Friday, May 29, 2015

My Entire US Government & Comparative Government Courses

I put my entire AP US Government and Comparative Government course (both as a stand alone US or as a double - both of which I teach) course right here.  The link has all of the videos that I will be using next year (since next year I will not be using a book for either class).  If you find this link at all helpful and you hang onto it, you will see that I do make changes during the year (esp. in comparative where I am doing more tinkering).  So have at it, and if you can give me suggestions, please do. 

Moonshot Application

So I just applied for Google's "Moonshot" project which will bring teachers together in July in Amsterdam to tackle projects that will transform education.  The application is woefully short which makes me wonder if an algorithm will knock out the first group (esp. since it is due June 26th and winners will be contacted just three days later).  Either way I am always up for doing something that could be a game changer.  Not applying means you can't go and applying means you have more than a moonshot!

Here is the application.  Good luck.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Add Sound and Annimation to a Google Presentation

One of our teachers just asked me how to add sound to a Google Drive presentation. I like this tutorial explaining the answer as it shows how you can actually go to a specific spot in a video. Therefore when you click on the spot on a slide it will play exactly what you want.  For example, if you click on this link, you will go exactly to the part of the video above that tells how to get to a specific spot in the video.

While we are at it the teacher also wanted to know how to add in animation which is done in the video below.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

School is Not Out for the Summer on My Blogs

So most of you would laugh that my seniors are not finished until June 10th and my undergrads not until June 18 - yes the 18th!  But I also teach during the summer so this blog is always being updated all summer, so if you want to keep finding out new things then keep coming all summer.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Search for Ideas on My Blogs

I was on a Facebook page for teachers the other day and one of the educators mentioned using my site to search for lesson plans and ideas.  It made me smile as that is exactly one of the uses for this page.  Consider that between my four blogs (US history, World history, US and Comparative Government, Economics) I now have over 6000 posts since 2008.  Even the "baby" among my blogs, econ, has 250 posts in the last year!  So if you are looking for content, technology or pedagogy, hopefully I have it.  If not, write me and I'll look into it.   Otherwise look in the upper left side of this page and put what you are looking for in the search box.

Next up will be summer assignments (which you can already search for and see what I posted for last year).  

The Electoral College

I have done a number of posts on the electoral college, but this one does the best on explaining why we even have it, much less how it works.  Thanks to Mark Muskrath on the Facebook AP Government page

Friday, May 15, 2015

Join Me Tuesday on EdChat at 3 pm EST

I am going to be presenting on EdChat on May 19th from 3 to 4 pm EST.  I will be focusing on individualizing instruction in the classroom using technology (yes, focusing on some key concepts from my book).   You can sign up for the class for free by going here.   You will then be sent a link for our online platform where we will meet.  At the appointed time, you'll just need to sign in and then I will make a short presentations, we'll break into groups and then I'll also take your questions.

All three of my preps this year are being flipped so I am really getting into it which is good after four years of practicing the "craft."  If you joined me for the #edchat, then the eight minute video above detailing all of the steps and what to do in the classroom after you have done your flipped lecture might be of help to you.

Here is an example of a flipped video, the actual Google form we used and the interactive assignment that followed in class.  Below is the PowerPoint I am using for my presentation. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ken Halla's In-Services This Summer (so far)

If you want to take a summer in-service with me this summer, there are a number to choose from below.  Click on the links to sign up and email me at if you want me to help you with one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

America Goes to War

NEC Online Masters in Public Policy
I just received this from the New England College here and above.  For US students it shows all of the US wars and for government students differentiates between declarations of war and war resolutions, which is a huge difference.  It should help your students see the differences graphically,

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Last Minute Studying with Quizlet

This is one of the review items I gave my AP Government students to prepare for the AP exam on Tuesday.  

First Assignment of the 2015-16 School Year

With the AP government exam still two days away,  you might be surprised that I am even thinking of an opening day assignment for my government students.  But I always like to find something that will grab them and the two videos above should hopefully, along with the article below, do just that. The goal will be to tell them the power of government and how it will change during their lives to adapt to the new questions stemming from technology.

With the Apple Watch coming out soon, this WashPost article talks about measuring much of our daily activities and its impact on us.  For example Google is working on a device that can be swallowed and stays in the blood stream looking for problems.  Should it be regulated by the FDA?  Could Google sell the information to insurance companies?  Could you hide the information from a potential employer and so on?

The top (just the first three minutes) and bottom videos above shows the tremendous potential to both help us, but also to be better cataloged by technology companies - for better or worse. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

@TrevorPacker for AP Updates

Most people who teach and AP course know that Trevor Packer is the head honcho for all AP subjects.  If you follow him on Twitter he will Tweet when the College Board has released the FRQs for your subject.  Laster in the summer (late July) he will release the statistics on each exam such as passing percentage, percentage of 5s, 4s and more. 

CSPAN Review Video

If you missed it this morning here is the CSPAN review for the AP US Government exam this coming Tuesday.  It is moderated by Andrew Coneen and Dan Larsen from Adlai Stevenson High School in Illinois. 

Flipping US Government VIdeos

Readers of this blog know that I have been flipping more and more of my courses and intend of going all out next year.   When it is done I will post my list of videos and assignments (although it will be a changing list as I sift through and see which one of the Crash Course ones I like).   But my list includes

  • some of my own which are on my YouTube Playlist
  • some from
  • many from CrashCourse
  • and finally some from Scott Mueller.  Don't let his low number of views fool you.  His videos cover all the essentials and are even a little entertaining.  If you want to make your flipped class choices easy, you could just use his list.  Above is the first one in his series. 

GB Results, Part II

If you are new to AP Comp, I think the best way to learn the material for a teacher is to read all the articles, all year, on the six countries and the EU.  As I pointed out in the post below, you can pick up so many of the key concepts on GB just from the election two days ago.   An example of this is the Economist article that argues that GB should move from a first past the post system to a proportional representational one since Cameron will have a weaker majority with probably just Conservatives in the "coalition."  Other words it uses that your students should know are MPs, Tories, whips, backbenchers, Eurosceptics, Labour (Labor) Party, Scotland and Westminster.

Here are the final results from the BBC and the WashPost along with all the questions that come from it such as will Scotland vote in a referendum to succeed, will GB vote to leave the EU, will Cameron's cabinet only include Conservatives, will we see changes in the Westminster model, will Boris Johnson as a probable cabinet member resign as mayor of London or use his new powers to expand the ones in his other job? 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Britain's Election Results

With the AP Comp test next Thursday, the British elections offer a great chance of review.  Think about what is covered: first past the post, coalition government, Parliament, regionalism, Scottish referendum, democratic deficit and the EU, Westminster model, five year election cycle, Labor, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, etc.

Here are the results so far from the NY Times, BBC (with lots of short videos) and the Economist

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Learnerator for Last Minute Review

For those who want more studying for your students before the AP exams next week, Learnerator has lots of questions for AP Micro, Macro, Comp and US Government (among others).  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Join Me on EdChat

I am going to be presenting on EdChat on May 19th from 3 to 4 pm EST.  I will be focusing on individualizing instruction in the classroom using technology (yes, focusing on some key concepts from my book).   You can sign up for the class for free by going here.   You will then be sent a link for our online platform where we will meet.  On the appointed time, you'll just need to sign in and we can chat.  

2016 Electoral College Predictions

Thanks to the Marvin Harris on the AP Govt Facebook page for this one.   Politico already has an electoral map up for the 2016 presidential election.  It is definitely going to be easier for a Democrat than a Republican to win, but it will be loads of fun to teach about it.  Of course the best predictions will come from Nate Silver's 538 Blog as that is where he made his name.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Title IX Explained and its Myths

Every year around the time of the AP exam I re-evaluate what I have done for the year.  This year my big reflection is on using flipped videos more than a textbook.  But in refining I found this great explanatory video (above) on Title IX from Ted X and this one on the myths that it has perpetuated.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

AP Score Calculator

Every year I tell my kids that they have to get a 60% on my tests and the final to be in the 3 range and slightly more than half on the FRQs.  Well this AP score calculator by AP Haven does a pretty good job of proving me correct, except that it actually uses released tests you might be using to show your students their score.  It has everything on there except for AP US (since there are no tests to correlate to it).  Thanks to Doug Zywiol for the heads up on this one.