Thursday, October 31, 2013

Educators' Guide to Twitter

Here is the best clip I have seen on how to use twitter in education.  You can find out more about Twitter and education here. 

Judicial Appointments Being Blocked

This is a great video on the recent blocks by the Republicans on Obama judicial appointments.  It looks at filibusters, cloture and "advise and consent."

Interest Groups and Halloween

Considering we are looking at interest groups tomorrow, this is great.  In this video we see how much five different interest groups related to Halloween have recently spent on lobbying. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Follow Me on Twitter and Google+

As always thanks for coming to this site to find information and ideas for your classroom (and if you have good ones, please e-mail me).  But if you also want to have my posts go to your Twitter or Google+ feeds then you can follow me on Twitter or Google plus by clicking on the links

The Monkey Cage

Back when I was finishing my doctorate, George Washington University hired a young professor, John Sides, who soon afterwards created the Monkey Cage which I have featured on this blog.  It has a lot of good insights into the political world which include lots of references to papers with statistical studies that you can actually use in class and other posts that are just very interesting for government teachers. At any rate it has been picked up by the Washington Post and you can find it here.

Here is a recent post arguing that even though Sen. Ted Cruz is getting some benefit for health care even though his wife covers him from a private company.  The Monkey Cage argues that Ms. Cruz' health plan is untaxed income.  Here is another one that looks at what it will take for Democrats to take over the House. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Money, Transparency and Obama's Travel

This is an interesting short clip from the Fix on the correlation on where Obama travels and fundraising stops.

From the video above I learned about the Sunlight Foundation which is designed to make sure that the flow of money and power are transparent in our government.  It is a fascinating site and has a great blog.

Our Debate Hashtag Trended on Twitter!

We had a great class tonight Tweeting while Virginia's two gubernatorial candidates were going at it in their last debate.  You can see the comments here.  What is super about our Tweeted classes is that they get lots of family members involved as well.  The kids only have to give us three comments, but have a very hard time stopping at that.  We had four teachers doing it from two schools and the kids put up so many comments that we were a worldwide trend (see pic above)! To create a hashtag you simply come up with your name and as long as no one else is using it (or even if others are), then you just put the "#" and the name in every Tweet and you are good to go!

For the kids who didn't have Twitter I created an editable Google Drive document and they were able to take part in the fun as well.  It might be something you want to think about for the State of the Union in late January.  

Tweet the VA Gubernatorial Debate Tonight

Tonight I have four teachers' classes Tweeting the third and final VA gubernatorial debate.  It is being hosted by Roanoke's ABC affiliate and will be streamed live.  The channel's general manager told me they also have allowed Channel 8 in Northern VA to host it but he wasn't sure if it would be live. Either way the way it works is we have set up a #hashtag (you can make your own up, but check it on a Twitter search to make sure it is not taken) and then the kids will have to post three comments during the hour.  These kids then will take a screenshot of their comments and send them to me via Google Drive. For those without Twitter, I have an editable Google Drive document set up so they too can write comments.   

During the debate the teachers will answer questions, add comments while the students will be doing the same which is like having a simultaneous discussion while the debate is ongoing.  For students who do not want their followers to see their comments, they simply need to put "HideChat" in their comments and it will be hidden.

Flipped Learning and Differentiation

Believe it or not the NYTimes has an opinion piece advocating the Flipped Classroom.  But it is the quasi flipped classroom which I use a lot as well which means that while my kids do a lot fo flipping at home some of it is done right in class (I recently bought ten ear phones for $5 each for the kids without ear buds.   As you can see in the video above what flipping allows (in class or at home) is for the teacher to individually work with ALL the students by moving around the room constantly and to allow for individualized student pacing which is nicely incapsulated in the video above.

The creator of the video above, Tom Driscoll, has a number of great videos on his Youtube account which are broken into flipped learning, tech tutorials and World History flips.   You can also follow him on Twitter. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chromebook Tutorials

Fakebook Tutorial

I have been using Russell Tarr's Fakebook for several years with my students.  It allows the kids to create a Facebook like page where they can have friends, put up posts and make comments.  It is not real in that the students are not sharing with others, but rather creating their own world.  They also are given their own unique url and allowed to set a password of their own.  BUT they do not have to sign up, or give a e-mail or anything else that will identify themselves.  It is a great way to have students create a conversation between historical figures or even current politicians to show that they have learned the material successfully and can apply it.

Since Russell has not yet created a new tutorial to match his newly improved Fakebook site, I have my own above. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Video Notes for the Flipped Classroom

One of the apps you can add to Google Drive is  As you can see on the image above it allows you to watch a Youtube video on the left while taking notes on the right.  The e-sheet allows you to tap right beside where you are writing and it will take you to the same place on the video.  When you are done it shows up in your Google Drive suite.   One drawback is that it does not allow for bullets or numbers, but can you can copy the notes and put them into a regular document. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

WInners and Losers in the Budget Deal

Above is the Fix's take on the winners and losers and here is how each member of the House votes and here is how it looked in the US Senate.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Positive Engagement for Challenging Students

I just learned about PBIS World at an in-service at our school.  Name the problem behavior; disorganized, hyperactive, anxious, not turning in work and on and on.  This is a great site that has lots of ways to deal with all kinds of challenging behavior.  

What is the Debt Ceiling?

With one day to go this short video explaining what is meant by the debt ceiling might be useful in your class. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

China Blog

The New York Times has started a new blog on China which you might want to check out if you teach AP Comparative.   Obviously there will be a lot that you cannot use, but some of the posts will serve as gateways to learning about current Chinese issues which will prove important on the free response portion of the test. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Word Clouds for Comparisons

I am sitting here going through my Twitter feed and came across this Tweet from the Fix.  It shows the results of a NBC-Wall Street Journal poll which asks readers how the president (blue cloud) is handling the shut-down as opposed to the Republicans (red cloud).  Word clouds are a great way to have students quickly compare the viewpoint of a story.  One idea would be to compare articles in the Wall Street Journal (conservative) and Washington Post (liberal) and to put their word clouds side by side as I have done above.
  • Wordle is the original word cloud maker which produces the clouds above. 
  • Tagxedo lets you compare articles, Tweets, searches, RSS feeds, etc. 
  • ABCya and TagCrowd lets you enter in your own work which is a good way for students to see how they repeat words such as "I."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Connected China

If you use the search engine on this site you can find a number of items for AP Comparative and individually for each country of the course.  Here is a great site called ConnectedPRC that I plan on using this year (we start AP Comparative in January) when we learn about China.  It has great graphics on the institutions of government and brief discussions on how they work.  I found it from a Google+ post from AP Comparative guru Ken Wedding

Bill to Law with ObamaCare

On Wednesday my students are starting the steps to making a law using this interactive.  What I like the best, though, is this set of actual steps that were used to make ObamaCare a law.  Nothing like using something currently in the news to apply what we are supposed to discuss in class. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Debt Ceiling for Dummies

This is a new flip video from Keith "Hip" Hughes on the debt ceiling. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists

This is a fascinating 4 minute overview of the Federalist and Anti-Federalists.  In a sense they are examples of early interest groups.  The Federalists were better known as nationalists or centralists and the Anti-Federalists were really the federalists.  But the Nationalists thought they would be better liked if they were the "Federalists" and their opponents were just "anti-."  Furthermore it is interesting to note that the Federalist were much better organized since, by definition, the Anti-Federalists just plain didn't want to work with one another 

McCutcheon v FEC

Today the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC.  McCutcheon is arguing that there should be no individual limits on campaign donations by individuals to federal campaigns, much as Citizens United v FEC has done for corporations (the summaries come from Oyez which is a great site you might want to use in your classes to find out about cases).

The place to go for coverage is SCOTUS Blog.  Using this page will help you cover all of the major concepts you teach in Supreme Court cases such as: appeal, plaintiffs, amicus curiae,  defendant, plaintiff, oral arguments and so on.

The video above is very nice in that it gives all the current limits and nicely tells about the case. It is biased against McCutcheon. 

How to Make a Flipped Classroom

Today I am doing a short in-service for my school and since I only have ten minutes I am putting these items up there for our teachers to use later or for you to do use to make your own flipped classroom.

First off below is a PowerPoint with the main points of how and why to do flipped classrooms as well as additional resources.

Next is a video which shows you how to use Screencastomatic which is a free online resource which you can use to make screencasts.  If you go to my Youtube page you can see lots of my flipped videos.

Now once you have made the screencast you will want to share it with your students.  To do this you can create a Google form and add it right in the top.  The form will allow you to have students ask questions which you can start the next class by answering.  Then you can go to the interactive you want to use in class.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flipping My Govt & EPF Classes

On Friday my AP Comparative class had an amazing day where I just served as the master of ceremonies and they went through a comprehensive lists of the differences between the House and US Senate.   The kids had read a chapter on Congress at home (Magelby's e-book) and watched the flipped video above.  I am determined this year to integrate flipping as often as it makes sense. If you care to see my videos as we go along here is my Youtube playlist.  I had planned on doing an interactive in the class, but the kids were going crazy discussing the concept and I was pleased as punch that they had learned so much with the reading and video. 

For that matter I am also making them for my online Economics & Personal Finance class for the students who cannot make a chat session.  That too will have lots of feeds added this year to the many I already have.

If you are making flipped videos, my thought is that they should not be more than ten minutes as it will probably take double that to take notes on them. 

Chromebooks for Your Schools?

While I have been unsuccessful in convincing my school district (mostly since Pearson cannot yet run their end of the year state exams in the cloud - amazing for a company as big as they are) to let me buy Chromebooks, for our students, 22% of US school districts are now using them.  I am practicing what I preach as my wife and I have bought two of them for our kids and they love them for their school work and everything else they do (except for games that require Java downloads).  The best ones are only $250 which kills the price of the iPad and other laptops and they go from dead off to fully functional in ten seconds.  Since they are cloud based they also keep updating themselves.

If you or your school district is thinking of purchasing them, the slideshow above is very balanced on the pros and cons (pro = cheap to purchase if your students use the cloud and your school district approves the use of Chrome apps; con = no Java and no Microsoft Word).

Here and here are two great pages on using Chromebooks and the slideshow above is a perfect place to start with lots of apps. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Cost of the Shutdown by the Numbers

Personal Budgeting Site for EPF

So from time to time I will be adding Economics & Personal Finance items to this website as I am teaching it this fall.  To that end CNN has a very nice budget calculator where you can put in every expense from taxes to rent and even alimony! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Obamacare Explained

Thanks to my new partner in crime at Hayfield Doug Zywiol for this one. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ObamaCare in Two Minutes

Thanks to Rich Hoppock for this two minute overview of ObamaCare - or as I refer to it as - an extension of Medicaid. 

What Does the Government Shutdown Mean - Richmond, VA News
I know I just posted this a week ago, but here (WashPost) and here (NYTimes) are department by department listings of what will happen with the federal government shutdown and below is a short video.  My students are working on federalism so they will today have to research the impact on state and localities.  For example we 27% of our students receive free and reduced lunch, but those students will not immediately be impacted (#40).  Here and above is a story on how it impacts part of Virginia. Here is the first exercise my and Doug Zywiol's students did on the shutdown.