Friday, February 28, 2014

PDF Converter

For years I have used Pdftoword to convert pdfs to word documents.  Google Drive also now does it, but not as consistently well as Pdftoword.  But the problem with the latter is that it only lets you convert a few pages.  Well Free Online PDF Converter just wrote me to say that you can convert with them an unlimited number of pages.  Just upload the document and put in your e-mail and push go and you will get a word document shortly thereafter. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

AP Comparative PowerPoints

I don't use PowerPoints in AP Comparative, but one of my students asked for them the other day to help his learning style.  So to help him out, I am giving him these great PowerPoints to supplement what we are doing in the classroom.  

AP Comparative Wiki Site

Mr. Driscoll has a lot of flipped videos and online assignments for a variety of classes including AP Comparative government.  They are concise, correct and very helpful to students.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

McCutheon v. FEC

Tuesday the US Supreme Court will hear McCutheon v. FEC which looks at whether limiting people to $48,600 to individual candidates in a single cycle is a violation of the First Amendment. Above is a nice summary from The Fix and here is an article on it from the WashPost.

Scotus Blog will actually be live blogging on Tuesday at 9:45 AM EST if you want to listen into the case. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Research Tools in a Google Drive Document

I watched this video from FreeTech4Teachers and was inspired to see more on how to research inside a Google Drive document. The best one is above. It shows the amazing things you can do by going to "Tools," and then "research."  You can do things like
  • do a Google search
  • find scholarly articles
  • find images and choose between ones that need citations or not
  • how to drag images into the document
  • have MPA, APA, Chicago style footnotes automatically embedded into the document

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Split Screen

We have a paper shortage in my school!  Yes I know that sounds funny from me, but we also have a laptop shortage as not every teacher has as many as we want for our students.   So one of my jobs has been to try to figure out how to conserve paper so this video is one thing I have shared with my department as it allows you to copy one browser to another without printing! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Word and Message Testing

I just listened to this story on NPR discussing how changing a word changes the entire debate. We all know that the Republicans use the "death tax" for inheritance as opposed to "estate tax" for the Democrats.

But this interview contends that part of the reason that we heard nary a word on the raising of the debt ceiling is that the word has been changed from debt ceiling to default crisis and thus much less of a controversy.  Certainly I would add that it probably has something to do with the polls, but nonetheless, it is interesting as Doug Hattaway of Hattaway Communications

Screencasts for Chrome/Chromebooks

I am sitting here enjoying the Olympics (long track is my favorite) and figuring out new things for the classroom/grading student assignments.

One thing that has been missing from Chromebooks has been a way to make screencasts.  Enter Screencastify!  While you still cannot record just a portion of the screen, it is huge step.  It also works on Chrome.  You can either download it onto your laptop or put upload it straight onto YouTube.

By the way Chromebooks are a great way for your school to get a sub $300 laptop for your students and works well if you are comfortable on the cloud.  I like them so much that we have two here at home for my kids.  

Jeopardy Templates

Here is a template for a Google Drive Presentation.

If you want other templates that are not for Google Drive, but you can use for free, go to Jeopardy Labs.  

FlipCon14 2014 Conference

The Flipped Learning Network is a great place to learn about new flipping techniques and connect with others are trying out the methodology.  This summer they will have both an in person and a virtual (makes sense!) conference you can attend from June 23-35 in Pennsylvania.  You can see some of the videos from last year's conference here.

Thanks to Hip Hughes for the heads up on the conference. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ambassadors, Part III

Here is yet another bit on the ambassador talk hitting DC right now. If you prefer short to the point and informative videos, this is a good one.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ambassadors, Part II

What I like about Frank's post on ambassadors is that it is bleeped so you can actually show it to your class which is usually not the case with Jon Stewart.  At any rate, here is a listing of all Obama's second term ambassadors with a division shown between political (53%) and career.  I also have a number of other posts on the topic including showing the direct connection to financial donations.  

The Minimum Wage

Tomorrow I was going to have a meeting with the other social studies' chairs in my county, but because of more snow days, it won't be happening.  But my kids still are going to have to do the assignment on the minimum wage for our next meeting.

We are working on a unit that looks at public opinion, elections and the media.  So we will be using this great NYTimes article on the politics behind the minimum wage.  Above is a John Green video he just did on the topic and here is what my students will be working on during my class away.  As you see it hits a great deal of items we have covered and will soon tackle such as Congress, gridlock, executive orders, elections, media, etc. 

Scottish Vote for Indepedence

This is a great WashPost article today on the looming (next Sept) vote of the Scottish people to break away from the United Kingdom which claims that the Scots will lose the Pound if they vote for independence.  Here is a NYTimes article on the background of the vote.  Here is a third article from the Economist that discusses how much of the British debt the Scottish would have to shoulder should they gain independence. 

Twitter, Hashtags and FakeTweet

My "teacher-students" have a snow day today which means they are looking at two flipped videos for their assignments today so I thought I'd share it with all of you.  The video above is 11 minutes and goes into how to set up a Twitter account, how to use it.  Secondly it looks at hashtags and when and why you might want one and finally it looks at FakeTweet which is exactly what it says it is.  

No way to select an ambassador

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Great AP Comp Websites

Ken Wedding is the author of AP Comparative Government and Politics which is the best (in my humble opinion) study aide on the market and written by a former AP Comparative (but still very active) high school teacher.

Ken also has a great blog (link fixed) that I like to use to help me teach.  For example several days ago he did a post on the cleavages on Nigeria.

My favorite site for review is Andrew Coneen's class wiki that his students created to give you all of the main points for each of the six comparative countries as well as the EU.  It also includes maps, pictures, etc.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

How to Search My Blogs

It is hard for me to believe that over the course of the nearly six years of my three blogs (US, world, government) that there are now over 5000 posts.  So if you ever want to search for content or technology, just go to the upper left hand side of the blog and enter in what you need to find and all the appropriate pages will come up.  

Ideology Quizzes

Today my students will take one or two ideology quizzes and then report to the class their findings.  Where they do not agree with what they find, they will have to explain why there might be a flaw in the quiz.

Here is the Pew Research quiz.
Here is one from PBS & Pew
Here is one I just discovered called Politopia

Friday, February 7, 2014

Will the Senate Flip?

Just today one of my colleagues asked me if I thought the Senate was going to flip with the 2014 elections.  Well here is a great overview on the top potential flip races from the WashPost's Fix. This piece from RealClearPolitics gives you the poll numbers for each state.  For example, my US Senator is Mark Warner (D-VA) who is up by 1 (D 1).   Here and in the picture above is the view of Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flipping the Classroom Presentation

Tomorrow I am doing a presentation for my county on flipping the classroom.  If you can make it it will be at the Leis Center at 1-3:30.  For those of you who can't here is what we will be doing.

  1. What will be taught:  We will learn how to record lectures for students to watch at home, how students can be accountable for that information and how to flip one’s classroom to do the “problem sets” in the classroom.
  2. Tutorial steps that will be finished in the class (each underlined item is linked to a tutorial)
    1. will learn  how to use Screencastomatic to learn how to record a ten minute lecture
    2. will discuss what can be done in the classroom
    3. will learn how class activities can be put on a Google Drive document and linked into Blackboard
    4. How to create a question sheet with embedded video. 
    5. learn how to split the laptop screen so students can see the video and their notes or you could use (tutorial)
    6. If you accumulate lots of videos, here is how you create a youTube Playlist for Note Taking in a Flipped Classroom

Normally I ask my students to split their screen, but this relatively (it came out last April) new app called that does that for you, putting the video on the left and the notes on the right.  It is then synced with Google Drive so it automatically (if you approve it to do so) puts the notes in your Google  Drive folder.  You will also note that whenever you begin taking notes, it shows where you are in the video and if you click on that line of  the notes, it will take you back to the relevant place in the video.  

It is also available for Google Apps so your students can get it in the free or paid Google Drive.

Above is a video showing you how to use it. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

CNN Student News

For those of you who like your students to keep up with the news, one relatively quick way is to show student news to your kids. There are also a lot of teacher resources that are changed each day