Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Buhari Wins Presidential Election

Not that it was a surprise, but above is a short overview of Buhari's (APP) victory over the incumbent Jonathan (PCP).  Even though Buhari used to rule when he was a military leader this is the first defeat for the PCP party since the military gave up power with the new constitution in 1999.

Here is a great Economist article on the subject which also includes graphics on GDP, where the Muslim population lives, Boko Haram, etc.

The video below from the Economist argues that the election has moved Nigeria to a more liberal system, but remind us Buhari was repressive the last time he was in power.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Add Text to Images

You can add text to photos with this app called Phonto Photo. It's available for both Apple and Android devices and very easy to use. You can place the text anywhere on the photo and size it. And it's free!

Thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, who sent me the link.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tank Man

This is amazing CNN footage of "Tank man" whose whereabouts are still unknown.  "Tank man" became a huge search item in China to the point that the sensors took the name off of the Internet. After that point "Duck man" replaced it (see image below) and until that too was scrubbed.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wiki for Your Govt and Comp Classes

If you are newer to AP Comparative or AP US Government this might be a great page for you as it has all of our countries with links to videos, briefing papers, PowerPoints, CrashCourse and Larry Stroud videos.  It was put together by Crystal DeLong. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

10 Things Mexico, GB, Russia Do Better than the US

Thanks to Crystal DeLong for the video above which is a nice hook to start your unit on Mexico. There are also ones for Great Britain, China and Russia

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New NYTimes Series on Iran

The NYTimes just started a seven part series on Iran centered around a Dutch journalist who is married to an Iranian.  The first part, above, shows some great scenes around Tehran and is fairly open, even mentioning the jailed American writer as well as how illegal good get into Iran.  For me it is a double winner as we start Iran as soon as we get back from spring break and it is a nice chance for me to get a glimpse into a place where I spent four wonderful years as a young boy. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Economic Systems in China

On Monday my AP Comp students are going to be discussing Chinese history ending with Chinese history.   We will end with Deng Xiaoping and his enterprise zones.  The video above is made by Mr. Clifford who makes the ACDC videos.  I love this video as it gives some graphic representation of how capitalism is working in China.  But to show the other side we will go to Baidu, which is China's search engine - and one that is larger than Google.  Then we will search for things such as Tiananmen Square massacre, Google, Facebook and Under the Dome, which is the new anti-pollution documentary that was recently scrubbed from China's Internet. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Our Kids by Robert Putnam

My blog is all about free things you can use with your students, but occasionally I veer as in posting about my own new book.  But for year I have asked the students who do poorly in my classes why they don't care in an effort to better serve them.  The answer is always the same "I don't know." Well, now I have a great answer after reading Robert Putnam's new book, Our Kids which argues that we have created two Americas - those in the middle upper class and above and the rest.  He shows, using lots of statistics, but also anecdotal stories, that members of the lower classes are much more likely to have little or no college, more likely to divorce, be a member of far fewer extracurricular activities, be more likely to go to a school with fewer AP/IB classes, and on and on.  He makes a strong argument (and we have heard this before) that the first three years are essential to the life development.  He builds a case that fifty years ago it was much easier for someone to "rise up," but today that is much harder today.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Obama Nowruz Message to Iran

As we near the deadline for negotiations with Iran over nuclear disarmament, Obama has made a video to reach the younger people in Iran as they celebrate Nowruz - the new year in Iran and a celebration I remember well from the four wonderful years I had in Iran as a young boy.  Here is a New York Times article on the topic

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Book is Exceeding Expectations!

I had a conversation with "my marketing editor" (yes there are seven editors working on this project!) on Wednesday and she told me that my book Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction was already selling beyond expectations in its first month out.  So thank you for all of you who bought the book.

If you haven't bought it yet and want some highlights:

  • the goal of the book is to help you set different paces for your students so each can obtain more learning than if you were marching all your students at the same pace
  • to do that you need to expand your PLC beyond your school's borders
  • evaluate your students using free online technology
  • know how to use Google Drive to grade in near real time
  • flip your classroom to better allow students to watch short lectures in a timely fashion
  • know how to mobile devices in the classroom
  • know how to connect to your students using technology beyond the classroom
  • and SO much more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

China's Pollution

President Xi recently stated the National People's Congress that "violators" of air pollution will be punished yet at the same point Under the Dome (see above), a documentary published with official support, has been literally scrubbed from the Internet in China.   The WashPost has a great article on pollution in China you might want to share with your students (it has English subtitles).

If you want more the NYTimes did a nine piece series on the topic and here is a great one from the Economist.

Here is a great site with lots of facts and some short videos showing the pollution.  I love China and go there last summer, but it was telling when one day our tour guide looked up and said "Oh look, blue sky."  Of course it was grey and we really didn't see much blue until we go to Shanghai and even then the pollution would roll in and be noticeable.

Finally this site is color coordinated using US Department of State pollution levels so you can compare where you live to China. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Data Driven Lobbying

I have done a number of posts on how big data can be used in campaign, but here is a WashPost article on how it can be used to suggest to lobbying firms which member of Congress would be the best to target to get a bill passed.   For example, Mitch McConnell is only the 7th most successful person in terms of getting bills passed (probably will change now that he is the majority leader).  But two "kids" currently at Harvard came up with Quorum that finds out this information using not just bills, but also Tweets and other information.  Another group, Fiscal Note, predicts the chance of a bill's passage.  Does this mean that just as education is changing, so is politics?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Letter to Khamanei

I wonder if the Iranians think less of Sen. Cotton (R-AR) since he thought to educate them on our system that they aren't educated enough to figure us out!.  But the letter to Iran brings up some fun review facts for US government and if you are teaching AP Comparative, a way to tie it all together. For example you can mention the Supreme Leader as opposed to President Rafsanjani - another person we can assume received the letter.

But the letter refers, but doesn't mention executive orders.  It is important to look at this chart to compare different presidents and the number they issued.  Obama, for example, is well behind the pace of W. Bush. It is also worth nothing that Reagan issued an executive order dealing with Iran as well - this one lifting sanctions when our hostages were released in 1981.  This is worth noting since it comes on a similar action by Obama agains the same country.   Executive orders can be overturned by new presidents and never require the senate's approve as opposed to when treaties are made.  But if the agreement is working when the next president comes in, it would be hard to get ride of it.

By the way, for all the Democrats criticizing Cotton, Nancy Pelosi did travel to Syria when Bush was president and was attacked for undermining Bush.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Iran's Revolutions from John Green

John Green goes over one hundred years of history in Iran which makes it a good video for your AP Comparative class.   My students will watch this and then another one on the government.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mexican Election Assignment

We had two more snow days (12 and 13th) this past Thursday and Friday.  My AP classes have met online every day we have not had school so this was a welcome relief from having to meet me.   Instead they finished a country review guide (see previous post) and worked on an election returns for Mexico.  The top part was somewhat straight forward while the bottom included a number of slightly tailored questions from previous FRQs.

Since the AP exam has most of its questions comparing two or more countries, you will notice that I added Nigeria to the questions above.  On the test on Tuesday it is fair game to add Great Britain and the European Union to Nigeria and Mexico.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Freedom House for AP Comparative Government Countries

Freedom House is dedicated to showing how free a country is such as media, civil liberties, etc.  Each country is given a score based on its relative freedom.  We are studying Mexico and Nigeria right now.  But you can also find Russia, China, Great Britain and Iran as well.

What Would a Nuclear Deal with Iran Look Like

This is from CNN and gives a good overview of the soon to be nuclear deal with Iran. I say soon, because Obama certainly doesn't seem to be backing down despite the speech of Israel's PM to Congress today.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Taking Notes from a Flipped Video

One of this blog's lurkers emailed me this past weekend to ask me a few questions about my class.   After pointing out that most of my answers are in my book (!), I told him that changes to a flipped class or one with mastery learning takes time, both in teacher effort, but also in adapting.  I made the little video above because even with flipped videos, students need to have organized notes.   For me that includes images (hey we think in pictures) and even links.  So I put one of our first videos side by side with a blank Google Drive document and went to work typing notes and showing students how to do it.  I will say it is 10 minutes long (my max for videos, but students need to learn the concept and hey, they can copy my notes for the first part of this video.  You might note that it took me 9 minutes to take 5:30 minutes of notes meaning the entire 9 minutes will probably take the kids 20 minutes. 

Free PDF to Word Converter

I have long used Pdftoword to convert my pdfs to word documents, but there is a several page limit and after a certain amount they require you to set up an account.  The latter part might be a positive as you have all of your documents in one place, but...

Now I prefer Investintech.com's pdf converter because

  • there is no limit to the length of the document
  • you can even convert scanned documents
  • you only have to put in your email and you will receive it in 40 minutes or less.
  • there is no membership required

Sunday, March 1, 2015

General Buhari's Speech in London

So on Monday my students are doing a FRQ on Nigeria and Great Britain so this is a nice precursor I can briefly show them.  Above is General Buhari talking at Chatham House which is a non-profit in London.  Buhari is the All Progressives Congress candidate for president of Nigeria.  The election was delayed by current president Goodluck Jonathan.  Many think the change occured because Jonathan is behind.  Of course Buhari, a Muslim, has to win a plurality popular votes and 2/3s of the states.  The speech also mentions Freedom House which is fair game on the AP exam.

Below is a short advertisement for incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.