Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why Do We Vote on Tuesdays?

This tells why we vote on Tuesdays.  One thing it overlooks though in why people do not vote in the US is the fact that we require pre-registration which no other industrialized nation mandates.   As for Tuesdays, watch the video above to get the very interesting answer to, "Why Tuesdays." 

Digital Political Campaigns

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Inside the State of the Union

I just found this and may show it before the State of the Union this year which, by the way, I am going to have my students Tweet (as they are doing next Tuesday for the election). 

West Wing Week

West Wing Week started two years ago and shows how much Obama does in a week.  Next week's should be particularly interesting if it shows behind the scenes for Sandy.   

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why the Question is More Important for the Student

The authors of Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions, think Socrates was all wrong. Instead of using questions to get kids to think more deeply, Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, the authors and co-directors of The Right Question Institute, argue that we should ask the student to come up with the questions that speak to the core of a topic. They want us to flip the Socratic method on its head.

Here's what they say about their method: “What happens is the teacher plays a different role,” Santana said. “They lead students into thinking. The process of teaching students to ask their own questions allows teachers to communicate what they need to around curriculum. The difference is that the students are thinking and doing more, rather than the teacher.”  They offer some interesting ways to to begin the process.

Tell a Story with QR Codes

The blog, Instructional Design Fusions, has an interesting story on how to use QR Codes in the classroom. The video above is a bit long and takes a minute or so to get used to the accent, but you'll get the general idea after a couple of minutes. It's got me thinking how I might use QR codes in world history.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Easy and Noodle Bibs

So last night my oldest daughter was working on her timeline on Richard Nixon and she said she had to citations for her pictures.  She started to login to her Blackboard site to go to the MLA maker site.  Instead I had her Google "MLA maker" and we found EasyBib which allowed her to just put in the website for the picture and come up with the citation.  Of course it also allowed her to put in an author and all of his/her books came up.  Magazines, interviews, etc. are also out there.

If you want a free site for MLA, APA or the Chicago methods of having citations then NoodleBib is free and here.  

Constitutional Duties of the US Congress

My co-AP Government teachers, Rich Hoppock, is creating some flipped lessons for his classes.  Along with them, he requires the students to take notes and then he has created a Google Drive form where students put their questions.  Hoppock goes over the questions at the beginning of class and then quizzes them afterwards during which they are allowed to use their notes.  Be warned that he liked to rib me in his class and even here will do the same!  Here is his video on the organization of Congress and this one is how a bill is made into law.

TedEd: Gerrymandering: How drawing jagged lines can impact an election

Swing State Tracker

Nate Silver has a "Swing State Tracker" out that shows how Romney and Obama are doing in the key states since June.  Remember that Silver takes an aggregate of different polls.  If you like Silver's work, he does have a new book out on statistics and their role in our society call The Signal and the Noise

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tracking Polls

Tracking polls can be as easy to follow as the picture above or as complicated as the background to it found in this lengthy ABC/WashingtonPost tracking poll that was released yesterday.  It would be interesting for your students (or mine) to look at the depth of these items and to see the many questions that are asked beyond whether one supports the president or not. 

Final Debate

Above are highlights of last night's debate and here are all of the four we have had this fall. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting More Out of an Essay

One of the most frustrating exercises I have had as a teacher has been to get my non AP students to write essays.  First off, I have to hear the line, "This isn't an English class."  Secondly so many students simply do not write their essays, instead choosing to take the grade hit.  Well I believe I finally have found a successful way to get the kids to write essays.

  1. Help the students find background information by setting up categories for the students or even asking questions about documents if you are doing a DBQ.
  2. Put students in groups and use Google Drive to share their background notes
  3. Go over the fundamentals of writing and then have students write lots of the essay in class and share parts of it with the students
  4. E-mail parents that the essays are due and use Remind101 to tell remind students that it is due. I even, this time, had students share the essays with partners so they could give feedback.
  5. I made the essays due by 6 pm Sunday night and then put comments (note, no grade) all over everyone's essays.  When the students got to class I actually gave them a quiz on the main points of an essay (see #3) and then let the students look at my comments and then ask questions about it.
  6. Let my many ESOL students write their essay in their native language and then translate using Google Translate
  7. Then I told the kids they can fix my comments and share them with me using Google Drive by Wednesday.

The upshot is that almost all of my students wrote their essays and wrote a substantial number of points.  

Polling Questions

Thanks to my longtime colleague Ed Christ for finding this sample of questions from the Tarrance Group (a Republican learning group).  The questions are fairly typical fare for a questionnaire.  You might want to show it to your students so they can see what is similar to the headlines.   

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ITunes U and History Courses

ITunes University (which you can download as an app) and access through ITunes on your laptop has scores of courses in history as well as in most other disciplines. Some of the courses (I found a couple in religion) with embedded video clips that were quite good. Some are worth exploring. You can also access K-12 listings. To find  ITunes U, open ITunes  and click on Itunes Store, then click the pull down menu on the last tab called ITunes U.

Friday, October 19, 2012

More Electoral College Predictions

Here is yet another swing state scenario put together by the NYTimes.  Your students would read the stats on each state and then drag them to the appropriate side.  I added it to my "Predicting the Electoral College" assignment. 

Google Drive Presentations

Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) has its own version of PowerPoints called Presentation.  Here is a tremendous e-sheet showing you everything you ever wanted to know in terms of using it.  Above is a video showing some of the cooler features of Google Drive Presentation. 

Explore a Google Data Center

If you want to control your walk through a data center, you can go here to a Street View panorama.  Thanks to a Tweet from Alex Couros for this video. 


One of the things I teach my teacher students is how to have their students create fake Tweet streams.  You can use it to have conversations between historical figures, add in pictures and generally make your students condense their comments to a very well thought out series of concise statements.  Above is a video made by one of the teachers in my course last year, Matt Levi.  The best part about this is that while you can set up an account, you do not need to and once you are done it gives you a unique url which your students could e-mail or put on a Google Drive document to share with their teacher.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Highlights of the Debate

Fact Checking the Debate

If you go here, you can see all of the sections of the debate and play them individually or collectively.  At the same time on the right side of the screen a fact checker will appear telling you how much the two rivals stretched the truth. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tweeting the Presidential Debate Tonight

Frank (Panther Fan) and I just finished Tweeting with our AP Govt classes during the presidential debate. We had several hundred Tweets from our collective students and they were able to see each others' comments and also comment themselves at the same time using TweetChat.  For the students who did not have Twitter, I set up a Google Drive document which allowed anyone to edit it.  Several students on that format gave as many as 20 comments.  Those students were able to follow the Twitter comments using TwitterFall.  Generally the Twitter students gave 5-10 even though I had only asked for 3.  I would highly recommend your using this format for next week's debate.  

Jeopardy Labs for Jeopardy Review Games

Talk about a fast learner.  One of my "teacher-students," Rebecca Small, just created two Jeopardy games on Jeopardy Labs.  When I asked where she had found out about it, she said one of her students told her about it and added that I would like it since it is "on the cloud."

Here, for example is on on the Congress and another on the executive branch.  I found them both by using the browser tool on Jeopardy Labs. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Project Based Learning and AP Government

This clip shows how an AP Government class changed their curriculum to model project Based Learning (PBL). They did so with the help of the University of Washington and some high school teachers in nearby Bellevue, Washington. They used scores from the PBL class and compared them with scores from the traditionally taught classes. The idea was to give students a more in-depth look at government than a traditional AP class can give. You can read and see more about PBL at this Edutopia site.
5 Myths about Political Polls. WashPo Article.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Above is an eleven minute video that uses The Andy Griffith Show to explain each of the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.  I found it at EducatorsTechnology through a feed I get on my Netvibes account.

An amazing explanation of how to use Bloom's comes here from Kathy Schrock who has several pictures that show how you can use technology at every level of Bloom's.  Below is one of them.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Predicting the Electoral College

Here is my assignment on predicting the electoral college for my students which uses a variety of web sites.  I am not giving it until later this week, so would love some comments left here if you have suggestions.  

Fact Checker

FactCheck is a non profit site supported by the Annenberg Foundation that looks into statements made by politicians and judges how twisted they are.  After your students watch the debate this coming Tuesday, you might want to look at it to see how much Obama and Romney stretched the truth.  

ProCon Site for Presidential Issues

I am working on an assignment my students will have to do in groups on figuring out what the electoral college results will be.  In preparing that task I came across ProCon which has all the major presidential candidates and their stances on sixty-eight issues.

The site also has a great step by step process for coming president that includes caucuses, primaries, getting nominated, etc. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another Twitter Hashtag Chatting Device

While it is hard for me to believe, not all of my students have Twitter (about 1/5th).  But when we Tweet about the next debate I told these students they can simply go to TwitterFall which does many things, but among them, it lets you watch a hashtag live if you enter it with a "#" or "@" and the title in the search box.  If you are logged into Twitter (for the other students) it also lets you put up your own comments.  You can also follow lists and trending topics so it has a bit more than TweetChat which I mentioned in a post yesterday. 

Popular Twitter Hashtags

Now that Frank has me doing hashtags, I am glad I just found this Edudemic list of educational hashtags.  Here are ones that can help you:

The Most Popular Hashtags
  • #edchat – Education, worldwide (lots of US teachers). A really useful hashtag if you are interested in tweeting with a wide range of educators worldwide.
  • #schools – Massively wide ranging but used far less than #edchat or #ukedchat
  • #lrnchat – Learning chat
  • #TT – Teacher Tuesday where educators suggest others to follow
  • #ukedchat – UK Education
  • #GlobalEd – Education with a global dimension

  • #edtech – a very wide range of tweets relating to the use of technology in education.
  • #elearning – eLearning topics
  • #mlearning – the use of mobile technologies in education, also #mobilelearning though this is less used
  • #edapp – educational apps
  • #gbl - games based learning
  • #slide2learn – iDevices and learning
  • #vitalcpd – effective use of technology in the classroom

VP Debate

Here is the entire VP debate and above are the highlights as done by CNN.  I picked that channel as I like their undecided voter meter at the bottom. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

TweetChat for Discussions on Twitter

Frank (Panther Fan) are currently in a chat discussion in Twitter with some of our students as we listen/watch the vice presidential debate.  To that end Frank just gave me the site TweetChat where you can both watch a hashtag as well as input your comments.  Above is a very short explanation of how to use it.  

I have done a number of other Twitter posts including how to find other educators to follow. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Greatest Moments in Vice President Debate History

Thanks to my colleagues Rich Dorceus and Tim Busch for this great video on highlights of VP debates.  If you want the Bentsen-Quayle, "You're no Jack Kennedy," quote, go to 3:40 in the clip.  If you want to see them broken down into six (there are more above) clips, you can go here to see them. 

Supreme Court Hears Affirmation Action Case

ScotusBlog has been hard at work today watching Fisher v. University of Texas which is the case that might reshape the Grutter v. Bolinger (2003) and likewise CA Regents v Bakke.  Here is their synopsis of this morning's oral hearings and here is the write-up from the NYTimes

Daily Political Updates

If you want to receive a daily synopsis of what is going on in the political world, from both sides, Mike Allen has a great page called Playbook which you can go to each day.  If you are like me you can also just receive daily e-mails.  To do that, go to the right side of the page above and enter in your e-mail.

If you live in Virginia and want a daily synopsis of our political news here, go to VA Whipple (he was the person who started it originally) Report.  If you want daily e-mailed updates look on the left side of the page to find the box to write your name. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Diigo for Boomarking

This week my "teacher-students" will be save webpages on the cloud using Diigo.  They will learn how it can save pages and images and can be shared with others (here are my public items) or you can lock them so no one else can see them (which I use for all my teacher sites rather than writing them down).  The top video tells you about Diigo and the bottom one tells you how to use it. 

New Campaign Ads

I have been negligent in putting up campaign ads which is odd since I do not watch tv and so only get them online.  Well here are the the two latest from Obama and Romney. 

Politify & the Impact of the Presidential Campaign

I just found out about Politify which looks at the financial impact of Obama or Romney on you individually, your locality or the nation.  It claims to be nonpartisan, but it definitely errs towards Obama.  But it is another interesting way to look at the election.  I found it on a Google+ post by Craig Newmark

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How Much is Congress Worth?

Every government textbook I have used mentions the qualities of Congress and how the institution does not accurately reflect the demographics of the US.  Here is an amazing study of the current Congress from the WashPost and how they did financially during the recent recession. Not surprisingly Republicans are better off than Dems and as a group they are better off than the rest of us and did better during the downturn of the economy.  There is a lot more to see if you go to the link. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teaching the Debate the Day After

The top video is a highlight reel of the debate from CNN and the bottom one the same from the NYTimes.  The CNN has a live poll running below it so you can see how undecided voters in Colorado are reacting to the speakers. If you want to see the entire debate, go here. It includes graphics and a chart so you can go straight to each issue as well as a fact checker. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Netvibes to Aggregate SItes You Follow

Tomorrow I am starting my class for teachers who want to better integrate technology into the classroom.  One of the first thing I will teach them is how to aggregate all the sites you might want to follow so that you can quickly keep up to date.  The site I use to do this is

NYTimes Explanation of the Electoral College

This is  cute and very easy to understand explanation of the electoral college which uses third graders to make the point.  It also gives historical perspective.  It also gives an alternative that has been building steam in the last few years. 

How Politicians Get Away With Dodging The Question

In congressional races, underdogs abound, but why?

If you know you have a 98% chance of losing, why run for Congress? Enough challengers think they have a shot. Article in the Washington Post.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Search Engine for the Teacher Blog Sites

I received an e-mail from a former colleague today saying he was enjoying seeing what this site has on it.  You can do it too.  The government teachers blog has 1383 posts in the last 4.5 years while the world history one has 1072 and the US history one has 959 posts.  To do the research just plug in what you are looking (most of all of the subjects have been addressed at one point or another), press enter and lots of links will appear.  You can also do it for the technology that appears to see what has been written about in the past.  With 3400 posts you should be able to find lots of items to help with your teaching.  As always, send us your links and, in most cases, we'll post them. 

McGraw-Hill Essay Contest

I was just sent an e-mail by McGraw-Hill telling me that they have an essay contest centered around the presidential debates and are giving $10,000 in grants to the winning schools.  If you are interested, here is the website. 

How to Teach the Debate

Here is a great page from the NYTimes on how to teach for the debate tomorrow night.  It has a form your students can fill out (which you can copy in Google Drive if you have that open first and then go to "file" and then "copy."  Then your students can use the document as as they are watch.  Here is a scorecard you could use.  Note that it is from 2008 so you would have to change McCain to Romney. 

Presidential Debate Moments

Monday, October 1, 2012

Who is Your Candidate Quiz

Thanks to Lynne Hicks who sent me this link for iSideWith for figuring out who should be your candidate in the presidential campaign.  First off it gives you a ton of issues for those of you trying to help your students figure out which party they belong to and secondly they can see that in some states more than Romney and Obama will be on the ballot.  So have your kids take the quiz and see where they end up.  

Electoral College Bias

Okay this is a biased video against the Electoral College, but it explains it so very well even showing how many states presidential candidates visit.  Here are the other posts I have done on the topic.  Of course the last part you probably won't show in class since it tries to tell you how few states you need to actually be president, albeit (as pointed out by the video) since it has such disparate states as Wyoming and D.C. 

Most Hits Blog Posts in September

Hard to believe the first month of school is already over.  As always thanks for coming to this blog page.  We had 42,000+ page views (including the US and world blogs) last month including 14,000 on this site alone   The top three for this page were: