Monday, April 30, 2012

Twitter and Campaigns

I thought of doing this post when my AP government students mentioned how much they have seen Obama's Tweets - even my Republicans agreed.  Here, first off is an article on how the Republicans are using it and here are Romney's Tweets.

This is a fascinating page put together by two campaign strategists who are obviously trying to show the importance of Twitter.  The page shows the number of Tweets, retweets, followers added, etc. in the past day.  The page also has a ton of useful Twitter handles you might want to follow.   Another item (early on the trails) was a Republican Town Hall meeting on Twitter.  Here is the strategists' homepage (note they get paid to use Twitter for candidates) and it has a number of interesting links (such as the articles on them).

You can even pay Twitter to run your political ads as the site announced last fall.

Finally one of my favorite sites for research, Pew Research did a study last fall which found, among other things, that there is a much higher degree of negative comments on Twitter than not and according to this page (and a nice summary of the Pew story) one is nine times more likely to read about a campaign on Twitter than a blog. 

Romeny's Narrow Path to Victory

A year ago I thought any Republican could beat Obama based on the economy and his public approval.  Now I am much less sure and think it is going to be a cliff hanger.  One interesting phenomena (and it does not say I believe the campaign will go one way or the other) is that it has not been since 1988 that a Republican candidate for president has gone over 300 electoral votes and during the same time Clinton and Obama both have (see above).   All of this is to say that when you count the large states that Romney can't win (such as CA and NY), there is small margin for error.  Perhaps for a final project you could have your students make a prediction.  If you search for electoral college on this site, you can find tools to do so.  In the meantime, here is "The Fix" article from the Wash Post explaining the small Republican margin of error. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ted Talks Manipulated For Your Classroom

I love looking at cutting edge ideas on Ted Talks.  In fact I started by government class this year with this video on how the web is being shaped to your needs and the impact of that on democracy.  Well soon, by going here, I can take the Ted Talk, or for that matter, any video on Youtube and create a lesson with multiple choice and short answer questions to go with it.  When that is done you will be given a unique url which you can then give to your students.  The videos will then be aggregated into one social studies page.

Here is a Ted Talks video on why we vote on Tuesdays and when you go to it, you will see the video, multiple choice questions and short answer ones. By the way I learned about this idea on Edudemic

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cloud Storage

So I have every single course and its contents and all my personal items in Google Docs and was only using 45% of my free space.  Now (as of a few hours ago) I am using Google Drive and have an additional 5 gigabytes (with more coming soon) so I have TONS of space.  But having said that there are plenty of other places where you can put your content such as Dropbox, Amazon (where Netflix stores all of its movies), the iCloud, Skydrive (Microsoft)  and two other lesser known ones.  Here is a very thorough account of all of them in today's WashPost.

The video above, from Dropbox, does a great job of explaining cloud computing.  

20th Century Heroes and Villains from the National Archives

My colleague, Jeff Feinstein, who teaches US and European history, sent me this awesome link to the UK's National Archives.  It deals with 20th century heroes and villains: Winston Churchill and the  bombing of Dresden, , John Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis,  Joseph Stalin and the industrialization of the USSR,  Benito Mussolini  and the invasion of Abyssinia, Harry Truman and the atomic bomb,  Martin  Luther King and the civil rights movement. 

Click on each name and you'll find a treasure of sources, photographs, charts, graphs, and posters. The site's design is great and the sources for each individual are quite manageable for the kids.

I think that this site along with the curriculum sources  from Stanford are among the best for their ease of use in the classroom.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Drive

Google just announced that you will soon be able to soon upload 30 different types of digital media into Google Docs.  You will then be able to manipulate and share them with others.  So, forget about having to e-mail large files as you can just share it in Google Drive.  Here are more details. You can also download the Google Android App (did I say that I am so glad I bought Android and not iPhone?!).  If you want to be e-mailed when you can get Google Drive, go here.

Finally WeVideo will be integrated with Google Drive so you can create your videos in the cloud and be able to share them with even more people using Google Drive.   Here are my posts on WeVideo.

Education Technology

Mohamed (Med) Kharbach, an educator and tech geek, has a great website with all kinds of technology for teachers. It includes goggle tools, video tools, organizing tools, search tools, and sharing tools. The site won't win awards for design, but its got a lot of good stuff and well-worth exploring. Thanks to Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link.

Six Examples of IPad Integration

Andrew Marcinek,an instructional technologist at Burlington High School, in Burlington, MA has a great article in Edutopia with six examples of IPad integration in the classroom. He includes an interesting lesson on the Enlightenment using blogs and also talks about flipping. It's a great story with great examples. Thanks to Alex Case for sending me the link.

How much does the president really matter? (Freakonomics)

Predicting the Presidential Election

If you follow this blog you know that I have written about my Ph.D. years where one is taught that presidential elections come down to the the perception of the economy and the approval of the current president (even if he is not running).  Well three political scientists (including one at my alma mater) have put together an electronic way to look at whether or not Obama will win re-election.  For example, based on the model, if he has 50% approval and 0% economic growth, it predicts he will win.  Here is the explanation that goes with the model and here is the tool to use with your students.  By the way, while more political scientists lean to the liberal side, their models are quantitative and therefore the numbers do the talking.   The problem is that it is predicting the chance of winning the popular vote and if you want an accurate prediction of that you will need to follow Nate Silver's blog

US Congress Page in WashPost

I still remember the days of cutting out articles, finding primary resources, copying them all and trying to do it so that it was only a day old.  Now we have Internet resources such as this one from the WashPost which lets you look at the voting records of members of the US Congress.  Additionally you can see when the member is up for re-election and what their partisanship is for voting.  It would be a great resource if you wanted to say, compare swing Senate or House districts of the US Congress. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Homework App That Has A Reminder Alarm

I have been looking for a homework app for my students which will set an alarm for them to remind them to do it (forgetting that most of them have also signed up for a text from me from  Well, thanks to Android4Schools, I have finally found an Andoid App called Studious which does just that.  It also allows one to enter in each class as well as when they meet and then lets students set the time for each assignment and set the alarm. Unfortunately it is not yet available for iPhones.   The video below shows you how to use it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Khan Academy: Best Posts

California teacher, Larry Ferlazzo has aggregated on one site all the best posts about Khan Academy. He linked about ten such articles, from the wrath of Khan Academy to the wonders of Khan Academy.

Swing Seats in US Congress

 Lest we forget, we also have US Senate and House of Reps races in the fall.   Here is the Cook report list of swing senate seats, including my state.   UVA government professor Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has a list of both the swing House seats as well as all 435 of them and while we are at it, here are his senate picks. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Obama's Might in the Swing States

Since I live in the heart of a swing state, many around northern Virginia thought turnout in 2008 was  up because we had to wait in line so long to vote.  Truth was, one would have hardly have noticed the historic election in the non swing states.  Of course that is because of the amount of money spent in VA and other swing states.  Here is a great article detailing how much Obama is already spending in the states he sees as crucial.  It also has the great graphic above. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Campaign Finance Reports

With the news that Obama has raised $34 million in March and Romney $12, or wait is it $46 million for Obama and how much was raised by the SuperPACs?  All of these answers are on the FEC website.   This part of the FEC site tells how much the candidates have raised in each state and you can even check out how much individual donors have given.  Here are the actual filings - in summary format.  Of course no candidate applies for matching funds anymore - or at least one who wants to be president.  But since it is still (or hopefully won't be for long) a reasonable question on state and AP exams, here is the FEC page on it. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Study Blue Flashcard App

I have blogged about Quizlet before, but here is a new app called Study Blue which lets you do the same things as Quizlet except you can also speak the flash cards instead of just typing them out (as you can see above).  Also, it lets the card hang between front and back so you can ponder the answer (it that is any incentive!).  You can also add pictures which is important since so many state exams have lots of them.   Here is the Android app and the iPhone one.  I found out about the app on Mindshift

My Homework App

I have become an avid user of Evernote from everything for notes teachers give me in the hallway to   shopping lists from my wife.  It can be accessed from iPhone, Android and the web.  But for my students I think they need something that looks like their course schedule.

So today I noticed that NotAnotherHistoryTeacher had a reference to MyHomework.  So I checked it out! It, as you can see from the video, allows students to set up their classes with pertinent information (subject, place, etc.) as well as giving them a calendar to set the information (although I am still waiting for any group - even Evernote - to attach to it an alarm (can anyone help me) so, for example, the homework would go off to remind the kids (although I do use Remind101 to do this, but it doesn't come from their calendars).

At any rate, MyHomework can be accessed from an iPhone and an Android and when the kids are home they can look at it on their laptops.  The video shows one how to set up the app on one's phone.  There is also a blog - probably a feature more for the teachers, but it is nice for students to look at when setting up an account. 

Conclusions So Far on Flipping the Classroom

In my 27 high school county, there are only five of us (that I know about) who have tried flipping the classroom.  We collaborated and came up with a document that might help those looking to do the same.  It includes lessons we have learned, sites that discuss flipping the classroom (and in great detail) as well as the videos we have created so far.  It, though, is still early for us, so any thoughts you can add to the discussion (in the comments below) would be much appreciated. 

Where Do Your Taxes Go?

This is pretty cool from the White House website.  You can have enter in salary amount and then it will tell you how much money goes towards medicare, social security and where all the money goes in terms of defense, health care, welfare, etc.  I found out about the site from

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Inside a Flipped Classroom

Another story about a flipped math classroom. This one is in Minnesota. Waiting to see more stories on flipped history classes.

Great Video on Mobile Sites For the Classroom

I will be soon highlighting some of the sites mentioned in the video above, but it is well worth the six minutes to watch it for the new learning ideas.  It goes through using sites like Instagram, Twitter, PollEverywhere as well as many ones I haven't mentioned before on this blog.  Additionally it discusses how to use the smartphone, tablets and computers in the classroom.  I found it on a site I have marked on my iGoogle page called Mindshift.

Should Government Limit Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum?

Should the federal government limit the use of the electromagnetic spectrum?  According to the NYTimes video above, we are running out of space due to the large use of smartphones and tablets - or should we let innovation solve the problem.  It is a great topic to discuss in government class! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Start Your Video Where You Want

Up until now I have used Splicd to set my Youtube videos to where I want them for student viewing.  Splicd still is useful if you want to have a beginning and an end of the video.   As you can see above you need only go to the video, click on "share" beneath it and then hit the tab besides "options."  Then you enter the time you want the video to begin.  If you want a truncated url (perhaps for sharing on Twitter) do not click besides "long link."  Then copy the link in the box above the word "close" (see above picture).  Now when would you use it.  Well the worst thing that social studies teachers do is show long videos.  This lets you show a short snippet and then move on.     If you want more tips on how to use Youtube, you can get them from the Google+ page for it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Election Year App

Here is an iPhone that you can use to get updates on swing states in the presidential year.  Here is an article from yesterday on the current swing states. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spark Notes App

A few posts ago I wrote about the SparkNotes website for government which your students can use for review.  Well here is the Android app and here is the iApp

Chrome on the Cloud

This weekend when I took my daughter to her gymnastic meet (where she qualified for the state meet!) I used a Google Map direction and then pushed "Chrome to Phone" on my browser which I then opened on my phone and it directed me (with a voice) successfully to the meet.  Well if you watch the short video above you can see how Google Chrome (and even more so with Chrome Beta) can be synched between smartphone, tablet and computer.  This means all of the apps you have added to the webpage will come up as well. It also means if you leave your browser open on your laptop, you can open it on another device (and close it remotely if you choose).  In other words cloud computing is letting you be anywhere and everywhere and not miss a beat. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Republican Party Results, County by County

I have refrained from talking about Google's Politics and Elections page as it has been a lot of results based on searches in a particular area of the country.  But you might want to put it on your iGoogle or Google+ page and look at it from time to time.  This page, for example is quite good as you can run your cursor over the page and see results in ever district, county, etc.  You can also roll your mouse and go in for a closer view (or just the opposite).  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Online Interactive Test For Your Students

I have never met Tami Maloney, but have followed her work for years and it keeps getting better.  She has put a tremendous number of questions into databases so that your students can take practice tests in civics, US and world history and instantly get answers back.  She has done it for the old VA Standards of Learning (yes we DO refer to them as officially as SOL test - someone wasn't thinking on that one!) as well as a ton of NY Regents exams.  Truthfully there are so many that your students won't be able to get through them all.  Thanks Tami! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spark Notes for Final Exam Review

One of the things I suggest to my AP students is to re-read their Baron's AP Government book (sure they don't look at it all, but at least at their weak parts which always includes early items such as federalism and Constitutional foundations). A free way to do this is to look at the chapter reviews on Spark Notes

The Lede & Trayvon Martin

I would imagine that sometime in the past few weeks you have spoken about the Trayvon Martin case.  Well one of my favorite world news sites is the Lede which is part of the NYTimes.  There you can find lots of raw video often uploaded by people at the site (such as fighting in Syria).   Here are a lot of different videos, documents and recent updates just posted on Martin on the Lede that might be helpful in discussing the case in class. 

New Google Changes

Google has been making a lot of changes recently to streamline all of its offerings into one area (part of CEO Larry Page's design) and in turn get people to join Google+.  I've read that it is up to 100 million, but my sense (and it is just that) is that people are using it as a souped up Twitter.  That, of course, is not a bad thing.  I, for example, get a lot of items from others that I follow in Google+ that I use in the classroom.  But recent inventions also allow you to have video chats with 9 others and be working on a shared Google Docs item.  Think about the fact that you can have a virtual meeting with other educators (for free) and work on common documents.  G+ is now also connected to the new Google Play that synchs your Internet devices (assuming you have an Android smartphone).  So when I have my free periods at school I turn on my Google music (where I have my entire collection uploaded for free), pony up my Google Docs and get to work.  When my students come in they share their assignments with me and I split my screen so I can record the grades in my gradebook (which unfortunately is NOT on the cloud - yet!). 

Title IX

We are covering "suspect classification" in class and that leads to a discussion of Title IX.  Above is an interesting NYTimes describing some unintended consequences of the legislation.   If you want some other examples of Title IX, here is a blog that has lots of links to articles. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Five Best Practices for Flipping the Classroom

For all you flippers out there, Andrew Miller has just compiled (and published in Edutopia)a list of what he thinks are the five best practices for flipping the classroom. He clearly does not believe in flipping for the the sake of flipping and offers some interesting insights.

Presidential SuperPACs

American Crossroads or Obama's Priorities USA Action.  Above are two recent ads they both did - although both are doing more of the fundraising and research right now

How Fast Is Your Smartphone Data Plan Being Used Up?

Since I have written so much about cell phone apps and their usage in the classroom, this site might be useful for you to look at to understand how much a gigabyte (most plans give you two) can give you in terms of video and music.  Additionally this and especially this one is helpful as they tell you how many things you can do for one gigabyte on your smartphone (10,000 webpage views, 2 hours of video, streaming of 200 songs or 2000 e-mails).  You will note that there is some discrepancy between the two sites, but hopefully it will help you tell a bit of how fast you are using your data. If you want more background, here is a helpful article from today's NYTimes. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Download Youtube Videos

If you have RealPlayer on your laptop, when you run your cursor over the top right side of a youtube video, a little line will appear asking if you want to download the video.  However if you do not then you need an alternative.  If you do not want to download another program (only a small java file) then Saveyoutube is a great alternative.  You simply put in the youtube url and then decide what format you want and you can very quickly download the video onto your computer. 

More on Microtargeting in Presidential Campaigns

The WashPost today has a nice article on how the Obama administration is using microtargeting to reach its voters this year (here is a super graphic).  I have already done a piece on microtargeting, but here is a nice 4 minute video on how microtargeting in campaigns is similar to consumer microtargeting to get you to buy products.  Unfortunately you won't see this topic in the campaign chapters in most US government books (which also means you won't therefore see it on the AP exam), but you will see it in this excellent e-book on US government (put it in the search engine at the bottom of the page) which came out last year.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Google Street View of the White House

This is pretty cool.  Google's "Street View" team was able to get their odd camera setup into the White House so you can take a virtual tour of it here.  Above is how it was done.  Now you can go through all the rooms as if you were on a tour yourself.  Thanks to a Google+ post from Mike Elgan for the heads up. 

Countdown to the AP Exam

We are now just four and a half weeks out from the AP US Government exam and two months from when I get to see a new city (Salt Lake) where I will be grading the AP Gov exams.  So to help my own students and you, I will be starting a series of review sites where you can send your students.  here is a new one called funnel brain where you can see a lot of flash cards for government

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Everything You Need To Know About Google Docs

I've given you various versions of how to use Google Docs, but I just received an e-mail from Online Colleges and they have put together a very nice e-sheet of 52 secrets about Google Docs.  It has a summary of the various options as well as links to the how to pages.   If you are like me and home for spring break, it might be a useful thing to do to go through the list (hey it beats grading as I was doing yesterday!).  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How To Set Up A Flipped Classroom

Google Glasses

If there is one main idea I want to get across in this blog it is that teachers should be changing all the time (and I assume in coming to this site you probably are).  While Google's glasses are still a ways away (as are the contact lenses that are also being developed), it does beg the question how will they (esp. the latter) change our classrooms.  My hope is that they will push more educators (be they teachers, administrators or policy makers) to the upper reaches of Bloom's taxonomy and get us to more interactive assignments that focus on using the Internet as a resource to allow our students to create and truly think and not just spit back facts.  Until that time, though, please watch the video above and think how you are working towards a different classroom with our current tools.  If you want more, here is the Google+ page for the project and an article

Review for the AP/Final Exam - First in a Series

I am going to be doing a bunch of posts to help teachers/students with review for the AP exam which is now only five weeks away.  If you want to see what I have done in the past go, here.  Otherwise here is a great link that has the definitions of every word studied in AP govThis is a wonderful chapter summary of each part of your text put together by teacher Ethel Wood.   

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More on Evernote and Reminders

As I said a few posts ago I am really starting to enjoy Evernote.  I asked them if they were contemplating putting an alarm system on smartphones (no answer on that one), but they did give me a great answer.  For those who like Windows and Outlook, the video above will help you tie in Evernote into your calendar so you can have reminders and/or see when you put your items in by each date.

If you have g-mail, then here are ways to tie Evernote into that (and I am quoting now):

There is a way to integrate Google Calendar with Evernote.
  1. If you have enabled the Add gadget features in Gmail and Google Calendar, just input the URL below in the “Add gadget by URL” box and click on add button.
    You would get a window that shows you the information about the Evernote gadget that you are about to add to your Calendar sidebar panel.
  2. Click on “Yes, add this gadget” to enable Evernote in your Gmail or Google Calendar.
This gadget just renders the Evernote Mobile version in the Gadgets Panel. The exchange of data takes place between your computer and Evernote, so it’s completely safe. Just input your Evernote user-name and password and the integration is complete.

Additionally, you can send yourself a reminder e-mail from Evernote using this website.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

48,000 Page Views in March

Well I am learning there are a lot of ways to look how people look at a website.  For example between the these three blogs (US gov, US history and world history) there were 21,000 visitors in March, but each of the visits led to looking at various pages so that there were 15,000 "pageviews" for the US government blog and and 48,000 between the three sites.

The top pages for the month on the government blog were

  1. Amicus Briefs explained
  2. Obamacare Audio From the Supreme Court
  3. Tips for Teaching in a Connected Classroom (which I have updated since the original post)
  4. Receiving Ambassadors

Evernote App for Your Phone, Tablet or Computer

Yesterday I spent some time with my new friend, Evernote, which is why I was delighted when I went to FreeTech4Teachers this morning and found the video above on its new features.  Evernote is an app that lets you take notes, clip webpages and even record items that you want to remember.  I like the latter best because I always have my students write down their homework on their phones or iPod touches.  Well now you can record notes on your phone, iPod, etc. and hear them later on the same device or online.  What is great is that it is synched with the web so a student could go on the site online and also see their homework.  You can also share notes with other people (similar to Google Docs).   You can also create notebooks and put notes in each.

Here is the app for Apple users (iPhone, iPod, etc.) and here it is for your Android device.

Finally if you like Evernote, you might want to add their blog to your iGoogle page.