Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Poll Dance" from We the Voters

Should we believe polls? What are some of their limitations? This five minute clip from We the Voters explains.

We The Voters - The Poll Dance from FilmBuff on Vimeo.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Incorporating Geography and 

Economics in Your Government Lessons

Washington Post Article on U.S. Foreign Assistance

I saw an article on in the Washington Post this week providing a set of cartograms highlighting the spending by the U.S. on foreign assistance.  I love incorporating cartograms periodically with my students; it's a great geography skill to review or teach, and it really allows them to visualize quantitative information in a different way.  This article also allows you to incorporate some discussion of macroeconomics principles.  There's definitely plenty of material for group discussions and debates.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Storytelling and Politics

A few weeks ago, I finally sat down to watch the Sandra Bullock movie Our Brand is Crisis.  It would be great to incorporate portions of this movie into a discussion on campaigning, particularly given the current election cycle.  (Note: It has an R rating, so proceed according to your school policy.)

Then, a couple weeks ago, I saw this video in the New York Times, where a real life political strategist talks about the story lines that campaigns strive to create.  He definitely gives some of his own opinions in the piece, so I would talk to students about that before-hand, but it might be an interesting pairing with the Sandra Bullock movie and a discussion on this year's election.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Presentation Options

This is the first year in over ten years that I will not be in the classroom as fall gets ready to start.  I've taken a new position doing program evaluation in my district.  As such, I'm getting nostalgic for all the bulletin board creating, lesson planning and classroom set up this time of year always involves.

I still get to create presentations, however, and I have been looking for some new tools to shake things up a little bit.  Many of us know about Prezi, and this blog has also covered the potential available with PowToon, but I was looking for something that would take some PowerPoints and help step them up a few notches.

I found this blog post by a company focused on presentations that had a great listing of various alternatives, including the ones mentioned above.

A few I'm looking at for this school year include:




SlideDog basically allows you to use existing presentation pieces (PowerPoints, Prezis, PDF files, etc.) and create a play list with all of them into one large presentation, while emaze and Projeqt both allow you to import an existing PowerPoint and 'glam it up' or create a presentation from scratch.  SlideDog involves a download, while the other two are cloud based. All three have a free option, hence their initial appeal.

Happy lesson creating!

Monday, April 4, 2016

I subscribe to education alerts from The New York Times, which can be a great way to stay on top of what's going on with education policy.  They also periodically cover different resources, such as these interactive games, which were partially created by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

While not every student will enjoy the games, they look like a great tool for giving students some application of key government concepts.  I experimented with playing one called, "Do I Have a Right", which focused on setting up a mock law firm to handle issues of Constitutional law.  Another game involves staging a race for the presidency.  The games look like perfect tools for students who need more hands-on application of the civics and government concepts.  I could see using the "Do I Have a Right" game to help students review the amendments before the SOLs begin in the next month.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Look Back to Primaries in 1968

With all the primary chaos going on this year,  it has been a government/U.S. history teacher’s dream for provoking thoughtful class discussion.  It’s the perfect opportunity to include some discussion of other key election years, particularly the Democratic Primaries of 1968.   

This article from the Stanford Political Journal is slanted, but provides some nice parallels to the Democratic primaries this year.  There is also this article from PBS, which gets into the convention itself.  Finally, this article from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics on the changes Democrats made to their process after the 1968 election. It includes a great explanation of how the Democratic delegate selection works.  

Some classroom ideas might include the following:

  1. Divide the class into thirds, with each group reading a different article.  Students can then hold discussion about each article’s information/perspective.  
  2. Read the articles at home or in class and hold a discussion about the parallels between the 1968 election year and this election year.  Students might be asked to hypothesize what might happen at the Republican Convention during a very divided year.  
  3. A third activity might involve students reading the articles, holding a discussion, then redesigning the convention/primary/delegate system for one of the political parties.  

I teach alternative education, and my students aren’t always known for their enthusiasm for history and social studies, but this has proven to be a topic of conversation they are initiating themselves.  I also teach five subjects simultaneously (World History I and II, U.S. and Virginia History, U.S. and Virginia Government, and Economics and Personal Finance) and this provides a topic that can be connected to all of those subject areas in some way.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Electoral College Predictor by Blendspace

Today I am going to be getting to Austin to attend the South by Southwest Education conference.  I am going to be spending some of my time there with TES (more on them later).  They recently purchased Blendspace which allows teacher to use a variety of resources to build digital lessons for their students such as the one I did above which I call "Predicting the Electoral College."  You can go to Blendspace and build your own very easily.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Presidential Delegate Counter

This site from Bloomberg keeps a count of all the delegates won by the presidential candidates as well as all of the ones that are coming up in future primaries and caucuses. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Take US Government Advertisement

I put this up last year and Paul Sargent has gotten even better.  If you are trying to sell your program right now, this is a great video to show. Look at my link for other great videos. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How Presidential Delegates are Selected

While the narrator is somewhat monotonous his short explanations are great and the Democratic video even explains superdelegates. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Supreme Court Vacancies in Election Years

Here is a short piece from SCOTUS blog which tells that most (in the last 100 years) vacancies in the Supreme Court have been filled because the Senate and president were the same party.  But there were two times when this was not the case and they were still filled.  For example Reagan nominated Kennedy and the Democratic senate approved him.

Here are steps that my dissertation chair, Sarah Binder, says, in the WashPost will follow in the bid to replace Scalia. In the world is actually quite small, the second year of my teaching career I taught with one of his daughters who was an awesome language educator. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Loving v. VA

Thanks to my former colleague, Janet Babic who found this great four minute on Loving v. VA.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Exit Poll Results for New Hampshire

Above is a video summary of New Hampshire's results. But here and here are really great demographic results.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Brexit from the EU

The term being used for the exit of Great Britain from the European Union is "Brexit" which now Prime Minister David Cameron has promised the nation will have a referendum on before June. Euroskeptics know that polls show the pendulum has swung towards leaving.  Thus the Economist video above or this NYTimes editorial today are good fodder for your AP Comparative classes as all of the terms in this post are fodder for the AP exam both on the multiple choice as well as the free response questions.

The video below gives more details into what the move would actually mean for the Great Britain. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Iowa Results

Between the WashPost and NYTimes two results' pages you will have everything you need to know about the Iowa caucuses.  First off Trump's lack of a ground game and the fact that his voters are less likely to have a college degree and therefore vote, showed mightly as he had an eight point turnaround over the most recent polls.  Rubio showed that he might be a viable alternative and the real question is whether Bush will drop out this week.  As predicted on the Democratic side it was more or less (Clinton won) a dead heat, but look for Sanders to win in NH.