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.