Thursday, June 30, 2011

More on Jaycut

This is a great video I found on the Jaycut website.  It is nine minutes long, but it is really worth the time if you want to learn how to about how to do their free equivalent of Movie Maker.  The best part is that you can start on one computer and then go to another one to finish.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Document, Under Siege

One Document, Under Siege

The June 23rd edition of Time magazine has an article about the U.S. Constitution, including a discussion of current issues, the intent of the framers, the Tea Party movement and the Constitution, etc. The article could be used in its entirety or different elements could be used as a discussion in class. There is also a page of graphics available for analysis.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2010-11 US Supreme Court

The WashPost has a great set of graphics on the US Supreme Court's now finished term.  If you go here, you can mouse over any justice and see how often he/she agreed with the other ones.  Here is a link which shows how each voted for the different cases and finally this link is another graphic which shows how often each one voted in the majority and the minority. 

Monday, June 27, 2011


This afternoon I spent several hours at the Google station at the ISTE conference.  Part of that time was spent working with one the people whose job it is to improve Chromebooks for educators.  He showed me Jaycut which is basically a movie maker online that is free.  Students can put their own videos on it, pictures, audio, image and slides.  You can also create a narrative of your own film. I also noticed that also has a segment on making videos using Jaycut which is on page 24 - 31

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Okay, first I should say that if you do get a Chromebook, I made this screen image using which allows me to edit pictures and then insert them into my Picassa (Google) album.  At no point did I save anything on my desktop - indeed it was done all on the cloud.

The WashPost's "The Fix" has been doing a great overview of redistricting by the states.  He already has about 10 states including my hone state of VA.  The Fix does a good job of pointing out that VA is one of the first two states (NJ is the other one) to do redistricting and that since we have a Dem senate and Repub House and governor, the Repubs might be waiting for the fall elections since they have a shot at winning the senate as well.

Bloom's Taxonomy Via Google

Yes, I have a few days of vacation sandwiched in between shuttling my kids to all their summer sports.  I just found this great picture of all the ways you can carry out student learning via online tools from Google.  Go here to see a bigger version of Kathy Schrock's picture.  Definitely take a look at the close up as it is amazing what you can do to enhance your students' learning via the Internet.   Each picture can be clicked on and will take you to the site where you can create it.  

100 Chromebook Tips

Okay, so perhaps not all of you are jumping to get the Chromebook by Google, but I just got mine in the mail yesterday.  If you are into "the cloud," it is a cheap ($500 for the version that gives you 100 mgs of free access a month and it obviously has wifi).  It turns on in less than 10 seconds, and I quickly found an app that lets me split my windows so I can see two screens (which is big with me).  It is a bit slow occasionally and you can't get Netflix (which my kids will care about) yet although that is coming, but if live on the cloud as I do it is 1/3rd the price of the Macbook Air (although you can't manipulate the screen as you will be able to do when it comes out in a few weeks).  For my money it is also forcing me to do the few things I wasn't doing online (screen capture of pics and how to movies) on the Internet.  Yes, I know I am ahead of people who still like to put their files on their computers, but the Chromebook is where we will all be in a few years.  FINALLY, if you do purchase it, I found this lengthy document explaining how it works.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I just found these "Howcasts" which has a nice video on how to use Twitter.  I know I have given you information on Twitter before, but please know that it is not just about what people are doing at any one time.  I actually delete people who do that.  I use it because I want to get a lot of education ideas quickly.  Here is mine.  Click on the ones you like and you can follow them.   

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


This is a site that started last year.  The pictures might draw in civics teachers (ie middle schoolers) more than high schools), but it presents some great games to learn about civics.  The main emphasis is on courts (the site is the inspiration of Sandra Day O'Connor).  Above is a Prezi on it.  If you have never checked out a Prezi, that alone is worth looking at (for high or middle school). 

Dinner with the President!

Go to this link to sign-up to be eligible to have dinner with President Obama and 2 other people!

Explaining the National Debt

Above is a nice WashPost video explaining what is meant by the national debt.  Here are the competing budget proposals (House, Obama, etc.) and graphics to go along with it. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Teaching 2011 Style - Technology Integration

Two months ago one of my colleagues, Monte Bourjaily (AP US), and I were talking about what to do after the AP exam.  We both had to balance some local requirements (state exam for juniors and state/local govt requirements for seniors + FLE for both of us).  We were determined,though, to have a joint project that would be both content focused on government (since all of Monte's kids are taking government next fall) and would be completely digital in its presentation.  I insisted on the latter since it's obviously my thing, but also so I could watch from FL while I was grading the AP exam.  Monte had three AP US classes who joined my two AP Govt classes.  While two of our classes met at the same time of the day, one did not and even some in our same periods wanted to work with ones in other times, so going digital allowed for grouping across periods and days!  We created our assignment in Google Docs since we kept thinking of new ideas and resources and didn't want to keep e-mailing them back and forth.  The students (in groups of 20-22, but broken into sub groups of 5) choose to then create their own Google Docs pages so they could put what they were doing as the project went along.  After that each group was asked to create a webpage and put all of their content in digital format.  Most of the groups (this is the best one) were fantastic (yes, remember we were working with seniors after the AP exam was over!) and many went way beyond what we asked for.  This group, for example, sent some kids to DC to interview tourist on the debt.  They produced videos (see the DC inteviews above), Prezi, PowerPoints, webpages (here, here, here , here, here and here), quizzes, debates).  Most importantly our students learned a great deal about the national debt, Medicare and Social Security.  I am also happy that when the juniors reach my room next year, I will have to worry less about teaching those topics and additionally can require even more digital assignments.  As if all of this was not enough the legislative assistant and correspondent for US Senator Mark Warner came out and spoke to and answered (and dodged some) a ton of questions from our students. Likewise nationally know Washington Post reporter Robert Samuelson came out and did the same as Warner's two employees. All three were impressed with the knowledge of our students which we believe came from our learning by doing exercise.  Finally, we had to grade these assignments in a short window as my government students ended their school year a week before the juniors.  So we used Google Docs and called each other up one night and literally graded together in real time from our respective homes.  We hope this exercise inspires you to "jump off the cliff" (yes, we already have spoken about how we will do it differently next year) and use more digital learning.  I should add that my principal and my county have been very helpful in getting us enough laptops to actually make this project work.  You can see some of the pics of our combined students in the post below

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Little Plug!

This week Education Week has an article which gives me a few paragraphs and I owe you all a lot for it since your continued attention to this blog is what drew the author to interview me.  Above are two of my students working on a project I had my government students complete with another teacher's US ones.  Early next week, I'm going to post the experience and let you all see the results - since all the kids had to complete their work in a digital format. 

CSPAN's "Road to the White House"

This is one of many presidential sites that will be sprouting up in the next few months.  The advantage of this one is that for each presidential candidate there is a ton of video footage. If you know how to embed video, it also comes with the exact clip so you have nothing to do, but set it up.  Above is one of rising star Michelle Bachman.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Talking Points Memo has a number of political stories including the 100 seconds video of political events from the day before which you can see above.

Money for Jobs in the Obama Administration

This is a great article on how the people who raised money for Obama ended up with administrative jobs. I also have several previous stories on how the larger donors get the better countries to be an ambassador.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

77 Web Resources

I love going to the site FreeTech4Teachers and will be going through the resource above to see what more I can add to my repertoire.   The resource above is for content delivery, not social studies content, and has many many excellent resources.  You can see a full blown version of it here.

Republican Debate

While last night was not the first Republican debate, it was the first with all the major candidates.  Above is the entire evening. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Media, the Internet and the President

I have always found the government book chapters on the media to be rather poor, so I end up supplementing it with video like this from the National Geographic website.  This video tells how picture of Obama are selected and released and shows him doing his weekly "radio" (now Internet) broadcast.  It also compares this to LBJ who personally approved all the photos released from the White House. Here is another video which talks about how pictures have been taking of presidents over the centuries. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Two years ago I had the opportunity to pilot online books w. our students and now thanks to some innovative county leaders, we are, as a county, mostly going to e-books next year for our high school social studies classes.  When people ask me why I would want to do so, the video above is one good example from a company called Inkling which works w. McGraw, Pearson and other textbook leaders to produce interactive e-books.  Even better the e-books come with a ton of ancillaries such as links, video, and other "tools in a box" one can teach with interactive ideas using nothing other than the e-book. Throw in the Internet and you are talking about an amazing way to teach.  Also, you can see a competitor of Inkling, called Kno that has some of their own amazing wizardry on their single and double tablets as you can see below. (Thanks to Kleininspiration for the heads up on Inkling)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Searching This Blog and I'm Offering A Tech Course This Fall

When I first thought of this blog (and if you are new to it, remember there are three: government, US and world and the links are in the upper right hand corner), I was happy just to be able to get a few posts up (total on all three) each week.  Now I just looked at combined there are 1900 posts in the last three years. So if you are new or want to look for help in your class be it content or technology, just go to the search engine in the upper left hand corner and you should find lots of good things.  In fact, not to be conceited, but I use it all the time as I obviously can't remember all of the posts. 

By the way, if you are in or near Fairfax County, VA, I will be offering a 10 week course on Tuesdays in the fall at the Leis Center (Falls Church) on integrating technology into the classroom with the aim of having you learn by doing how to use all the tools I will show. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How Congress Voted to Increase the Deficit

The graphic in today's Washington Post illustrated how both parties contributed to deficit spending (due to tax cuts, two wars, and a stimulus bill) over the last 11 years. I'm not sure the blame game gets us anywhere, but it's good to know how they voted.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

School's Not Out For Summer Here

Actually I am at the AP US Government grading in Daytona Beach right now so I even get to work weekends and then after that I still have my students until June 20th and then 10 days later start my with my online summer kids, so if you like this blog, you can come here all summer for ideas.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One Person, One Vote? Not Exactly

"Two economists, Brian Knight andNathan Schiff, set out a few years ago to determine how much Iowa, New Hampshire and other early-voting states affected presidential nominations." They "estimated that an Iowa or New Hampshire voter had the same impact as five Super Tuesday voters put together."
Read the NY Times article.