Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iowa (Shift) Happens

This video reminds me of the Shift Happens ones.  It has a little bit on Iowa's digital age (first 53 seconds), but it is still fine.  You can skip the last part.  I found it today and showed it to my class of teachers as I believe it shows why it is so urgent that we use as much technology as possible with our students.  I then showed the video on this video (first 3 minutes) as it shows where we are going (and some lucky few schools already are in terms of customizing classes for their students. 

FL Results and Delegate Count

Here are the results from the FL primary broken up into the demographic results.  Here are the results from the FL primary and here is the delegate count to date for the Republican party.  Finally, here are the results from all the primaries.  Now you pretty much know what I will be teaching for the first 15 minutes of my government class tomorrow! 

Short Videos on Key Legislation

Here are twelve short videos on key legislation put together by the Center on Congress from Indiana University. It includes such key items as civil rights, the Marshall Plan, Morrill Act, Social Security and the ADA.    

Thanks for the Hits - All 20,000 This Month!

When I began this blog (and its companion ones on US history and world history) in April 2008 I had no idea how many hits it would start getting (not to mention the opportunities it would bring me).  Thanks to your interest we should hit 20,000 hits this month which is a new record.  Indeed in the last several months we have been really increasing.  Thanks also for the e-mails giving me information for the site and for posting your ideas on the comments (and for all the great thank you notes I receive).

If you want, you can sign up for an e-mail for each of the new posts (no more than one a day) by putting your e-mail address in the box above "submit" on the right side of the blog and pushing enter.  Alternatively you can look for me on Twitter under "kenhalla" or under Google+, also under "kenhalla."

In case you were curious about the fourth name, I raise money for William and Mary's track/cross country teams and do an alumni blog for them called the Spiked Shoe Society

Monday, January 30, 2012

Obama's Appointments

Here are all the presidential appointments under Obama broken up by where they work. Here are some posts I have previously done on presidential donors and who got what ambassador position.   

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Even though microtargeting goes back to the 1990s, most give Karl Rove the credit for starting the practice at the national level, it is the practice of looking at our data and deciding what to sell politically to us.  It used (and that is a very relative term) to be just what you buy at a store (ever wonder what Giant and Safeway does with your information from your discount card) and now has online groups like Google or Facebook tailoring what you see ad wise.  Here is an article from today's NYTimes and here is a more definitive one from an Arizona publication on the 12th of Jan.  

Sharing iGoogle Links

I've written about the weblinks' aggregator page called igoogle (see how to video below).  It is great as I can quickly see a number of blogs that I follow.  If you have an igoogle page and want to see what I follow, then go to this link (I did take off the Tweetdeck, Google Docs, etc.).  To allow others to do the same for your page, go to the "home" tab in the upper left side and then hit the "share this tab" on the drop down (see picture above).  Then you can send an e-mail to whomever you want to share your page.
WARNING: If you do this, it will create a new homepage for you, but yours will still be intact.  Both of them can be seen if you look on the left side of the igoogle page where each will have a "home" tab.  If you then want to get rid of mine, you could right click on the "home" for mine and then "delete the tab." Or you could just look at the things you like from my account and add them to your page.  

Beyond the Hole in the Wall

Oddly enough I have found that kids are exactly LESS inclined to move off task than if they were a digitized class than a traditional paper and pen one.  To that end I just finished Beyond the Hole in the Wall (only $2.99) which looks at kids in very impoverished areas and how  much they were able to intuitively learn using laptops. Here are his quantitative papers and here is his blog. Yes, it is a long way from just giving a kid a computer to learning our mandated content, but I believe we are in the early stages of an educational revolution where teachers are moving more to facilitators and students will be doing more work at the higher end of Bloom's and then (and this is the one that is still in the very early stages) have a way to reprocess information they did not learn well as they move ahead (Knewton is one company working on this).  

More Campaign Ads

One day soon I hope that ETS puts their tests online (yes I know that would mean lots of computers for readers to use or worse still since I love going to the AP readings, having to grade at home), which is all to say these cartoons, since they are talking ones, will not be on an AP test, but nonetheless they are good for your students to analyze

Track the Money Race

This site from the WashPost allows you to follow the campaign dollar of each candidate (not the super PACs) and where the money came from.  You can even put the candidates side by side and add as many as you want. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

So Who Is A Lobbyist?

Newt has correctly stated that he is not a lobbyist (at least as the law states it), but then Mitt Romney is correct in stating that he has been lobbying (see above video).  It pulls no punches stating that many of Obama's bundlers are also Newt like lobbyists even though he (Obama) contends he takes no money from lobbyists. Here is a nice editorial from the NYTimes which defines what a lobbyist is legally

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 has three tests: 1) Do you make more than $3,000 over three months from lobbying? 2) Have you had more than one lobbying contact? 3) Have you spent more than 20 percent of your time lobbying for a single client over three months?

The article suggests changes that can be made so that more will correctly (like Newt) be labeled a lobbyist. 

CNN Student News

Every week day CNN has a Student News which gives highlights over yesterday's news in just a few minutes.  You can also have your students take a daily quiz

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winning our Future New Ad

Winning Our Future (Gingrich's super PAC) has a new movie coming and above is the trailer. 

Online Project Rubrics

I have written on some rubrics, but here is another one from Effective Online Teaching and Training. There are a variety of categories including blogs, wikis, e-portfolio, Twitter, online discussion and more.  I found the item from a Google+ post from Eric Sheninger

Who's On First?

This is a little fun for teachers who have been around a while like me. 

Still Room in my Social Studies Tech Class

I am teaching a technology integration course (p. 42)  for 7-12th social studies grade teachers (despite the heading above) teachers for Fairfax County, VA teachers.  It will start January 31st (so sign up soon) and run for 10 Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7:30.  It filled up very quickly in the fall, so please sign up early. To sign up go to MyPLT, then put "social studies" in the search box and look for the title "Enhancing the Use of Technology in the Social Studies Classroom." 

Political Cartoons

While you can certainly find political cartoons in your daily e-paper's editorial page, here is an aggregator page with lots of color and black and white ones.  It even has a calendar so you can look at a particular day.  The AP exam occasionally has a cartoon in its free response section, but it is a good idea for any government class to consider editorial bias and cartoons are a great way to do so. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

VIrtual Stickies on a Wall

Just the other day I was at an in-service where the presenter suggested one technique where students could write one question on a wall and others could answer it.  Then he said that during a test students could look at the wall for a minute or so.  Obviously the point was that kids who are less reticent to ask a question would feel more inclined to do so.  Well, while Wallwisher has been around for a few years, it allows students to put stickies on a wall and others can edit (i.e. answer it).  So in the case of my kids who often take e-tests, this would be one way to get a lifeline.  

State of the Union address as an eye exam chart

Hat tip to Daniel Pink on this exhibit by R. Luke Dubois at the Smithsonian Museum.
"In a series of prints called “Hindsight is always 20/20,” he’s taken the words of each speech, noted their frequency, and rendered them as a Snellen eye exam chart – with a President’s most-used words in large type near the top and his less-used words in progressively smaller type toward the bottom.

It’s a mashup – one part word cloud, another part optometry. And it works. You get a good sense of how much the times dictate the words. It also offers a sly commentary on each President’s – wait for it – vision."

The White House and Twitter

This is an interesting article on how the White House has been using Twitter to help shape policy. Also if you haven't seen the Mention Machine on the post, take a look. It tracks twitter mentions and mainstream media mentions for the candidates.Link

Wordle and the State of the Union

Here is the 2012 State of the Union in Wordle, 2011, 2010 and while we are at it, Mitch Daniels' response. Thanks to Patti Winch for the heads up on these.  If you want different perspectives, here is the view of the more liberal Washington Post and here it is from Fox News. 

State of the Union

If you want to skip to any part of the State of the Union and see the video and read the transcript go here (bottom picture).  Otherwise a synopsis is on the video on top. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Behind the Scenes for this Year's State of the Union

I found this great piece from a post of Cynthia Yildrim on Google+

A Student's Constitutional Convention on Prezi

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

I still well remember the Air Florida crash in the Potomac River my senior year of high school (I had to walk home in the snow because the late buses were cancelled).  Ronald Reagan thought he was such a hero that he highlighted his jumping in the Potomac to rescue plane victims to illustrate a point he was making in his State of the Union speech.  Every president has used the technique since then and here you can see who has been chosen each time along with their picture. 

FL Republican Debate

On top is the entire debate and on the bottom are some exchanges between Gingrich and Romney. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

E-books and A Little Self Promotion

Today the DC metro affiliate of NBC news came to my classroom (and one other) to talk about digital textbooks which you can guess that I have been pushing for years up until this year when our entire county (27 high schools) went digital from 6-12th grades.  If you want to be an advocate I should say that it started with my getting  a few teachers and 1/3 to 1/2 of their students on board, then an entire grade pilot and that led to 18 middle and high schools doing it with a great deal of help from our curriculum great teachers, curriculum specialists and other administrators.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Every State of the Union in our History

Of course Thomas Jefferson, a notoriously poor public speaker choose not to do the State of the Union in person and it was not until Woodrow Wilson that we had our addresses done in Congress again.  Here is everyone from Washington through Obama. 

State of the Union Bingo

The State of the Union is Tuesday night and I always ask my students to watch.  One way to do so is to have them play "State of the Union Bingo" (here and here) which lets them focus on key parts of the SOTU speech.  

Polling Exercise

Here is a simulation (no code necessary to see it) from my e-book for AP US Government on polling.  It gives some history of polls and then asks the students to answer questions.  After my students fine it they will have to find a poll in the last two weeks and tell me if it was a good one and why. 

Economics Exercise

Next week I am going to show this to my government students and ask them how it impacts our government.  From my end items I will be looking for will be trade treaties (who makes them, approves them), diplomats, economics (Keynesian and trickle down economics), tariffs, the Internet age and its impact on the US economy, minimum wage and on and one. 

Demographic Variables and Voting

As soon as my students finish going over their midterm exams we are moving onto campaigns.  One of the pages I will use is this one as it shows independent variables for voting such as age, income, ideology,   education, issues, etc.  It also shows how these groups voted in South Carolina. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

All About Congress

While I am promoting the NYTimes, here is its page on Congress.  It has the major bills being discussed recently, today or more in the past, nominations, votes, who is leaving and more. 

Election Calendar, Results and Delegates

Here is a primary/caucus schedule along with the results and the number of delegates to the Republican national convention.  This site shows the results as well as an explanation of how the delegates are selected after the presidential voting. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Real Clear Politics

Real Clear Politics is an aggregator of political stories if you are looking to augment your daily e-paper.  The site also has lots of polls

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stephen Colbert's PAC Parody Explains Campaign Finance To America

WeVideo Online Editor

Ever since Jaycut was bought by Blackberry, I have been looking for a cloud based editor where one can edit videos in the cloud.  Finally I have found it with WeVideo.  Wevideo gives you two options (see video above) to either edit it in your own youtube account or to use their editor.  If you want to collaborate (think student projects) then you can have others collaborate in real time from other locations and computers.  There is a limit to the space, but students could make one video and put it on youtube and then have plenty of space for others.  Cloud based video editors (or any tool) have the advantage over MovieMaker as it can be done on any computer and not lost.  Thanks to Freetech4teachers for the heads up. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gerrymandering Explained

How the Electoral College Works

All About US Primaries/Caucuses

When I dreamed up having a social studies blog four years ago getting people to e-mail me links and ideas is exactly what I wanted so it is great that the last three posts are exactly just that being modeled.  One of the teachers in my tech integration course last fall, Emily Gregory, send me this site (above) which does a great job at looking at how primaries in the US work. 

What To Look For in South Carolina

Ideological Changes in the US Senate + S Court

Here is another link from Zak McNamara that shows the ideological shift since the beginning of our US Senate.  You can look at sections of the country or just your state or the country as a whole.   Here is a similar chart for the US Supreme Court based on the presidents who appointed the members.

Recess Appointments

This is a great graph showing recess appointments from FDR to the present.  By far and away the winner of doing it is Ronald Reagan.  Thanks to Zak McNamara who works with me in our online campus for the heads up on it. 

Who Is Your Candidate?

One of my students found this quiz that will help your students decide who is the best presidential candidate for them. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whipple Report on All Politics in VA

This is only for those of you who teach government in VA.  For the past decade+ Tom Whipple of former state senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Ar) has put together clippings from newspapers around the state.  While Whipple was a devoted Democrat the service, found here, is entirely non-partisan and is read by elected officials, lobbyists, teachers and professors across the state.  In the last year it has been taken over by The VA Public Access Project.  At any rate if you want to following what is happening in VA politics, esp. right now while the legislature is in session, I'd go to this website daily or, as I do, sign up for the daily e-mail. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

List of super PACs

Above is the most recent (and biting) advertisement by Gingrich's super PAC.  Here are all of the super PACs. I have written about the definition of super PACs, but they are a direct result of Citizens United v. F.E.C. and essentially are the follow-up to 527s allowing their individuals and corporations  to give unlimited donations to one.  The key is that there cannot be any collaboration between the candidate and the super PACs - even though they seem to mostly be run by former staffers of the presidential candidate.  My question will be will the super PAC people be given key jobs in the next presidential administration, be it Obama, Romney or someone else.  The ad above (here is an article detailing it) is possible because of a $5 million donation to his super PAC by one individual and is a huge help to his South Carolina campaign.  

What Does the First Lady Do?

My school is all a abuzz since Michelle Obama is coming to my school on Friday to preview an episode of iCarly (my own children would love to see that part!).  For a government teacher it marks a perfect example to talk about the role of the first lady as well as Michelle Obama's role in her husband's re-election.  This site has a great several page write-up of the first lady's role (and in general "How Stuff Works" has a lot of helpful videos).   Obama does not get paid for her job, but she does have a paid staff which is housed in the east wing of the White House and, of course, a website

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa Results

This NYTimes page has the Iowa caucus results in both 2012 and 2008 (Romney was almost identical in percentage and numbers both times), how the delegates are selected to their state and national convention and a map where you can see each individual county and the results.  Here is how much each vote cost the individual candidates. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Google Politics and Elections

Do You Want To Take My Technology Integration Course?

I am teaching a technology integration course (p. 42)  for social studies teachers for Fairfax County, VA teachers.  It will start January 31st and run for 10 Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7:30.  It filled up very quickly in the fall, so please sign up early. To sign up go to MyPLT, then put "social studies" in the search box and look for the title "Enhancing the Use of Technology in the Social Studies Classroom." 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Iowa Is A Poor Predictor

As this video explains, especially for Republicans who wins the Iowa Caucus is a poor indicator of who will win the party's nomination (and yes Dems are voting tomorrow too).   538.com now has a statistical tie between Romney, Paul and Santorum.

The Iowa Caucus Explained

In case your students ask you tomorrow, here is a nice explanation of how the Iowa caucus works.