a group project) and then the comments can be deleted when the issue has been resolved.  For me this is an ideal way to improve a students' writing ability. 

Support for Nuclear Energy by Party

More details on the poll can be found at

A Day Made of Glass by Corning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This is a new site I found on Twitter (@russeltarr) which is pretty cool (even if it needs a few changes).  It lets kids set up their own Facebook page for a well known person.  As you can see here and above, I have a short one on Obama w. some of his cabinet as well as links to information about him.  You can also save and edit it later. 

Inside the Supreme Court

This is a great short video on what the US Supreme Court looks like on the inside.


As much as I like to use technology in my classes, one traditional assignment I use is simply having the kids take notes on our AP US Government chapters.  I tried this fall to just have the kids do webquests only, but found they (even really good kids) were giving the skimpiest answers possible.  So now I use a hybrid model of reading, notes and webquests.  But I am NOT happy w. traditional reading notes, and one thing I would like to experiment with is using more mind maps.  A great way to do it is with Popplet (which I learned about from FreeTech4Technology).  This method allows one to use images, videos, etc. with words and present it in a pictoral display which we all know is a better way to learn.  So soon I will be experimenting with my students and Poplet.

Census Data at the Local Level

This is pretty powerful as it gives you census data in a block by block, city by city, etc. level simply by rolling your cursor over an area. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


When I get down because my students aren't as technologically in tune as I am, watching a video such as the one above makes me think ALL kids can do great things with technology. Also, more importantly, here is the CSPAN page for teachers which will give you a treasure of information for your classes.

Identify an Image

So each day I give 5 questions for review for our state exam and on it I include simple questions, maps, multiple choice and even items to identify an image.  One of my students was having difficulty which led us to see if one could a search of an image and figure out what it was.  Voila! does just that for any image that is currently on the internet.  Also if you are curious about the questions for my students they are here and done on Google Docs, so I can add new ones every other day.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Interactive Tool for Congress

The New York Times has a great Congress section, which allows for you to take a closer look at recent votes, major legislation, etc. The graphics provided (party line vote, Congressional districts, bill summary and status) are helpful, too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It is interesting the county where I teach has a Facebook page, but I am not allowed to use it with my students even though it would be a great way for kids to communicate at night to help solve their questions.  Watch this video and you will understand why I hope we can use it one day before my students completely stop using e-mail and I have not way to communicate with them. It would be great if I could create a classroom where the teachers and students could not see each others' pages, but anything on the classroom wall would show up in their individual pages.  One day perhaps!

Anti-Kaine Ad

My home state is going to have one of the bigger senate races in 2012.  George Allen, of macaca fame, is running after losing six years ago and his probably opponent is Time Kaine who is currently head of the DNC.  Right now the polls have them tied which is why the NRSC has come out with the above video so early (even before Kaine has decided if he is running).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Annotated Guide to the US Constitution

Most books have this, but here is an online annotation of the US Constitution.  As you scroll down the document, it gives you the actual words and when you click on a section, the name of it (such as supremacy clause, as you can see above) and then an explanation. You can also go to CSPAN and get a short video from each section to explain it orally.