Friday, June 29, 2012

Todays Meet: Develop a Virtual Classroom

Today's Meet is a way to get students into a virtual classroom for a discussion. The developers call it "a microblogging backchannel that empowers computer classroom teachers to generate a discussion, without the interference of raised hands or student disruption."

It's a little like Twitter or Edmodo "as it gets students chatting, using a 140-character limit and an easy-to-use interface. Todays Meet is a backchannel, which helps teachers conduct online discussions, while channeling the results onto one web page or an Interactive White Board."  My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, learned about it in his AP US workshop and sent me the link. Looks like a very interesting and usable application.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blog Contributors Grow By One

When I started this blog 4+ years ago I wanted it to be a way to communicate between schools in my district - something beyond the traditional collaborative teams that were then being implemented - as I did not feel lesson planning and great ideas to be limited to just a few people in one's individual CLT.  Well, quickly, this blog became a national one and your e-mails and comments have given me lots of ideas and plenty of inspiration and motivation to keep it going.

While I have had some guest bloggers off and on, Frank Franz, who teaches at Madison HS, was there at the inception and continues to be a regular on the US Government blog, but also occasionally on the world blog.

Late last fall, I asked one of my students in my technology integration course, George Coe, from  West Potomac HS, to join me.  As you can see he has been prolific and enthusiastic in adding posts to all three blogs.

Soon you will start seeing posts from Scott Campbell, whom I met in the airport a year ago on the way to an AP reading and who is now teaching at Thomas Jefferson HS.  Scott will be adding primarily to the US and government blogs.

As you might expect all of us use technology a great deal in the classroom and hope you continue to enjoy and utilize the posts to enhance your teaching.  

Make Your Own Qwiki

Their name, Qwiki, is certainly enjoyed by my students, but when I want an audio, visual and written overview of something I am teaching, it is the best source I can find on the Internet.

Now, though, you can create your own Qwiki, narrated, links, video, you name it.  Above is a quick video explaining it and here is how you can get started.

If you have been using Qwikis, you may notice that you can no longer go to the homepage to run a search, but instead will have to be using Bing and then will see a Qwiki with every search you run on the right margin.    If you have some old Qwikis, as do I, then your url will still work.  There is also an ABC News page for Qwikis. 

NYTimes Summary of Obamacare Case

The video above discusses not only the ruling today, but also the fact that Roberts wrote the opinion (senior member of winning side).  It also talks about a winning point for conservatives.  But with this video and the ones below, you now have ample video to teach this case during the summer session or during the 2012-13 school year. 

Sal Khan and John Hennessy on Online Education: The Full D10 Interview

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein sent me the link to Walt Mossberg's interview of Sal Khan and Stanford President, John Hennessy about the cost of higher education and the use of technology in education.  it runs about 37 minutes and is quite interesting.

Background on Obamacare

A great teacher in my county put together this series of great video clips on everything you need to know (and show) to teach your students.  Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the case you can create a legislative, executive and judicial unit around this one law.

Here is the Supreme Court ruling.

If you check back in a day I will also have a study guide to go along with this. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Human Development Indicators

Human Development Indicators help measure "a new way of measuring development by combining indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income into a composite human development index, the HDI. The breakthrough for the HDI was the creation of a single statistic which was to serve as a frame of reference for both social and economic development. The HDI sets a minimum and a maximum for each dimension, called goalposts, and then shows where each country stands in relation to these goalposts, expressed as a value between 0 and 1."

The index has made it onto the free response question section of the AP US Government exam so this is a very important indicator.  The site has country profiles, rankings, data sets, GDP and more. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stitcher: Radio & Podcast app

Great free app for smartphone, Ipad or Android tablet.. You can program all your favorite radio shows and podcasts to play in whatever order you want but the cool thing is that you can also plug in courses of university podcasts. The more stuff you listen tp, the more stuff  Stitcher will find that you like.  I downloaded Stitcher today and found a series on the History of Rome and another one on the Middle Ages. I might even listen to a couple of them on a road trip this weekend. Here's Walt' Mossberg's review of Sticher.

Donor Choose

So we recently interviewed (I am a dept. chair) candidate for an opening we have.  Beyond the many great things one of those interviewed said, she mentioned a website called Donor Choose which even my co-English chair knew about - but apparently not me!  Well the candidate had gotten chairs for all of her students, her own desk, a printer, pens, pencils, etc. from the website.  The way it works, is if a teacher has a need, he/she puts it online and can either solicit funds and matching corporate ones as well donors from around the Internet.  So with some effort an enterprising teacher can get some much needed supplies.  

Classroom lectures Go Digital

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, sent me this Interesting NY Times article about how  the move to digital lectures in both high school and college are changing the face of  traditional education. "Thanks to digital media like video-on-demand broadcasts, or VODcasts, lectures that students would normally receive in the classroom are migrating outside of brick and mortar schools."  

European Union Page on NYTimes

Here is a great page for the European Union from the NYTimes.  It gives a chronology as well as interactives and current articles. 

Issues to Discuss in Great Britain

Thanks, all week, to Rebecca Small, for the sites I am prompting for AP Comparative Government.  Here is one called Biz/ed which is a British site that you can use to have your students see both sides of many issues in Great Britain.  Rebecca has one of her students pretend to be the Prime Minister and use the class to have a simulation of "Question Time" in Parliament. To precede the simulation the students are first shown an clip of Question Time

Monday, June 25, 2012

AP Comparative Government Blog

This week I am taking a great AP Comparative Government summer institute with one of my county's teachers, Rebecca Small.  One of the things she has highlighted is Ken Wedding's blog for comparative government teachers.  Wedding was a long time AP Comparative Government teacher, AP reader (grader) and author who has retired, but puts up regular items that can help you in your class.  

CIA Factbook App

The CIA has a great factbook that many of us use for our teaching.  Well now there is an iPad/iPhone app (which unfortunately costs $2.99), but would allow students to quickly look up information on their mobile devices. 

Election Resources

I promised some more resources for comparative government teachers, so here is another resource.  Election Resources lets you input a number of countries and quickly find out about the results in 45 countries.   Now if you teach AP, you will notice that Nigeria, Iran and China are not on there.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Live Blogging from the Supreme Court

Ok, so this week I have been "watching" track races from a Twitter feed for the US Olympic track trials so I cannot laugh at Scotus Blog that will be live blogging the US Supreme Court this week as it presents its highest profile cases such as Obamacare.  So, in case you want to "watch" the decisiosn live, go here. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Free Conference Call

It dawned on me this morning that if Frank and I had needed to speak to more than each other last night I could have shared my screen with lots of people and we could have gotten a free conference call using FreeConferenceCall.  I first heard about it in 2007 as Obama's campaign was using it to save money in the early days.  The only catch, if you can call it that, is that you get an e-mail when you are done.

If you want to share documents and doing a video conference, you can use a "HangOut" in Google+ which lets you video conference with up to 10 people and share your Google Drive (used to be Google Docs) documents.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Share Your Screen

So Frank Franz (Panther Fan) and I were just doing some work with test questions for our county and when I couldn't figure something out I went to Screenleap and in two seconds it created a code I sent him and he was able to see my screen as I moved around and together we were able to solve our problem. The Screencastomatic people also have a screen share application called Quick Screen Share that can do the same thing.  

Congress and Statistics

I now have a new site I am going to follow.  For example here is a great graphic showing what Congress would look like if it was truly representative of the US.  For example both houses would be Democratic (remember Dems are less likely to turn out on election day than Repubs) and the House would have an equal number of men and women.  Here is a graphic of what Congress actually looks like. 

Here is another graphic that says that the average Senator raised $6.4 million ($8,700 a day!) while the average House Member raised $1.2 million ($1,700 a day).  Here is that graphic. 

I found out about the site from the WashPost's Fix.  

Texting Students During Summer School

With summer school starting shortly I wanted to tell you about one of the reasons why my students turned in their work at a higher level than ever before. I love it when a student e-mails me and asks the next day if I received the message.  My answer is usually, "Yes, I answered you a minute later."  But students typically do not use e-mail and I can't blame them. But remind101 has figured it out.  You give instructions to your students (and I do it for parents as well) and they can opt to sign up for the free text.  You do not see anyone's cell phone and all of your messages are recorded for you.  My students loved it as did their parents.  What is also wonderful is that you can set it to go anytime.  So I would usually do it during the day when I put the assignment on Blackboard and set it for 4 or 5 pm.  There are 5 such services out there, but this is the only FREE one and you can have a different one for each of your classes. 

If you aren't allowed to use such a site, you can always have your students put in their cell phone numbers into a device such as Blackboard or any other device that delivers homework.  Here is how to do it.  If you do this you will need to make sure other teachers aren't also using it as you will be limited (as you are above) to 140 characters.

Now it is hard to limit oneself to 140 characters all the time.  So there are ways around this.  For example if I wanted students to see an assignment I put in Google Docs, I went to tinyurl and put in the long address.  Then you can put that tinyurl in your text and your students can connect to the larger message.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Magruder's e-book In-Service

Tomorrow several of us are going to a local high school to do an in-service on using e-books in the classroom.  One of the books is Magruder's US Government.  The in-service is being done by Laura Wolf who has a great outline which you will find useful even if you don't use the textbook (and most standard government teachers in the US do) as it has a scavenger hunt, several interactive assignments and how to use Google Docs.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

AP Comparative

One thing I haven't focused on much in this blog is AP Comparative Government. But one of the countries studied in the course is Iran (where I spent a number of years in my youth).  If you are interested the NYTimes is starting a video series (on their main page) on the country.  Above is the first installment. 

The Fix

Now that most of you are out for the summer (I am actually at the AP Government Reading), you might want to check out The Fix which is by a Chris Cizilla (above), WashPost reporter and has lots of daily insight into the political world and includes video,  pictures and stories.  I'd say it is mostly for you, but you will be able to find about one or two items a week for your students. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Supreme Court Blog

As we get ready for the rest of the US Supreme Court case rulings that are about to be released, you can't do better than the SCOTUS Blog for analysis, links, statistics and more. 

Free Online Courses

Summer's finally here. If you get bored or want to improve your knowledge in history, check out one of the 50 free online course that Open Culture has compiled. There is the History of the World to 1500 with Columbia textbook author Richard Bulliet. You can take an introduction to Greek History with the well-known Yale author, Donald Kagan. Or,my favorite, A History of the World since 1300 with Princeton Professor, Jeremy Adelman (but that doesn't begin until the fall). You'll also find course in European History and even American History.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Political Time Machine App

The Political Time Machine App lets you see different clips of politicians at different points of their careers.  This might be fun to find a young Obama and Romney, for example this fall.  The app lets you go back 100 years.  There does not seem to be an Android app. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Chrome Book Review

Great review of the new Chrome book by Samsung  from The Verge. It has a new Intel Celeron chip. Found it on Amit Agarwal's Pinterest board.  Agarwal also has a great tech blog. With their long battery life and instant on feature, they would make great computers for the classroom.

Photo Story Onto Google Apps/Docs

The best way to do a digital presentation is by using Screencastomatic (here is how). It does not require an account and can immediately be uploaded into Youtube.  The only problem is that some schools do not allow use of Youtube.  If that is the case you have a free alternatives:

About two months ago I posted a video George Coe did on how to save a video within Google Apps.   But the video did not show you how to create an audio presentation.  So if you go to the video above I used Photo Story which is on any computer that uses Microsoft.  Once I show you how to create the presentation I also show you how to upload it into Google Apps or Google Docs, if you do not have access to Youtube. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

538 and the Electoral College

About four years Nate Silver, who has a book coming out soon, started blogging on his new site appropriately titled 538.  He became the first person to use statistics to predict the electoral college and in the process create a great site.  Now he blogs for the NYTimes and has started his electoral analysis for the fall.  As we get closer to the election, you might want to come back to the site - a lot.

By the way I started this (and the other two blogs) to be able to spread content and digital wealth so really appreciate your e-mails.  Just two days ago I received one from Charlie Ostlund who taught me Current Events in 1981-92 which is as close as I got to government back in high school.  Charlie, after a career in admin, is now back in the classroom.  

What is the Cloud?

This, for me is a nice display of what is meant by "the cloud."  Notice as one action is done on the Smartphone a similar one is done elsewhere such as on a tablet or a computer.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

History and Graphic of the Filibuster

One more graphic from Chart Porn.  This one has a history of the use of the filibuster in the US Senate.  If you go here, there is also an article on the history of it. 

50 Years of Government Spending

Above and here (larger) you can see 50 years of government spending.  I found the graphic on Chart Porn

Friday, June 1, 2012

Top Stories for May

Despite the fact that many of you are already out of school (and remember this blog goes all summer) and I still have 8 school days and a week of grading AP exams.  At any rate the three blogs still hit 45,000 pageviews from 21,000 unique visitors.  Here are the top pages for May: