Friday, March 29, 2013

Chromebook vs. iPad

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt (HMH), I have started the process of comparing the iPad to the Chromebook.  HMH gave my frosh 35 iPads to use for two months as well as their iPad e-books. Certainly (and we have the US, WH and government ones all loaded up) the e-books on the iPads are superior to the Internet based ones.  The kids love being able to move easily around the pages, blow up videos, toggle easily back and forth between items (four find swipe) and so on.  I also like how they can instantly get on on the Internet as opposed to the 3-5 minute loading process it takes for our normal netbooks.  I also have dramatically improved my skills on the iPad (as you can see from my expanding tips here).

But, and I know you will find this shocking, but my own kids do a lot of their homework using laptops (grades 3 and 2x5th) and are well versed in Google Drive.  So needing more computers I bought the $250 Chomebook a week ago.  It is 11.6 inches (1.5" larger than the iPad) and has a little storage, but is basically a way to get to the Internet.  Certainly using the Internet textbook is not as rich an experience on a Chromebook, but you also have full functionality of Google Drive and are not married to the same device for the e-book. It also fires up in seconds and can run many programs at once (far better than the earlier versions).  At 50% the price of the e-book, right now I have to err on the side of the Chromebook.  If you agree I have a video of tips for it above.


The Blogs Make the News

Here is a nice newspaper story on our three blogs.  Frank Franz, George Coe and I are all featured.  Thanks to all of you for making them such a big success.  Keep the e-mails and the hits coming.   The picture is actually from my classroom last year.  You might notice one of my students at the
"teacher desk" as I usually only use it to do attendance and show the kids their grades and then do a lot of walking around the room to help the students on their work. 

Writ of Cert (Rule of 4)

Not to keep harping on the two gay marriage cases, but this is a telling article arguing that Hollingsworth v. Perry was actually a ploy by the four most conservative justices to take the case knowing that if they took the case now and it lost (and Kennedy certainly seems to be against it) that it would take years to get another likely case to the court.  The article discusses key concepts for government, noticeably the rule of four and a writ of certiorari.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ex-Presidents' Perks

The video above is very interesting as George W. Bush spent $1.3 million on office space paid by the US government of a total of $3.7 million spent last year by all four remaining presidents.  What is interesting is that this does not include secret service for each person.  When you discuss the imperial presidency (initially just meant to be for foreign policy) this might be something you want to mention. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

US v .Windsor, Oral & Written Format



It used to be that I had to rely on the Bush v. Gore case to let my students hear oral arguments. Now in two days we have two oral arguments I can choose from that my students will be interested in hearing.  The nice thing about the one above is that you get a picture of the justice who is speaking.  I put Hollingsworth v. Perry on top and US v. Windsor underneath it. Here are both today's and yesterday's for both transcript as well as the oral arguments.

The top item on this blog is from Oyez which is a tremendous site that has every Supreme Court case and everyone oral argument that has been released in audio format.  I use it (and Wikipedia) when I want my students to look up court cases. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Audio/Transcript for Hollingsworth v. Perry


Hollingsworth v. Perry Oral Arguments

Above (and linked) are both the audio and the written transcript from today's Hollingsworth v. Perry.   If you want to weave polling into your class discussion, Nate Silver has a great article with plenty of graphics.  Here, also, is a graphic on how the court could rule for today's case as well as US v. Windsor (tomorrow).

We are on spring break so I will be curious when we return how many of my students were paying attention to the case today (and again tomorrow).

Bar Graph to Compare Items


This is a nice video on how to create visual charts (all the nicer because as a runner it discusses running times!).  Perhaps you want to compare class average across the year on different tests or test results between teachers or even different levels of test questions.  Well now you have a very easy way using Google Drive excel sheets. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Use SCOTUS Blog For S Court This Week

Of course I will add items for your classes this week, but with two potentially landmark Supreme Court cases this week the place you will want to go with your students is the leader for watching the Supreme Court which is SCOTUS Blog. Here is their page for Hollingsworth v Perry (argued this coming Tuesday) which looks at if CA can be blocked from deciding if marriage is between a man and a woman because of the equal protection clause.  Here is the page for Wednesday's US v. Windsor which looks at whether DOMA is a violation of the 5th amendment's due process clause applying the 14th's amendment equal protection clause (via Gitlow v. New York).  Both pages have the plaintiff/defendant briefs as well as a ton of amicus curiae briefs (which always go up dramatically on key cases).  

Friday, March 22, 2013

50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainright

Thanks to Denise Thompson who sent me the CBS video above and this NPR story that were just released on the 50th year of Gideon  v. Wainright. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pollution in China

While I am certainly ready for our spring break which starts tomorrow as I have been doing a lot of work, especially for my AP Comparative class, judging from the posting I have done today, I am not ready to take a spring break from blogging!
When we get back from break we are going to learn about China (country #5 for us).  One of the issues we will certainly discuss will be pollution and here is a useful article from today's NYTimes. 

Google Keep for Simple Notes, Pics & Recording

I have been using Evernote for a while, but have never really gotten into it even thought it is a very hot app and has come up with many cool ideas.  What I really need is just a place to quickly list items such as what I need to buy at the grocery store or a quick picture.  

So along comes Google Keep which is very much an Evernote lite that seems perfect to me as it syncs with the page online, but on the smartphone it lets you take pictures and even record your notes.  So if you have some quick teaching ideas and don't want to take much time with them you might want to try it.  Here is the Android App.

Crash Course on the US Constitution


If you read my other blogs you know I have been posting about John Green's videos about US and  world history.  Well now he has one works for US government on the Articles of Confederation, the Articles and Federalism.  It is good for a review of the topic. 

Pro/Con Arguments for Gay Marriage


Thanks to Dee Thompson who sent me this pro/con set of arguments that is on the Oyez website. I have also placed the two brief (less than 9 minutes each) above.  The pro is on top and the con below it. 

Gay Marriage, the Fix and Google Hangouts

One of the places I get help teaching is from the WashPost's Fix.  This week it is holding a series of discussions on the looming US Supreme Court case on gay marriage.  It not only gives a good look at the case, but its format was done in a Google Hangout.

I have been using Google Hangouts a lot recently as it allows you to speak to up to nine other people - anywhere.  You can also set it to record and upload to Youtube so you could have class guests without even having the person come to your class as I show below. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chechnya - Russia

I will probably show this to my students tomorrow as I am looking for a nice summary of the problems between Russia and Chechnya and the student who made the overview above did a pretty nice job. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Several Helpful Videos (primaries, gerrymandering)



Thanks to my colleague Rich Hoppock for these videos on primaries, a tie in the electoral college and gerrymandering explained. 

Sal Kahn's Tips on Flipped Videos

Sal Kahn has put together a ten minute video on what he believes is important in making his videos.  His tips include
  • be yourself (my students love when I put in personal items)
  • don't make it too professional
  • talk directly to the students (not too far above or below the students' intellect)
  • use colors and visuals (but not too fancy)
  • Keep the video under ten minutes
  • I would add that you should either have your PowerPoint points cued up or even better have a number of webpages ready with perhaps images, sounds, major points etc. that are lined up and ready to go. Kahn says (and I agree), do not script it out beforehand.  You do not have to be perfect.
We have a lot of posts on flipping your classes which you can find by going to the search engine in the upper left. 

AP Comparative and Cyprus

Of course Cyprus is not on the AP Comparative exam, but its problems extend to the E.U., I.M.F and Russia (not to mention G.D.P.) as this article points out.  Here and here are graphics for the ongoing economic problems in Europe. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ideology for the Supreme Court

Interestingly enough it is hard to find a chart of the ideology (of course one has to define ideology as it relates to court cases first), but here and above that includes all the members of the current US Supreme Court.  Here is a chart from 1937-2007 

Filamentality for Webquests

I have posted on all three blogs defining what is meant by a webquest and how to do it, but one of my teacher-students, Jim Novak, found a site called Filamentality which takes you through the individual steps on how to do it, literally helping you search, find urls, etc.  

Online Supplement to Hauss' Textbook on AP Comparative

I have found Charles Hauss who wrote my AP Comparative is very approachable (he is a retired GMU professor who is working on the latest edition) and even has answered some of my questions this spring.  At any rate, I just found the supplement to the 7th edition's text and here is the one for the current 8th edition.  Some of it is locked down (PowerPoints, for ex.), but the quiz questions, flashcards and crossword are not so if you want supplemental questions for your students, it is another resource. 

More on China

Here (and above) is a great graphic on China and here is the NYTimes section on it.  Here, also is a very recent overview (Jan 31, 2013) of China's political system (but note that it predicts the party changes since it is a month ago) put out by the Congressional Research Service.  Here is a summary of the overview. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Xi Jinping, China's Leadership and Chinese Issues

Late next week my AP Comparative students will start (starting and ending countries in AP Comp is certainly quick!) looking at China.  First off Xi Jinping was just given the ceremonial position of president to add to his other position as General Secretary of the Communist party.  The video on the bottom talks about (the then looming) appointment as well as the issues facing China.  The video on top is a good discussion on the top leadership.

This article from today's (3/15) NYTimes talks about China's new premier Li Keiqiang and a few of China's glaring problems such as its property market which is featured in this week's 60 Minutes below. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Inside the Supreme Court Video


This video takes you around the inside of the US Supreme Court and includes a little history as well. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flipping the Class - the Supreme Court


I just received an e-mail asking me how to flip a class.  Above is the video my students are watching tonight for homework.  Then they will answer this short survey (please don't do it as it is a live form).  When my students come to class, I will start with their digital questions and then go to this webquest where they will look at actual briefs and learn by doing. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chart on Power in Iran

Now that I teach both government and AP Comparative, I have been trying to give resources for both on this site.  For those of you who don't yet teach AP Comparative, it is a lot of work, but it is a great course to teach.  Above and here is a NY Times chart (albeit from 2009) that still works for Iran which my students will see in about a month when we finish our course with that country (where incidentally I lived from 1969-1973).   

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Free Online Government Textbooks

I've been waiting a while for FlatWorldKnowledge to come out with its second half its AP US history books which you can now find here.  The first half of the e-book is here.  There is no catch (they hope that your students will want to pay for the paper copy) and the books are very good and also have lots of pictures and are very easy to navigate.  If you want to save money for your school, then check it out as a regular or supplemental book.

I should add that here is a standard level one originally put out by Beyond Books and then the Independence Hall Association.  It too is very easy to navigate.

Finally if you want to combine video with text then the US government books (both AP and standard) put out by HippoCampus are excellent. 

AP US Government Review Questions

Here are twenty multiple choice questions for each chapter in Magelby's AP US Government textbook.  Here are the Quizlet sets for the book. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day and Atlantic Magazine put together this montage of current elected or appointed heads of government. Can you or your students name them all? You can if you click here on the Atlantic magazine story.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

US Government iTunes Apps

Last week I did an in-service at Chantilly High School.  The assistant principal in charge of social studies, Shawn Frank, has a great list of iPad apps which you can see here.  It is broken up into US history, US government and world history.  

AP Comparative Chart

I have been looking for an AP Comparative chart and finally have found one.  Here it is in word format and here it is in pdf.  Thanks to Malcolm Mosley of Central Bucks High School East for putting it together. Here is my version of it in a Google Drive document.  Make sure you open it in Mozilla or Chrome. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Drug Wars in Mexico

So if you are following my AP Comparative posts, you have probably figured my order is EU, GB, Nigeria, Mexico, Russia, China and finally Iran.  Above is a Council of Foreign Relations video on the drug crisis in Mexico.  Here is the corresponding article from Jan 2013. 

Continuing Resolution Explained


It has been ten years since Congress and our presidents have passed all thirteen spending bills by the end of the fiscal year on September 30th.  Another deadline is approaching on March 27th which is looking like we will again pass yet another continuing resolution.  Above is a short explanation of what is better known as a "CR." 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Quizlet for Studying


I encourage my students to create in person and online groups (even over the  phone using FreeConferenceCall).  But if a group can't be formed I go through Quizlet and look for the best review cards (you have to be a bit careful since they are mostly done by students and there are different standards).  Above is one on Mexico for AP Comparative and on top of that is one for the US Courts which is in the form of the game Scatter.  

iPad Help

Back in November I was asked to run an iPad program with the new iPad version of Patterns of Interaction (WHI/WHII).  They also have one for US history called The Americans and Understanding Government. At last count, approval of the entire process involved seven people from my county (beyond me) and a host from Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt as we are not only getting the e-book, but a class set of iPads.  I hope my students love using both as it has become the most asked question in my class.

  • Finally the iPads are on the way and so for the past few weeks I have been working on my iPad techniques (and consulting with my nine year old son) and have come up with this iPad help sheet.  It goes into what I think are all the quick tricks my students will need to do basic operations.  
  • But I also have also had to figure out work arounds since my kids and I are married to Google Drive.  So for that I am using Doceri which does not require a login/password and can connect to Google Drive (see my sheet for how to do so).  I will be using it for presentations by the kids (it does add an oral component that Google Presentations does not have - although we have done using Screencastomatic).  I will also be using it for map making (we do ones on each unit).  Since the free version does not have a keyboard I will make an image with the names of each place I want marked and put a number by each and the students will have to only label their maps.
  • For those who want a presentation mode that does has a keyboard and an oral component (but does require a login/password), you can use Educreations.
  • How to use Remind101 for student reminders is also included
  • Since the iPad pilot will last two months, I will be continually updating my iPad e-sheet so you might want to bookmark it.  I am also doing an in-service today for the social studies teachers at Chantilly High School so imagine I will pick up some new tips there as well. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

CRS Report on Mexican Issues

So one of the items an AP Comparative teacher has to figure out is what the issues that are relevant to one of the six (GB, Nigeria, Mexico, Russia, China, Iran) countries being studied - especially since it keeps changing.  Well, in preparing for class I found this amazing document put out by the Congressional Research Service on issues in Mexico and it just came out six weeks ago (who knew!).  It covers the border, drugs, oil, environment, trade (NAFTA) and has the recent election discussed in summary. In short, it is a must have and one that my students will be using for our research.

Student Book List for AP Government

One of my former colleagues, Monte Bourjaily, put this amazing list together for AP Government students.  Monte always does a great job of differentiating in his classroom and rather than having all of his students take chapter notes, he offers to have some read some of the books on this list instead.  It is also a great list if you are looking for summer reading assignments. 

Magruder's e-book In-Service


Tomorrow Meghann Jones is doing an in-service in my county on using Magruder's US government e-book (and here is an ancillary site for the e-book) which is used by 90% of our nation's government students.
  • Above is a video by Kevin O'Keefe on how to use the e-book.
  • Here is a very short video on how to split one's computer screen so the student can look at the e-book and an assignment.
  • Here is a scavenger hunt by Kevin O'Keefe and Laura Wolf which is important to give students before starting to use the e-book. It is always a good idea to start by introducing one's students to the e-book to save on problems later.
  • Here is a lesson on gerrymandering using Magruder's by Kevin O'Keefe and Laura Wolf.
  • For Meghan's in-service she has come up with a number of items including a warm-up, a webquest, flashcards and two student worksheets all of which you can find here

Gini Coefficient

Rebecca Small came up with a great e-sheet for the Gini coefficient for all of the seven (I am including the US in this count) AP Comparative nations.  I had the students break into groups and they used an editable Google Drive document to create a chart for all of the groups on one e-sheet. It really does teach the students a great deal.  To go along with it, here is a recent article on the differences between the rich and the poor in China.  Just for kicks, I am throwing in the piece done last night on 60 minutes on the couple  who has changed the landscape of Beijing.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Blogrunner by the NYTimes

I just found a new aggregator news source put out by the NYTimes for world news called Blogrunner. It has both "newspapers" as well as blog pages from around the world.  If you want to read about the site go here

Mexico Pages for AP Comparative

I assume you can see the order we are following in AP Comparative this year.  We will hit Mexico next week.  Here is a great page from the NYTimes on all things including drugs and here is a page exclusively devoted to the drug war.  Each has a summary in the upper left.

If you go to the Mexico Blogrunner page, you can get even more articles on Mexico from a variety of news sources and more importantly ones on the US-Mexico border issue.

Next, above is short video on the victory of Enrique PeƱa Nieto who just this year returned the PRI party to the presidency after twelve years of PAN executive rule. 

Now no comparative class would be complete without the Economist and if you go here, you will find their page on Mexico