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.