Wednesday, August 31, 2011

US Citizenship Test

A lot of teachers like to start a government class seeing if the kids can pass a citizenship test.  Here is a site that lets you practice for it.  Here is the one my students would use in VA. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Citizens United v. FEC

Here is a great article from yesterday's NYTimes on the impact on Citizen United v. FEC.  It gives a good overview on how presidential candidates can raise unlimited amounts of money in addition to the normal FEC funds.  

New Free AP Government e-book

I have been waiting for this e-book for three months since fellow blogger Frank Franz (Pantherfan) told me about it.  It is an entirely free AP book complete with pictures and loads as quickly as others out there.  It is put out by Flat Knowledge.  If nothing else I would tell your students about it for an additional resource.   The e-book also comes with Powerpoints for each chapter as well as test questions.

Google Plus

You can, of course, follow me on Twitter ("kenhalla"), but also on this link for Google Plus

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great Collection of Web Tools for Students

This is a very nice collection of webpage tools all nice and neat in one place. It includes Fakebook (which I have commented on before), Glogster, Jeopardy, Doink (for creating animations), Artpad, Fotoflexer (which allows you to edit images online), Prezi (a cooler way to present than PowerPoint), Storybird (which allows you to make short books online), Youpublisher (where you can make your pfds into little booklets that have page turning), Voicethread (where you have have animated slides and make them with people in different locations), Wordle and several other items. Soon I will be doing more in depth items on several of these. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Assignment of the Year???

Every year I struggle to find a reading that I can start the year off with.  This year I am thinking of having my students read the first chapter of The Filter Bubble.  The book is about how Google is tailoring our Internet searches for us to find what it believes we are most interested in.  So that if you are liberal, you will find more like minded sites when you search for a newspaper.  Likewise, you only see like minded people in your Facebook news feed and on it goes.  My students (assuming I go
1) What are three ways that Internet sites control what you see?
2) How do your political beliefs control what you see on the Internet?
3) Is it okay if you are only seeing articles, ads, etc. that mirror your political beliefs?
4) In what ways should our federal government control the Internet? Give me at least three answers. with this idea) will have to consider.

Above is a Ted video by the author that gives a nice overview of the book - in case you like the idea and don't want your kids to read the chapter. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Splitting the Screen on a Mac

I have put several posts up about the importance of being able to split a screen especially in my county where all 6 - 12th grade students have e-books in social studies.  Here is how I do it in Explorer and Firefox (you can't do it in Chrome without their insert) and here is how you can do it easily by dragging it to a corner on a Mac (as opposed to taking the time to resize it.  I will tell you that it does cost $7 and I get nothing from Cinch (who makes it) by telling you about it. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Blackboard Quiz Converter

We are mandated to use Blackboard and while I link a ton of things to it, here is an easy way to create a file which you can import into Bb for a pre-made quiz.  Just cut and paste the quiz in the box and push the bottom to convert it.  Then you input it into Blackboard and you have a quiz ready to go. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Highlights of the Republican Debate

Since CNN's Student News does not resume until Monday, I'm putting the highlights from the debate last night from the channel that hosted it - Fox News.  It features former pollster Frank Luntz. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The 111th Congress and the Lobby

How many Members of Congress who left Congress last year became lobbyists? Read the article here. Link to the graphic here.

Will Obama Win in 2012

The WashPost today has an article stating what most political scientists call the retrospective model - basing re-election chances on presidential approval and the state of the economy - not on rhetoric.  So this means that once the economy started tanking in early Oct 2008 it didn't matter that Obama was talking about hope and Joe the Plumber was attacking him.  For a nice concise overview of the best econometric models from political scientists, you might want to read this article.  Most political scientists do their predictions no later than August and are usually within 2.5% of the popular vote and as little as .5% off.  Obviously if you follow the economics model, it is not looking good for Obama.

Convert Tons of File Types

So last night I was helping a friend with his band's website and was unable to get their songs in a usable format to upload.  Well I found which converts any file you would ever want to use.  Sure you can convert files within Google Docs, but this goes way beyond what you would typically find there or with your Microsoft's files and includes video, audio, e-book, images, archiving.  Best of all it can serve as a depository as I have used it (for free) for my friend's band and just connect it to their site.  You can also upload the files, once converted, to your site - or others including youtube. Here are all the conversions possible.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Just Since I've Been Married!

Google is one year older than my marriage.  Like the company my life has changed a lot during that time fromadding one cat, then a dog, then three kids and finally another dog, Google has changed a lot as well as you can see from the graphic.  I'm not putting it up to promote Google, but rather to show that if you aren't promoting the technology bandwagon, you're going to have to chase your students down to understand how they are creating their projects and working with their peers. If you click on the image it will get bigger. By the way I found the picture on a link from one of my new favorite blogs, Not Another History Teacher.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Push Pop" Is A Cool Way To Read A Book

Facebook just bought Push Pop which is a tablet and smart phone e-book producer which pushes the boundaries of what an e-book is.  One of the reasons I have been a huge proponent of students using e-books is because of the amazingly quick changes that are occurring all the time.  We really are to the point where people need to rethink what a "book" really is.  Please take a minute to watch the short Ted Talks video above to see some of the potential of books.  Of course the question here is why did Facebook buy this company?!