Sunday, June 29, 2014 to Text Your Students is an alternative to Remind to texting your students.  You can choose between a restricted environment where only you see the texts or one where all students respond.  Either way it is an improvement since you can individually text your students, but the conversation is recorded to ensure proper school etiquette is followed.  The nice thing about this is that if your students have questions, you do not need to answer every question, but can rely on the students to help each other.  You can also also send out questions to your students and see an instant poll.  This is useful the night before a test first to make sure they are reminded to study as well as to gauge if they are ready for the test.  If there is a deficiency, then you can send a link to your students for the particular item that needs to be studied.

Above is a tutorial on how to use the basic elements of

Friday, June 27, 2014

US Government Teachers' Hashtag on Twitter

If you have realized how important Twitter is for your classes, you might also know that a way to exchange information with other teachers is by going to a hashtag.  There is one for government teachers at #hsgovchat every 1st and 3rd Sunday Night at 9 pm EST. If you do not want to wait, then you can go there anytime and see the conversation and links.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Changes in Google Drive

This gives you a quick overview of how to do the main items in Google Drive be it on your laptop or smartphone.  Later this summer I will post a five minute film on how to do everything you will need in Google Drive for your school year.  For now, this is a great start.  I found it on the Google Drive blog site

End of Supreme Court Twitter Chat on July 2nd

Scotusblog which is the definitive blog on the Supreme Court will be having a live Twitter chat on July 2nd from 1-2 pm EST at #scotuschat.   Here are more details.  

Google Trends

Talk about the bully pulpit.  I compared mentions of John Boehner to Barack Obama over the last three months and the Speaker barely registered.  You can do the same over any year, between two dates from 2004 to the present.  for an interesting exercise in class on Google Trends.  It, as this article shows, is a good way to show how fleeting is our aggregate media interest pointing out that no one seems to care about the kidnapped Nigerian girls even though another 60 have since been captured by Boko Haram. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gini Coefficient & Congressional Polarization

One of the concepts covered in the AP Comparative curriculum is the Gini coefficient which is an index of the difference between the wealthiest and the poorest in a country.  Those countries at 1.0 are the least equal and 0 is everyone with the same earnings.   Here are the Gini coefficients for countries around the world and here is a great new article on it from Vox that argues that polarization in Congress is directly related to changes in inequality.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Poll Everywhere for Instant Response

Poll Everywhere keeps getting better.  In the old days I used to hand out clickers to students so we could get instant feedback on a question.  But the clickers were inconsistent and often were broken.  So for the past few years we have been using Poll Everywhere which allows you to create formative quizzes with either multiple choice or free response answers.  It can be used on smartphones or laptops or both simultaneously.  The best part is that if you have a LCD, you can project the responses up on a screen so you and your students can instantly see what percentage of the class has mastered the content.  Here is a video explaining how to create and use the polls and above is a short overview.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Assignment of the Year?

So now begins the process to decide the first assignment of the year in government (ironic since school is in session until next Wednesday.  But one thing I might do is look at the US Patent Office ruling that says the Washington Redskins can no longer profit off of their name.  It works for government since it also deals with the federal court system.  The Redskins have had a similar ruling against them, but it was thrown out on a technicality.  So while we have a lot of time to go, it might be interesting to discuss in class. 

21 Charts That Explain How America is Changing

This set of charts would be an amazing resource for a government class as you could make the kids use them in many different parts of the year.  For example the one above looks at the changing mean of the two major political parties which you could couple with another chart on why people are moving West and South.  Or select the one which says we are getting a little less religious and ask your students if there are any political ramifications to that.  And on and on! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Throw Out the Textbook & Look at CitizenU!

I have enjoyed coming to AP readings for years, in part to learn how to better teach my students to do well on AP exams, but more so for the friends that I have developed over the years.  One of the people I hang out with is Dan Larson (AP Government) who along with his colleague Andy Conneen (AP Comparative) have create a tremendous website called CitizenU.  Their premise and I whole heatedly agree is that our current textbook models is dying.  So for the past two years they have create their own website and not handed out any books (and are working on a similar one for AP Comparative).

The CitizenU size is divided as you would see any book with foundations, Congress, Executive, etc.  Then within each unit it has resources, assignments, the basics, video and more.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bloom's Wheel with Technology

I am putting the finishing touches on my book (yes it has taken much longer than I thought) and came across Allan Carrington's Pedagogy Wheel which takes Bloom's taxonomy and gives you apps and websites that you can use for each level of learning.  Check it out here and then start thinking how you can use more technology to reach the upper levels of Bloom's.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Become an AP Grader

Right now I am in Salt Lake City grading AP exams.  I have been grading for years and really enjoy it.  I started and continue to come because it does help you teach your students how to better master the free response questions on an AP exam.  But it is quite great when you get to meet a bunch of driven AP teachers who inspire me with new ideas and then become a year round resource.  Should I add that you are paid, get free room and board and a plane ticket to the grading.

Oh and the grading!  Yes you do have to grade a lot of essays and on the 4th or 5th day it can get a bit tough, but most people come back year after year so it isn't that bad.  I should add that it makes you a much more efficient grader for your own students' tests.

So if you are interested in applying go here

Iraq Primer Video

If you are still in school (I am not done until the 25th), above is a quick overview of the different groups in Iraq in case you wanted to share this issues now facing Iraq with your students. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Brat vs. Cantor

I am out here in Salt Lake City at the AP Reading and have been asked a number of times if it was obvious that my fellow Virginia Eric Cantor was going to lose.  I had no clue, but it is interesting to look at the money raised by both and the returns in each precinct

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to Video for Remind101 Text Reminders

If you want to text your students reminders for homework, this is the site to use.  You can set it up to be sent at a certain time, send it to just a few students or the entire class.  You can even send it with attachments or Tweet it out after it has been sent.  The video above explains it all. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Super PACs and Alaska

If you are studying super PACs with your students this summer, here is a great article on their influence in Alaska.

The top ad is from super PAC ad is from Alaska's Energy/American Values and is in favor of challenger Dan Sullivan (R) while the bottom one is for Mark Begich (D) who is the incumbent and if put out by Alaska First

Fertility in Iran

One of the ways I stay fresh during the time of the year that I am not teaching comparative (which is really eight months) is to read as many articles and watch videos on the six countries + the EU. As I read/watch I try to think of the terms that we need to know as well as the necessary history and government related to the article.

So for example, this article is about Iran trying to increase birth rates as they are twenty years away from a trajectory that will see the country hitting a zero growth rate.  Well then that starts with the 1979 revolution after which there was a dramatic increase in birth rates.    But the problem is that the offspring from that initial increase are now in their 20s and 30s and lead the "Green Revolution" after the 2009 presidential elections.  Now, if you follow this NYTimes article the birth rate in Iran is dropping dramatically - in part - because of the disgust with many of the decisions of the current government.

Now to the connection to the course.  The article implies or assumes knowledge of the following that is relevant in AP Comparative: 1) birth rates in Iran 2) 1979 Revolution 3) supreme leader 4) presidential elections 4) Iran-Iraq War 5) how laws are made.  So the way I would use this is to go to my search engine on this blog next March when we are covering Iran and look for the relevant items.  Then I will give them my questions and the article, but give it in the vein of several other issues we look at in Iran.  

PEMEX & Foreign Investment

Last December Mexican president Pena signed into law a bill that allows foreign investment into PEMEX that both accounts for 1/3rd of money going into the federal coffers and has also lost $50 billion in 2013.  That is not good for Mexico so going against three quarter's of a century of anti-foreign oil sentiment.  The WashPost article is a great one for AP Comparative as it has 1) federal government 2) Pena 3) Congress 4) PEMEX 5) federal structure of government 6) nationalism all worked into one article.  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Obama's New EPA Regulation

President Obama's recent announcement that states will need to cut emissions by 30% by 2030 is a great way to study government.  To start with it will take another year to become final.  That brings up regulation and their public comment period.  Secondly the regulation comes under the auspices of the Clear Air Act.  Third, it is up to the states to come up with their own plan - federalism.  Fourth, Europe is considering a plan to cut emissions by 43% - international relations and on and on.  The video above explains it and here is an article giving more details. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

State Dept and TV in Nigeria

The video above is about Boko Haram and this article is about a US State Department financed television station in northern Nigeria set up to counter Islamic fundamentalists like Boko Haram.

On some level it seems funny to be posting right now since my seniors are all done on Monday, but like many of you I also use the search engine on this site to find things I want to use during the school year.  So when I get to Nigeria, for example, next February, I will find all the articles on Nigeria and pick a few to share with my students. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Awesome AP Comparative PowerPoints

As a department chair, for years I have given everything, notes, projects, flipped videos, ppts, etc. to new teachers so they can just worry about learning of the content.  So if you are new to AP Comparative or want to upgrade your PowerPoints, here is a great set of them from "Mr. Caroddo" which you can download and then tailor them to work for you.  Above is one of them.  

Doctors Not So Republican Anymore

According to this article and study, the traditionally Republican stronghold, doctors, have now gone under 50% and are more supportive of Democrats.  Not surprisingly female doctors are leading the way.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Scotland and Staying, or not, with the United Kingdom

One of the things we briefly look at in AP Comparative is whether or not Scotland should stay with Great Britain.  This article does a great job of laying out the positives (nationalism, independence is the best reason) with the negative (debt, no pound or membership in the EU).