Sunday, November 29, 2015

Assignment to Predict the Electoral College

With next year's election upon us, my government students are working in groups on an assignment that predicts the Electoral College for next year.  The assignment has them first select the party nominees using polls and then using employment statistics as well as the popularity of Obama (since these are the two factors that political scientists look at) who will be the next president. They also have to look at PACs and super PACs as well as tell me about the Electoral College and how it works. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to Set up Chromebooks for Secure Test Taking

For those of you investing in Chromebooks the video above show you how to use them for secure test taking.  We use TestNav (Pearson) and fortunately this is one of the ones that can be used.   When you secure a Chromebook, the kids cannot get to any other sites except the one you are using for the exam.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Electoral College, Part II

My government students are working on the Electoral College right now using this DBQ and the video above.  It is one of those things that I find my students are often confused with each year.  If you have the same issue, here are some items to help.

First off, below is a video of Virginia's voters actually writing in their electoral college votes in December 2012 and here (thanks Frank Franz) is the list of potential electors in VA (each qualified party has to submit their names before election day).  Here is a short CBS clip showing the opening of the votes in the House in January when we actually get a "president elect" as opposed to the day after the election.  

Here is one with the question most kids have - what if no one gets a majority of the electoral votes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why the Presidency is Weak

Thanks to my colleague, Frank Franz, for this great interview with Obama. The president does a really great job of explaining why he is so (obviously to him) limited from polarized press, the filibuster, gerrymandering, etc.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Personalized Urls

We normally start my classes with a five question quiz where my students can use their notes from their flipped video to answer the questions.  It serves a few purposes.  First I won't count the quiz grade if the notes aren't good enough as I want the kids to have a repository they can use later (which is easy with the search function in Google Drive).  Secondly the questions are the main points for the day so it tells the kids what their exercise is going to be about.

But to the point.  I very rarely use the LCD in my classroom other than for when I am giving our opening quiz.  But the other day the my LCD lightbulb went kaput.  So I had to improvise by taking the url from the Google Drive document into a Tinyurl which I also personalized.  For example I am doing the fifth and sixth units in my for AP microeconomics called  So I wrote the url on the board and didn't worry that we didn't have a LCD.  It also is nice when kids want to redo a quiz, I just give them the url and we are all set.

In addition there is that allows you to keep a repository or your shortenings as well as Google's shortening.  

Candidate Poll for Your Students

We are doing political participation and one of my students just told me about I side with, which will tell you which of the people running for president you and your students are more likely to side with during this presidential election cycle.  It also gives you link to various issues so your kids can learn more. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Electoral College DBQ and Video

Over the years I have found that teaching the Electoral College is one of the hardest things for my students to remember as it seems counterintuitive to a democratic republic (which I point out we were not set up to be).  Right now I like the video above the best, but here and here are two other alternative short explanations.  We are going to also have the students answer the questions on this Electoral College Mini-Q and then write a FRQ instead of an entire essay.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Education Week Column

Along with the interview I did with Larry Ferlazzo last week, he had me write a column in June which he just published in his Education Week column.  Above is a summary of my thoughts, but here is the entire article.  Of course if you want my detailed thoughts and how to implement them, they are in my book: Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction

A Primer on ISIS

Last year ISIS and Al Qaeda both made the AP US Comparative FRQ exam with their connection to a terrorist group in Great Britain (Al Qaeda) and Nigeria (ISIS).  The three minute Vox video above does a great job of explaining the origins of Al Qaeda and the splintering of ISIS from it.  It also connects the groups to the Iraq and Syria.    

Friday, November 13, 2015

Scholaradventure Around the Three Branches of Government

Summer Johnson is one of our special education teachers who has been making "Scholarvacation" YouTube flipped videos.   Since Summer lives in D.C., she took a tour around the city and uses a map to literally show the where everything is located.  She also goes through the jobs of three branches of power.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Graphics on the Recent Republican Debate

Thanks to Rebecca Small for the heads up on this one.  Here are a great set of graphics from last night's Republican Debate including their key phrases, where they stood on the main issues of the night and the money one above that shows how long each candidate spoke (wonder if they count both people when one spoke over another). 

Monday, November 9, 2015

School Board Budget as Example of Local Budget Choices

We are facing a one time shortfall of $100 million in my school system (we have a $2.5 billion budget).  If you are looking for a good assignment on local government, the video above does a great job of explaining how we get our funding and here are the two lists of budget cuts for $50 and %75 million.  We have elected school boards, but they do not have taxing authority and must get all funding from our Board of Supervisors. 

How Does the Internet Work

Most people now have heard about the cloud, but few understand it.  The top video above shows where the actual cables are in the oceans that transport our messages across the Internet.  The bottom one shows how webpages are broken up and transported.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Force Fitting Technology into the Classroom

Last week Larry Ferlazzo interviewed me and Susie Boss for his radio show.  Ferlazzo is a leading innovator in tech education, a writer for Education Week and a classroom teacher.  We discussed the topic of which comes first, technology or content.  Perhaps you would be surprised with my answer.   Here is the interview

Monday, November 2, 2015

Iowa Caucus Lesson Plans

The state of Iowa has come up with three different length (30, 60 or 90 minutes) Iowa lesson plans that you might want to look at to teach students why Iowa became the first in the US caucus and whether or not it should keep that status.