Monday, December 31, 2012

John Roberts likes to end each year with a summary report for the federal courts.  I use the report's last part for a webquest on the US courts.  

The Problem w. Education ...

This is now two years old, but it is nonetheless very interesting.  Sir Ken Robinson's basic thesis is that our schools are organized on an industrial model that assumes that age is very important to our students and that everyone must move at the same speed.  One of the biggest changes I am making is trying to create a classroom where I am the facilitator and the students move more at their own pace.  I still believe I need someone to write some algorithms for me so my students can get data reinforcement and learn in time segments that are best for them (Knewton is a company that does this, but only for math) but until that happens (and I am working on this) the video above is a very thoughtful piece that will make you ask why you do what you do when you are doing it.  Technology is the answer to improve our educational model. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wallwisher - Going Mobile

Wallwisher With Mobile Devices

(This link will NOT work on  mobile devices, so here is one that will if you are interested.  ) 

Wallwisher is a flexible web based collaborative tool that has been presented on an associated blog  before.

In January some food for thought was provided on using Wallwisher to encourage questioning, and give voice to reluctant students. January Post

In early December there was a post advancing the idea of using the tool to encourage collaboration between students anywhere, including around the World. December Post

There is also another blog that appears helpful in coming up with ideas to use Wallwisher meaningfully.

NOW, take it Mobile:
Don't worry about Mobile apps (They don't seem to exist for Wallwisher yet.)

What is an educator to do??? GO SIMPLE!!!

Get a fully functional BOOKMARK for Wallwisher onto your ipad, and maybe onto other mobile devices (Sorry, I don’t have any Android devices to test the idea.)

Here is what you can do:
Step One: Open whichever web browser you use on your mobile device.

Step Two: Open the Wallwisher web site.

Step Three: Bookmark it.  

If you have a g-mail account you can use it to log into your Wallwisher account.

Then start collaborating from.......anywhere your Mobile device will take you.

Where Bills Go to Die

Sunlight Labs has created a couple of good visualizations that may help students understand Congress a bit better.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to Make an RSS Animate Style Video

Paul Bogus, in his blog, Blogush, guides us through the process of making an RSS Animate style video. Studying the Louisiana Purchase, his class was having trouble digesting the textbook and making important connections. He thought an RSS Animate video might allow the kids to visualize the information, make connections, and retell “their facts in a story that had a very tight story line that flowed.” Bogus’s post shows us how to make an RSS Animate style video step by step, including the simple tools you’ll need. The process doesn't look that difficult and may be worth trying.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Project Glass & Never Leaving Your Mobile Device

Project Glass is a cool project that Google is working on right now where you literally can wear glasses and see what is in the video above.  It will make it hard to drive, but with a Google car, you won't have to even do that.  Of course, walking still might be an issue, especially in a hallway between class.  How might you adjust your class if all of your students had it? 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Google+ Hangouts

If you follow me on Google+, you will have noticed that I have been having a number of meetings recently on Google+ Hangouts.  You can have them from your laptop. tablet or phone.  One, they are great if you and a few other teachers want to get together virtually and see each other.  Secondly, you can share your screen and/or Google Drive documents and third you can record a Hangout and have it automatically uploaded into Youtube.  Think of how great it would be to have guests who can't visit your school hangout with multiple classes at once.  You can also stream the Hangouts live on Youtube and then record them and have it automatically uploaded into Youtube.

To record check the box in the first screen where it says "enable hangouts."
Then all you need to do is to click on "start broadcast" and you will be on your way. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Using Social Media in the Classroom

I am thinking about having my religions class participate in a live blog next semester and maybe tweeting about religious issues using a hash tag I create for the class. Here are the reflections of a graduate school teacher who had his kids use Twitter for that purpose last semester. He argues that these media allow students to write across different genres and to connect the class readings and material to the world around them. Overall, he thought it went well and described twitter as a “third space” for his class but noted that he would do a number of things differently if he were to use twitter again. For example, instead of asking kids to tweet a number of times each week, he would ask them to tweet on specific days so students would not wait until the last day and simply do all three tweets at once.

Vote Smart for Information on Interest Groups

Vote Smart has a long list of interest groups.  When you click on the interest group, if they have them (and the small ones don't), you can see their report cards.  With the NRA in the news after its press conference yesterday, you might want to show your students who each of its legislators have in terms of NRA ratings.  The link is very comprehensive and includes not only federal level legislatures, but also state and local ones.  It also includes links to the legislation the NRA used to judge the officials. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Day in the Life of the President

Time, who just announced that Obama is their person of  the year, has a great photo series of all the things that Obama did recently in a 48 hour period

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Webquests and Flipping the Class

Here is an example of flipping the classroom.  Above is a short video I made as an introduction to the US Supreme Court.  We started the next class with questions they had on the video and  then I gave them a quiz to make sure they had learned the  major points.  In class my students work on their US Supreme Court Webquest where they can ask me questions and learn more interactively. 

Inside the US Supreme Court

This is a great video from CNN on what the US Supreme Court is like. 

Virtual Tour of the US Supreme Court

My students watch a virtual tour of the US Supreme Court which can be found on CSPAN.  

Google Drive iPad App

Starting in mid January my freshmen and I will be starting a pilot for iPads and our e-book for our textbook company.  To that end I am trying to get everything ready.  One of the apps that will be loaded on the tablets will be Google Drive.  Above is a video I found on a new site iPads For School that is a tutorial on how to use Google Drive and one my students and I will watch when we get the devices. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Google Docs Assignment Tracker

If you have trouble keeping track of all your Google doc assignments, as I do, this Google Form, should solve our problems. Here's how it works: you create a short Google Form for your in box, students then complete the form with a link to their Google doc assignment. The form automatically populates a spreadsheet with all the assignments. If you click on the picture in the story, you can see the form you need to create.

YouTube Without Ads

My colleague, Frances Coffey, sent me this link that allows you to show YouTube videos without the advertisements. Simply go to SafeShare and paste the link and click "Generate Safe Link". A new page will open with your video.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Discover Diplomacy

This is a very basic page put out by the US Department of State on what is diplomacy.  It has some nice simple interactives on what is a diplomat, embassy, what do embassies do, who issues passports, etc.  They also have links to every US embassy abroad as well as their Facebook and Twitter pages. Here, for example is a page on out embassy in China.  

Remind101 for Homework Reminders

I have done a few posts on Remind101 which is a way to remind your students using texting about their homework.  It allows you to preset a time and it is blind texting in that the teachers never see the student cell phone numbers and it is one way so students cannot text you.  Above is a how to video and here are written instructions.  

How and When to Flip the Classroom

Frank and I are presenting to the high school social studies chairs today on when you might want to use a flipped classroom and how to create the screencast for it.

Above are the easy directions on how to create a screencast using Screencastomatic which is free and does not require you to have a login/password.  You will need a Youtube account (comes with your gmail) into which you can place it.

The top video and the Prezi explains when, how and why to integrate the flipped classroom into your repertoire.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Google Forms for Teachers

If you are like me and have trouble with making Google forms, then you should check out this article with links to several pre-made forms for self-grading quizzes. You can find the article and forms here at "Educational Technology and Mobile Learning."

Fiscal Cliff Visualization

Not that I don't already have enough on it, but this has tremendous graphics to easily explain what is meant by the fiscal cliff.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Screenr to Record Screencast & Get Link or Publish on Youtube

I love Screencastomatic, butScreenr is an alternative that allows you to keep your videos on their site or on Youtube.  This would allow students to get a link they could share with a teacher Above is a video explaining how easy it is to do.  I have been looking for something this for a while as I want to easily make my students record "flip class videos."  I found this from a Google+ post by Anne Marie Rowley

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Teaching the Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

Just in time for my courts unit, the US Supreme Court accepted two cases on gay marriage.  Above is a succinct new clip detailing both of them.  Here is the NYTimes article and the place to go for Supreme Court cases is SCOTUS blog which has an analysis here.  Here also is the US Supreme Court page on Holingsworth v. Perry where your students can see such terms writ of certiorari and see the amici groups.  They key, I believe, that this case has been lead by the plaintiff's high profile lawyer Theodore Olson who was George W. Bush's solicitor general and David Boies - a noted Democrat and the lead lawyer for the US government case against Microsoft.  After leaving government he took on the case despite his conservative brethren's dislike of the idea. Here is a history of the case to date which shows how the names of cases change and how the case wound its way to the highest court in the land.

Here is the page for the US v. Windsor case.  Both the links come from SCOTUS Blog and have links to all the other amici briefs.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pizza Bureaucracy

My colleague sent me Pizza Bureaucracy and when I started researching the Internet found out that I have no idea who started it, but that there are a bunch of derivatives.  The idea is that kids (and adults) have no idea how much government regulation goes into making a pizza.  The best one is above and here (in case you want to use it on Google Drive).   

More Teachers 'Flipping' The School Day Upside Down

Thursday, December 6, 2012

iPad Gestures or How to Toggle

So a textbook publisher for my students' e-books has asked me to try out their new iPad e-book to see what my students think of it.  To do so they are willing to give us 30 iPads for a month of use.  Actually other than completely changing the way I teach and my students have been learning this essentially is just an opportunity for us to learn since they aren't giving the school anything!! Initially I was hesitant, but since I love learning new things, I think I will accept the offer despite the shortcomings.  Already one nice thing I have figured out is that there are gestures you can do to more easily maneuver between documents.  So if that is you, then this might be helpful as well as this to turn on the gestures.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

More Fiscal Cliff

Sorry to be fixated on the fiscal cliff, but I have not gone over it with one of my classes and am looking for a really nice video to start our discussion.  I think I found it above and here. My students will have to answer the following:

  • What is a debt ceiling
  • What happened in the summer of 2011 and two results of it
  • What are three things that will happen in Jan 2013 if nothing helps to solve the "fiscal cliff?"
  • What are three impacts of the fiscal cliff on our economy? 

Patchwork Electoral Map

Go here for a cool map called Patchwork Nation that shows the US, state and county results for presidents.  You can keep clicking on the larger map and drill down.  It also breaks it up by items such as monied burbs, boom towns, service worker centers, etc.