Monday, September 28, 2015

Make Videos with WeVideo

One of our special education teachers made the video above using WeVideo.  First off I should say we flip for not just mainstreamed students, but also special ed and ESOL (ESL) students.

WeVideo is an app that you can add in Google Drive or sign up for separately.  As with everything else here, it is free and pretty amazing as it lets you add in sound, video, words, effects, etc.  Best of all, you can use it with your students in groups as it lets them collaborate much as one can do on a document in Google Drive.

Below is an introductory video on WeVideo and here are all their (short) tutorials

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Strive for a Five Full Length AP Government Exam

StriveForaFive is a teacher run website that has two full length AP Government exams that students and teachers can take and receive free feedback all for the princely sum of $0.00!

They are looking for donations to keep the site open for another year if you like what you see on it.   You can go here to make contributions.   

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A China - US Primer

It is a big week in DC with the Pope here now, the looming shutdown next week and President Xi of China coming later in the week.  Above is a primer you could use in your class.

If you like the Economist (and it is a great site for AP Comparative), then here is their article on the upcoming visit and here is their ongoing site on China

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Super PAC Update Explanations and Videos

I am still trying to come up with a project that entails, in part, super PACs.  Above is an update I will want to use as it goes into depth over the relationship between candidates and their involvement with super PACs.

Here is a great overview of super PACs from Vox which also looks at Citizens United as well as "dark money and the older campaign finance laws that are still around."

Here is an example of a brand new super PAC advertisement that is supporting John Kasich.

Below is my still favorite Colbert Report definition of super PAC.

Chromebook Shortcuts

So last Friday the two wonderful SBTS (school based technology specialists) in my building delivered thirty Chromebooks to my classroom.  We spent about 20 minutes logging in and then connecting to the two WiFi accounts that we have at school.  I was surprised first by the number of kids who hadn't heard of them and then later by the number who said they liked them so much they were going to looking into buying their own.  My favorite comment came from a young man who said he no longer had time to text in between going from webpage to webpage.  Yes they are lightening fast.

So I promise to blog about using Chromebooks this year and will start with what I mentioned in class today which is the list of shortcuts that you can use on the laptops.

By the way if you are like some of my students and haven't heard about Chromebooks then you should know that they are a very cheap, but high quality laptop ($200-250 is where most fall for school needs).  The ones we have are sturdy and from signing in to being on a webpage is less than ten seconds.  There is some space for downloading, but not enough room to run programs that require java script.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rouhani on 60 Minutes

Thanks to Rebecca Small for catching that President Rouhani was on 60 Minutes.  You probably don't have time to show the entire show, but it is a good primer for you - the teachers.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

New Voice Typing with Google Docs

It takes a bit of getting used to, but you can say things like "new paragraph," or "exclamation" and it will do them in addition to regular old typing on your Google Drive documents.  I found this on Google+ from Carlos Guerrrevo

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Political Candidates on Talk Shows

Ever since Bill Clinton went on Arsenio Hall, the talk shows have been a place where political candidates go for exposure. 

How our "Tweeting the Debate" Looked

We had another fun and successful Twitter debate.  Above is short clip showing my view of it.

You can see it at #fcpsgov.  The kids were polite and had lots of great comments and we had thousands of them.  We also used TodaysMeet for the kids without Twitter as there is no sign in required for it.  Here is our TodaysMeet feed.

If you want to use this as a teaching technique, go here

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Grading and Returning Student Work in Google Classroom

I am going to be testing Google Classroom this year so will be putting tutorials in how to use it this year.  Above is a great video I found on the International Educators IT Leadership and Integration page on Facebook.   The video takes you through all of the grading steps and options.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Million Dollar super PAC Donors

This NYTimes graphic is about as good as it gets in showing how a few wealthy individuals can prop up candidates even though they are polling at less than five percent.   Above is a great video from Colbert (yes I still miss his show) explaining it and here is another definition from Vox (including background such as Citizens United).  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Flipping Back to School Night

This year I am teaching both standard AP US Government as well as AP US Government/AP Comparative Government.  Above are my the two videos I am sending to my parents so we can spend more time talking and answering questions when I meet them in person.

You can create your own Back to School Night using Screencastomatic and this tutorial. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Doodle for Scheduling Meetings

Last week I used Doodle to figure out when my department should have its fall party.   Our count's online teachers also use it to determine what time is best for our weekly chats with students.  The great thing is that you do not need to join, but do need to give them an email.

By the way I have a junk email that I use when signing up for new things out there to make sure I like them (since you can always change your email later).  This helps to cut down on the emails you receive and don't really want.

Doodle sends a link (such as this one my department used) which allows users to identify themselves and then to select a time that would be useful.  It certainly is much easier than sending a bunch of emails and quicker than creating a Google Drive form.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tweeting the Republican Debate - How to do it

I am teaming with several other teachers in my county on September 16th to have our students Tweet the Republican debate at 8 pm on CNN.  Here is how we do it:

  • We pick a hashtag which our students include in every post.  It can be as simple as #schoolnamegovclass.  Here is what we used last year (but aren't using Wednesday). 
  • We require the students to make three comments during the debate and tell them that school rules apply (ie language, etc.).   Our kids like to see that we are trending so they do far more comments (20-30) and stick around the entire debate.  Our kids then have to take screenshots of their 3 comments and share in a Google Drive document.
  • The teachers teach!  This means you might say that some candidates (Rick Perry, for ex.) are already running very low on funds or that the polls are great, but the goal is to win delegates. Having more than one teacher in on the debate makes for a richer discussion.  
  • I use TweetChat (which can be synced to your Twitter account) so I can see the comments from the other students and easily enter in my own. Assume the kids can see all of the comments and know how to follow the discussion.  I also usually watch the debate/State of the Union on my laptop as well and split my screen as you can see from the video above.  
  • What about the kids who don't have Twitter!  I generally use an editable Google Drive document, but one option I am considering for next week is TodaysMeet which lets you set up a Twitter like screen that does not require a login/password.  
We find that the kids have a dynamic discussion during the debates (or the State of the Union) and can't pull themselves away from the screen (big or small).  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Effective Classroom Methodology

As I begin a new school year - my 25th,  (my student have their first day on Tuesday) I always like to reflect on what setup (beyond the physical part) is best for my students.  So

  • Hip (Keith Hughes) has a great list of what is most important in the classroom starting with setting up an engaging classroom which lead inevitably to better classroom management.  My favorite on his list, though, is to be a little cray cray.    Teaching is like any good relationship. The more fun the teacher is having, usually the more fun the students are having.  The list isn't something you don't know, but it is good to hear it and make sure you are following each item. 
  • If you are a new teacher, look at Keith's rules for new teachers.  
  • Here is a great list of the elements of an effective classroom 
  • If you want to see some research on what goes into a good classroom going as far as the necessary light (hello 70s era schools without windows!) then go here for a great overview. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rewordify to Simplify Readings

In my World History I ESOL classes I have usually have 25 kids who have been in the US less than four years and half who have been here just two years of fewer.  So one thing I use is Google Translate when I am trying to get them to learn to write (they write in their native language and then translate it to English as the writing part is more important than the English part).  But there are also lots of words or even combination of words that make it tough to read a textbook or newspaper.  So for those (if they are done electronically), one option is to use Rewordify which literally simplifies what one is reading.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

The EU Nightmare

As usual there is far too much to discuss with my government students starting with day one.   For my AP Comparative students here is an article I am thinking of using early on as it explains why there are so many Syrian refugees descending on Europe today.   It would be a good way to explain the structure of the European Union as well as the pros and cons of the organization in general - knowing that the AP questions were finished last April.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Power of the Media

I think one thing textbooks do poorly is cover media - perhaps because it has changed so much in recent years.  This is a great article on how the media is influencing Ben Carson's rise (thanks Frank Franz).  It implies that if the media would back off Donald Trump, he would fall in the polls.  But Trump has a press conference before each speech and is proving that there is no such thing as bad coverage.

Below are the dueling ads from Trump and Bush and here is Trump's Twitter feed which is interesting to say the least.  

Flipping, Federalism and the First Lesson for the Year

So on day one I always meet my kids and do an exercise to get to know them a bit.  Towards the end I will give an overview of the course.  The first assignment will be to watch the video below on how to take notes from something like Crash Course.  As with a book, students don't want to think so will just do bullet points and I won't allow that.  But in a flipped class it is important to be able to know how to take notes from a video. So they will have to watch the video below and then take similar notes about what is going on in Kentucky (see video above).  Additionally my students will have to read this article about where our government has made exceptions for religious objectors.

The issues brings up federalism, states' rights, cooperative federalism, equal protection clause, 10th amendment, the Federal court system, certiorari for Obergefell, precedent, supremacy and the list goes on and on!