Thursday, July 31, 2014

Court Cases to Know

Over the years I have consulted a number of friends and looked at all the old AP Government exams and come up with my "Court Cases to Know" which I should also say comes with a lot of help from Rebecca Small and Frank Franz.  People will argue that I am missing some (Planned Parenthood, for ex.), but my theory is that kids can only remember so many court cases before they are overwhelmed.  My other thought is that (and it has been a number of years) on the free response questions, there are almost always three choices and students never have to select more than two.  So when Wolf v. Colorado made it, there were two others that the students could comment on that year.  I will add that the Grutter and Gratz cases have yet to make an AP exam, but every year I predict (wrongly) that they will. So comments are happily accepted.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

EU Sanctions towards Russia for AP Comparative

This is a very descriptive video describing the connection between Russia and the EU sanctions. While the Ukraine crisis will not make next year's AP Comparative exam (which was finished in April) this is a good way to study the connection between what is in the news and the governing bodies of the European Union and two other AP Comp countries, Russia and the UK - whose connections are mentioned in the video.  It also shows the reason why the EU has such problems which you could tie into other countries such as austerity issues.  

Here is a great summary of both why Russia wants the Ukraine and the new sanctions from Vox. 

Affirmative Action in College Admittance Lesson Plan

Right now I am working on lesson plans and found this great one on Grutter and Gratz v. Bollinger. It is a DBQ from the Bill of Rights Institute with excerpts from the cases and the rulings of the two cases as well as Bakke v.  Univ. of CA.  If you do it, you might want to add the Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Resources which was a 2014 Supreme Court ruling this spring allowing colleges to end affirmative action in college admittance.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Screencastomatic YouTube Channel

I am working on a new video on flipping and ran into a Screencastomatic YouTube channel.  For example, above is a video on how to write on a Screencastomatic video.  For those of you who make lots of flipped class videos, Sreencastomatic is the way to go.  Below is my video on how to make a simple screencast using it. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Taking the AP US Government Exam

Dan Larsen is one of the people I hang out with at the AP Government reading.  He and Andrew Conneen has a series of short videos here.  Dan is a question leader (meaning he is one of 8 in the country) for the US government exam while Andrew does the same for the AP Comparative exam.  Their video above has some great tips on how to take the AP government exam.  Below is Frank Franz' video describing how to take the free response part of the exam.

Federal, Unitary and Confederate Governments

This is a great visual on unitary, federal and confederations.  It also is super because it adds in the written definitions so it hits all types of learners.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Was Romney Right About the 47%?

Do you remember when Romney said that 47% of American pay no income tax?   Well, yes and no.  In 2010, according to this video, 47% of American paid no federal income taxes, but paid other taxes like payroll tax (which most see as a tax) FICA and state and local taxes.  But having said that Romney probably wouldn't have wanted his audience to see this entire video, but you might want your students to see it as it starts by looking at what taxes are used for and then goes into all the different ways to people are paying taxes.  I learned, for example, that most people pay more in FICA than federal income taxes.  The video also talks about how people get out of paying taxes.

I learned about this video from a WashingtonPost article on Gene Simmons who recently stated that 1% of the population created all of the jobs in the US.

Fiscal v Monetary Policy

This is a great video briefly explaining that fiscal and monetary policy that comes from NPR's monetary policy.  

My Book Is Coming Out This Fall, But Let's Talk Now!

When I was asked by Corwin Press to write a book last April, I had no idea how long it would take.  But I can assure you that it will be well worth the wait as my editor, Desiree Bartlett and I have shaped it into quite a useful enterprise assuming you want to learn to differentiate using technology and allow your students to be more self paced.  The title is Learning and Leading in a Digital Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to Pacing the 21st Century Learner and the manuscript is now done as are all the graphics and we are soon going to production. As you will see while I have a ton of research it is a hands on book meant to be used over and over again while you teach as, from the start, I wanted a practical book. But for now I have started a Twitter hashtag (and yes the book explains how to create and use one of your own with your students) at "#pacingdigitallearner" which is where I would like to create a depository of lesson plans and ideas to build on my book.  So for the moment, if you have any lesson plans or ideas on differentiating, working with peers, using instruction, just go to Twitter, and Tweet a comment or link and include the hashtag.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Visual Representation of the Gini Coefficient in the UK

I found this video on Greg Mankiw's blog which I look at occasionally for economics' ideas.  The video above is a nice graphical view of the Gini coefficient (without really mentioning the name).  You can get the idea in the first four minutes.  Gini is something that is both in AP Comparative Government as well as AP Microeconomics. 

New Changes to Google Drive

One of the reasons I really like Google Drive is that I do not have to wait to purchase a new suite such as with Microsoft (although to be fair, Microsoft's OneDrive does automatically update as well).  At any rate, Google Drive has some new changes which are highlighted in the video above. 

How to Set Up a Standards Based Classroom

I wanted to give you a few highlights of the great work Frank Franz has done (and very briefly posted on a few days ago) in the last year as he really is doing what so many people discuss, but few do - that is set up a standards based classroom.   He has written a short tutorial on how he did it last year and how you can as well, complete with lots of links.  For example he discussed
  • setting objectives
  • proficiency scoring - which he based on formative tests.  
  • summative tests 
  • re-takes of summative tests which are only given on the portion of the objective that was not proficient and were not given unless students could show proficiency in a topic
  • what goes into the gradebook (hint - only summative which he explains)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Congress App

I just received an email from Claudia Cassidy who made a Congress app that is free and shows what legislation each member of Congress is working on and there voting record.  It is found in the iTunes store

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Comparing China and Russia in AP Comparative

If you look at the free response questions from the AP Comparative exam, you will see lots of questions that compare two of the six countries that are being studied in the class.  That is why I like this article looking at why Xi should envy Putin so much.  Obviously both China and Russia are on the test and it really covers so many topics in AP Comparative: Russia's annexation Crimea, Cold War, geography, regional groups, trade between the two countries and economic reforms.  This article could be used as an assignment in of itself or be a take off point for a classroom assignment.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Monkey Cage Forecasts Republican Takeover of US Senate

If you are a Democrat, you won't like this Monkey Cage takeover of the US Senate this fall.  If you click on the individual states you can see the percentage chance of that state going the color predicted. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Setting up your Social Studies course using the Standards Based Learning model. Here's how I did it last year.

Classroom Management for Dummies

I just saw this on FreeTech4Teachers from Keith Hughes' growing library of mostly content videos.  I wish I had had it my first couple of years of teaching when I played the "who wants to go to the office game!"  Now I can proudly say it has been something like two decades since I sent a student to the office.  But that fact has been because of three of the key items in the list above of ten rules - namely 1) keep engaging the kids in work that is meaningful and connected 2) don't make bad behavior a big deal (I have lightly tapped numerous kids over the years as I have walked around or worked their names into my talking) 3) be fun.  I like to tell young teachers that if you are bored in the classroom then imagine how awful it is for the kids.  If you aren't checking the clock then they probably aren't either.  But Keith has other great tips so enjoy. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

What Schoolhouse Rock Missed in a Bill Becoming a Law

Thanks to Rich Hoppock for this great video from one of my new favorite news sources, Vox.  It has many of the actual steps, such as the role of the press, bureaucrats, riders and on and one and all in less than 100 seconds.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back Stories to White House Images

This is an interesting blog that I was just emailed about.  I was intrigued as the first post talked about a stroll made by Obama recently and since I had blogged on the same thing (albeit, a different walk), I was immediately drawn in.  But there is another recent one on Reagan's famous "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech and many other behind the scenes stories of historical events related to the White House. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Google Classroom

While Microsoft's OneLive is improving, when you look at the video above, you realize how quickly Microsoft is losing the future.  Assuming more and more kids are learning with Google Drive, then, one might assume they will continue with it in their own post school lives.

The short film above shows teachers how they can easily assign assignments to their classes, or individualize them for certain students, as well as quickly see who has turned in assignments, set an assignment date and all of this is coming to anyone who has Google Apps for Education very soon. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tips to Parents from a Teacher

Recently I finished Think Like a Freak which tries to get people to think differently.  It briefly discusses education and says that if we are ever going to narrow the achievement gap and/or improve individual student performance we cannot do it all in school.  So one think I do a lot of is schedule individual parent-student-teacher conferences (15 out of 60 standard kids had one last year) where, in part, I go over the tips in this video.  Usually kids who are not achieving their realistic success level are ones not following the guidelines in the video.

What I have above is nothing earth shattering, but I think it helps to remind parents, nicely, that even if they are tired in the evening, so are there kids and the parents' job (yes I am bolder as I get older) is to keep their kids on their homework.  So this year I will be sending this video out early and then again to the students whom (no matter the grade) I believe are not up to their ability level.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.