Thursday, October 30, 2014

Senate Not Looking Good for Dems

As you can see from the different news sources above, it is not looking good for the Dems next Tuesday.  Here is what the Upshot, from the NewYorkTimes says about the most interesting eleven races and where is what my favorite - 538 says.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Midterm Election Ads

This is a great set of advertisements, which was Tweeted to me by Mashable, some of which I am going to show my government student tomorrow.  As part of the presentation, we'll review the following terms: midterm, gerrymandering, incumbent, open seat, primary, caucus, Baker v. Carr, Westbury v. Saunders, # in the House, # in the US Senate, general election, etc. Here are all of the ads.

In case you missed the Cowboy - Washington game last night, Ed Gillespie (R) ran an ad tying the Washington team name to over involvement of government 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Government Assignment

Today the WashPost has an article on lobbying, candy and laws and since my students just finished Congress and interest groups and are working on the executive branch and the bureaucracy, I expanded on the article and made this assignment.  We'll do it on Friday and end with the question of whether or not the federal government should regulate sugar and if, not should the government pay for the problems (such as diabetes) that come from too much candy consumption. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Book is Getting Closer & You Can Pre-Order Now

So I started my blogs in April of 2008 - which means I have been hawking free wares for quite a long time.  But no more!  My book manuscript should arrive in my in box in a few days and after I initial it, the next stop is the printer.  The publication date is the last week of January, but you and/or your school or district can pre-order it now.  

The title pretty much says it all.  I believe that technology is great since that is the world we now live in, but two terms I use in my book are "first and second order" uses of technology.  First order is just digitizing everything you normally do on paper while "second order" is using technology to do learning with your students (such as individualizing) that you could not do without it.  Not only do I give you the research, but I give you the step by step instructions for how to do this.

Over the next few months, I will be giving you more details on the book so please keep reading if you aren't yet sure if you want to purchase it yet.   If you go here, there is both a very detailed chapter outline as well as the early reviews and a way to order the book.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Twitter Warm-up for Your Classes

Today my colleague, Doug Zywiol asked his US history classes to Tweet him the biggest hurdle facing George Washington when he started his presidential term.  If you go to @dougzywiol you can see the student responses.  To have your students do it, they simply need to add your Twitter handle to a text and then you can project the responses on the board or simply have your students use their smartphones to look at and discuss the answers.  Alternatively you could make a hashtag (just put the "#" symbol along side any class name you might invent (such as @Zywiolclass) and then have your students add this to their text.  Then go to the newly made site to see all of the Tweets.

By the way Zywiol's government students were doing their government service hours and met Barbara Comstock (see image above) who is likely to be a new member of Congress come January and of course they Tweeted about it so Zywiol's other students could see it.

Obviously no matter the subject you teach, you can use Twitter to start your warm-up.  If you are like us and have slow laptops, it can be done while the laptops are logging in. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Scottish Referendum Explained

This is a great video which does more than just explain the referendum that the Scottish recently voted as it explains Scottish history as well as uses great AP comparative terms such as devolution, referendum, what is meant by Great Britain and has some nice maps.

I found it on Ken Wedding's AP Comparative Facebook page. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Congressional Demographics' Webquest

My colleague, Doug Zywiol found this web quest on Congressional demographics on the Internet, so if it is yours, please tell me so I can give you credit.  I spruced it up a bit, but otherwise it has some great links and questions.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Remind Gets Even Better

Remind (which used to be Remind101) is getting even easier.  Stating in November all your students and parents will have to do is to text "81010" and your unique class code (which you make) and they will be signed up.  I have been using the site for the past three years and their CEO even gave my upcoming January release book (Deeper Learning Through Technology) a nice endorsement.   I can't say enough for how it has improved my students' memory to get their nightly text reminders in finishing any lingering work they may have for me.  

Flipped Videos for AP Comparative

One of my colleagues, Larry Stroud, has flipped all of his AP Comparative lectures.  Above is one on the European Union and here are the other ones (plus some US government ones).  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Redistricting Game

We just went over re-redistricting in class so my students will play the redistricting game next week.  It is a good way to showcase the concept and to help them differentiate between reapportionment and redistricting.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

PACs, Super PACs, Dark Money & Lesson Plan

Today we were discussing interest groups and one of my students asked about super PACs which we are going over next class.  Tonight I just saw that the NYTimes has an article on PACs, super PACs and something new called "dark money" which, while it will not make the AP exam this year is nonetheless exam.  The video from the article is above.

The video below is my favorite from Steven Colbert when he explains the difference between PACs and super PACs.

For those of you who want more, here is what my students are doing on interest groups.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Politics, Hispanics, Immigration & Your Classroom

The Obama administration has been attacked by groups saying they are not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.   You can use the issue to discuss the workings of Congress and the executive branch.

  • Obama, above, is speaking to the Hispanic Caucus' annual meeting where he addresses illegal immigrants and giving them permanent status in the US.
  • At the same time the executive branch has increasingly deported a record number of illegal immigrants (which he did not address in front of the caucus, but is more than Bush, Clinton or HW Bush did as you can see in this Pew report)
  • This also can bring up hyperpluralism since nothing has been done on this issue in decades.
  • You can even speak about interest groups.  An Hispanic one is the National Council for LaRaza. You could then have your students go to Open Secrets and see what kinds of candidates the group is donating to each year. 

Communist vs Free Trade China

One of the classes I teach is AP Economics (and you can go here to see my economics' blog) and for that class I use ACDCLeadership.  But this video (and other items such as the Gini coefficient) overlap the two classes).  So above is a super video on China talking about if China is planned or free market economy.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Partisan Gerrymandering

Here and here are stories on a US District court decision that said the 2000 redrawing on a Congressional district in VA has unconstitutionally packed African-Americans together.  Therefore by 2016, the district needs to be withdrawn.  This is just in time for the flipped video my students watch on gerrymandering. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Writ of Certiorari in 43 Seconds!

The NYTimes got it right when it said that the Supreme Court let stand the circuit court decisions on gay marriage, but most news sources generally start by saying something like "The Supreme Court decided..." What this means is that if you are gong to discuss the refusal to listen to the cases then, of course, you'll need to discuss a writ of certiorari and how cases are accepted by the court.  The video above not only explains it, but uses words to help in the explanation.  The best explanation of why the Supreme Court might have denied cert comes from Scotus Blog.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

One Country, Two Systems & AP Comparative Government

So during the AP Comparative portion of our year (which this year will start in the second week of January) we will discuss "issues" for each of the countries we are studying.  As part of these issues, we look at "conceptual terms" which I then add to each country's issues's sheet.  So here is the sheet on China.  Usually I have the students find the resources needed to boil each issue down to 3-4 bullet points, but every once in a while I find an article which is so good I will link it for the kids.

So for example this NYTimes article gives us the back ground on Hong Kong and why it is different than mainland China.  It also links it to Maggie Thatcher who is also fair fodder for the AP Comparative exam.

While we are at it my next book is going to be Strange Rebels which comes highly recommended from a friend and is about 1979 when the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan, Maggie Thatcher and Deng Xiaoping came to power in Great Britain, and the Iranians had their revolution (and yes, there is a part on the new Polish Pope) which means in one book you get half of the comparative countries! 

Super PACs and Teaching

The NYTimes has a great article on Super PACs.  One the featured ones is Americans for Prosperity which is a liberal leaning organization.  Super PACs are part of the AP Government exam so showing students some of the current ads (there are more conservative ones) and explaining Citizens United v. FEC.

Scotus Blog for Everything on the Supreme Court

When I am looking to teach about the current Supreme Court, Scotus Blog is where I turn.  It has analysis, videos, statistics, petitions, interviews and so much more.   Right now the Court is deciding what cases to give cert to and with a lot of speculation of if gay marriage is taken, the place to go is Scotus Blog.  Here is a recent July interview with Yahoo News (which is now led by Katie Couric) that I found on the blog.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Joshua Wong - Demonstrator in Hong Kong

Nearly 60 years ago my father, then a medical student, helped lead demonstrations against the communist government in Czechoslovakia.  So you can imagine that I am loving the actions of the students in Hong Kong while worrying about the repercussions that might come against them.

At any rate, above is a primer on Joshua Wong who is being touted as one of the leaders of the demonstrations.  Here is more on him.  Hong Kong and its status relative to China is fair game for the AP Comparative exam.