Thursday, September 29, 2011

Have Kids Figure Out the 2012 Race

One thing I plan to do when we get to our electoral unit is break my students into groups and pretend they are either the campaign manager for Obama or Perry/Romney/? and then justify their picks of states to spend their money in.   They will use things such as census data, previous elections, polls and more that they can find online.  As they do select their states they can use 270towin's site.  When you use it you can click on states and watch the electoral count change.  The video above spends the first minute discussing the changing electoral map for 2012. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diigo (or goodbye Delicious)

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

After three years with I am leaving.  Two days ago Delicious announced their changes.  I initially didn't want to change and even taught my teacher students last night in my class with them about it.  But after getting some time today to look at the changes, I am finally going to Diigo.  Diigo is a much more intuitive way to put your bookmarks on the Internet.  It also allows you to take pictures of websites and write on them and/or put digital sticky notes on them.  Also if you are a Delicious user you can import all of your sites (locks and all) and can do the same if you have been storing them on a browser on your laptop.  Above is a video showing you the features and below this is another that shows you how to use it.

Campaign Funds: Coming and Going

This is a great graphic from the NYTimes detailing where campaign funds go and from where they come.  It is from last year so be forewarned that the 2012 levels for federal giving are $2500.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Share Your Google+ Circles with Friends

Google+ finally went public last week and has already gone up to about 40 million members.   If you want to share your circles with others, above is how you can do it. 

Unemployment and the Election of 2012

If I am president Obama, I am looking at these statistics on unemployment in 2007, 2009 and today.  What is telling is that four swing states (FL, MI, NC and NV) are all in double digits in unemployment and all were states Obama won in 2008.

Facebook PAC

Here is a NYTimes article discussing that Facebook has now opened a PAC.  It details the money it is spending as well as how much and when Google starting spending money on lobbying the federal government.  Here is an article from Mashable which briefly details why Google and Facebook need to lobby the US government. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Romney and Cain Ads

For glitz, I think the Perry ad is better, but here is the new Romney ad from three days ago.  Notice that is highlights Florida that just had its straw poll.  Of course we can't forget Herman Cain who just won the Florida straw poll (as opposed to Romney who today won one in his home state of Michigan) and is getting lots of applause for his 9 - 9 - 9 plan (see below).  The real race right now, of course, is for the fundraising edge.  As we near the release of the latest totals, here is a speculative article on Romney, Perry and Obama money totals.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Romney vs. Perry

Since the word clouds (see below) said we should focus on Perry vs. Romney, above is just that from the channel that showed it - Fox News. 

Word Clouds and the Presidential Debate

If you watched the Fox News Republican debate online, you saw that they showed a lot of word clouds during the breaks (re ads).  Above is one I made of the Fox News summary of the debate and here is a summary of ten different sites that make them.  My favorite is Wordle.   Obviously it is very easy to see who Fox News cares about without even reading the article.  Perry is ahead in the polls and he got the most mention.  Below is a Wordle of the lead article in the NYTimes.   So in this case Perry again gets top billing, but the issues mentioned the most are different.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Online Study Groups for Your Students

My students are not old enough to use Google+ (18 years old), but TinyChat will allow them to create chat rooms and have as many people as they want in it.  Then kids can set up a room and then get to work on their project or studying for a test.

Alternatively your students can use a 12 person free room called Oovoo (which may be their answer to G+ since they just jumped to two more).

Google+ Hangouts

If you have been following the changes to your Facebook page closely recently, you might have noticed that many of the new changes have been to mirror what one can do in Google+.  Of course Facebook has 750 million people and after just 90 days G+ is some where around 20 million.  One thing Facebook can't touch though is the "hangout" feature where you can have a video chat with up to 9 others.  Soon it is going to be doubled to 20 and I've even noticed that one Google person I follow had a huddle with 31 others.  But if you go here you can see some other additions.  For example if you are a school that wants to stream an event you can be both in a huddle and stream it online.  You can also stream with others and be looking at Google Docs. Best of all you no longer need an invitation, but simply can go here to sign up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Digital Classroom

This spring a colleague in my department and I collaborated on a project for our AP US and AP Government students who were in different days and periods to turn in an amazing project on Medicare, Social Security and the debt.  The kids who an amazing array of digital tools and put it all together using Google Docs.  George Mason University just wrote about it on their Teaching Digital Classroom site which you might want to visit as there are many lessons showing how teachers have integrated technology into the classroom.  Our write-up has links to our actual assignment as well as much of the student work product. 

Pro and Con

This group just called me the other day.  They have a site that somewhat goes with the post directly below this one.  They have a lot of pro/con issues as well as ways to teach and quiz the kids on it.  

Deliberating Democracy

One of the teachers in my department just did a demonstration for all of us on "deliberating democracy" that has been around, I believe, for about a year.  The point is to have kids discuss differences on a wide variety of subjects and come to a consensus.  The technique involved all kids in the classroom as opposed to a debate which only involves a few outspoken students.  The methodology can be used to say compare two leaders in US history or an issue in government. Above is an explanation of it. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

List Sync Lists Btw Tablet, Computer and Phone

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you know I like delicious.  But if you aren't saving codes or want visuals, a new site to try is Springpad which allows you to save links (and icons of the webpages which you can move around), keep lists (don't we always think of something we need to do when we are out and about).  You can also get the items on your tablet, phone and webpage as they are all synched together.  The video above gives you a nice short overview. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

AP Government Ancillaries Free Online

While you can't get all of the ancillaries my students use in their e-book, you can get the 5 stemmed multiple choice questions, true/false questions, flash cards, essay questions and web links.  Every AP book you would use (Magelby, Edwards, Sabato, etc.) has the aforementioned resources right here

What is cloud computing?

I do a bunch of in-services a year (and if your district is interested in having me, please e-mail me) and one of the first questions I get is "What is cloud computing?"  If you don't know (and I believe it is too important not to), then the above video might be helpful to you. 

I like to go to one place to find all of the websites I use.  For that purpose I used igoogle which allows me to see both a RSS feed as well as the top three titles of each recent article from the blog or website that I am following.  Since I look at it before my morning run, I also have the weather embedded as well as my Twitter feed.  Above is a video I made a year ago detailing how you use iGoogle. 

Gallup Poll & How to Conduct a Poll

In light of the NYTimes new poll on public disapprove of Obama, I thought I would share with you the Gallup Poll which provides a tremendous resource for those who want to look at public approval.  Here is Obama's approval ratings since he took office.  Here, though, is the money item.  It allows you to compare any president or presidents to each other.  Simply click on the picture of the presidents you want to compare and a chart will appear.  Then move your cursor over time and little screens will appear telling you what the public approval was.  So above is a comparison to Reagan.  At the same point in his presidency Reagan had 47% approval and Obama has 43%.  Of course what helped Reagan is that in 1983 unemployment was 9.7% (.6% worse than today) and a year later (in the election year) it was a much improved 7.6% when he won 49 states over Mondale.

Next I should say that this is a super resource if you want to discuss with your kids how a poll is conducted as it gives the "n," as well as the demographics and how it was carried out for the above mentioned NYTimes article. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Since I am getting new viewers all the time I will soon repost my video on igoogle which is where I get my RSS feeds (i.e. I look at my choice of blogs).  If you are a regular viewer of blogs, you probably are like me where you see lots of things you like in a short period and then go a few days or weeks where you do not use something.  At any rate, I have found several items recently from FreeTech4Teachers such as the editing additions to Youtube.  What I am hoping youtube will do one day is to make it so that one can record screencasts (such as Jaycut used to do before it was bought out).  For now, please see the wonderful ways you can edit your video in youtube above. 

HPV and Gov Perry

With all the recent talk about HPV it is nice that our new e-book happens to have an ABC nightly news video from 2007 talking about it.  Despite being 4 years old, it is quite good.  Here is the video and here is an explanation of the topic from the liberal e-newspaper Huffington Post.  Here is one that looks at the campaign fundraising of Perry in relation to HPV vaccine maker Merck.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Changes in Unemployment

This is a great site that I found on FreeTech4Teachers.  You can see the change in employment over the last year within any county in the country.  It is found here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Go Poll Go

Two years ago fellow blogger Frank Franz turned me onto where students can answer multiple choice questions using their phones.  For those who do are not allowed to have their students text, they can use  The teacher would send out a Tweet and the students would then answer and you can get an instant poll.  This is the perfect way to create an "exit ticket" and have the kids answer several multiple choice answers and show you and the entire class (if you are showing it with a LCD) the percentage that got each question. Above is a video explaining it as well as giving a little history how a company begins. 

Monday, September 12, 2011


My social studies technology integration course is almost full and so I am finishing up what I will have in the course (actually I am mostly finishing up, but will tailor it to my students' needs once we begin).  One of the items we are going to do is Quizlet.  It is rather amazing as you (the student) enters in the word and the definition and then it lets you test yourself.  Then it mixes up your definition, then it can play a scatter match game.  It also keeps track of what you get right and incorrect so that you can go over those tough items later.  I am actually going to ask my own children's teacher if they can use it for their class as one of their weekly assignments.  

Google+ How To Articles

This is a very nice resource that is continually new articles on such items as how to keep your pictures private when someone forwards your them through Google+ or how to put a blogpost (on Blogger) and G+ at the same time, how to re-organize your pictures, how to send private messages, how to ignore someone's posts and much much more. 

Downloading a Youtbube Video

I just got this from one of our former teachers.  If you cannot show youtube videos in your school, go to the period after the www and write "kiss." So, for example, here is "" where I added in "kiss" and bolded it so you can see what I added into it. You will then be redirected to a new site which will allow you to download it to your computer. 
One of the teachers in my department gave me the video above which is much more succinct than the ones I posted below. It gives all the images of 9-11. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Influence of the Tea Party

There is a nice capsule in the WaPost today summarizing Alan Abramowitz's APSA presentation that the Tea Party has about 90% of Republicans identifying with, but almost no influence on members of House getting elected (and they use new 2010 data for this).  Furthermore Abramowitz finds that those who identify themselves as Tea Party members are more likely to see Democrats as evil demons than Republicans of yore.  The APSA article is very readable even for those who do not have much of a statistical background.  By the way one of the best books I (The Whites of Their Eyes) have read in the last year compares the "real tea partiers to those of today.   At any rate the WaPost article is a good example to point out to students of the difference between the outlier stories written in newspapers and political scientists who want to prove everything statistically and do not have a political point to make in their paper. 
Can you tell I am back in school after a great vacation in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany?! Today the NYTimes has a great video complete w. a history and maps of the Palestine/Israeli border issue. 

Things don't look good for President Obama

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Texting Students

Last year one of my fellow teachers starting Tweeting students their homework.  Not surprisingly almost everyone of her pupils signed up.  I've also written about how to set up an e-mail to your students' phones.  But here is a new service where your students can text a code you set up in Remind101 and every time you send out a message it will be sent to your students and/or parents.  The nice thing about this is that it is free and you can use it for multiple students.  I found it at the Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness blog. 

9/11 Videos

Ten years ago my wife was pregnant with my daughters.  Now that they are 9-1/2 I have been looking for video to show them about 9/11.  Well I findally found a great collection on CNN which you can see here

The Donkey Whisperer

US Citizenship Test, part II

So recently I put up a post on taking the US citizenship test, but it turns out our new AP Government e-book comes with one that is available on the web.  The nice thing is that it is broken up into two tests: US history and US government.  So my kids are going to get to take it Monday and if you want yours to do the same, here it is.  Now once you have had your kids take the test, have them read this recent Newsweek article that considers how many US citizens CANNOT pass the citizenship test.  Once we do that we are going to discuss democracy and the role of citizens.   As part of that discussion we will look at Hauss' definition found on p. 23 which you can see below.  It is far better than our e-book's one.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nice Translator

Just two days ago I was talking to an ESOL teacher in my school who had no idea about online translators.  I have a number of ESOL kids in my classes and use the translators for essay writing.  My thought is that if I am trying to teach the mechanics of essay writing, then I don't want language to be the barrier. So the kids write in their native language and then run it through the translator before turning it into me.  Here is the one I have been using from Google and here is the new "Nice Translator."  Thanks to a G+ post from Larry Ferlazzo. 
At least once a day I have to remember a password and login combination.  As hard as I might try to keep them similar many of the sites seem to have different requirements (first letter must be capital, one must be a number, etc.) and so I use (others like  First off it is on the cloud so I can use it on any laptop.  Secondly if you save yours on your computer's browser, it can import them into it.  Next you can create folders.  You can also choose to lock the items so no one else can see them (good for the login/password combos) and if you want to share them, you can see who else is using the same site.  The advantage of this is that you might end up finding a whole host of new sites you never knew existed (and is one way I find new sites for this blog page).  If you want to see my unlocked items, go here

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nate Silver, who is a statistician, who works for the New York Times, has written a great article where he grades each of the Republican candidates on how well they are moving towards getting elected (see picture above for one such example).  It is well worth reading the article for you and your students as political scientists do a very good job of predicting (look at some of my earlier posts) who is going to win the popular vote for president. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I have enjoyed Qwiki since it came out earlier this year as it is a very nice combination of video, pictures and the written word on most subjects.  A new feature is a daily news account. 

Do You Want to Take My Technology Integration Course?

If you work in Fairfax County, VA, you can take my course this fall called "Enhancing the Use of Technology in the High School Social Studies Classroom."   You can sign up for it in MyPLT.  Simply type in "social studies" into the search engine and it will be the first one that pops up.  Classes will be on Tuesday from 430 to 730 at Woodson HS from Sept 27 - Dec 6.

The course will be designed to go at your pace meaning if you need to go slower, that will be fine and if you are a quick learner of technology, you will be able to do that too.  We will go through a variety of things such as Prezi and Glogster, using Google Docs in the classroom, making blogs, delicious, Poll Everywhere, how to build a webquest, how to integrate our new e-books into your lesson plans.  In the end people will end up with one or two lesson plans where they can use all the items we have learned.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just before I do the assignment using the Filer Bubble (mentioned below), I always ask the kids to write down how government impacts them.  Well after we have discussed everything, we are going to go online and look at this great site (5th link down) the that tells us hundreds of ways government impacts everyone in our daily lives. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Service on Google Docs

I am doing an in-service in a few minutes and am teaching how to use Google Docs. Here is my handout which also includes a lot of other items I teach at other in-services.