Friday, March 30, 2012

Receiving Ambassadors

My wife likes the Washingtonian magazine which usually has a few pages dedicated to politics.  This month, though, it has a nice article on Obama's job of receiving ambassadors.  It is about Italy's Claudio Bisogniero and his routine on the day he met Obama (above).  I'm not sure I'd make my students read this two page article, but it is interesting, nonetheless.  

Collaborate in Google Docs in a Google+ Hangout

This video does a great job of going through all of the new parts of Google+ hangouts such as how to edit Google Docs, diagrams and doodles together with others in the hangout.  If you have not heard of "hangouts" it allows you to meet with up to nine other friends in a video chat.  If you have a Google account, you have a Google+ account in which you can go into a hangout.  It can be used to collaborate with colleagues in different locations.  I found out about the video from a G+ post from Jason Mayes who is an engineer for Google. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tablets in the Classroom


My colleague, Jeff Feinstein sent me the link to this All Things D article about digitizing the classroom. The FCC and the Department of Education met today along with reps from Apple, Intel and McGraw Hill (to list just a few)to discus the idea that digital textbooks save money. Interesting story.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oral Argument for Obamacare from Wednesday

Here is the morning session and here is the afternoon session for FL v. Department Health and Human Services.  The arguments deal with Medicaid payments and whether giving someone health insurance is indeed coercion.   Above is a summary of the three days of arguments by CNN.

You might also note on the right side of this page that Big Event Fundraising is a new sponsor on the site which you can use for the fundraising needs at your school. 

Creating a Hanging Indent in Google Docs

A hanging indent is used in bibliographies where you do not want to indent the first line, but you do all the other ones.  Above is a nice demonstration of how to do that.  Just skip to the one minute mark and begin. 

Obamacare Audio Of The Supreme Court

Here is a summary of the above arguments complete with excerpts.  Here is the complete audio from Monday's court session. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tips for Teaching in a Connected Classroom

I read with great interest this article from the WashPost telling readers that South Korea was scaling back its digital e-book use.   When I hear complaints the two at the top of the scale (and so it is in the article) are that kids can't concentrate online and the screen time is bad for them.  But, from my experience, students can be trained to stay on task and honestly if they are not on their laptops they will be on a smaller screen (esp. in South Korea which is much better connected than the US) called a smartphone.

But I have created an e-sheet with some of the tips for better teaching for connected classrooms.  If you bookmark it (and I suggest Diigo), I will make changes as I figure them out.  For example, three weeks ago I started allowing quiet music (defined as the teacher can't hear it) to be played while the students are working on their work.  Since then productivity has gone up! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Amicus Brief Explained

Timerime for Timelines

I used to use Timerine on a regular basis as an alternative for my students who didn't want to put a timeline on paper or Google Docs. Well tomorrow my technology integration students will be watching the above video and teaching it to themselves (part of my class is making sure that they can figure this out after they leave the class) with me jumping in to help when needed.  Timerine allows for you to have short descriptions, then links to much longer ones, Internet links as well as video. Click on the pictures above to see all of the features.  It really has come a long way since I first posted on it in 2009

Sunday, March 25, 2012

All You Need to Know for Florida v. Dept. of Health and Human Services (oral arguments for Obamacare)

Tomorrow the US Supreme Court will do something unheard of as it will be listening to oral arguments over three days (as opposed to the usual 30 minutes per side) on FL v.  Dept. of Health and Human Services also known as Obamacare's individual mandate (i.e. should people be required to have health insurance).  Above is a summary of the case and here are the questions being considered. As I tell my students the Court likes to see similar cases in multiple districts and that is true here as you can see here.  Here is a list of the amicus curiae briefs for the case and here is the petition for the writ of certiorari.

One place you might want to go for the next three days is to the SCOTUS blog which has its own page on the topic.  Another resource will be CSPAN which has its own page here

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Use Google Docs in a Google+ Hangout

While people still love their Facebook, Google+ is starting to have lots of amazing features that Facebook doesn't have. For example I have written about how you can have a video chat with nine others (and I've seen some Google people doing it with up to 30, so look for that soon enough).  But now you can bring up your Google Docs documents and look at them on the screen as you work as well as make phone calls from within a G+ hangout to a phone.  To look at the documents in a hangout, just click on the "docs" button.  Fellow blogger used to have get togethers for AP teachers but it proved to be a problem due to the sheer size of our county (we have 27 high schools).  Well now you can get your fellow educators in one room online and meet and collaborate on documents at the same time!

Publishing A Screencastomatic in Google Apps

One interesting thing about doing three blogs (US, and world besides this one) is that I get to watch the activity and I must say while at the beginning lots of people went from one to another, now they just go straight to their page.  So I am putting this post from George Coe below as it is a super one that he posted on the world history page.

I am asking the kids to create a screen cast covering different topics in their contemporary AP World Unit (1900-present). The problem is that they cannot upload their screen cast to You Tube within the school’s network. Consequently, they have to save it as a video file (MP4). They can then open it in QuickTime or Real Player. The problem was how to share the file so that I or others could view it. After a couple of trials, I figured out how to insert the file into a goggle presentation. Here are the steps that I included in this 3 minute presentation.

For those not in FCPS, I (this is Ken) should add that you can upload a Screencastomatic straight into Youtube, but (as George notes above) this is not allowed in all school districts.  If you have a closed Google Apps, this is a GREAT way to share a video.  

All the President's Pens

My students always get a kick out of my telling them that the president uses many pens to write their names on bills (try it, one pen per letter - it is not easy).  The video says that the most pens used in their recollection was Bill Clinton who used 47 on one bill.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why are gas prices so high?

This article (and chart) explains why prices vary from state to state.  Here are some great charts showing the different taxes from state to state and even in localities. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PollEverywhere Adds Pictures To Questions

Image Support for Multiple Choice Options from Poll Everwhere on Vimeo.
I just taught my tech integration class how to use PollEverywhere this past week and along comes their newest innovation which is to add pictures to the questions.  Frank (Panterfan) starts every class with five review questions from the day before.  Polleverywhere allows students to text answers to multiple choice questions so you can instantly see if the kids have learned what is needed.  For those without a phone, you can do it from a webpage.  Also it is insanely easy to use. Skip to 1:38 in the video above to see how to write questions and ask pictures.   Then stop spending money for the "clicker system!" 

Predict Romney's Chances of Winning

Nate Silver at the NYTime's 538 has created an interesting device in which you can decide what percentage Romney has of winning the remaining primaries and of what the percentage of error will be (if you want to get that detailed).  So for example if you think the “Etch A Sketch” comment made by one of Mr. Romney’s advisers could harm Romney then you can change her percentage of winning.  

Problem Based Learning and Video Games

James Gee discusses learning with video games in this interesting eight minute lecture. And here's a blog at Edutopia about gaming and learning. Not sure if any of this fits in with history but it's still interesting and reminds me of Jane McGonigal's lecture on Ted Talks. See post above above about the Top Ten Ted Talks Posts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

FEC Update

The FEC now has the numbers up on its site here.  You can click on each candidate's name for a map of where  they have raised their money. From there you can hover over each area to see totals.  You can also see a summary of money raised (PACs, individuals, etc.) as well as expenditures.  Additionally you can look up people and see how much they have given to a campaign.   The WashPost also has a nice article on Romney's bundlers and the e-paper has a great comparative site where you can line up the candidates and see how their money compares. 

Page Snooze on Chrome

One of the great reasons for using Chrome or Google Docs/Apps is that you do not have to wait around until a new version comes out in a six months to a year. For example, Google announced that their dictionary will be continually expanding as languages grow.

Another new feature of Google Chrome is that it allows you to download an app (to the browser and not your laptop) which lets you "snooze" an article if you don't have enough time to read it right now and want to save it for later.  What is also great about Chrome apps is that you download it on one laptop, it will be on the next one when you go login there. 

Top Ten Ted Talks For Education

Here is the link for the Top Ten Ted Talks for Education. The videos include Ken Robinson, above, Salmon Khan, Jane McGonigal, Shulka Bose, Adora Svitak, and Richard Baraniuk. I haven't listened to them all but I have listened to Robinson and McGonigal and find their arguments fascinating. Robinson, for example, thinks we need to move from a linear view of education to a more organic view. He argues that now everything in education is standardized like fast food and does not account for diversity of talent. McGonigal sees kids who are involved in gaming concentrating with an intensity that she rarely sees in school kids. How can we get that same degree of inspiration, collaboration and motivation that kids apply to online gaming to problems in history or math. Check out a couple of the videos The speakers offer some great ideas.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How and When To Use Pinterest In the Classroom

Pinterest is growing like a virtual weed and is now in the top 30 of all websites in the US.  If you have no idea what it is or how to use it, this five minute video will be very helpful for you. Here, and here ways to use it in the classroom. This is the best link, though, has it has 37 ways you can use Pinterest and has links to show you each example. 

Differentiated Instruction

We have been discussing differentiation in my school.  Above is a super video giving you several examples of what it means to have a differentiated classroom.  The video on top is even better (don't be deterred by its start mentioning math as it doesn't do so in the video).  It begins by talking about differentiation in teacher presentations and then goes to differentiation for student centered learning. To find the videos above I used WatchKnowLearn which I mentioned a few posts below.  Here are all the videos from my search on WatchKnowLearn. 

Federal Election Commission

Tomorrow you are going to see articles on how much each of the presidential candidates have raised (as well as your US Senate (if you have one this time around) and House of Representative candidates.  To find out, go to the FEC site.  For example here is my congressman (Jim Moran (D-VA) through December as well as the two primary contenders for our open US senate seat (George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D).  You can also go back two election cycles and compare the money raised and spent.  Here is a great article that makes sense of the relative spending levels in that Obama, for example, says that he has raised $45 million, but that includes money to the Dem Party (for which one can give $25,000), but it does not include super PAC money. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Second Flipped Class

I am still investigating the flipping the class idea. In fact the four people who are doing them for these blogs will be meeting virtually in a week or two to discuss our findings which I will put up here. To begin with one of my government classes was wild about my first installment and the second was divided.   Some kids like how I repeat a lot of items in class while others liked that they didn't have to ask questions and could just go back in the video.  Of course flipping the classroom works best for the more motivated students (think of Bill Gates who loves the idea or Sal Kahn who is a MIT grad) and so I will continue to use the question sheet where my students can ask for clarification on anything in the video.  If you have been flipping the class, your thoughts left here will also be valuable to us.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

WeVideo Andoid App

Just two months ago I wrote about WeVideo which is in essence a Google Docs of MovieMakers. It allows multiple users to create a video with pictures, sounds, words, effects, etc. The difference with MovieMaker is that it is all on the cloud and can be done collaboratively from different locations. Now thanks to Android4Schools, I just found out that you can get an Android app for your smartphone and upload it straight to the website and even edit it from your phone using this Android app.  You can also edit your Youtube videos using Wevideo.  Unfortunately I can't find it for the iPhone.

I must add that my screen just stopped working on my Andoid (and thankfully it was replaced right away by Verizon for free). But what was amazing is that using Google Play I pushed one button and all my apps were loaded up just like that.  Likewise all my contacts are done virtually since they are the ones in my g-mail contacts, which means I can move seamlessly from my phone to my laptop and the brand does not matter (ie no locked down iCloud). Having said that I am writing this from my Macbook Air!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Educational Video Search Engine

When I interview respective candidates for our department, not surprisingly I do it with my laptop a buzzing.  Last year we had the pleasure of adding Jeannine Cotner to our staff.  I must say that she was the first person who interviewed with us who gave me more sites in the interview than I could keep up with. She has continued that this year flinging the department lists of great sites every other week.  One of them is WatchKnowLearn which is an educational database and an aggregator of educational videos from other sites. For example, here is the list of ones on the US Supreme Court.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Virtual Tour of the US Supreme Court

This is a virtual tour of the US Supreme Court.  Many of the rooms also come with a short video explanation about each one.  No, they do not show the deliberation room! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How To Integrate Google Docs/Apps Into the Classroom

Today I am presenting at Lake Braddock High School (Burke, VA) on how to integrate Google Docs into the social studies classroom.  As part of the discussion I will start with the slideshow above.  Can you answer the questions and imagine if so much has happened so recently, how quickly your classroom will be changing in the next few years.  Then I will essentially (live, not on youtube) show how my department and I use Google Docs/Apps and finally we will use this document to have have everyone learn by doing doing for Google Docs/Apps.  

Demographics and the Republican Vote

The NYTimes has a new feature which allows you to look at each primary and quickly compare the different demographic groups and how they voted for the Republican candidates. In true dualistic format, it is set up as a head to head contest.  Demographics, in this case, includes items such as age groups, born again Christian, income, gender, can beat Obama and more. Make sure you run your cursor over each group so all the candidates appear.  Here is the delegate tracker which Romney leads over Santorum by 476 to 246. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Running for President

CNN has many great videos out on running for president as you know from coming to this site.  The video on the bottom tells how presidential candidates raise their money.  The second one tells then how each person running spends their considerable money.  Both are succinct and excellent.  Thanks to FreeTech4Teachers for finding them. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Search Our Blogs

We have a lot of new visitors coming to the site now so it probably is wise to mention that between the three teacher sites (US, world and US government), there are now over 2500 posts going back four years.   So go to the upper left side of the page and put in a topic and see what you get.  You can do it for both content as well as technology.  

Kahn Academy Apps

Admittedly there are few Khan Academy videos relating to history (about 20), but if one is inclined there is now an Android, and iPhone (as well as iPad).  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Landmark Cases

In a week or so my students will be working on "court cases to know," which are the cases I (and a few other teachers) believe are most likely to be covered by the AP US government exam.  One resource my students will use for it will be this landmark cases site.  

Real Clear Politics

One of my more interested government students likes to talk about Real Clear Politics on a regular basis (one of the advantages of having all students with a laptop each day).  It is an aggregate of all polls out there.  So if you are discussing tracking polls it is a great place to go.  Here is one for the Republican presidential candidates.  Run your cursor over it and you can see what the average was over different time periods. 

Flipping My Government Class

Well, perhaps after tonight it will be very fashionable to flip one's classroom what with Sal Kahn going on 60 minutes to discuss it.  I took the cue from Frank and put my mug in the picture (and next time will have to lower it).  I did it on Screencastomatic and like Frank and George have limited it to 10 minutes.  My kids will have to read half the chapter on the courts and watch this video.  When they come to class they will have a discussion on what they watched  and then will take a short quiz to see how well it worked).  After that we will do a web quest on the work of the court.  

Sal Khan on 60 Minutes (Flipping the Classroom)

Sal Khan was on 60 minutes tonight talking about his Khan Academy which discusses the philosophy of flipping the classroom which essentially espouses watching 10 minute videos at home and working on assignments in class where the teachers can help the students.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

CNN "Inside the Supreme Court"

This is a short video on the Supreme Court from two years ago. It has some great video of the actual court room, the library and shots of its previous homes.  

Copy and Paste on Your Cell Phone

Another new skill!  The two videos above tell you how to copy and paste - a necessary skill to know. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Splicd For Showing Parts of Youtube Videos

If you want to show a portion of a Youtube video, all you need to do is to go to Splicd and enter in the url as well as the starting and ending point and you can omit the rest of the video.  For example if wanted to start the video below on the definition of social studies at :20 seconds and finish it at 1:50, this is what you would get with Splicd. 

The Supreme Court Vetting Process

Well I am more or less done with the process of making my vetting process webquest for my students.  Here is where it stands right now.  If you are using Google Docs/Apps and have it open, go to "file" and then "make a copy" if you are so inclined.  Then, of course, you could tailor it to your needs.  By the way if you are using Explorer, Google Docs/Apps does not always open.  This document is fairly standard for me in that I do have the students reading their own text - as well as another one.  Then it is a series of 
links, videos, etc. 

ABA Rating

I am putting together a webquest on the vetting process to become a Supreme Court justice.  In that process I found the American Bar Association and their reports on Supreme Court nominees.  Here is what they said on Elena Kagan

Thursday, March 8, 2012

C-Span Site on the Supreme Court

Supreme Court Website on C-Span
Above is the intro video on the CSpan site.  There are a bunch of cool videos on this site such as interviews with the justices, a look at the Court's former homes, a virtual tour of the court and an interactive timeline.  This (and the Supreme Court's own site will be a big help for you when you teach the courts).

A Nice Definition of Social Science (studies)

Above is a nice definition of social science (studies) I found at  Soomopublishing). 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Delegate Count

Here are the results from last night's primaries and caucuses and here is the delegate count to date. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

App Sites For Android and iPhone

One of the questions I often get is where do I get my information.  Well I have a Twitter feed, iGoogle page and Google+.  One of my iGoogle feeds is the "Offical Google Blog" which today announced one place to get all your Google products called Google Play.  For example a few weeks ago I uploaded all 4023 of my songs from my iPod (it took two days on an old computer) and now I can get them on my phone, any computer or tablet on Google music (as opposed to using the iCloud which limits you to being used on Apple products).  But I digress!  If you go to Google's site for Android apps, you can find all of their apps and narrow it down by using the search engine.  Here is the site for Apple's iPhone apps. 

Election App From NYTimes

The New York Times finally added an Android election app to their iPhone one.  Now all of us can follow the campaign on our phones. 


One of my teacher-students, Jerry Walsh, just told me about "autosummarizing" which literally summarizes a long passage.  This might work well if you have your students go to a Wikipedia page that has much more information than you want.  I, of course, do not want something downloaded on my computer like Microsoft Word, so I found Tools4Noobs which does the same thing for free. For example here is a Wikipedia passage on Campaign Finance and here is the Tools4Noobs summary. Obviously you would have to look at it yourself first to see if it kept your most important parts, but it's worth a try. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Google Maps for Educators

Really cool clip showing how to use google maps. Shows you how to do a number of cool things like measuring the distance of a lake or a desert.

Super Tuesday

This is a great overview of the states that are voting tomorrow.   Also here is a look at the delegate count.  It is important to note that the Republicans (following Dems) have gone to proportional voting setting up a system that seems to go contrary to frontloading

Friday, March 2, 2012

50 SItes To Help Your Teaching

50sites ver3
View more presentations from David Kapuler
I will be going through this site soon, but again here is an amazing list of sites that could help you. 

App Site For Educators

I found this from a Google+ post from Judy Arzt.  It is called APPitic and is a search engine for apps for education.  It has both free and paid ones as well as ones for Apple and Android products.  I will be going through here over time and featuring some of what I find, but if you want to beat me to the punch, have at it! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012