Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Example of How to Integrate Technology Into the Classroom

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Eric Schmidt
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive
This summer I am going to work with a group to spread the wealth of how to integrate technology into the classroom, so I have been thinking of how I develop my class ideas.  My basic message is that the more you read on the Internet, Twitter, etc. the easier it will be.  For example, I just finished the Filter Bubble which asks if the personalization of the Internet is good for a democratic society (the author thinks not).  The first assignment my AP Govt kids will do in the fall will be to go to the link above and click on the first chapter (lower right) and then watch the clip above (which is mentioned at the end of the book) in which former Google CEO Eric Schmidt refers to a number of laws governing what Internet companies can do with our search results. So I am going to have my students read the chapter for homework and come up with 3-5 ways that personalization of the Internet can impact Americans and after listening to the video above in class, we are going to discuss what the US government, if anything, should do.  Here, by the way, is Eli Pariser, on Ted giving a summation of his book.  By the way, this post has been brought to you by the personalization of the Internet as Amazon suggested Eli Pariser's book to me based on my recent reading (someone I had not heard of before) which led me to the Ted link and the aforementioned chapter clip and now this post. Pariser's book is really a continuation of The Big Sort which discusses how Americans are separating their world into homogeneous environments. 

Prison Ruling

So I was talking with a friend,which is how I get a lot of my ideas for classes, and one of the things we were discussing are the moral dilemmas that politicians are faced with everyday.  For example, consider the recent 5-4  Supreme Court decision to tell CA to cut their prison population by 30,000.  A large part of the reason it is so large is because of the mandatory sentencing as well as getting rid of parole.  So should that be eliminated or should we make people live in large gyms close together (or see video above from Al Jazeera)?  Here is a graphic that shows each CA prison and how much overpopulated they are (many are over 200% overpopulated). Do you agree with the Supreme Court's view that it is a violation of the 8th amendment and should we care in light of the fact that law abiding citizens are worried about retirement benefits and making ends meet?  The list could go on, but it does give the kids an insight into how difficult decision making can be. 

US Supreme Court

The NYTimes has a great page on the US Supreme Court complete with biographies, recent court cases, links to useful websites like Oyez (which has every US Supreme Court ruling as well as audio on the hearings before the court for the past two decades) and the US Supreme Court.  Most importantly it has stories on all recent court decisions. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Remake of "I'm Just a Bill"

I love using School House Rock videos a lot as even my seniors find them fun to watch.  Above is a wonderful remake of "I'm Just a Bill" that is highlights all the positions there are on Capitol Hill.

Early Presidential PAC Advertisement

A new group, the Priorities USA Action PAC just came out with a new advertisement against Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich which you can see above.  It uses comments that Gingrich and Romney made earlier this week. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

News in a Social Medium

I just started reading The Filter Bubble which argues that the Internet is being catered to our individual needs (i.e. you and I will get different search results for the same item, see different posts on Facebook even if we have the same friends, etc.).  At any rate it mentioned which is a start up funded by the New York Times.  It allows you to select the type of stories you see each day, select videos, images, etc. and see what your friends are seeing.  It seems worth it for the busy teacher who is looking constantly at news sources during the day.  It can also be accessed on an ipad or e-mailed to you. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

SNL Republican Debate

When I taught academic government courses, students always enjoyed watching SNL "debates" of the candidates. Now that the AP exam is over (and for most of us the pressure is off), it's nice to have time to talk about things like this.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fixing Congress (and a neat little publishing tool)

US Congressman Jim Cooper has written an interesting article on "Fixing Congress" in the Boston Review. I converted the article into a pdf and loaded it into a neat free cloud site called FlipSnack, which converts documents into a flipbook. Here's the link to the converted Cooper article.

Analysis of the Presidential Race So Far

This NYTimes video has an analysis of the four announced candidates so far for president as well as thoughts on how all the candidates (and not so sure candidates like Daniels) did this past week. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Uses for Google Docs in the Classroom

The slide show above says it is for Google Apps, but everything on it can be done for FREE if you get a Google account.  After doing that, put "Google" in the search engine on this blog site and you will see links to be able to do pretty much everything above. It really has revolutionized what I do in the classroom. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Syncing Your Desktop w. Google Docs

Some might call me crazy, but having read three books on the inner workings of Google, I am not at all worried about the company losing my files and have consequently not backed up one file I have made this year.  But for those of you who want to back up your files I just found out about Sync Docs from a blog I follow called The Pursuit of Technology.  What it will allow you to do is to upload an entire folder and from then on it will sync everything you do. The video that explains it is above. 

Iowa and NH

The 538 blog has a telling series of charts showing who went to Iowa and New Hampshire in 07 and now in 11.  Some candidates have skipped one or the other, but not both.  So the early stats on the Repubs have Santorum (who can't think he will get far after losing is senate race in 08), Gingrich, Pawlenty, Cain, Buchanan, but not Daniels, Palin and barely Trump and Romney. So if the stats tell anything, this is telling.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cram for the Exam on C-SPAN

The AP US Government is next Tuesday and, as usual, two Chicago based teachers are having their annual CSPAN study session to which students can call in and ask questions.  I work with one of the teachers every year at the AP reading and can personally attest to the depth of his knowledge and love for the subject. Here are the details:

Tune in this Saturday, May 7 from 9:15 -10:00am ET as teachers Dan Larsen and Andrew Conneen from Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois help A.P. Government and Politics students around the country prepare for next Tuesday's exam.
C-SPAN will open the phone lines for this segment  to students only, so encourage your students to tune in to the program, and call in to get responses to their questions. Phone lines will be divided geographically.
Students in Eastern and Central states, call:
Students in Mountain and Western states, call:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Library of Congress Cartoons

The Library of Congress has tons of political cartoons online which you might find useful in your classroom.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Lede

Right now I am focused on the AP government exam next Tuesday, but my mind is still thinking of how I can do a review of the executive branch using the capture of Bin Laden as my starting point.  To help me, I will probably use the Lede which I've mentioned before as it is "reporting on the spot" as it includes items such as the live tweeting from nearby during the attack on Bin Laden was ongoing as well as the raw footage just after it ended and much more of this event and others in the news. 

CNN Student News

If you haven't used it before, you might want to use Student News which is a daily feature of CNN.  With Bin Laden likely in the news and 9-11 such a big period of US history, this might be a feature (see above), you will want to occasionally use in the future.